Middle-earth: Shadow of War
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|Middle-earth: Shadow of War|
|Publisher||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Platform||PC, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One|
|Release date||10 October 2017|
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is an open world, action-adventure roleplaying video game developed by Monolith Productions. A sequel to the 2014 game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, Shadow of War was released on 10 October 2017 for the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. Set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the game follows the continuing adventures of Gondorian Ranger Talion and the Elf-wraith Celebrimbor in their campaign against Sauron.
The player continues the story of the ranger Talion and the spirit of the elf lord Celebrimbor, who shares Talion's body, as they forge a new Ring of Power to amass an army to fight against Sauron. At the beginning of the story, Celebrimbor is captured by Shelob, the spider of Cirith Ungol. Talion seeks him out and eventually tracks the Bright Lord. Shelob turns into a human form and forces Talion to trade the Ring for Celebrimbor. The gravewalker travels to Minas Ithil to retrieve the Palantir, but sees the fortress being attacked. He kills an orc captain with the help of Idril, Lord Castamir's daughter. Celebrimbor advises Talion against staying with the Gondorians, but the gravewalker refuses to leave his kin. When the Witch King and the Nazgul come to raid Minas Ithil, Talion stays to help. The city is eventually lost through Lord Castamir's betrayal, and Talion attempts to retrieve the Palantir with no success. Before being corrupted by the Witch-King Talion is rescued by Eltariel, an elf assassin connected to Lady Galadriel and sent to hinder Sauron's ascension. She wields some portion of Galadriel's own power of light and she can use it to disrupt the workings of Sauron and his creatures. She does not wholly trust Talion and his bond with Celebrimbor, but accepts them as an ally of convenience and preferable to Sauron. Talion and Eltariel flee as the Witch-King settles into his new seat of power--the newly christened Minas Morgul.
Eventually, Sauron learns that Shelob is plotting treachery against him and sends Nazgul to kill her. Talion and Eltariel fight them back, but Shelob is exhausted and weakened, and surrenders the New Ring to Talion. With the power of the Ring, Talion and Eltariel are able to lay claim to Mordor.
Elsewhere, he arrives at Nurn. He dominates a champion olog--an orc-troll hybrid of sorts--named Bruz and begins gathering the troops and resources needed to lay siege to and thereby claim some of Sauron's fortresses. After a successful siege Talion and Bruz confront to overlord who turns out to be Ratbag, the snivelling orc who'd been Talion's willing pawn in the first game, who is still alive.
Meanwhile, the Nazgul have become more active and are using some means to dominate and control orcs; Eltariel spies on the Nazgul to attempt to understand their weaknesses and sometimes relays information to Talion. He and Celebrimbor have themselves been exploring the potential of their bond, finding more powers and applications. Talion's forces repeal an attempt by Sauron's orcs to capture the fortress, but Bruz--who had either faked his domination or overcome it--betrays and slays him in front of the entire army, claiming the fort and its forces for himself. Talion's unique status keeps him from truly dying, and he revives soon enough humiliated but thirsting for revenge. He gathers more forces, retakes the fortress, and after chasing Bruz throughout Mordor he finally runs the clever Bruz to ground--using the power of domination to go further than simple control. Talion and Celebrimbor break Bruz's mind and leave him deranged. Ratbag is horrified at this fate, and deserts Talion.
Eltariel's investigations yield fruit, and Talion is able to find and confront some Ringwraiths directly; two are revealed to be kings of men tempted by Sauron and Celebrimbor, who aided Sauron--in his guise as Annatar--more willingly and for longer than he'd admitted to Talion. The third is shown to be Isildur, the king who'd defeated Sauron at the end of the Second Age, whose body was retrieved and given a ring by agents of Sauron, revived into undeath to make him serve Sauron as humiliation and punishment.
Talion's army grows mightier and he and Eltariel lay siege to Barad-Dur to attempt to reach Sauron, doing well enough the Ringwraiths appear in desperation. Talion once again battles Isildur, and bests him. He and Celebrimbor attempt to dominate the wraith, and this time succeed in breaking Sauron's control. Celebrimbor makes to enslave the Ringwraith to his service, but Talion realizes that Celebrimbor doesn't want to stop Sauron, the elf wants to replace him as the Bright Lord. He stabs the Ringwraith, destroying Isildur and laying him to rest. Celebrimbor rages at Talion, and the pair quarrel far more harshly than they ever have. Talion refuses to aid Celebrimbor in ruling the world, and Celebrimbor forsakes him for Eltariel--leaving Talion dying from the old wound of his cut throat--and takes the New Ring with him. The pair abandon Talion to die and go to confront Sauron on their own with the idea of dominating the Lord of Mordor to their combined will and the might of the New Ring. Talion receives a vision from Shelob, who advises him to take up Isildur's Ring and resist Sauron's domination as long as possible. Talion accepts, and begins gaining the powers of the Ringwraith.
Now cursed but retaining his own will, Talion storms Minas Morgul, raising shades of the dead to fight beside him as he goes until he rolls over the city's orcish defenders. He confronts and bests the Witch-King but cannot destroy or dominate him, only force him to withdraw. He uses the Palantir in Minas Morgul to watch Celebrimbor and Eltariel battle Sauron and almost win. At the last moment Sauron pulls a trick from Isildur and cuts the New Ring from Eltariel's hand, weakening her and cutting Celebrimbor loose. Sauron seizes the elf-wraith and tries to subsume him. Eltariel flees with the New Ring.
All he can do is buy time, so Talion wages a decades-long campaign, leading a civil war in Mordor to continually disrupt Sauron's forces and preventing them from unifying. One day his will can longer hold out against the corrosion of the Ring and he accepts Sauron's control and the Witch-King's leadership--but his actions delayed Sauron from being able to multiply and strengthen his forces, and gave time for the One Ring to be found. Without his efforts the free people of Middle-Earth would have been utterly outmatched by Sauron's orc hordes. Eventually Talion dies with the other Ringwraiths at the destruction of the One Ring. Celebrimbor is released or perhaps diminished when Sauron's power is dispersed. In the next world Talion, free of his wraith corruption, walks through beautiful lands discarding his unneeded weapons as he goes to whatever comes next.
Shadow of War plays far more fast and loose with some details of the legendarium than Shadow of Mordor ever did. Sauron freely uses his elf-like guise of Annatar, even though he canonically lost that form in the destruction of Númenor, and the Third-Age king of Rohan Helm is transplanted into the Second Age. Likewise, Celebrimbor is portrayed as an erstwhile ally of Sauron who travelled with him to recruit unknowing human lords to be Ringwraiths. It also reinterprets Shelob as a somewhat heroic character, using her gift of foresight to contribute to Sauron's downfall even at her own cost. She is depicted as a Maia, in addition to being Sauron's former lover, who takes the shape of a beautiful woman when she wishes.
|The Wraith||Alister Duncan|
|Eltariel/ Ioreth||Laura Bailey|
|Nazgul||Darin De Paul|
|Ratbag the Coward||Phil LaMarr|
|Daughter's Suitor||Claudia Black|
|Ranger / Helm Hammerhand / Nemesis Ologs||Fred Tatasciore|
|Idril /Helm's Daughter||Nicole Tompkins|
- Tom Phillips, "Middle-earth: Shadow of War release date delayed" dated 1 June 2017, Eurogamer.net (accessed 2 June 2017)
- James Orry, "Middle-earth: Shadow of War confirmed for Project Scorpio" dated 28 February 2017, Video Gamer (accessed 3 May 2017)