Middle Earth: Shadow of War - This game ruined my fucking Christmas

Shadow Of Mordor was a dope ass fucking game. Let's get that out of the way now. I didn't even have a PS4 when it came out so I was afraid I'd have to play the busted PS3 version. Thankfully though Gamefly didn't even have it in on PS3 for like 4 months for some reason, so I missed my opportunity. But that was okay because I was gifted a PS4 by my dear friend out of the kindness of his heart. And then I was able to tackle the game in all of its glory. And fucking boy howdy was it glorious.

Shadow of War is kind of similar in that regard. The things you liked about the first game are back, but somehow even better. The things you didn't like about the first game are as gone as I can remember, because most of the game works well with itself. With some exceptions.

See, in the first Shadow Of game, you were all about killing the Warchiefs. The Nemesis System as it was called was a progressive series of events spread out around several different in-game enemies for you to fight. A majority of them were Captains. You could kill them and gain power. But if you yourself were killed by them, it was they who gained the power. They would level up, gain new abilities, perhaps even followers, and they'd remember you. They would actually shit-talk you when you came back around to fight them. It was amazing. The mechanic behind Talion(the main character) able to actually be killed, but come back from the dead, was front and center with enemies able to kill you and then boast that fact to everyone. Awesome.

Shadow of War has that in spades. See, in the first game you only had two big zones to go through, with a unique Nemesis System for each. In Shadow of War, there are multiple stages with unique Nemesis Systems and challenges to overcome. Like, fortresses.

See, in the first game(Since this is how I'm going to begin every paragraph apparently), you could eventually "dominate" captains and even Warchiefs. This allows you to make them work for you. So you could stroll into fights with other Warchiefs in tow and really feel like you're building a war party. In Shadow Of War, that idea has been amplified with the concept of you building an army. And so you can attack fortresses and kill, capture or replace Warchiefs with your own dominated Orcs and begin sabotaging these fortresses which allow your big battle scenes to be easy or harder depending on how far you are willing to go.

Me being me, of course, I was willing to go all the way. I wanted to build my army. I wanted to feel the power that this Sauron assdick does. So I began working my way through the Warchiefs, building my power, acquiring their services or killing them if they were simply too high level to recruit(You can only recruit up to Talion's level). I would then make them "infiltrate" the fortress to serve as my spy. Personally, I think this is one of the identity issues the game has. First off, if he was already a Warchief and I dominated him, why does he stop being a Warchief? Why do I have to reinstall him into a power he never lost? When I dominate captains they don't stop being captains.

But that's where one of the worst parts of the games kick in: Pit Fights. What if I told you one of the most impossibly boring mechanics in video games is something that you will be spending a lot of time partaking in if you wanted to proceed in a manner that makes the most sense? What if I told you that the fantastic fighting system that Shadow of War relies upon is completely relinquished, instead forcing you to watch the most fucking ungodly boringly stupid battles between two A.I. characters that you cannot influence in any capacity?

That's right! Pit Fights! You want to have someone infiltrate a Warchief and pretend to be his loyal guard when in reality they are your spy? Gotta go into the pits and watch a two minute long "fight" between two A.I's who look like they've never actually fought before because all they fucking do is dodge around all the fucking time and never attack each other. Whenever the player fights a Captain, they go super aggro and attack with everything they've fucking got, and they've got a fucking lot. But with the A.I. fights, you don't get that ferocity. You get a middling, boring, meandering mistake of a concept. Because in a game that's all about fighting and dominating people, making players watch something that equates to being barely a cutscene is definitely the way to win them over.

I mean fuck why not let these fights be controllable? Why not allow the players to take control over their Orc and get a taste of what it's like to be these guys? That way you get your pit fights but at least allow some sort of engagement instead of just "okay, I've got two minutes, let's bump that spotify shit" and then entering a state of angry existence.

