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Tales from Middle-earth

As I get older, I seem to get very picky when it comes to video games. Open-world titles in particular tend to spark the biggest conflict within me. I find most sandbox games suffer from ‘too much padding’ syndrome and are lifeless or are just poorly executed.

The most recent examples that spring to mind are the Assassin’s Creed games. Go here, collect the thing, go here and shoot the man, go over there and stop the theft, rinse and repeat for 20-30 hours, never feeling like I’m invested in anything.

Other games make me feel like I’m grinding slowly towards a recycled ending with characters I’ve slowly grown to hate over the course of the narrative. Even the colourful characters of GTAV weren’t enough. It felt a little too forced.

In a roundabout way, I’m trying to say there are very few decent open-world titles these days. The last one I bought was Mafia 3, a game that sold me on the title alone. But I was quickly bored of the once-again repetitive gameplay and ‘no investment’ story. I hear the new Zelda is pretty good but I’m yet to try it.

With the release of Shadow of War looming, I was happily reminded how much I enjoyed Shadow of Mordor. This is despite the fact that the ending of the game was really anticlimactic. There is nothing better than crafting your own story and this was helped massively by the “Nemesis System.” As I went about my day, cutting through the hordes of orcs and goblins, alliances began to form as did rivalries. With one of my Generals, I remember at the time thinking, ‘I really don’t want to lose this guy’ as I pondered his struggle to rise in my army. He took quite a few licks as we cut through the rabble but in the end, his devotion and pure skill in battle earned the rights for promotion. He was pleased. I remember seeing him stood there, fully armoured and ready to go, screaming at the others beneath him, playing his loyal part.

I left him guarding his district while I went out looking for more trouble, only to be greeted by a familiar face. A heavily burnt orc wearing armour to hide his scars challenged me, surrounded by 50 of his mates. He looked at me and sneered, reminding me of how he survived my brutal assault only hours earlier. I smiled and proceeded to send him back to his maker, tail between his legs, wishing he had picked the right side. I’d almost forgotten that this was all happening at random.

With that in mind, I eagerly await Shadow of War with open arms. The chance once again to craft my own stories and alliances while battling the Dark Lord himself. The system has had time to evolve too which means the immersion will be even deeper. It’s what I want; an open world game that sucks me in and makes 40 hours pass in an instant, not feeling like I’m just going from A to B, again and again, doing the same thing.

Shadow of War will be something special.

Nick Petrasiti
Consummate professional, lover of video games and all-round hero that can be found doing a podcast, writing about games and also making videos. Oh, I have saved the world 87 times and once hugged Danny Trejo. You're welcome.

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