Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War were amazing games that wove a very unique story in the Tolkien universe. For the first time ever, you were given the reigns of a new and unwritten hero battling against the forces of Mordor and Sauron. Without delving too much into this story, let’s just say that this franchise is one that I hope finds its way onto next gen systems. If it does, we need to see something amazing birthed from the Nemesis System that made these games great.
For those that don’t know what the Nemesis System did, here’s a summary from CBR.com:
The Nemesis System allows random enemies to grow in power, should they continue to defeat the player. Not only will the enemy grow in ranks, but they will also carry the scars of previous battles and remember the history between them and the player.
If you would like a much deeper dive into what the Nemesis System did for the Middle Earth: Shadow series, Game Maker’s Toolkit does a brilliant rundown of all of the details on how the Nemesis System was so unique.
If this Middle Earth: Shadow series is to have yet another sequel appear, there will need to be something special added to the Nemesis System that makes it even better. This will need to be more than just a graphical update and a host of additional strengths and weaknesses for your foes to inherit.
In Shadow of War, you were given the task of building an army of orcs to not only take a stronghold in Mordor, but to also defend it. This led to a worrying loot-box and microtransaction feature where you wanted to get higher and higher level orcs to be the lieutenants and leaders of each stronghold that you conquered. Then, there would be online siege and defense battles that would occur against other players. Leaderboards were involved and the whole process was a bit lackluster to say the least.
Going forward, however, the Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor franchise needs to make the stakes a bit higher for the interaction between your character and the foes you encounter through the Nemesis System. Somehow, the foes that you lose to should have a bit more of a consequence to the story or game than just the foe getting stronger. Let’s rundown a few suggestions on how to improve this feature and how it’s used in the context of Shadow of Mordor.
Story Based Implications
While the premise of losing to your orc foes does cause you to essentially spend more time grinding and getting stronger to defeat a stronghold, there should be some greater implication. In some games, the losses or failures you incur can do things like decrease your army’s morale or speed up an invasion. Maybe if you reach a certain part of the story and have lost a certain amount of times, your path to the end or even the ending itself should change. Maybe certain allies will lose faith in your ability to help or recruiting to your army becomes harder. Doing so would certainly encourage players to not only play the game more than once, it would force them to become more skillful in combat.
Command a ‘Squad’
Shadow of War ramped up the ante by forcing you to build siege and defense armies. The armies were able to be chosen as were their leaders. What if the focus wasn’t just on you building armies for just these siege battles, but for the regular ‘assault’ on the open world area of a stronghold as well?
Essentially this would be like recruiting an elite platoon of followers that would sneak and attack alongside you. You could outfit and upgrade this troop as well as yourself. Then, if one of them died, you would be forced to find and recruit a replacement. Not only could this be a choice of finding a strong replacement, but also finding one that seems trustworthy enough to not arrange to have you and your squad ambushed! That way, the interactions could be with generals who remember killing you AND your squadmates.
This would probably be pretty difficult to do though.
Providing a ‘Platoon’ for an ally
On top of recruiting your platoon, you could also be in charge or doing the same for the generals and lieutenants that you recruit as well. This would provide moments while adventuring when your generals could call for you to help them or could be called to help you.
Essentially, this and the previous feature would mean that the battles on screen would become a bit more frantic. More troop types and strengths and weaknesses would be needed of course.
Providing Battlefield Tactics and Commands
The commands and ‘tactics’ in siege battles were pretty simplistic. Shadow of War could make things a bit more complex in these events. More traps and ambushes could be used as upgrades and options to affect troop morale or reduce the siege length. With more troop types, you could position troops in different parts of the battlefield to be more effective.
There could even be a scripted moment in each siege where reinforcements can be called or you are forced to prevent them from arriving. Army morale and the Nemesis system could really affect and change how this dynamic could play out here.
Supply Your Army
One dynamic that I thought could have increased the complexity of the game was supplying your army with resources. Orcs (and armies in general) need food and weapons to continue the fight. Somewhere in your storyline and travels, the need to steal or produce supplies for your army should be a part of the action.
While this could become busy work that may detract from the story a bit, it could be used as a great tool to extend the life of the game by emphasizing a persistent war of some sort. Less supplies would mean a smaller ‘power’ rating for your army. This rating would be great for use in a better structured online battle between players or even just the AI.
No matter how you slice it, the Nemesis System is an amazing piece of tech that can be used to affect the gameplay as well as the story. There is no doubt that Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor fans are eager to see what capabilities next-gen provides for this amazing feature.
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