After that, you've got yourself a spy. But wait a second, there's a lot of Warchiefs. So that means for every Warchief you try to have infiltrate, you have to do another one of these pit fights? Yep. You're going to be spending a lot of the game here. Honestly it wasn't so bad in the beginning. But over time I became so bored and angry of this mechanic. "Surely there was a better way?" I kept asking myself. But the game kept responding to me with a simple, but effective, "fuck'n get rekt m8" Or maybe that's what my subconscious projected the game to be saying since it became entirely clear after a certain point that this game had no fucking respect for me or my time.

After you do your 300 pit fights to get your Warchiefs in place to sabotage the fort, you can begin your assault. But before I forget, the reason to even sabotage the fort in the first place is that each Warchief represents a different ability that the fort has which makes assaulting it difficult. For example, the fort might have Metal Walls, which means it's much more difficult to break through. It also may have fire streaming out of the side of the walls, making it impossible for your units to climb over. Or maybe it has archers that can shoot you from very, very far away. Defeating a Warchief will disable these abilities, and there are abilities for each slot on the fort, which is filled by a Warchief. Once you defeat them all, you'll have a relatively easier time getting in.

If you've managed to install your very own Warchiefs to act as spies to sabotage the fort in the first place, things will get even easier. I'm not science man but I'm pretty sure the front gates are rigged to blow for you to allow your forces easier access. Once inside, you have to capture a series of "zones" which act as a defensible platform for your soldiers to hold while you invade. Once you capture a zone, one of the warchiefs will show up to fight. If it's your own Warchief, he will make things even easier for you by joining the fight and pushing on to the next zone.

Once you've captured all of the zones, the siege is pretty much over, and now it's time to confront the Overlord. The big man in charge of the entire fort, which is engaged in a sort-of-boss-battle that can get fairly hairy if you aren't prepared. Once the overlord is defeated, you take control over the fort and can promote one of your orcs to be the Overlord. Once you have done this, you can customize your own Fort defenses like the fire streams, far ranged archers and so on, to prevent others from easily capturing your forts in turn.

If you die during the overlord battle, the game does something a lot kinder than it has any right to, and allows you to immediately start the siege again, but from the boss battle. I guess it figures, hey, you've gotten here before, why make you go through all of that again? But this mechanic is not indicative of what's to come. Oh god no. Oh god it gets so much worse. Oh fuck. Please no.


So, I'll be glossing over a lot of the game from here on out. The story is bad. The characterizations are bad. The motivations and wishy washy actions of Talion which make no fucking sense and leave me scratching my head most of the time, to the fact that I had a hard time following the events that transpired because I was so bored and disinterested in anything when it came to the narrative. I mean fucking hell it felt like they didn't even try. Things just happen around you, and that's honestly the long and short of it.

Instead, the game enters a whole new world of bullshit. A world so fucking contrived and bullshit it will honestly make you question why this game even exists in the first place.

So once you've effectively beaten the game and have done most of the narrative shit there is to do, the game does something so epic it made me want to throw myself from a mountain. It HIDES THE FUCKING ENDING OF THE GAME BEHIND GRINDY BULLSHIT THAT ENCOURAGES YOU TO PURCHASE MICROTRANSACTIONS TO SPEED UP THE GRIND.

I glossed over quite a bit of the game because I feel like honestly that stuff wasn't important. And I mean that from my perspective. I don't care about that other shit. This game takes Troy Baker and Laura Bailey and makes them boring fucking messes, that should tell you all you need to know(Assuming you know who those two are. They are voice actors and quite good. This game misuses them horrendously).

See, you've got those forts I talked about before. Except there are 4 or 5 of them(I'm frazzled, I can't remember the number exactly). Once you've beaten the game, it's time to "defend" your forts against the forces of the Dark Lord(Sauron). He sends attack after attack against your forts, causing you to defend them, then pop out to the next fort, defend that, then the next one, then the next one, then the next one. It's a war of attrition that isn't satisfying nor is it exciting. It's a fucking disaster if I've ever seen one.

