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Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings Online photo
Lord of the Rings Online

The Lord of the Rings Online shuts down most of its worlds

Five worlds to rule them all...
Aug 04
// Joe Parlock
Looks like The Lord of the Rings Online hasn’t been in the best shape recently. Developer Turbine has announced it will be closing all but five of the worlds for each region. The only worlds that will remain open in the...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is now on Mac and Linux

Say Uruk-Hai to the new players
Jul 31
// Joe Parlock
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was by far one of the best games of 2014. With great combat, abilities, and a really interesting Nemesis system, I was really surprised by what I was expecting to be a pretty generic Batman: Ark...

RPG Deals: Witcher 3 and Shadow of Mordor up to 60% off

Dark fantasy time.
May 22
// Dealzon
Need some RPG love this Memorial Day weekend? On PC, both Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt have some impressive discounts at GMG. In the case of Mordor, the game is instantly 50% off, dropping from ...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor's Game of the Year Edition trailer proves it lives up to its namesake

Horn tootin' at its finest
May 05
// Brett Makedonski
Less than one week after it was revealed, the Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Game of the Year Edition is on store shelves. It contains all released add-ons for the game, as is customary for these re-releases. Really, it...

Shadow of Mordor GOTY photo
Shadow of Mordor GOTY

Shadow of Mordor gets a Game of the Year Edition, because Warner Bros.

Orange you glad you waited?
Apr 29
// Chris Carter
Like clockwork, a Warner Bros. Interactive game has another Game of the Year Edition  --Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. This one comes seven months after the release of the base game, which had a $24.99 Season Pass....
Bright Lord photo
Bright Lord

Shadow of Mordor's newest DLC has you wearing rings and fighting Sauron

Yeah, THAT ring
Feb 24
// Brett Makedonski
Leagues of Uruks fell by your doing in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor -- just an unacceptable amount of dead orcs, really. Sure, that was gratifying in its own way, but a pile of orcs doesn't carry the same weight as someone...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor DLC goes hunting, vomiting

Who wants More-dor?
Dec 16
// Brett Makedonski
Monolith released Lord of the Hunt today, the first add-on pack for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Yeah, the $10 DLC has a lot of the stuff you'd expect: new nemeses, new challenges, and even some guy named Torvin the ...

