Shadow of War

I finished Act III of Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and I do not know if I really need to complete the epilogue. At its best, it will be more of Act II; at its worst, it is a famous grind.

Shadow of War released to much anger as it included microtransactions (mostly loot boxes) in a single player game. That deserves all the hate it got and more. That was removed from the game before I got it; we all have a responsibility not to reward that sort of monetization, but we can be forgiving of mistakes.

Shadow of War has basically the same gameplay as Shadow of Mordor, which has basically the same gameplay at the Batman Arkham series, which is good. Even at its worst, the basic gameplay is good. Shadow of War/Mordor replaces the gadgets with magic powers. It does stealth better than the Batman series with a more satisfying open world.

Act II of Shadow of War is the heart of the game and the series. If “more of the same” sounds great after Shadow of Mordor, or after having played that a long while ago, Act II of Shadow of War is exactly what you want in life. It can feel like a bit of a grind, in that you are doing the same thing in several lands, but hunting orcs is what the game is about. The Act II storylines are OK, not stellar, but generally enjoyable. The main storyline is good; Carnan’s storyline is a tour of the game’s beasts, which is the equivalent of the vehicle section in most similar games.

Act III is very good. It is short, but it culminates the story nicely with a great dark reprise. The first part of it is better; the actual climax fight is rather easy, is interesting for its characters but not its mechanics, and ends in a willfully unresolved story bit. OK, fine, but the dark reprise makes everything worth it. It may even push me into and through the epilogue grind.

I have my gripes, but ultimately Shadow of War does what it is supposed to. It is an open world game where you dominate and murder orcs. The story takes seriously what is going on, rather than ignoring that your hero’s methods are enslavement and murder. You get your power fantasy violence, your self-sacrificing heroism, and your moral reflection.

But you’re probably here for the violence, which is executed well.

: Zubon

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