I've talked pretty negatively about the rest of the game, story, voice acting, etc etc. But honestly it wasn't a bad game at all. I was thoroughly enjoying my time with it. Honestly. But once this shit kicked into high gear and it kept throwing higher and higher waves of enemies at me, and the only way to improve upon that was to grind and grind and grind out better orcs OR BUY SOME MICROTRANSACTIONS WHICH COME WITH ORCS NEAR OR EQUAL TO YOUR LEVEL, I was so fucking done. But please understand, it's not just the difficulty of the missions, it's the frequency of them. It constantly spins. Round and round the world. Go from level to level and defend your forts, and when you're done, go to the next area and do the same, and then go to the next area and do the same.

Shadow Wars has 10 stages in total, each one requiring you to defend your forts a number of times per stage. And it just. Keeps. Going. Pitting your orcs against each other so they can level up in the pit fights, going to the next level with equally underleveled orcs, putting them in the pit fights to level up, going to the next level. It's a nightmare that doesn't end. The grind was so much that I honestly expected Ahston Kutcher to pop out of my closet and be like "hahaha this game is shit that's the prank haah we pranked you you're so pranked check out my hot wife" and give me a real copy of the game.

The fun part, of course, comes from when you fail a siege. Upon failing this defense mission, your fort is instantly captured, new Warchiefs are installed and you must START CAPTURING WARCHIEFS AND GOING BACK INTO THE FIGHT PITS AND BASICALLY STARTING ALL OVER FROM THE BEGINNING, EASILY KILLING SEVERAL HOURS OF PROGRESS IN ONE FELL SWOOP.

Now, the funny thing, these defenses aren't so difficult in the beginning. But the combat has this feature where you can, if you purchase a specific skill from the skill tree, have a second chance in combat. Or, rather, another second chance. So if you get killed, you have one more opportunity to make good on killing them instead. But some captains have this really awesome feature called "no chance" where, if they land the killing blow on you, you just don't get a save from it. You die instantly. And this is how I failed several of these defenses. Got clipped by a certain arrow, or someone hits you with some powerful attack as you dodge away. Get knocked down, but before you can get up again, they fucking assassinate you and cause you to lose your progress.

So, safe to fucking say, I hate this fucking game.

Instead it just goes on until you wish for death. And then... oh god, could it be? Could it actually be? It fucking ends? Oh wow! I've done it! I've done it you guys! I've succeeded! Yes friends, it's true. I finally went through all of the grinding, all of that fucking mess of a system to finally see the ending of the game and! And!! And... it's like a 20 second clip where it says, essentially "Shit was fucked up for a while but it's cool because here's your fucking happy ending".

It... was... not... worth. I spent my entire Christmas playing this because there was something deep down inside of me that did not want to play this anymore, but I knew I was so close, so I had to burn my way through to see the actual ending of the game and be done with it once and for all. I could not go to sleep one more night with this thing potentially there to fuck me up once more. So I beat it, I was done it with it, and it's fucking dead to me now.

But hey, at least the photomode is pretty cool huh!?

I give Shadow of War...

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".


  1. pos game...I have lost data 3 time and had to start over, this last time i was level 49....fuk this god dam game......

  2. This game WAS fun until the act 4 ruined the game for me and I rate it a 1 just because of act 4.

    This is the only literature I can find on not only how dumb the endgame is, but specifically how a captain with the "no chance" perk can make you have to redo HOURS of gameplay. I've read over a dozen guides for this game and NOT ONE even remotely attempts to warn you of the repercussions of losing a seige defense.
    I keep seeing people saying that this game is "hard", but thats the farthest word I would use to describe it.
    My first seige defense ended with my character getting hit with a seige fireball, From 40% health to dead without any "last chance" animation. That's when I really learned how absolutely ridiculous this game is. All three of my initial seige defends ended with that, a loss from control points, and another from a single spear that took 60% of my health followed by being finished by the one of 30 orcs around me that had the "no chance" perk.
    Literally 10+ hours added to my "EASY" playthrough for stuff I can't control.

    And don't even get me started on the pits.

    I literally cannot fathom how this game is so highly rated. The only thing that makes it worth playing is the fact that it is LOTR.