Dear devs, stop it with tutorials all the way through the game

Dec 07 // Nic Rowen
Shadow of Mordor is just the most recent and notable culprit of a crime we've seen repeated again and again in recent years - games that go out of their way to include a direct tutorialization of mechanics you've probably already used a ton of times right up to the game's final moments. I cringe every time it happens and wonder how and why this is a thing. I'll forgive it if you have a real game-changer of a mechanic. If some ability or tool only appears in the later part of a game because of plot or balance reasons, it might make sense to give the player a heads-up about it. Say for example, when Talion's ability to drain an orc turns into his ability to brand one and bend him to his will. Sure, that's a big mechanical change that occurs as a result of the game's natural plot. Go ahead and tutorialize that. But dedicating missions to learning how to ride the same beasts you've been taming since your first hour of playtime? Or instructing you on the finer points of slaying the same Ghul Matron monster you've probably annihilated in a few side-missions already? Ridiculous. It just kills all the momentum for me. A big fat ugly reminder that “YOU ARE PLAYING A VIDEOGAME!” So much for all that willing suspension of disbelief and investing in a fantasy world. If you're making a game and realize that, oh shit, you've made 8 hours worth of content already and still haven't included a mission that primarily revolves around X-mechanic, maybe you don't need that mission. If you couldn't find a non-intrusive way to slide that idea into the first third of the game, it probably isn't all that important. If this is a problem that is happening multiple times in your game, maybe its just too full of stuff. Or, maybe you just don't give your players enough credit to figure things out on their own. I guess it bugs me in particular with Mordor because Monolith already found the perfect way to non-intrusively teach things with an easy-to-use two-pronged attack: 1) Make those tools available to the player early and provide opportunity to use them organically. 2) Slide those mechanics into optional, but attractive, side-missions. Mordor slightly stumbles on the first point but does well enough. Some powers and abilities are tied to mission progress, sometimes sensibly, other times seemingly arbitrary. But most of the cool toys can be unlocked and used by the player as he or she deigns to, or at least are unlocked fairly early. They nail the second part though. Seeded throughout Mordor are plenty of side-missions and challenges that are just entertaining enough to entice most players to give them a try. They offer unique situations and dilemmas to solve using the available tools with extra bonus conditions that encourage players to approach them in a particular, often more difficult, way. They're a fun distraction and test of the player's abilities in their own right, but also offer fun stat boosting rewards and cooler looking re-forges of your weapons to boot. Well done Monolith. So why put in so many late-game tutorials? Why not just leave it up to those side-missions and the player's natural curiosity to figure these things out? All of this is ignoring the simple fact that some things are just better left to players to find out on their own. Not EVERY SINGLE mechanic has to be explicitly laid out, broken down, blue-printed, and reassembled in front of a player's eyes. It turns out, we actually like figuring this stuff out on our own. I played through the entirety of Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, no exaggeration, at least ten times. Know why I kept coming back? Because the game just kept giving. Now MGS might seem like an odd example to hold up in comparison since the series is known for <DREET, DREET> chiming in with a codec message every three seconds with some “helpful tip,” but hear me out. For all the helicopter-parenting Snake's support staff is guilty of, there are at least twice as many things to discover on your own in that game as they hand-hold you through. Every playthrough I discovered something new to Snake Eater that I didn't know before. Maybe a major thing, like a weapon or movement technique I somehow missed on my first few playthroughs. Or something small and disposable, like one of Kojima's cheeky little gags, or some sly film reference buried deep inside a codec conversation. But most of all, I kept finding all these neat game mechanics and little tricks. “Oh, turns out you can interrogate enemies into giving you artillery codes, that's neat.” “Hey, the knife is super effective against The Fury!” “Hah, you can trick enemies into eating spoiled food if you destroy the ration sheds.” “Oh my god, you can kill The End before you even face him in a boss fight, holy shit!” I think it is a beautiful and wonderful thing when games are packed with content, but it's left for the players to find and unearth, not beaten over the players head. Don't make me quote from the scriptures of Dark Souls. *puts on ceremonial Sun Robes and begins to praise vigorously* You don't need tutorials if your game is interesting enough to encourage players to experiment. Especially these days, in the era of YouTube and Steam guides being available WHILE PLAYING with the press of a button. You can offload the slow, cumbersome, drudgery of tutorial work to the organic nature of the gaming community. People will find these tricks and mechanics on their own and spread them around, don't worry about it. Instead, worry about paying off for all the set-up and tutorial hoops you had players jump through in the FIRST HALF of the game, instead of setting up more motherfucking hoops.
Tutorial blues photo
You have to graduate sometime
“THA'S HOW YOU RIDE A CARRRRRAGOR!" Yeah, thanks asshole. I've already done this like two dozen times. You might have noticed I rode up to your mission marker ON a Caragor. “WHEN UN' ORC IS DOWN, THA'S WHEN YOUR C...

Promoted Blog photo
Promoted Blog

How Shadow of Mordor let me make my OWN story

Promoted from our Community Blogs!
Nov 01
// Genki-JAM
[Dtoid community blogger Genki-JAM shares an awesome story about his time with Shadow of Mordor's "Nemesis System", and holy shit do I want to play this game now! Warning: Minor spoilers below. Want to see your own stuff appe...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Shadow of Mordor's first DLC has vomiting monsters

And other stuff too, I guess
Oct 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was reminiscent of a summer blockbuster, keeping me on seat's edge throughout, only to be virtually forgotten upon seeing the credits roll. But say you're still under its spell, well, perhaps Wa...
Shadow of Mordor DLC photo
Shadow of Mordor DLC

Dress up like the bad guy in this free Shadow of Mordor DLC

Some Epic Runes, too
Oct 21
// Jordan Devore
Monolith has released a free Power of Shadow DLC pack for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor on Steam, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Most notably, it includes an alternate costume for Talion that resembles the Black Hand of Sauron...

Price Chop: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel & Shadow of Mordor

