Middle-earth, the fantasy realm of legends, has been brought to life in video games many times in the past. While some have been better than others, we're still waiting on that killer experience that could feel like it was made by Tolkien himself. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One)
is gaming's latest attempt to give fans what they truly want; that chance to really experience the Lord of the Rings
universe as it was meant to be seen. You play Talion, a ranger, who is dropped into the open-world setting of Mordor. Death lurks everywhere, as do achievements, precious precious achievements.Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
holds 51 achievements, ten of which are "Secret", totaling up to the standard 1000G. One thing you'll see right away is all but one (Secret, likely story-related) of the achievements range from 10-30G each, making none of them particularly huge. The ratios here will be key on determining their exact trickiness once the game is released, but for now we can point out the ones that look the most interesting.
The first to really catch our gaze (and that of Sauron's most likely) are the collectible achievements. Yes, Middle-earth
appears to have collectibles of at least two different kinds: artifacts and Ithildin. How many? Not sure, but you'll have to get them all.
Apart from finding things in this desolate expanse you will need to be completing things too. A total of thirteen achievements for 260G appear to account for the completion of additional or "side" content. They seem to range from normal side quest fare to missions based on one of three weapon types: sword, dagger or bow. How much work these will require is as shrouded in mystery as our hero, but with so many points tied to it they are likely to take up a pretty sizeable chunk of your adventure.
Shadow of Mordor
's main hook to set itself apart from other games is something it calls the "Nemesis System". This gameplay mechanic involves an overlay of the enemy's military structure and ways to interact and manipulate their chain of command in very real and interesting ways. The system includes things like "branding" (a sort of mind-control) to dominate foes and command them to assassinate their commanders and have your subjects take their place. One other scenario is manipulating two Warchiefs to go to war with one another and swooping in to capitalize on the chaos. With so much interesting potential it comes to no surprise that many of the game's achievements are centered around this feature.
These Warchiefs sit the highest at the chain of command and provide the game's toughest challenge; dominating them to your will would be the ultimate defeat of Sauron's foes. So can you guess what one of the achievements is? Yup, branding every single Warchief. We know not the exact difficulty this one will turn out to be, but if we had a guess this is potentially the least one could "simply do".
So Talion goes around killing, branding and otherwise embarrassing the armies of darkness, at least that's the plan. We've all died before in games but the aforementioned Nemesis System takes it one step further and rewards your enemies for making you suffer. That Warchief surprise you with an axe to the face? Sure you'll be back, but he will remember you, taunt you and even be stronger from your previous encounter. Quite possibly the game's most interesting achievement is using your death and applying it as a continued manipulation of the enemy ranks.
All in all a very well spread out list of evenly matched achievements set to utilize the game's greatest strengths and encourage you to explore all corners of it's open world. Nothing requiring multiplayer or co-op here, nothing asking you to do something 100,000 times, it's just a lone ranger in a forbidding wilderness of monsters. Adventure awaits, Sauron beckons and given enough time and creative thinking: you shall pass (your completion goal that is).
For more info on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
be sure to check our previous coverage
and stay tuned to this space for our upcoming official review.
If there's an upcoming game or DLC pack that you'd like to see featured in the Achievement Preview Spotlight, be sure to let us know in the comments!