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Middle-Earth: Shadow of War gets tautological with Shadow Wars missions

How do you solve a problem like Mordor? Specifically Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Monolith Productions’ 2014 fantasy RPG which took The Lord of the Rings into uncharted territory via its refreshingly unpredictable Nemesis System and grim prequel storyline. Much as Shadow proved a critical darling, reaping Game of the Year awards aplenty, one shortcoming kept cropping up in reviews – the lack of additional missions for Ranger-spirit hybrid Talion to wade through once he’d bested all of Sauron’s minions.

Indeed, that minor reservation appears to have played a substantial hand in the thinking behind the narrative structure of Monolith’s impending follow-up, Shadow of War. Case in point: a just-announced series of bonus missions set to bridge the final moments of the sequel’s main campaign with the opening sequences of the iconic trilogy of novels from J.R.R. Tolkien which first inspired this sub-franchise.

Takeaways:

  • When players finish conquering Mordor with the help of Talion’s newly-forged ring – and Celebrimbor’s incorporeal support – they’ll have the option to defend the fortresses they’ve claimed against waves of ever-toughening adversaries, defending capture points and slaughtering oncoming war-chiefs until the siege subsides, then rescuing any Orc allies taken hostage in the interim.
  • Perhaps “option” isn’t the right word, though, since, in order to experience the full ending of Shadow of War, you’ll have to complete all of these so-called Shadow Wars challenges, maintaining control of those fortresses regardless of the odds until such a time as Monolith deems fit.
  • Quite what these coda scenes will depict that warrants their exclusion from the core campaign’s final moments Monolith won’t say, but they have teased that we’ll discover how Talion’s quest for revenge on Sauron for tearing his family apart segues into The Lord of the Rings – perhaps Gollum and Torvin the Dwarf are due return appearances to set up the former and Gimli’s roles in the trilogy ahead?

If the divisive delayed plot resolution of Batman: Arkham Knight proved anything, it’s that Warner Bros-published projects can frequently provoke just as much irritation in fans with the inclusion of an extended endgame as with its omission. While many players will rejoice at the news of more Shadow of War narrative content, the Eye of Sauron now seems firmly fixed on Monolith in terms of meeting expectations with the finished product, especially given their recent struggles to justify the presence of micro-transaction content here too.

Keep following D-pad Joy for more news and views on Middle-Earth: Shadow of War in the run-up to its October 10th launch on PS4, Xbox One and PC, including Daragh Payne’s report on the new Terror Tribe trailer from earlier this week.

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