middle earth shadow of war

Initially, I was quite against purchasing Middle Earth: Shadow of War. But having spent a few hours in-game, I’m claiming money well-spent.

I’ll begin with my scepticism. I was worried about the option to purchase in-game items to make you stronger, or level faster. In my mind this would enable the developers to make a harder, grindier game. Consequently the players would feel more inclined to purchase in-game loot to help them level quicker and kill enemies more easily. (One of my colleagues did a little rant about this frustrating element of modern gaming here).

After only a few hours of play time I have felt no need to purchase any additional upgrades or equipment. You earn gear at a steady rate and do not feel like you are falling behind.

Each time you level up the experience needed to reach the next level certainly does grow. Nothing new here. So I can fathom the temptation to gain some extra XP boost the further you progress in game. Although the higher level missions you do the more XP you earn, so it kind of works out.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Turns out fire axes hurt. Source: Warner Bros.

The story of the Middle Earth games is really intriguing and captivating. In Middle Earth: Shadow of War it’s no different.

Plunging you back into the realm of Middle Earth you meet new characters and continue your journey to stop the Witch King.

Plenty of cut scenes help bring the game to life and really drive the story. The story missions so far are great, but it’s especially good having the freedom to move around and explore your environment. A new take on Shelob is graceful yet sinister, and the introduction of Idril invites you to fight for Gondor.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War
The Shelob story line is a great introduction. Warner Bros.

The skills are separated into categories and you can level Talion to suit your play style.

The bulk of your XP is earned through finishing quests, each letting you know how much you will earn upon completion. Earn enough XP and you gain an ability point, allowing you to acquire a new skill.

There are several pre-requisites in unlocking new skills, such as Talions level. There are plenty of skills to choose from and it can be hard to pick what path you want to take.

The Uruks are fun to dispatch but can be tough, especially when you are overwhelmed. The Captains each have unique looks and dialogue, which really adds immersion in the game. It is important to gain intel on them in order to exploit their weaknesses and quickly dispatch them.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Combating in the arena can earn your troops fast levels. Warner Bros.

Act II is where the game begins.

In Act II you earn the ability to control your own army of Uruks. This is where it gets really in depth. Capturing strongholds, controlling your troops and upgrading defences is all a part of Middle Earth: Shadow of War. As fun as it is to behead an Orc captain it also might be an idea to recruit them and keep them as your own (but hey, if you’re just keen for some beheading I won’t judge).

This is where all those coins you have been hording are spent. I was saving some for a war chest but they are quickly used in upgrades for your raiding party and in the defence of a fortress.

That’s all I can offer so far. But there is a lot more to Middle Earth: Shadow of War. It is quite fun and addictive and suits several play styles. Stay tuned for a full review shortly.

I'm a hardcore gamer and film buff living on the Northern Beaches in Sydney Australia. I have been working in television since 2010 and also have interests in board games, Star Wars and anything nerdy.