Middle-earth: Shadow of War is coming out today. It’s the sequel to 2014’s sleeper hit Shadow of Mordor. Like its predecessor, Shadow of War is set in between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Here’s a quick rundown of why you should be excited about the sequel.
Shadow of War’s gameplay retains many of the same basic elements of the original. This includes the Nemesis System and melee combat mechanics.
The big change is the larger open world. The sequel now focuses on large-scale siege battles around strongholds (thus the name Shadow of War).
The Nemesis System was the defining mechanic in Shadow of Mordor. This time, it includes this feature called Nemesis Fortresses, which are large strongholds that have levels of their own.
Fortresses are captured through sieges, which require you to kill its Overlord (the boss enemy). Each Fortress has one Overlord and several Warchiefs.
Here’s an interesting change: you won’t be able to retry failed missions. You’ll have to live with your failures, and the game will adapt to your choices.
Ranked online mode and loot boxes
Shadow of War now has ranked multiplayer modes, which involve captured Fortresses; Social Conquest and the return of Vendettas.
What makes us wary about the sequel is its use of loot boxes, which provide chests with rare followers, XP boosts, and gear for the Nemesis System.
Loot chests are purchased with both in-game and actual money, with nothing gated for paying players.