Terror Of The Nazgul – A Look At The Power And Might Of Shadow Of War's Ringwraiths

by Brian Shea on Sep 08, 2017 at 02:00 PM

While Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor garnered critical acclaim and captured a wide fan base that stretched beyond fans of Tolkien's works, one of its weakest areas was boss battles. With the follow-up, Shadow of War, developer Monolith hopes to rectify that by introducing ringwraiths. These Nazgûl are powerful servants of Dark Lord Sauron, and now they're Talion's problem to deal with.

The Nazgûl were once virtuous men who were tempted by Sauron and his Rings of Power. However, the power these Rings provide proved to be too much, and Sauron's influence eventually consumed them. Over the millennia, these men slowly became more corrupted by Sauron, and as their humanity dissipated, their power grew.

Each of the Nazgûl features their own backstory, as well as their own special abilities. Though there are nine ringwraiths, Monolith says you only battle a few of them in individual encounters. During our time with Shadow of War, I checked out three of the battles against three distinct Nazgûl bosses.

Monolith's interpretation of the ringwraiths expands upon the fiction established in The Lord of the Rings. In the books and movies, the Nazgûl are fierce but largely anonymous creatures of darkness. Monolith is playing with the idea that in the years that precede the conflicts depicted in the original stories, the ringwraiths still maintain a vestige of their original power. In some cases, the developer is drawing upon established characters within Middle-earth lore, and proclaiming that these characters actually turned out to be Nazgûl.

You can learn more about the four ringwraiths you'll get most familiar with throughout your playthrough below. Of course, it goes without saying that these descriptions contain spoilers regarding the ringwraiths' past and capabilities in battle, so proceed with discretion.

To see these boss battles in action, check out our videos of one of the battles we saw.

Suladân - General of a Bygone Age

Suladân is the first ringwraith you fight in the story of Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Following the fall of Minas Ithil, the city transforms into Minas Morgul. Talion's first trip to Minas Morgul culminates with a face-off against Suladân.

This once-great leader besieged Sauron's fortress, but the Dark Lord surprised him by surrendering and offering a Ring of Power to Suladân. The temptation was too great, and Suladân eventually moved Sauron from the position of prisoner to advisor. As Suladân's power grew, so did Sauron's influence over him. He eventually fell completely under the Dark Lord's power to become one of the nine Nazgûl.

Suladân has the ability to dominate orcs, which means he can counter one of Talion's biggest advantages in battle. In addition, the ringwraith can cast various area-of-effect moves, as well as the ability to curse Talion. The elven companion Eltariel is extremely helpful in this battle, as she can use the Light of Galadriel to protect you during more intense attacks.

Helm Hammerhand - King of the Mark

Helm Hammerhand is the Nazgul boss fight in Seregost. After sneaking through the stronghold alongside Eltariel, you face off against this menacing ringwraith.

Helm was an ancient king of Rohan, and a hunter in life. Known for his sheer power and stamina on the battlefield, Helm had a low tolerance for incompetence, which caused many (even within his own court) to have ill will toward him.

A powerful warlord named Siric asked for the hand of Helm's daughter in marriage, and Helm denied his request. Not satisfied with the response, Siric ambushed Helm a week later, critically injuring Helm and taking his daughter, Bernwyn. On his deathbed, Sauron placed a Ring of Power on Helm's finger, giving him a new lease on life. Now, however, Helm was fueled by anger. He attacked Siric's fortress, but in an attempt to kill Siric, he accidentally killed Bernwyn, sending him into a rage-fueled massacre where he brutalized friend and foe alike.

This was the most intense boss battle I saw during my time at Monolith. Helm can summon drakes and ghûls, which makes for frenzied situations. That's not to mention the onslaught of attacks he can unleash in rapid succession using his powerful hammer.

Isildur - High King of Gondor

In the height of his mortal powers, Isildur defeated Sauron at his strongest. Unfortunately, his victory was short-lived, as he inherited the One Ring from the defeat of Sauron. Rather than destroying the One Ring, he decided to keep it.

Though he resisted the temptation of wearing the Ring for a while, the urge overcame him and he donned it. Unfortunately for Isildur, Sauron remained the Ring's master even in defeat, and the Eye of Sauron descended upon him. Sauron's forces chased Isildur down without rest. Isildur was killed in the chase, and the Ring flew into the Anduin River, where it was found years later by Gollum. Sauron placed a different Ring of Power on Isildur's finger, enslaving him to become a Nazgûl.

When Talion faces Isildur, it's with the lava-filled hellscape of Gorgoroth as a backdrop. As a necromancer, Isildur can call hordes of dead Gondorians to fight against Talion in the battle. In combat, Isildur's style resembles Talion's ranger skills more than any other ringwraith.

Witch-king - First Among the Nine

The Witch-king is the most powerful of the nine ringwraiths, having served Sauron as a Nazgûl for more than four thousand years. The Witch-king has a particular hatred of Gondor, and is responsible for the death of Gondor's final king, Eärnur. Once the Witch-king learned of Talion, he began his pursuit. He does not chase the ranger with the goal of killing him, but rather making him a ringwraith.

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