Funny To A Point – My Biggest Nemeses In Shadow Of War

by Jeff Marchiafava on Oct 13, 2017 at 01:59 PM

If you read one of my columns last month, you know I've been playing and enjoying the heck out of Destiny 2 (which some readers seem personally offended by for some reason, but that's a topic for another day). Something about the changes Bungie has made to the series have really clicked with me, and kept me coming back night after night.

However, the life of a professional gamer isn't that easy, and while I would love to indulge in the hedonistic pleasures of playing the same game forever and ever simply because I enjoy it, it is my sworn duty to evaluate and explicate on the latest releases for the benefit of my dear readers. Seriously – I swore an oath when I started working at G.I., and I don't intend to break it.*

Anywho, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is the hot new game this week, and while I originally intended to write another long and rambling impressions piece and then force Jeff Cork to proofread it, a clear focal point** has emerged from my play sessions: the Nemesis system.

I was a huge fan of Shadow of Mordor's procedurally generated orc hierarchy (or hierorcy if you will...You won't? Fair enough), and Monolith has clearly focused on improving and expanding the system for its sequel. Within a few hours, my in-game world was populated by a host of interesting and unique orcs who had all made the fatal mistake of getting on my bad side. So without further ado, here are my biggest nemesises in Shadow of Morewardor.

Note: You can click the images for bigger...images. You know what I mean.

Tarz The Humiliator
Tarz was one of the first orc captains I came across while trying to learn the bajillion moves and skills Talion has at his disposal, and he more than lived up to his stupid title; after cutting me down in battle, he cracked some one-liner about how easy I was to beat and then disappeared. I mean, I get humiliated in games all the time, but I'm not used to having characters call it out to my face!

The second time I tracked Tarz down, I gave him a good stomping, only to have him throw off my death blow and at sling more taunts at me. Then he disappeared again! How does he do that?! As you can tell by the picture, I finally got the best of Tarz, but I'm guessing he'll probably come back from the grave to give me more guff. Freaking Tarz.

Ronk The Tark Slayer
It didn't take me long to completely break Shadow of War. Ronk was just some random lackey orc who got in a lucky final blow while I was still learning the ropes. But unlike that jerk Tarz, there was something oddly endearing about Ronk. For starters, he seemed really happy when he killed me, and gave himself the title of The Tark Slayer, because I guess I'm a Tark. Maybe I'm just a sucker for underdog stories, but seeing him get a promotion kinda made me happy for him.

That didn't stop me from cutting him down the next time I ran into him, but he took the defeat well, and christened me The Tark Slayer Slayer. So maybe he isn't the brightest guy, but at least he's a gracious loser! In fact, when he popped up later in the game (orcs sure do cheat death a lot in Mordor), I was so happy to see him that I just ran away. I'm hoping I can keep getting him promoted all the way up to Nazgul.  

Noruk The Envenomed
This Gremlins extra-looking jerk has been way off in the southwest corner of Minas Ithil on a caragor hunting mission for the entire game so far, and I'm simply not going that far out of my way just to kill another orc. I think he realizes it too – look how smug he is! You can also tell by his complexion that he's been out in the countryside way too long. Put some sunscreen on, Noruk!

Bagga The Runner
Speaking of no-show cowards; I ran into Bagga once while flipping across the rooftops of Minas Ithil like a lunatic. I winged him with an arrow, and he instantly retreated. I haven't seen him since. Ah well, at least his title is accurate.

Hork Man-Breaker
Hork, on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. I can't remember for certain, but I think Hork was part of a main mission, and was way more powerful than me when I went up against him. Rather than taking him head-on (pun somewhat intended), I baited a giant graug, which pounded on Hork until he was almost dead. Unfortunately, the two idiots chased each other out of the mission zone, and when I followed to finish him off, I failed the mission.

I restarted it, and apparently must've beheaded him at the end of the battle? I'll be honest, I barely remember any of it – I'm not a great hero, and I definitely shouldn't be entrusted with the One Ring. Or the Second One Ring, which Celebimbo can apparently forge whenever he damn well feels like it because nothing J.R.R. Tolkien wrote matters anymore.

Ushak The Agonizer
You certainly can't tell from his appearance, but this is the character that Kumail Nanjiani plays, and he wasn't lying when he told Conan O'Brien that Monolith screwed him over – he doesn't sound anything like an orc! They just put his normal voice in there! It's so embarrassingly out of place that he's painful to listen to – maybe that's where the "Agonizer" title comes from?

Regardless, I wasted no time putting Nanjiani out of his misery, only to realize immediately afterwards that I should've waited until I unlocked the domination ability so I could recruit him.*** Thankfully, Nanjiani popped back up later in the game, and I've been running away from him ever since just to keep him alive.

Ogbur The Undaunted
Awww. I don't even remember li'l Oggy, but I like his confidence; despite being small and sickly, he still named himself "The Undaunted." Unfortunately, he's dead now. Mordor is a mean place.

Coming Up Next: A bunch more orcs I'll be exacting my revenge on. In theory, anyway...