Oct 17 // Dealzon
Next week's Civilization: Beyond Earth can be pre-ordered for up to 25% off. There's an unknown expiration date for this particular deal, so if you're planning to play on Day One, we'd recommend grabbing ASAP. The download comes with the pre-order bonus of six Exoplanet maps. (There's also a classic bundle available but the deal is kind of meh to be honest). On the console side of things, the Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive is now available on Microsoft Store. As a pre-order incentive, you'll receive a $10 Xbox gift card, good for adding money to your Xbox account. Furthermore, you’ll get free guaranteed release day delivery if you order by October 24th at 2 p.m. Pacific. The $10 Xbox gift card deal is pretty typical as a pre-order incentive for Microsoft Store, but the free release day delivery is usually only reserved for the more popular Triple-A titles. Update 10/20: We've added a few more deals for the week and have strike-through the expired deals. Happy browsing! Top Deals Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Steam Pay) — $46.80  (list price $60)Use coupon: SPOOKY-TREATS-GMG20X Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth (Steam) — $37.49  (list price $50)Must login to see price, doesn't work in AU/NZ Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) — $59.99  Free $10 Xbox gift card & free release day delivery Expired deals: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Steam) — $36.50  (list price $50)Use coupon: DEALZO-NMORDO-R27OFF Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Steam) — $33.33  (list price $50)No coupon required, limited time Bundle Stars deal  Recent Releases Use coupon: SPOOKY-TREATS-GMG20X  10/14: The Evil Within + Season Pass (Steam) — $51.47  (list price $70) 10/14: Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne (Steam) — $11.70  (list price $15) 10/14: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Season Pass — $23.40  (list price $30) 10/10: Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition (Steam) — $23.40  (list price $30) Upcoming Releases 10/21: F1 2014 — $40  (list price $50 - already out in EU) 11/4: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Steam) — $50.99  (list price $60) 11/7: Football Manager 2015 (Steam) — $40  (list price $50) 11/11: LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (Steam) — $21.60  (list price $30) 11/11: The Crew (Uplay) — $50.99  (list price $60) 11/11: Assassin's Creed Unity (Uplay) — $50.99  (list price $60) 11/18: Dragon Age: Inquisition (Origin) — $47.99  (list price $60) 11/18: Far Cry 4 Limited Edition (Uplay) — $50.99  (list price $60) PC Game Deals Battlefield 4 Premium (Origin) — $37.49 (list $40) Might & Magic X Legacy Deluxe Edition — $7.49 (list $30) FIFA 14 (Origin) — $6.80 (list $20) Mortal Kombat Bundle (Steam) — $6 (list $30) Huntsman: The Orphanage - Halloween Edition (Steam) — $4.24 (list $10) Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition (Steam) — $4 (list $20) Mortal Kombat: Arcade Kollection (Steam) — $2 (list $10) Hotline Miami (Steam) — $2 (list $10) Expired deals: Europa Universalis 4 (Steam) — $10  (list price $40) Hitman: Absolution - Elite Edition (Steam) — $9.99  (list price $20) Thief: Master Thief Edition (Steam) — $8.25  (list price $33) Tomb Raider Survival Edition (Steam) — $6.25  (list price $25) Unity of Command Trilogy Bundle — $6  (list price $30) Rome: Total War Collection (Steam) — $3.25  (list price $10) Skullgirls (Steam) — $3  (list price $15) Console Game Deals Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4, Xbox One) — $49.99 (list $60) Destiny + Free Call of Duty Ghosts (Xbox 360, PS3) — $49.99 (list $60) MLB 14: The Show (PS4) — $29.99 (list $40) inFAMOUS Second Son (PS4) — $29.99 (list $30) Bound by Flame (PS4 Used) — $19.99  (list price $42) Lego: The Hobbit (Xbox One Used) — $19.99  (list price $50) Watch Dogs (Xbox One Used) — $19.99  (list price $60) Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare (Xbox One Used) — $17.99  (list price $40) Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag (Xbox One Used) — $14.99  (list price $30) Expired deals: Metro: Last Light (Xbox 360 Used) — $12.99  (list price $26) Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 (PS3 Used) — $12.99  (list price $30) Dead Space 3 (PS3 Used) — $9.99  (list price $30) PS Vita Deals Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS Vita) — $9.99  (list price $20) Resistance: Burning Skies (PS Vita) — $9.99  (list price $20) The Sly Collection (PS Vita) — $9.99  (list price $30) ModNation Racers: Road Trip (PS Vita) — $9.99  (list price $20) Hardware Deals Xbox One Console Standard Edition — $429.99  (list price $500)Bundles with Destiny + Xbox Live Gold 1 Year Card PlayStation 4 Console + Choice of Game — $419.99  (list price $460) Lenovo Y50 59421845 Laptop  — $1,049  (list price $1,399)Core i7-4710HQ, GeForce GTX 860M 2GB, Full HD 1080p, Hybrid 1TB + 8GB SSHD  Lenovo Y40 59423034 Laptop — $729  (list price $1,149)Core i7-4510U, Radeon R9 M275, Full HD 1080p, Hybrid 1TB HDD + 8GB SSHD  Gaming Hardware, Accessories, & Electronics Deals Asus Radeon R9 290X 4GB GDDR5 Video Card — $349.54  (list price $390) Razer 2014 Black Gaming Keyboard + DeathAdder 2013 Mouse (Refurb) — $119.99 Apple Smart Cover for iPad — $7.99  (list price $40) SteelSeries Siberia Elite Gaming Headset Promo Code — 25% Off  (expires Oct 20th)
Deals photo
Deals on Beyond Earth and Sunset Overdrive too
Deals brought to you by the crew at Dealzon. FYI: sales from certain retailers go toward supporting Destructoid. Spot something good that we didn't see? Let us know and we'll add it! Post formatting is a work in progress...

