e3 2014
We Are All Orcs in Shadow of Mordor - Hands-on - Update

Greg Tito | 22 May 2014 02:05
e3 2014 - RSS 2.0

But here's the cool thing: When you die, there's a quick sequence which shows orc captains killing others, and power shifting all over the place. New grunts are elevated - with a strong chance it was the guy who killed you that's promoted - and duels between orcs with a grudge will be completed with all manner of blood, gore and flying, decapitated heads. All of a sudden, the power landscape you saw in the Nemesis interface has changed, and you need to roll with it to continue furthering your goals.

As I struggled to get one of "my" orcs installed in power, I was struck by how much I was having fun within just one mission in the game. How does this system integrate with the rest of the story? dePlater didn't reveal much, but he did hint that Talion would meet characters that "bring some humanity" to the story, as well as important lore characters such as Gollum who is in Mordor around this time. Christian Cantamessa is a writer on the project, and he recently was on Red Dead Redemption and dePlater hopes he brings that gravitas to this game. "That's another game that's really interesting obviously in exploring similar themes of modernity and morality," he said. "[Mordor] is kind of a frontier too.

The one big thing I tried to get him reveal was who the Wraith was who inhabits and empowers Talion. "There's a lot of fantastic speculation on that," dePlater said with a smile. "He's someone very authentic to the lore who has a very strong grudge against Sauron." The art-style of the Wraith animations, as well as the towers you respawn after dying in the world, both evoke an Elven feel to them. dePlater also said there's a connection with the Rings of Power. If I'm going to take a guess, I think the Wraith is actually Celebrimbor - the Noldorin who taught Sauron how to make the Rings in Eregion beside Moria. But that's pure nerd speculation ...

Back to the game at hand, I really enjoyed how choosing to take out a captain or a lieutenant could then spawn a whole other set of circumstances to contend with. As I was crawling into an orc stronghold, I noticed a nest of insects hanging from a tree branch. Wait, wasn't Rash the Mountain susceptible to insect stings? I called up the Nemesis interface, and yep confirmed. I maneuvered Talion to be near the nest, using stealth and the brush to stay hidden, lured Rash over with an arrow, then shot the nest above me. The hive came crashing down, and Rash was beset by fantasy-themed hornets. He took a lot of damage, so he started to retreat. Hold on, I need to brand you with my wraith powers! For the next few minutes, a hilarious chase scene unfolded as I tried to weave around Rash's grunts to keep their fleeing commander in my sights. By the time I got to him, branded him and made Rash mine, I realized I had engaged in a whole string of incidents the designers never really designed.

"Without nerding out too much, pen and paper RPGs were another huge inspiration for this system," dePlater admitted. "The most memorable characters you'll ever encounter in an RPG aren't the scripted ones that placed in the story. They're the recurring villain that gets created by the DM, who started out as no one, and that you build your own story around. So, that sort of pen and paper RPG story-telling was really a big inspiration for what we wanted to do. It almost is like a dynamic DM, basically."

You are speaking my language, man. I can't wait to get more time with Shadow of Mordor to see if the promise of dynamically created adventuring behind enemy lines. Shadow of Mordor on October 7 for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

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