One does not simply play a Lord of The Rings game, especially when you play a game like Shadows Of War, that takes you back as a near-omnipotent ranger in the lands of Mordor and Gondor. Taking back the reins after its first iteration, Shadows of Mordor, we took a spin at the latest instalment of the famed Shadows franchise to see if it has overshadowed its predecessor.
Shadows of War continues its adaptation into J.R.R Tolkien’s legendarium with the events that take place in between The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings with players returning to the role of Talion a Ranger that has been bonded with the dead elf king Celebrimbor who has forged a new Ring of Power to fight the forces of Sauron.
Continuing off from where the last game left off, the story this time takes players to well-known landscapes such as Minas Ithil and Cirith Ungol (You can remember this place clearly if you remember the gasps made by the fellowship in the Return of The King). The gameplay has not changed too much from its predecessor, as the fan favourite Nemesis system is back in all its glory while the Orc Captains have gotten smarter in the process.
Players will also have an added element of surprise as there is now an addition of the day and night systems which adds that layer of stealth when it comes to sneak attacks, as well as adds more focus on the use of the Wraith mode in order to detect enemies while acting as a sort of night vision system.
Previously, the game acted more of a hack and slash style game whereby you go through waves of orcs while completing the story but this time the game felt more engaging on a personal level, with enemy behaviours changing around the way you play the game, especially during combat with Orc Chieftains. These Orcs are now smarter and some can even predict your moves if you are too repetitive forcing you to adapt your style when in combat with these brutes.
The cinematics from the executions and decapitations are also one of the key lures of the game, with each kill making it look slick and sometimes on point. The looting system is still pretty basic with not many customizations that can be done except for an increasing tier system that gives you access to faster killing. Skill-wise, the tree is rather linear and does not offer much in terms of flexibility, however, players can still choose to upgrade their skills depending on their playstyle up to a certain degree.
As with the previous game, players can dominate forces in order to gain followers to help fight in small to large skirmishes across the map, and the infamous loot chest system has little to no effect in the game overall, with small benefits that amplify your followers can be bought through in-game currency. Additionally, if you had retained your Shadows of Mordor save data, you can bring over your most loyal followers as well as top Nemesis over to Shadows of War.
So if you are looking for a full single-player game for the PS4, and you don’t want to be bothered by pesky people, I think Shadows Of War does a good job at keeping you entertained for at least a few weeks. While there might be a multiplayer release in the works soon, you can still enjoy your single player progress unimpeded.