While open-world titles can offer up some of the most freedom in gaming, they can also fall into the pitfall of continually reusing familiar and sometimes stale game mechanics. With the advent of a new generation of consoles though, it’s refreshing to see developers like Monolith attempting to eschew these doldrums by introducing new twists on existing mechanics in upcoming open-world title Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
Upgrade systems are a dime-a-dozen in open-world titles. You kill things, they drop shiny things, you use shiny things to become stronger. It’s a mechanic that provides a constant sense of accomplishment, but has seen countless iterations. In the case of Shadow of Mordor, the method of upgrading Talion – the game’s hero – will still require the collection of special items called runes but it’s how they are collected that’s intriguing.
As highlighted in the game’s newest trailer, players will be able to upgrade Talion’s weapons with various buffs through the collection of runes. By killing the game’s dynamic enemy captains, runes will be dropped. Building upon this simple mechanic, the runes that these captains drop will depend on how the player exploits their various weaknesses providing rewards for thinking ahead and tackling encounters according to the enemy at hand.
These runes can then be combined to create even stronger buffs for Talion’s arsenal. It’s the introduction of epic runes though, that adds a new level of depth to the game’s upgrade system. If players manage to capture and dominate an enemy captain, they can send them simpering back to their war-chief to whom they will deliver a death threat. This will cause the war-chief to bolster their guard and prepare for their encounter for you, but a successful vanquishing of them will yield an incredibly powerful epic rune.
In the video, the epic rune on hand allows Talion to unleash a flurry of fire arrows from his bow but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. With the game’s concept art and recent story trailer giving insight into a deep world and lore, there’s a great amount of latitude that Monolith will be able to explore in terms of dynamic content creation.
In addition to this new trailer, retailer-exclusive bonuses for the title have been officially revealed. Not only will those who pre-order get access to “The Dark Ranger” DLC, but gamers who purchase from the following retailers will find themselves with special runes and character skins:
“Amazon — Deadly Archer Rune
- Talion will deal extra damage when executing ranged headshots against Sauron’s Captains
Best Buy — Flame of Arnor Rune
- Talion can ignite his blade by achieving a high combo count and incinerate his enemies
GameStop – Captain of the Watch / Hidden Blade Rune
- “Captain of the Watch” character skin and the Hidden Blade Rune — Talion can deal extra damage when executing stealth attacks against Sauron’s Captains
Steam — Orc Slayer Rune
- Talion will decimate Sauron’s Captains with increased damage from special attacks”
While gamers may lament the omission of a co-op mode, it’s encouraging for next-gen users to hear that the game’s Nemesis system will only be possible at full capacity on next-gen systems. This Nemesis system alone with its dynamic enemies is sure to set Shadow of Mordor apart from its contemporaries when gamers get their chance to finally explore what the Black Land has to offer.
Are you intrigued by the additional level of interation required to get your hands on epic runes? What would you like to see open-world titles do to change up the formula?
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is set to release on October 7, 2014 for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
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