The Blade Of Galadriel: Meet Shadow Of War's Elven Assassin
Middle-earth: Shadow of War's Talion is a far less isolated version of the character from Shadow of Mordor. In addition to the continued back and forth with the wraith of Celebrimbor, Talion interacts with NPC characters much more frequently, and they play a much larger role in the story and overall experience. Side characters not only fight alongside Talion in story sequences, but they even have side-quest lines centered around them.
Be warned that this article contains some spoilers on the first act of Middle-earth: Shadow of War.
One of the main characters Talion interacts with in Shadow of War is the Blade of Galadriel, Eltariel. This elegant assassin has been charged with combating the Nazgûl, a group of sinister ringwraiths who serve as Shadow of War's boss fights, to keep them within Mordor and prevent them from spreading to Middle-earth. Since the ringwraiths keep coming back, she's been at this task for millennia. Thankfully, she's blessed with the ability to track the Nazgûl.
Though the mission from Galadriel is unending, she has had success, even if it's short-lived. This influences her approach to conflicts, leading her to insist to Talion in an early cutscene that, "Stalemate can be a form of victory."
"She's defeated them in individual battles, but the war never ends," vice president of creative Mike de Plater says. "She's very much a very classic special forces operative. She's behind enemy lines fighting so we all get to live in peace."
Early in the game, we see the Witch-king attempting to corrupt Talion and brand him, but Eltariel swoops in and kills Talion. While this may seem like a cruel act toward the ranger, Eltariel was aware of Talion's ability to resurrect and knew that killing him would prevent him from falling under the Witch-king's control. In a subsequent scene, it's revealed that she is able to see Celebrimbor's wraith, a skill few in Mordor have. Shortly thereafter, we're in a mission alongside Eltariel, infiltrating a fort to hunt down Suladân, the first of the Nazgûl that you confront in the story. To do this, Talion stealthily follows Eltariel into the newly transformed Minas Ithil (now known as Minas Morgul), the city he was trying to defend from the Witch-king when Eltariel saved him.
After reaching Suladân's location, the ringwraith launches into a battle with the two. Eltariel is smooth and quick in her combat style, but where she truly comes in handy is through her use of the Light of Galadriel, which she uses to form a protective aura around her. Talion can duck into his bubble to be shielded from incoming attacks.
Eltariel is a powerful character within Shadow of War, something the art team at Monolith wanted to portray through her visual design. "Probably the most important thing is that we wanted her to project strength and power - a strong female character - in the narrative, in the story, and also through the gameplay," director of art Phil Straub says.
The team worked with that guiding principal, as well as their continued commitment to authenticity, both within the lore and her needed functionality, to develop a character that also adheres to conventions associated with both elves and assassins.
"She needed to not be heavily armored. She needed to be flexible. She needed to be agile," Straub says. "That's where we came into the discussions around her clothing being more form-fitted and her clothing being more leathers and cloths. We also brought in some of the elven scalemail."
Straub also says the team worked hard to avoid creating a stereotypical high-fantasy femme-fatale while still creating an attractive character. "There's facial features people think of when they think of elves," he says. "They're a little bit more angular, they tend to have very smooth skin, they tend to be quite beautiful whether they're male or female."
In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Monolith is making the side-quests feel more like important parts of the overarching narrative. Multiple important NPCs have full questlines that extend beyond the scope of the core story. As one of the most important characters in Shadow of War, Eltariel is one of the characters you can spend additional time with outside of the mainline story.
In addition to serving a big role in the story and having her own dedicated side-quest line as an NPC, Eltariel is also the playable star of the first story DLC for Shadow of War. While we don't have details on what the DLC will entail, Eltariel plays different from Talion thanks to her powers, in part due to the Light of Galadriel and her dual-wielded weapons. In addition, as an elf, she is quite competent with a bow.
Eltariel is voiced by veteran video game and animation voice actress Laura Bailey. Bailey, who is known for her roles as Chun-Li in Street Fighter, Kait in Gears of War, and Nadine in Uncharted. She has worked alongside Talion voice actor Troy Baker many times during her career.
Throughout their missions together, Talion and Eltariel exhibit playful banter, something de Plater attributes to the team's writing, as well as the chemistry between Bailey and Baker. "Talion's always looking to stay in touch with his humanity and we certainly want to humanize him a bit and make him relatable as well," de Plater says. "I think the 100% honest answer to why they have that dynamic is that Troy Baker and Laura Bailey just work so well together and they just naturally have that connection and maybe that comes through in the performances as well. It does really help to humanize Talion, I think."
With a prominent role in the main story, a dedicated side-mission line, and an entire DLC expansion devoted to her, Eltariel looks to be a prominent figure in Middle-earth: Shadow of War. If what we saw in our time with Shadow of War is any indication, Talion may still be the star of the show, but Eltariel will end up stealing the spotlight every so often.
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