Middle-earth: Shadow of War Reviews

  • SubtleEel4SubtleEel4151,513
    24 Oct 2017 30 Mar 2018
    19 5 2
    Shadow of War is both fun and tough, particularly at the highest difficulty setting (which I highly recommend). Unlike the original Shadow of Mordor, you can't just roll through dozens of Orcs with a blazing sword, taking heads and limbs willy-nilly. Sure, you can try, but you'll soon find the ranks of Orc captains overflowing with grunts promoted for cutting you down. And they won't let you forget it. And there is a much stronger focus on the captains in this game over the original, much less focus on fighting the Orc grunts wandering around - and unfortunately less benefit, since you don't get experience for killing the lowly grunts. So, if fighting hoards of Orcs was the thing you found the most fun in the original, you do get less of that here.

    Skill progress is slow, and this really adds to the fun and challenge - as you (quite) slowly level up, the captains get slightly easier, and your odds of surviving masses of Orcs slightly improves, and this slow improvement allows you to appreciate each success. But as you level up, so do the captains, so there is a good balance. It takes a relatively long time to expect to win nearly every fight you walk into.

    The extra challenge you'll find in Shadow of War really makes this a game worth playing. Every Orc captain you take out will give you satisfaction beyond what you could hope for from Shadow of Mordor. Each time you come up on a captain early on, you are already half expecting that, rather than win, you are most likely going to just do some damage and run away, if you survive at all. And herein lies the beauty of the new and improved Nemesis System. These Orcs not only remember your encounters, and not only bear the scars you give them, but they'll actively hunt you down, ambush you, or hang out with other captains, waiting for you to attack.

    In fact, the variety of ways that you can hunt down, stumble on, or get suddenly ambushed by Orc captains far outstrips the original game. There's a life to it that the first one can't match. Sure it's all scripted and run by complex and convoluted computer algorithms, but it comes together so well and naturally that it doesn't feel scripted at all. And as you kill and get killed by the Orcs, the web of alliances and vengeance gets more complex and interesting. Cleave an Orc captain clean in half and you might find his buddy hunting you down for revenge, only to find later that the cleaved Orc has since been sewn back together (quite literally), and is out to get you.

    It's just a fun game, there really isn't any way else to put it. A great mix of fun and challenge.

    If you are avoiding this game because you've heard about the "loot box" controversy, don't worry yourself about it. I was 9 hours in before I even noticed where to buy a loot box, and still have no interest or need in buying one of these "gold" loot boxes, particularly with the new online fight pits and online siege - just get your gold that way. In fact, loot boxes are such a non-factor that if it hadn't been mentioned to death on forums and reviews galore, I probably never would have even noticed it at all. These special gold loot boxes can probably get you ahead in one way or another, but I have so much fun running around the map hacking off Orc limbs only to see them sewn back together later when the Captain I assumed was dead tackles me off a rooftop in a surprise ambush that I build up enough in-game currency and experience on my own. That being said, I got all the way to Shadow Wars level 8 before losing a siege, and have never paid real money for a loot box. They don't get you through the game faster. You don't need them. So relax, and try the game.

    The only real negative with this game is the same thing with almost any game - the repetition factor. Each land holds a citadel or castle that you will have to eventually siege. The process for preparing for the siege, and the siege itself, is essentially the same. The major differences are the race of Orcs in the land, the type of citadel, the number of warchiefs, etc. But the process is the same. The personalities and nemesis interactions help to relieve the potential tedium, but it's not perfect. That's why I give this 4.5 stars instead of five. You are basically repeating the same action over and over as you siege castles. Fortunately the personalities of the captains and warchiefs, the great variety of Orc races, and the plot related quests help to balance it out. Also, you have a variety of options when it comes to tackling new lands - use branding and infiltration to weaken the castle, or kill off the warchiefs without placing spies, or just immediately siege the castle with no subterfuge at all. Each land carries enough variety and offers enough options to prevent outright tedium.

    The Shadow Wars could also be considered tedious, but if you've made it that far and like the gameplay, it isn't a big deal. If you find the game and game play fun, it simply won't be a grind. If you don't like the game play, then it is a moot point.

    It is definitely worth picking up, and if it ever goes on sale, it would be a requirement to pick it up. It really shouldn't be missed.
    Showing both comments.
    Wish2Die4UThank you for the review. Have owned this game for a while but never bothered to actually turn it on. Perhaps it's time I do, considering. smile
    Posted by Wish2Die4U On 04 Jul 19 at 07:26
    KanchanaburiShadow Wars could also be is considered tedious.... Yes, it looks beatiful on the X, but the game play and constant need to do the same action over and over again, and then to do it over again on the DLC is boring as hell. The first one was far better, this one simple reguritated the first one's unique design over and over again, and now the orcs little talks just got irritating. Thankfully it's over.
    Posted by Kanchanaburi On 07 Apr 20 at 20:06
  • MasterCrafty77MasterCrafty77173,064
    16 Mar 2022
    0 0 0
    I loved this game.

    I got it in a bundle when I bought my Xbox One, when it was released... I came back and played it again when I got my series X.

    Great mechanics and character development. It really feels like you are getting more powerful and by the end of the game you will wade into hordes of Orcs that you would have avoided a few hours ago.

    The feeling of Caragor mounts is awesome. Never really got to grips with Graug's and Dragons in the late game, but the combat is awesome. The end game (after the story) is a bit of a grind, (building up your fortress and maxing out warlords to defend it). But is fun.

    I did have a bad experience of attacking a fortess of another player that was clearly hacked (5-6 duplicated of the same orc with all the best traits making them nigh unkillable).

    Great Story mode, compelling battles, great siege battles and the freedom to go off piste to gather collectibles and build up your army of followers.

    (Also Liam O'Brien Voicing Gollum and Matt Mercer voicing Orruks for fans of Critical Role) :)
  • SilvereaterSilvereater276,935
    01 Apr 2020
    1 6 0
    Shadow of War is a great sequel to Shadow of Mordor, more combat and stealth options, more flamboyant orcs, and more story to get you engaged.

    It starts off a little odd if your use to the way Shadow of Mordor gives you executions. The system is a lot slower and takes some time to get use too. I really disliked this change at first, and I wanted to stop playing the game just cause of that alone. Especially when the rest of the game wasn't too different from the first. I just kinda thought "I've already played this game before" But if you power through the frustrations you'll find lots of content that make up for that one change you don't like. More hand-crafted orcs with dank lines, more of the same old combat with a ton of new cool moves, and a story I actually got engaged in. (Only at the 3rd act though :P)