The Let's Play Archive

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

by Lazyfire

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Original Thread: Orc Politics Simulator 2014: Shadow of Mordor



I put together a playlist for the LP if anyone is in the process of catching up.

Latest polls here

Here's the latest status of the Orc Board

The Game Area:
click for video

What is Shadow of Mordor?

Imagine if the good Assassin's Creed games, the Batman Arkham series and the Return of the King beat-em-up from a decade ago were mixed together. That's the best way I can really describe it, especially because Monolith, the developer on this game, more or less copied the Assassin's Creed movement system and button-for-button copied the Arkham series combat. If the game had been bad it would have been held up as an example of how not to imitate established franchises along with Homefront and Medal of Honor's 2010 reboot. Instead, this game ended up getting amazing review scores, earned a devoted fanbase and recently snatched up a number of yearly awards, including a number of game of the year honors. Most of this has to do with the Nemesis System and what it adds to the game, which I cover below.

The game has you playing as Talion, something of a fantasy Border Patrol agent stationed at the Black Gate, the wall cutting Mordor from Gondor and keeping Orcs out of the wider world. Before you even finish the tutorial Talion's world gets pretty fucked and he ends up bonded to an amnesiac elf ghost who happens to share a number of Talion's desires and also happens to need someone to help him figure out who he is. The game explains it in more detail, but the bond between Talion and the Wraith, as Talion calls the ghost, grants a number of new abilities; most important among these is immortality. If Talion dies he'll respawn at a waypoint some time later. As pretty much every preview for the game and even the basic descriptions of the title will tell you, eventually you have to build an army of the only soldiers you have available: orcs. I want to give fair warning that you won't see that until halfway through the story.

What's this Nemesis System you keep talking about all the time?
click for video

At DICE 2015 the creative director of Monolith gave a speech where he described the motivation behind the Nemesis system as giving you a multiplayer like experience in a single player game. If you've ever played a game against a really good player and become obsessed with trying to embarrass him, or you were playing well and the enemy team made an effort to take you down a peg: that's the feeling they were going for. There are infinitely spawning orcs in Mordor, your average rank and file guys that you'll spend most of your time killing. Then there are the Named Orcs (divided into Captains and Warchiefs, but I'll use Captains as a catch all when possible). These orcs have special attributes and abilities assigned to them by the game based on their level, and they all want you dead. Like the average orc they are just out on the map, you can go up to them and fight them whenever you so choose. Killing them nets you a weapon rune, these are slotted into one of your three weapons to give you additional bonuses. If you can't find the Captain you are looking for they are probably gearing up for an event. These range from feasts to executions to hunts and beyond and serve as side missions, you go up to the location, hit a button and get a little cinematic of the captain in question starting the event. This is where things get fun.

These events are pivotal in an orc leveling up. Just like you, orcs gain levels from having successful events and from, well, killing you. As they level up they lose weaknesses and gain more abilities, but also drop better runes. So while you are waging a one man and one ghost war on the orcs, you also want them to get higher levels so you can get better stuff from them. Careful manipulation of the orcs can sometimes be way better than just killing them outright. Good news: I'm leaving a lot of that manipulation up to you.

Thread Participation

For the most part I'm asking the readers of this thread to decide the fate of individual orcs. If you want one dead or you want one to live or you want me to ruin one's events or however you want to see it done, I'll go along with it. I plan on taking some suggestions at first but later opening things up (once we have more Captains identified) to full on voting. Until the thread decides on how to deal with a particular Captain I'll keep them alive if I can. You can't really take one off the board for good unless you cut off their head or burn them to death or something. I'm also willing to take suggestions on how to play the Nemesis system overall. Should I kill anyone who gets over a set level? Should I let any orc that flees survive our fight? throw out ideas and I'll let you know if they are tenable. Once we have more orcs on the board we'll start this up in earnest.


Shadow of Mordor isn't a super long game, there's just lots of stuff to do with the Nemesis system that makes it much longer, thankfully, most of it is fun stuff. My plan is to divide videos a few ways. One will be story videos, like the very first video of the LP: these will cover story mission and their fallout, maybe a little after that depending on how long we've been running. Second we have Free Roam videos. These will be me killing orcs, picking up collectibles and doing some of the Events as requested. There will also be clip videos of things that happen while I'm playing the game "off camera," I doubt anyone wants to see me grind for currency or XP or interrogate orcs to find out more about the Captains. These videos will have subtitles instead of voice commentary if anything at all and will more be if something super interesting happens and infrequent at best.


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