Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 2 has been announced. It's actually called Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. It’s no surprise a sequel is in the works - since its release, Shadow of Mordor has sold 2.88 million copies worldwide on the PS4 alone, and the game received widespread critical acclaim. Having played and loved Shadow of Mordor, I’m excited at the prospect of bothering a fresh generation of orcs in the sequel, so here’s a wishlist of things I'd love to see.
Better boss battles
The final battle against The Black Hand is a huge disappointment in the original. After spending the entirety of the game brutally murdering most of Mordor, the finale doesn’t even offer a real test. I'd like to actually engage in combat with my most dangerous foes, rather than just tap a few buttons during anti-climactic QTE events, which is exactly what the concluding fight of Shadow of Mordor turns out to be. Give us a boss deserving of a Middle-earth beatdown.
The return Of the Nemesis system
The Nemesis System was one of the greatest parts of the last game, if not the greatest. It's included in the sequel, as confirmed by Shadow of Mordor design director Michael de Plater: “...to be super honest, it was our first go, so we’ve just scratched the surface with what we can do with the Nemesis system." In this sequel it'll influence the entire world, and not just the characters you fight. There's also a Nemesis Fortress system, where whole bases transform depending on your adversarial relationship with its occupants.
Restart button for failed missions
This is more of an irritation, than a huge complaint, but being unable to restart a mission after failing is an annoyance. Pouring salt into your already cavernous wound, valuable murder-time is wasted on long journeys which could be avoided. The fast travel option from the first game shows the developers want to quickly get people into the action, so an automatic mission restart option seems like a logical step for the sequel.
More in-depth character exploration
Celebrimbor's story is further explored in The Bright Lord DLC and I'd like to see Talion's back-story get the same treatment. Shadow of War is set during the 60 years between The Hobbit and Fellowship, and focuses on a new ring forged by Celebrimbor. Sauron and the Nazgul will play a key role too, as was foreshadowed by developer chat months ago. “The thing we started to explore more and that I love as a character and [that] has so much more potential, is Sauron”, says Michael de Plater. “I think he’s such a strong villain and I'd love to explore the Nazgul [Sauron's servants] as well.”
A better story
While the original’s combat is ace, Shadow of Mordor's narrative is a tale of mediocrity, thanks to an all-too-familiar dead family revenge plot. With the mention of a 'new ring' from Talion at the end of the game, the next story will make things far more interesting, as we already know this second ring has been forged.
A bigger map
With Udin and the Sea of Numen increasing the amount of areas we can explore in the last game, it seems logical that we’ll get an expansion of this in the sequel, perhaps into the surrounding areas of Mordor. What I'd really like though is for Shadow of War to have a Witcher 3-sized map, but of Middle-earth instead of the Northern Kingdoms. We already know this second game will visit more locations from the movies.
As much as we all love many of Shadow of Mordor’s attributes and abilities ideas, it’d be great to see some new skills. A few can stay: Brutalize should definitely make the cut, and Brand would undoubtedly be used again thanks to its value within the Nemesis System. Fresh concepts, however, would allow for the core systems to stay in place without feeling worn out or boring. Much like learning your orc nemesis has levelled up, I’d like a blend of grim familiarity and fresh challenge.
No co-Op, no PvP
Before it was released, Monolith responded to a question on Twitter with the words, “Alas, no co-op. Shadow of Mordor is being crafted wholly as a single-player experience." Sure, this was the right decision, and I hope any further games continue to provide the same amazing single-player experience as the first. Trails of War - the score based competition providing an alternative, stabby challenge - can absolutely come back, though.