Fun with photo mode! photo
Fun with photo mode!

Shadow of Mordor: A visual tour of stabbing orcs in the face

And other horrible crimes
Oct 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Mordor may not have the most picturesque landscapes in Middle-earth, but that hasn't stopped Monolith from kitting out its new action game with a photo mode. The addition allows you to take dramatic shots of Talion stabbing U...

Bored of the things: Shadow of Mordor should've been a dating sim

Oct 13 // Steven Hansen
When Andy suggested that the next Mordor should be a "Middle-earth open-world dating simulator," it clicked. The Nemesis mechanic makes so much more sense as some sort of reverse Catherine with you playing Cupid to, in this setting, a bunch of Orcs, or the tiny less creepy halves to The Good Son, or whatever other dumb idiots are in this world. Sean "I'm the asshole in Ronin and also I starred in a bad Hitcher remake" Bean.  All them folk.  See. Twitter is for more than just goofing off. It would be like an omniscient visual novel. You would be Patrick Swayze in Ghost, but with the goal of helping others grind it out on a potter's wheel instead of being a selfish jerk, not letting Demi Moore move on and almost getting her and Whoopi Goldberg killed. At which point they all would have had to notify Next of Kiln. You can even keep and repurpose parts of the existing design. Gross invasions of privacy through ghost stealth to pick up on a character's love interest's interests. The skill system would be a progression of rom-com tropes. Ghostly-whispered in-ear suggestions for dialogue and game spitting. "My you seem to have bathed in the blood of many Humans today!" You could use the doll display Nemesis menu to send two potential lovers to run into each other at the same quaint, locally owned bookstore. If you level up the skill, they will literally run into each other and share an awkward but endearing dialogue session.  Fuck it, keep the killing in there and intervene like hell when some bigot Elf Dad doesn't want his daughter marrying a human. Kill the fuck out of that guy.  Mordor has one good, novel idea and it's couched within a restrictive "fight things" framework that is a pastiche of every major, successful "fight things" frameworks of the last generation. It feels weird to get nostalgic for the PS2-era, but that videogame industry doesn't exist anymore. The one where "AAA" development could manage "fight things" frameworks that are at least distinct from one another. Some borrowing, maybe, but not copy-pasting with the "orc" slider turned up and the "historically dressed idiots" slider turned down.  The world of Resident Evil 4, God Hand, Viewtiful Joe, Okami. Yes, we have our Demon's Souls and our Vanquish these days, and we should be happy to at least have that, rather than laud reskinned doppelgangers hammering conventions into place down to control schemes and button mapping. That's when you start getting the uncanny mimicry of Resident Evil 5, a bad game for bad people. That's when crap like "detective mode" vision gets shoehorned into everything. Every game becomes a chest-high-wall shooter.  But maybe there is no more large-scale market for Bushido Blade and standalone, learn by doing mechanics rather than console-FPS standardization. There wasn't even enough of one for Pimp Hand -> Reverse Hell Kick -> Granny Smacker when Godhand launched. If Mordor signals something for a "new gen" that has taken a year to build momentum, it is a continued conservatism in big-budget design. The glowing reactions to its one original design idea signals our thirst for something alive and new, not, "Like [popular franchise] but [mild difference]."
┴ la carte photo
Press X to kiss your wife
I was reading Weird Dad Andy Astruc's loving look at Shadow of Mordor's menus, which is basically praise for Mordor's Nemesis system. The same system left our own Nic Rowen giddy and, uh, shitfaced. N...

Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis system signals the true beginning of this generation

Oct 06 // Nic Rowen
Like a bad penny, Azdush the Dung Collector kept coming back at the worst times. I'd be in the middle of fighting two other orc captains when he'd wander up full of piss and nerve and try to horn in on the fight. Or I'd be chasing down an orc fleeing the battlefield and bump into him, forcing me to choose between sweet satisfying revenge on the fresh-and-ready-for-a-fight Azdush, or finishing off my already weakened prey. He kept worming out of my grip and I kept shaking my fist at him and swearing "next time!" Eventually, as I cleared out the higher ranks of the orc power structure, he was promoted to one of the freshly vacant Warchief positions. Good for you buddy. I sent him a customary death threat as congratulations. I started filling in the little details in my mind, unconsciously creating a back story for my one-time murderer. Azdush's sudden and unexpected rise to power shocked everyone. His bizarre fascination with scat had made him an outcast even among the orcs, but a lucky swing propelled him from a nobody to a major player overnight. Azdush was living out a classic underdog story, like The Mighty Ducks! But with more skull-crushing and bloodletting than Emilio Estevez would probably have been comfortable with (probably). I was tickled by the idea that this vile, filthy dude, who literally picks up poop and keeps it, was able to ride my coattails into the upper echelons of orc society. I pictured other orcs reconsidering their stance on dung-collection as a hobby -- "Sure it's nasty, but look how it's working out for Azdush!" -- setting off an unhygienic and utterly ineffective trend among low-ranking but ambitious orcs. I was still mad that he, you know, killed me, but I also vaguely proud of him. Look at you go, Azdush! I couldn't bring myself to kill him. Even after I ruthlessly turned his bodyguards into my pawns and had them poised to assassinate him at my command. For better or worse, he was my pet monster -- a disgusting, pig-nosed, foul braggart who reveled in taking cheap shots, and was scared shitless (ironically) by Caragors. I made him, and even though I kind of hated him, I couldn't bring myself to end him. It must be the same way Batman feels every time he has the Joker dangling off of a building. Azdush the Dung Collector finally gave me the next-generation experience I've been waiting for. The Xbox One and PS4 have been out for almost a year now, and so far we've seen a lot of sequels of established franchises that are being released across all platforms (limiting how far the new systems can push them), and plenty of HD remasters of last-gen games. It's not all that surprising, new consoles generally need a year or two before the games start to showcase their full potential, but still, it has been a little disappointing. We've all waited so long for these systems it feels like we should be seeing new and exciting things, not just prettier versions of games we've played before. Even new IPs that were developed specifically to lead on the new consoles, like Titanfall, have cleaved closely to established formulas. I think it's reductive and snarky to call Titanfall "CoD with robots and jetpacks" but not entirely inaccurate either. To be honest, I didn't pay much attention to Mordor as it was being developed and hyped because it also looked like more of the same. An ArkhamsCreed game set in the Lord of the Rings universe. A neat idea that I could definitely see the appeal of, but not something I would consider groundbreaking, nothing I was hungry to tear into. But I was wrong, VERY WRONG! Thanks to its Nemesis system, Shadow of Mordor is the first game I've played that really feels like it's pushing into what these new consoles are capable of and where games could be going in the near future, and that has me EXCITED. I played Mordor for more than ten hours before I realized there was no quick reload button or way to start over at a checkpoint. I never noticed that basic feature was missing because I never felt to urge to take advantage of it. Sure, I was annoyed every time an orc took my head or skewered me on the end of a pike, but I was also interested in the story that was slowly taking shape with each dirt nap. I liked how the orc that killed me grew in power, and that I could look forward to repaying the favor. Or how the other captains capitalized on my time in the grave to hold lavish feasts or settle scores with rival orcs. I wanted to get back in there and dish out some steely vengeance. I wanted to single out the most ambitious or troublesome of the bunch for execution, or to forcibly convert them to my side and build the strongest orc army ever. I never wanted to hit reload or take a do-over, I wanted to keep going. In most games, failure is, at best, a waste of your time. You get killed, see the Game Over screen, hit continue, and try again like it never happened. In many games, death doesn't just waste your time, it will add insult to injury; you lose half your gold or ammo, or have to repair your gear. Or you can continue, but you'll get a shitty ranking at the