A tough one to review. I am a die-hard fan of the LOTR and Hobbit series. They are classics and some of my favorite movies and video games. I loved Shadow of Mordor and really did love this campaign when I was currently playing through. I thought Talion looked better in the first game but the combat and kills/skills in this game were superior. Now I know this review is late due to recently starting this blog but I played SoW at release and enjoyed it. Maybe it is because I am such a nerd that the environment immersed me but either way it was fun to play through. It absolutely had major issues within the game story and functionality of what the studio wanted. To make something clear, I never had an issue (in game) with the loot boxes because I didn’t want to give the developers the satisfaction that I needed microtransactions to complete a single player game. I know other people online felt the same way because they needed to learn that microtransactions and loot boxes shouldn’t play such a big/attractive role in Triple A games. They didn’t make me happy and I thought hurt the game. It annoyed me more when I tried to play online and ran into people who did invest in the transactions and clearly weren’t good at the game but spent money to beat everyone. Very frustrating to someone who already spent 65 dollars to play the game. Even with the microtransactions for online fortress protection, it didn’t entice me as some others because I always viewed this as a single player game with multiplayer modes. With that focus – below is my break down of the positive and negatives of the game:
- Story Mode – I enjoyed the main plot and battling Witch-Kings. It felt necessary and connected the dots as someone who always wants more in this world. The ending seemed… controversial and unsatisfying
- Combat – The best part of the game. Deep transitions and combinations. Multiple tools and styles to go with. Allows you to approve almost every fight with your style or on your selected beast!
- Skill Tree – Connected to the great combat of the game. Definitely enhanced the experience and satisfaction of kills/multi kills
- Nemesis System – Incredible. Made the game for me and allowed for amazing orc customization. That created actual enemies and it was very fun to fight, watch, listen to and engage in
- Fortress Attacks and Defenses – Rush of emotion and fun when attacking/defending. So many tactics, scenarios and lively battling sequences take place to completely take over your mind and leave you with nothing but a smile
- Relics – I thought it could’ve been improved but the system worked and rewarded players who hunted down leaders and specific orcs/uruk
- Backstory to Shelob – It was a nice tough to put a well recognized name.brand in the game for the story and side missions
- RPG Customization – Was fun to look for loot and make Tailon look like a badass. You earned most of the loot so wearing it felt significant until you got to the midpoint of the game and realized that your could use microtransactions to get better stuff in a couple seconds
- The Ending – Seemed a bit open and the multi-end didn’t seem to work for the situation. After all the grinding you did in the 4th act, we deserved something more or to at least play it
- Act IV – Extremely annoying once you got to the end. A waste of multiple nights that started to get tedious and non-rewarding. Microtransactions seemed to be the answer to it but I didn’t break and my time suffered. Tailon simply turns to the dark and walks with the Witch-King after fighting him for so long? We get the reasoning but not in a single scene or without playing
- MicroTransactions/Loot Boxes – Ruined the game for most people. Annoying to know people could get better loot than I for Tailon and their fortresses by paying money. Didn’t balance the game at all. Hurt the game rating for many and absolutely altered the sales.
- The Map & Elevation for Areas – Not easy to follow and work through. It looked amazing but was difficult to navigate and not get frustrated with
- The Menus – A bit awkward and hard to navigate. I also hated how many notifications popped up with all of it. I loved the lore and what it added but at a certain point it is hard to navigate and understand what you’re looking at
- Collections & Sets – Clearly set up to get people to spend money to use loot boxes as the way to amazing purples/gear. Annoying when you know you can’t benefit fully from the attribute(s) unless you put in double digits of hours to collect all that gear
- Multiplayer – A bad attempt at getting more money from people. Struggled due to low sales and people in gaming community fighting microtransactions. The advantage was evident in those who spend money to have better gear and protection for their fortresses. Very frustrating with the disbalance of multilayer. Sucked the enjoyment out of a level playing field and made you suffer to players/situations you were clearly better than (Still fun to siege)
At the end of the day, I really enjoyed this game. But clearly there were a ton of negatives/improvements I would’ve loved to see. Doesn’t mean I disliked the game, it means I was hyper critical because of my love for the franchise and lore. I loved being apart of this world and furthering the story with Celebrimbor and Talion. It had its flaws and definitely needs to purge itself of these stupid loot boxes with the weird orc – but the combat and skill tree was incredible. Overall a lot of fun but a disappointment when looking at it from a full scoop and business perspective.
Overall Score for RPG – Action Game: 7.3/10