Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor blends familiar stealth gameplay with an impressive system of unique, procedurally-generated enemies.
If Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor isn’t on your radar yet, you might want to fix that. The game’s first few minutes of gameplay footage may remind you of a few recent titles, but it mixes several interesting new ideas into its tried-and-true core mechanics. One of the most impressive of these new ideas is the Nemesis system: your assassination targets are part of a procedurally generated command structure, and your interactions with them will result in a series of encounters unique to your session.
Shadow of Mordor revolves around a Ranger of Gondor called Talion, waging a one-man war against Sauron and his army of Uruk-hai. He can’t quite do it alone, though: you’ll target Orc leaders and work your way up the chain of command, assassinating threats and using your borderline fan-fiction Wraith powers to enthrall others. Subverting the Orc infrastructure is key to your success in the long run, since every war chief you dominate allows you to use his underlings as double agents behind enemy lines.
The Nemesis system is equally intriguing: enemies will learn your reputation, and your past encounters will shape the way they react. In the video, Talion has evidently encountered his target before, and left him with a grievous wound. The next time they meet, that personal history is evident in the Orc’s appearance and dialogue. Right now it doesn’t look like much more than a gimmick, but keep in mind that this is a pre-alpha version of the game. Expect to see all these systems grow much more robust by the time of release.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is slated for release later this year for PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360.