You know those Uruks native to the land of Mordor? While we know these savage creatures created by Sauron are cruel and vile, they apparently have a ton of personality. Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor helps highlight that with the revolutionary Nemesis System, and its sequel Middle-earth: Shadow Of War expanded that system greatly.
Which has produced some very wacky orcs.
For the uninitiated, the Nemesis System models the hierarchy of Orc Captains. These Captains are tougher than the grunts and are totally unique for your playthrough. They will engage in their own missions, which either involve them going through a test of strength (to gain more power/levels) or feud with other orcs for dominance-leaving the other for dead most of the time. It’s all dynamically generated, and you could just be a passive observer and let the AI sort itself, or have your hands dirty by actively participate in the missions.
In Shadow Of War, the variety of orcs have been greatly increased. Now they are all part of a tribe (which brings special tribe bonuses), have advance classes on top of the previous game’s classes, and even more strengths and weaknesses to keep track. Plus, with the game taking place in various regions of Mordor, there are now multiple hierarchies of the Nemesis System.
All of these would sound daunting, but as it gets slowly introduced- prepare for about 10 hours of game time before it opens up properly- it’s easy enough to grasp. The main hook in Shadow Of War is to recruit these orc captains to join your side and later take down the region’s fortress. You can recruit as much as you like- or very little if you like to make those fortress sieges hard.
But the Nemesis System is at its best when it is able to generate its own story lines. Here’s one example.
After I reached the region of Nurn, I tried to find some low-level captains to start off my army. As I about to ambush him, I notice he was hanging out with another captain name Amug, which went terribly wrong. I died, to the hands of some nobody orc grunt. He immediately got a big promotion after that and now fancies himself as the Tark Slayer, “Tark” being a derogatory term for humans.
I decided to ambush the previous captain again, only to find him hanging out, again, with the same other captain. Things fare better this time, but before I could recruit them I accidentally shot a flammable stack of orc grog and burned both captains down. With that plan failed, I figured I just get my revenge with Garl the so-called Tark Slayer.. but I needed an army. Rather than offing him off, I made him my first follower. A loyal one, in fact, enough that I put the nasty orc that killed me for the first time in the game as the new overlord of the region once I conquered the fortress.
Interestingly, some of the orcs presumed dead came back to life. That original orc captain I accidentally burned to death? Amug’s face is burned halfway and now loves fires. I eventually got him as a follower, but after all he went through he’s terrified of almost everything- making him worthless. He even cheated death to join me in a battle, only to flee away in terror at the sight of poison!
As mentioned, you probably won’t see this story happening in your game. Maybe it will be even more wacky. Here’s some of the wackier orcs you may or may not find:
- an orc with a face mask where he can only let out a loud snarl
- an orc who is obsessive with crushing things that it’s the only thing he can say
- a bard- I kid you not- with fancy clothes who wield a guitar axe
- a tailor who wears fancy hide of his enemies
- an orc slayer that looks like a fan of Heavy Metal band Slayer (or probably just a juggalo)
- an orc captain who let his minions speak for him
- an orc who only speaks in rhymes
- an orc that stammers hard but manages to say one word, usually big words an orc wouldn’t say
- a Ghul lover that excessively promotes and protects the lives of Ghul as if he’s a member of PETA
These orcs and trolls also have some interesting fashion sense. They have various hairstyles (including dreads, mohawk, double mohawk and even receding hair) and different armour choices depending on their tribe, making them all stand out compared to the grunts, which already have pretty diverse looks.
There’s a lot of wacky traits to come by. And part of the fun is seeing them acknowledging your actions. Ran away from them a lot? Died too many times in their hands? All of them are accounted. Add that these orcs can cheat death, become mentally broken from being shamed, and even betraying your side, and the Nemesis System will keep you busy, should you engage with it.
Which makes the idea of buying loot boxes for orcs baffling. Sure, all these orcs are just randomly generated, but part of the fun is having your personal stories and attachment to the ones you encounter naturally. Thankfully the loot boxes can be safely ignored until the endgame. More on that later, and stay tuned for our full review on Shadow Of War.