end of the stage or even at the end of the game (thanks Metal Gear). In any case, if you're like me, you're probably going to be mashing through menus and starting over from the closest save file as fast as possible. We've been trained to do it. Mordor breaks the mold. In most games you want to play as perfectly as possible, but in Mordor, not only is death not the end, you'll probably have more fun if you take the occasional dive. You'll have more interesting encounters with orcs you've crossed swords with in the past, and the orc political map will move around more instead of falling into stagnation. Yup, they found a way to make death fun. How cool is that? Narrative content is expensive and time consuming. It takes a lot of effort to put together an awesome quest in an RPG, or a kickass action sequence in a shooter. It's one of the reasons so many games will crutch on meaningless fetch quests or sealed arena shooting galleries. Gameplay elements that are cheap and easy to put together and will pad the playtime of a title. It's why so many open-world games "that let you do anything" often feel boring and empty, because "let you do anything" is code for "kill everyone in the village and then reload from last save." Mordor's Nemesis system offers an interesting in-between. It builds procedurally generated content that feels like narrative. It's a way to let the game and the player build their own story outside of the main plot, without having to devote tons of development time to individual story hooks and set-pieces. It leads to all sorts of awesome personal moments and memorable characters (like my pal, Azdush), creating cool stories to swap with other players -- who will have their own tales to tell. It's a trick, a veneer of narrative pulled over the typical Arkham/Assassin's Creed exploration and combat, but it's one I don't mind falling for. It makes the game feel more alive, more interesting, and I'm excited to see how far they can take the illusion. It's new, it's different, it's something I'm not sure would have been possible on the last-generation systems, and to me, that's a breath of fresh air. I love any game that lets you cultivate relationships that change the way the story plays out, the more dynamic, the better. I put up with Alpha Protocol's many flaws because I enjoyed wooing spy ladies with my suave charm and creating lifelong enemies with somewhat less charm. It was mind blowing when Mass Effect let me take the choices and relationships I built in one title and carry them over into the next. I loved how the Dragon Age games would twist the knife and put you in situations where you had to choose between friends, and how their attitudes towards you could affect the outcome of those tense moments. But as cool as those games and the choices they offered were, they were always fairly obvious. They came from dialog trees, binary choices, or obvious piss-off moments ("Hum, is the battle nun in my party going to be upset when I desecrate the holy grail with dragon blood? Nah."). I'd love to see games take the groundwork built with the Nemesis system and run with it (and please, lets find a better name for it before we're referring to every game with a similar system as "Mordor-like"). It would be great if next year's games all found a way to neatly fold more relationship- and history-building moments into the gameplay itself, and feature fewer blatant "MAKE YOUR CHOICE" cues. Granted, the system at work under the hood in Mordor is fairly simple. You burn a guy, he's gonna show up later with burn scars and an attitude. If you chicken out and run from a Warchief? You can be sure he'll remind you of your cowardice next time you see him. It's pretty easy to peel back the layers of how the system works after spending some time with the game, and to be fair, orcs aren't the most nuanced bunch to begin with. But imagine what more iteration and a different setting could do for a mechanic like the Nemesis system like that. Mordor is only the first step, and while I'm totally in love with what it is laying down now, I can't wait to see the games that will be coming out two or three years from now that will expand on that system. Imagine an espionage game like Alpha Protocol that lets you threaten other agents and goons into giving you information or sabotaging a target. Missions that could be randomly interrupted by an enemy you made on a previous job, or a mysterious ally lending a hand in exchange for a favor. Or how about you transplant the orcs social power struggle system into a game like Bully, where no-name punk kids could climb to power one atomic wedgie at a time? (It isn't a huge jump to make, high schoolers are basically orcs when you think about it.) I want to meet more Azdush the Dung Collectors. Well, you know, hopefully not more disgusting, shit-flinging monster men, but other interesting characters born out of dynamic systems. Poop collection totally optional.
Shadow of Mordor photo
It's bad enough dying a humiliating death at the hands of some random orc, but "Azdush the Dung Collector?" Really? He couldn't have been "Azdush the Shield Breaker" or "Azdush the Invincible?" I could have taken a bit of con...

