When Middle-earth: Shadow of War launches this fall, players will once again take on the role of the vengeful Talion, still pursuing his quest to overthrow Sauron. This time around, however, he'll have an entire army of orcs and various other beasties at his back, making for some big changes to the way players will leave their mark on the lands of Mordor.
While players enjoyed an introduction to one of Talion's sassy new orc friends during the E3 2017 Microsoft press conference, even more of the game's new army-driven gameplay was shown off behind closed doors on the showroom floor. Director of Technical Art Matt Allen guided audiences through an attack on one of Shadow of War's many fortresses, highlighting how much control players have over battles that now feel truly epic. That's not to say the combat was low-key in Talion's previous outing, Shadow of Mordor. But while he could be considered a scalpel in that previous game, the army you build is a massive, orc-slaying hammer in Shadow of War.
Allen first introduced viewers to the game's new Nemesis system, which greatly expands on the interconnected relationships across orc-kind in Mordor. The system is broken down into forts, at the top of which rests the war chief. Said chief usually has a collection of three or four generals beneath them, with their own high ranking officers clustered in the field below. Highlighting any orc shows their immediate connections, as well as information on if you happen to control them or have sent them out on a mission.
Allen explained that understanding these connections is key in Shadow of War, as it gives the player an idea of how the dynamics will shift depending on the outcome of a raid.
Those raids play a huge role in the new game, with players given the opportunity to prepare for war before storming the castle. The pre-fight menu gives you an opportunity to see the local war chief and their generals' strengths and weaknesses. One general may have set up catapults that launch poison, for instance, while another has a squad of berserkers on their side; insane warriors who attack without thinking.
The trick here is to decide what strengths you have that might take advantage of the listed weaknesses. For the live demo, the player picked perks that gave them units who climb walls faster, for instance, as well as an army of attack spiders.