*Granted, I wrote and pledged the oath to myself while Andy repeatedly told me it was unnecessary and weird, but it's still an oath, dammit! (back to top)
**Although, a secondary and equally important talking point is the fact that Shelob is a now sexy Milla Jovovich lookalike for some reason. What the hell is that about?! I'm not a huge Lord of the Rings nerd, but even I know that Shelob is supposed to be a giant freaking spider! And yeah, maybe she has some magical shapeshifting powers, but of all the things she could change into, "half-naked white woman" feels just a little too in line with some corporate executive's idea of what the stereotypical mouth-breathing Gamer wants to see. I'm surprised it's not included as a bullet-point on the back of the box. More importantly, though, if Shelob can turn into a sexy woman on a whim, why isn't she ALWAYS a sexy woman? Trapping human snacks would be a helluva lot easier! (back to top)
***Quick side note: What's with all the weird sexual nomenclature in this series? You're always dominating someone or humiliating them or pinning or mounting them...something weird is going on at Monolith. (back to top

Kruk The Strong
Kruk popped up in a Nemesis mission; one of his main traits was "Power Crazed," which is apparently why he was single-handedly taking on a graug in a Trial By Ordeal. Kruk's demeanor and beefed-up armor certainly lived up to his title, but unfortunately Kruk himself did not. He got crushed crazy hard almost as soon as the mission started – I barely had a chance to do my Benny Hill-esque Elven Dash into the arena before his body went flying over my head. So long, Kruk!

Gund The Painted
I didn't know orcs could be so creative! Clearly this guy's body art matters to him, since he forwent a standard orc title like "Facesmasher" for something that calls out his true passion.

Gund showed up immediately after the graug pounded Kruk The Strong into dust. Actually, I was in the middle of getting pounded at that point – turns out graugs don't disappear after a mission ends, and don't particularly care if you're trying to pick up loot from a fallen foe. Despite his cool tattoos, Gund seemed like the typical dumb orc, though he did have his own sidekick, which is pretty cool. I still don't understand what he was trying to say, though – "We like it when we don't fight fair because we're orcs?" Get your little buddy a grammar book!

Zunn The Stalker
For some reason Zunn strikes me as the quintessential Internet troll. First of all, his title is "Stalker," and he just barged into my confrontation with Gund and started insulting me. If that's not enough, his blood brother is named Prak Worm-Licker – I rest my case.

Anyhow, I softened Zunn up by luring him next to a few explosive barrels and then detonating them (idiot!), and then finished him off by sneaking up onto the roof of a hut and doing a stealth drop-kill on his ass while he was still on fire. Some stalker.

Prak Worm-Licker
Guess who showed up whining about his blood brother right after I killed him? Seriously, I don't know why Talion even bothers traveling anywhere – if you stay in the same spot for more than five seconds, orc captains will just line up and come to you! In addition to licking worms, Prak was apparently a "Fiery Feral Beastmaster." That sounds pretty cool, but it must be a rough hobby, because this dude was gnarly looking. I pumped him full of arrows from a safe distance – who knows what kind of diseases a worm licker might have.

Bolg Flesh Lover
Alright, enough is enough! Flesh Lover, Worm Licker – someone in Monolith's naming department needs a cold shower. Aaaand that's all I got. Oh, Bolg kind of looks like Danny DeVito's take on The Penguin. Is that funny? Whatever. Moving on!

Krimp The Choker
Krimp actually looks like a pretty jolly fellow, which makes him all the creepier. His class is "Terror Destroyer," which sounds badass, but doesn't actually make a lot of sense – isn't destroying terror a good thing? It should be Terror Expounder or Terror Fosterer. Regardless, I haven't run into Krimp yet, but I think I'll stay out of arm's reach; this guy's got "stranger danger" written all over him!

Zuka Cannibal
Zuka certainly looks scary, as is the fact that he's a cannibal. But once again, you've got to consider the bigger picture – since he's an orc, that means he's eating other orcs. Basically, he's doing my job for me, and even cleaning up the mess so we don't have rotting orc carcasses all over the place. I think I'll keep him around to help thin out the ranks.

On the stats front, Zuka is terrified of stealth, which makes perfect sense; I wouldn't want other cannibals sneaking up on me either.

Tugog doesn't even have a title – it's just Tugog. Basically, he's the Cher of Mordor. I knew there was something funny about Tugog as soon as I saw him – that hat is way too stylish compared to all the dead animal skulls that other orcs cram their heads into. I won't spoil the surprise of what's up with this guy, but suffice it to say I ran away when we met just to keep him alive. At this point I think I've spared more orc captains than I've killed...

I guess all the single-named orcs in Mordor have awesome hats. This guy looks like a ton of fun! Should I be liking them this much? They're supposed to be nemesises...

Coming Up Next: I confront the orc that humiliated Suriel, plus a bunch of other captains that I may or may not like more than the protagonists...

Lorm The Shy
Boy, the procedural generation really blew it on this one; he definitely doesn't look like a Lorm, and I don't think he's shy either! His name should be something like Chaz The Dane Cook Fan. Also, he's got Brian Shea's haircut. Talk about the worst!