Shadow of Mordor Playthough - Here's a Graug-sized portion of gameplay

Sep 29 // Bill Zoeker
Below we have some more gameplay. We picked up playing today from where Max is in his personal run of the game, much deeper in than our first run. [embed]281891:55793:0[/embed]
Shadow of Mordor photo
We could kill these Orcs all day
[Note: I am currently in process of rendering and uploading all of the videos to the playlist. If you run out and want more, be sure to check back soon.] Max and I decided it would be a good idea to shoot a playthrough of th...

Shadow of Mordor photo
Shadow of Mordor

Want to watch a season pass trailer for a game that hasn't released yet?

I don't
Sep 29
// Brett Makedonski
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor's doing mostly fine from the reviews that came out last week, but that doesn't mean that you will like it. How can you like a game if you haven't played it yet? You can't, plain and simple...
Shadow of Mordor photo
Where did he get that sword?
Like Max, I didn't know what to make of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor but taking a guarded approach has paid off -- the reviews are in and they're overwhelmingly positive. Nice surprise! Still not sure I'll rush out to grab the game at launch on Tuesday -- I've got my hands full, as I'm sure many of you will shortly -- but it's much higher on my to-play list after this week.

Review: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Sep 25 // Chris Carter
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox 360, Xbox One)Developer: Monolith ProductionsPublisher: Warner Bros. Interactive EntertainmentReleased: September 30, 2014 (PC, PS4, Xbox One) / November 18, 2014 (PS3, Xbox 360)MSRP: $59.99 Shadow of Mordor generally does a great job of respecting the source material even if it doesn't really add much to the overall universe. Simply put, the game takes place between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, pre-supposing that Bilbo has already located the One Ring, but before it is entrusted to Frodo. Thus, Shadow is a side story of sorts, giving you minor insight into the creation of the ring while focusing on the tale of one particular human -- a skilled ranger named Talion. Talion's entire family has been murdered by the forces of Sauron, whose evil now encroaches the land of Middle-earth once again. Through the use of some dark magic after his own death, Talion is now bound to the spirit of a mysterious wraith, who grants him the power to essentially function as a super-being, combining dark arts with his already awe-inspiring combat prowess. In short, it's basically the setup for God of War, and the basic revenge tale theme permeates throughout in a generic fashion. What I do like about the wraith conceit is that it creates a sense of duality, as the wraith itself is an elf with a mysterious past who can manifest himself during cutscenes, and whenever Talion triggers a wraith-centric power. The companion aspect is cool as it's seamlessly worked into gameplay, and allows for some good banter between the two souls throughout. While I don't want to spoil the wraith's identity, I found his story to be vastly superior to Talion's. [embed]281235:55690:0[/embed] In addition to Orcs and other members of Sauron's army, you'll also encounter Gollum -- who is tacked onto the story to add a connection to the films, predominately because his mannerisms and character are done in the style of Andy Serkis (though he is voiced by Liam O'Brien in the game, flawlessly I may add). With Talion and the wraith, there is that same Frodo and Sam love/hate relationship, and their moments are easily the highlight of the campaign. The rest, however, is too generic. As previously mentioned it's a basic revenge tale, with a few minor minute-long cutscenes woven in to highlight the wraith's past and his place in the plot. The rest is basically going to be "go here, kill this, draw out this big bad, then kill him for your family" type plots. The finale has a few cool cutscenes here and there, but considering that the last boss is a quick time event, it's ultimately unfulfilling. It takes roughly ten hours to make it through the story alone, and the rest can be completed at your leisure by way of two moderately-sized (though small by current-gen standards) sandboxes. The actual exploration and combat mechanics are solid. Drawing from Assassin's Creed and the Arkham series, Talion can climb structures fairly easily simply by running and pointing at them, and his climbing skills are just as sharp has his blade. Basic combos are available by mashing the attack button, though an upgrade allows critical strikes if it is pressed just as a slice is hitting. He also has the exact same "cape-stun" as Batman in the Arkham games (though it's wraith-flavored here), and the combo-enabled "execution" moves that can instantly take out a regular enemy after your combo meter has reached eight (later upgradable to just five). Talion can also take out enemies with a delayed contextual strike when they're on the ground. Combat makes no attempt to hide that it's basically ripped wholesale from Arkham, and that's not really a bad thing -- it just feels less fluid and polished. Stealth has a part to play as well, and that particular aspect is also executed flawlessly. Talion can sneak up from behind to slay his enemies in silence as well as use jumping executions from a vantage point, which are still just as fun as they are in every other stealth game. There's even a version of "Detective Vision" (I call it "Wraith Vision"), making it easy to identify stronger enemies through walls and structures, as well as archers and the like with different color schemes. To dig even further into Talion's utility belt, he can summon spirit arrows at will and fire them at enemies for quick stealth headshot kills. As his powers are upgraded he'll have even more tricks up his sleeve (including possession and beast-riding, among many others), which makes it very fun to carve up Orcs willy-nilly. Then of course, there's the big draw of the game, which allows players to plot revenge in a dynamic fashion. The highly hyped "Nemesis" system starts off rather promisingly. In theory, it allows Talion to interact with specified named enemies in the game, creating random creatures along the way and generating unique storylines on the fly. So if Talion did battle with a weak Orc at some point and it manages to flee, it may appear later, and not only remember him, but have a more formidable force to contend with. Defeating these enemies will grant runes, which can be used