Nemesis Revisited (cntd)
The amount of effort that’s gone into upping the quality of the different appearances and personalities you’ll encounter is staggering. In the first game, as much as it blew the community away, after a while you could start to spot the limitations in the randomization. This time around I don’t think I’ve seen a single unique enemy that looked anywhere close to another, and while personality traits and lines would sometime sound extremely familiar, having a distinctly different face and body spouting the rhetoric made it easy to overlook (and I do have to say, they’ve recorded what feels like an extremely high amount of lines for the unique enemies, I’ve only heard similar dialogue from them a handful of times.)
But don’t let my admiration of the revamped Nemesis system overshadow the same that can be said of the ally system. Enemies brought under the player’s control forge bonds on the field of battle. They will save you, you will save them, you will leave them, you will watch them die, watch them betray, watch them feel betrayed that you did not help them. Once again, even with the overarching story improvements, the real plot exists in the occurrences each player will experience differently in its entirety. Each player gets a largely unique adventure tailored to their own experiences.
Beyond The Light, Darkness
The sad thing with things that sound too good to be true, is that there’s often a catch. That is also true of Shadow of War, with the introduction of optional microtransactions. You can avoid them in their entirety, opting to earn crates via Vendetta grinding or hording your in-game currency, but when Act 4 rolls around, to get the second and “true” ending, you are going to have the choice between either one hell of a grind (which if you love a grindfest, you’ll love) or you’ll be ever tempted by the different crates you can purchase with real world currency just a click away.
Now, I’ve opted for the grind route; I’m still nowhere near to completing Act 4 because of it. Personally, I enjoy a grindfest. It lengthens the game, and when the gameplay is as fun as this, I’m absolutely okay with it. But the fact of the matter is, most people don’t want a grindfest in their games anymore, not as a wall keeping them from the ending. And certainly not as a wall, with a series of locks they can just keep buying to unlock to get to the other side more quickly.
The Battle-scarred Hero
In nearly every way, Middle-earth: Shadow of War has improved upon the things that made Shadow of Mordor so great, so addicting, and so rewarding. More than that, it brought to bare a much more interesting story, a much more diverse cast of characters and environments, and made the overall experience last much longer even before Act 4. It’s just a shame that the microtransactions are such a clear, blatant attempt at earning more money with the way they are implemented. You aren’t blocked off from the true ending, you aren’t hidden away from your final reward if you refuse to buy into it, but unless you’re like me, you’re going to be awfully tempted to take the easy route. For the sake of your wallet and pride, I beg you not to. It is because of this that in terms of scoring, Shadow of War does not climb above its’ predecessor. What could have been a 9.5 or higher, is instead brought back down to a level equal of the first game.
Narrative has more substance, Nemesis and Ally systems have been revamped and improved upon, environment variety and game length are drastically increased.
A Grindfest of a 4th Act will not be appealing to most people, dangling microtransactions to quicken the pace in front of the consumer is pretty insulting.