Lorm showed up in a Nemesis mission that involved him executing a rival captain, who started the encounter on his knees with just a sliver of health. I dropped into the mix only to get clobbered by a giant olog, and before I knew it Lorm was somehow burnt to a crisp! Alas, Chaz, we hardly knew ye!

Ogbur Fire-Brander
This is the second Ogbur I've run across, and it's the orc who killed Chaz. I'm still not sure how he made such a glorious comeback, but he earned a promotion for it and already has another rival that he's hankering to kill. I think I'll keep him around like Zuka "Tastes Like Chicken" Cannibal. They've been a huge help so far, and I haven't even mindjacked them yet!

Ghura The Heartless
I'll be honest, I don't really remember anything about Ghura, or how I killed him. I just like how he's splayed out on the Army screen. That's exactly how I look taking an afternoon nap!

Nakra Lucky Shot
Technically, Nakra isn't even my Nemesis (#NotMyNemesis). Apparently he killed Suriel, though I'm not sure how, since Nakra's attributes include Mortally Sickly and Infected With Fear. Regardless, the game gave me an opportunity to off Nakra for Suriel in an online vendetta, so I figured I'd try it out.

The mission required me to first kill off 10 of Nakra's defenders, which basically entailed doing a Shadow Strike 10 times and occasionally hiding in some bushes (for shame, Suriel!). Nakra showed up shortly after, vowing revenge for his fallen shield-bearers. It was quite the dramatic entrance.

So, how did I take down the mighty warrior who so thoroughly slayed and humiliated Suriel? I used the distract ability to lure him near a spider nest, and then shot it. A SINGLE spiderbite killed him off! I didn't even have a chance to run up to him and land a killing blow before he croaked! Clearly Nakra's luck wasn't his aim – it was getting to go up against Suriel in the first place.

Snafu The Soothsayer
At first I thought Shadow of War's name generator crapped the bed again – an orc named Snafu? And he's a soothsayer? But then I saw Snafu's "Enraged by Everything" attribute, and realized it's one of those opposite naming conventions, like calling a fat guy Slim. Sure enough, as soon as I found him on the battlefield, he blew up and started attacking everyone in his line of sight. I fought him to an inch of his life, but just couldn't kill him – he's like the George Costanza of orcs! So once again I ran away and let him live. I have a serious problem.

Tarz The Infernal
Okay, NOT this time. Killing Snafu was part of another Nemesis mission, so the only way to spare his life was to die myself (how poetically tragic!). So I just walked up to some random idiot and let him kill me. That idiot ended up being another Tarz, and the cheapo victory went straight to his head – by the time I respawned he already had a flaming bird cage on his head and a sidekick singing his praises! I wasted no time in tracking him down and unleashing a can of Elven Rage on his ass. Not on my watch, Tarz!

Ugol The Surgeon
And you thought our healthcare was bad! I'm not sure what I was expecting from an orc surgeon, but this is definitely worse. There's no way that bag of organs strapped to his hip is sterile – though his intolerance of morgai flies suggests he at least has some concerns about hygiene.

Ugol was consulting with Tarz when I showed up to put his infernal ass in the ground, but the good bad doctor didn't bat an eye at the walloping that ensued. Instead, Ugol just patiently waited his turn and then told me he was going to carve me up. I gave him a good blasting courtesy of a nearby explosive barrel, at which point he ran away. I didn't pursue him – his unsanitary medical practices could wipe out half the orc army!

Kuga The Greedy
There's not much to say about Kuga, really – I just like that his main characteristic is that he hates acrobatics. You and me both, Kuga.

Oh, he's dead now. And I did a couple extra backflips before I killed him just to rub it in.

Bubol Crush
Alright, I give up! How could you possibly want to kill this guy? First of all, his name is Bubol – that's adorable! Secondly, look how happy he is! It's impossible not to root for him – he's got a metal plate bolted to his head and is categorized as "Beast Fodder," but he still looks on the bright side of life. He's way more likable than that big beefy dummy Talion and the racist old ghost that lives inside of him – we get it, Celebrimbor, we can't trust spider women! Sheesh.

That's it, I'm officially #TeamOrc – I'm not confronting any more captains until I can recruit them to my side, and then I'm going to do everything in my power to make Bubol king. I just can't bring myself to hate any of these orcs. Well, there is one actually...

Market Troll
Now here's a guy I could make orc sashimi out of! I know trolls are technically a different species in Lord of the Rings, but it's the only title that suffices for this guy – he's even doing the sleazy price-reduction scam that awful infomercials do! "But if you order now, you'll get your box of random virtual crap for half the price!"

What is the lore here, exactly? The humans and orcs continue their brutal war over control of Mordor... except for one orc, who is hoarding an infinite amount of legendary weapons and other loot from some unknown source, and blindly putting them into sealed chests that he is selling to the most-hated member of the opposition for a secondary currency that orcs surely don't use in their primitive society. This is worse than Shelob's sex-spider routine! Not to mention he's also selling off other orcs, whom I can only assume have been enslaved, because why would they willingly go along with this scheme? I know I said I wasn't going to kill anymore orcs, but I can make an exception for a treasonous slaver. Hey Monolith: How about putting this guy in the actual game world so I can give him a piece of my mind?

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