to upgrade melee, ranged, and stealth weapons. The system is endless in nature and can create a ton of unique scenarios involving inter-clan warfare and tenuous alliances. The other big portion of the Nemesis mechanic is that it requires isolation and interrogation of Orcs to locate the whereabouts of each ranked member of Sauron's army, starting with the captains. As Talion, you can question peons as to where a captain is stomping about, then either slay the captain where he stands after hunting him, or interrogate him in turn and learn the location of the more powerful warchiefs. Some of the weaknesses of each enemy can be learned by way of intimidation, including an enemy's fears and ways to exploit it with certain combat mechanics. It initially gives the feeling of working a way from the bottom to the top, which is a unique way of approaching a game -- a stark contrast to open world titles that make you feel like god from the get-go. In theory, it's a very cool idea. But like many hyped-up mechanics, the Nemesis system ultimately becomes gimmicky very quickly. Yes, the names are randomized and some of the appearances look different enough, but after an hour of seeing it in action everything blends together. Orcs don't have unique personalities per se, just unique weaknesses (like insta-stealth kill vulnerability, or a weakness to ranged attacks) and generic parameters. Fights against 90% of the captains, warchiefs, and named enemies in the game feel exactly the same. Basically, all of the Nemesis encounters are going to go like this: You walk up to a captain that generally can't be killed by a stealth attack, engage in combat, and watch as a small cutscene plays where the enemy exclaims a generic phrase like "Sauron rules all!" Then 20 additional enemies appear, the player stuns the boss, combos him, and uses an execution attack while avoiding the newly spawned enemies. Repeat the process until he dies. Warchief fights are the exact same, except they also require some tedious basic quest to "lure them out" like "kill five archers." After a few hours of doing this, I became far too bored with the system to even bother hunting down enemies for a chance at a minor upgrade. There are also a few unintended consequences of the system that actually make the game less fun. For one, a roughly ten second long, unskippable cutscene has to play for every captain or named character in the area. For example, there could be up to four named enemies in one skirmish along with the intended target. If Talion happens to engage, strike, or otherwise damage any of them, all of them have their own ten second scene and exchange that plays out -- this repeats even if you die and return to the same location. Initially, this feels pretty cool, and it brings the player into the game even for the most minute confrontation. For instance, after dying by the hands of an enemy and meeting him in battle again, he might say something like "I already killed you once, I'll do it again!" But after watching that scene multiple times over the course of the game and having every fight play out in the same exact manner, it feels like another gimmick. To make matters worse, every fight basically throws the aforementioned 20 enemies at you, so there's no real room for unique one-on-one encounters. Not only that, but a few milestones in the campaign are gated off by Nemesis system progress, making the process even more tedious and forced.Thankfully, the rest of the open world experience is worthwhile. Fast travel towers can be located rather easily, and open up quick portals to practically any area desired. The two maps are different enough (one is desolate, the other fertile), and there are a ton of extra sidequests (including some related to the Nemesis system) that are actually fun. Given all of the tools Talion has at his disposal, it is enjoyable to just roam the map and get into trouble. Whether it's sidequests like stealth challenges that task the player with killing a certain amount of enemies undetected, ranged exercises or combat skirmishes, the rewards are great (certainly greater than those gained through the Nemesis slog), and it's as simple as finding the marker on the map to jump into them. There are also hunting challenges (like in Red Dead Redemption), hidden elvish artifacts to find, and a lot of other secrets to uncover wandering around, all of which are more fun than the main story. Ultimately, like many ambitious projects, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor doesn't deliver on everything it sets out to do. Although Monolith's heart is in the right place and the studio honors the lore, it doesn't really add anything that's worth seeing outside of some solid open world gameplay. It isn't a bad game, it just feels far too repetitive for its own good. 
Shadow of Mordor review photo
One does not simply walk into Bore-dor
Developing a licensed game can be extremely difficult. Not only does Monolith Productions have the Lord of the Rings film series to honor with Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, but the developer also has to work in ma...

Contest: Win a copy of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor!

Sep 15 // mrandydixon
(Note: We have partnered with LockerDome for this contest, which verifies votes via social media accounts. Although they are a reputable company, if you are uncomfortable with sharing social media access, you can always revoke it immediately after entering the contest at no penalty.) *Non-U.S. winners have the option of receiving a download code, cash value (approx. $60), or to pay for shipping themselves. [embed]281191:55628:0[/embed]
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"Mordor? I hardly even know her!" -Steven Hansen
Destructoid is giving away a copy of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor to one lucky reader! For a chance at the prize, just push the big blue button below and follow the instructions to earn entries. It's pretty simple! Of cours...

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Shadow of Mordor

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Xbox One, PS4, and PC remain unchanged
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Warner Bros. Interactive reveals Shadow of Mordor Season Pass

Sauron would support Season Passes
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No hobbits here, sir
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It's September 30 now
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Watch this charming launch trailer
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