In many ways, Middle-earth: Shadow of War looks set to be a very conventional “bigger and better” sequel to Shadow of Mordor. However, the follow-up is set to introduce several brand new gameplay mechanics and a few new characters, including the not-so-familiar face of Shelob.
Some Lord of the Rings fans were a little shocked when the design for Shelob, as she appears in Shadow of War, was revealed earlier this year. While in the books and their blockbuster film adaptation she was a big, scary spider, this time around she’s depicted as a human woman.
Now, Monolith Productions’ creative vice president Michael de Plater has offered up an explanation of exactly why this is the case. Apparently, the reason touches on both the character’s ancestry, and the reason why she has such an interest in the game’s protagonist, Talion.
Shelob’s mother, Ungoliant, was described by J.R.R. Tolkien as an evil spirit that took on the form of a spider. As such, it follows that Shelob isn’t really a spider in the physical sense, but instead is just pulling a similar trick, leaving her to feasibly take on the form of a human woman whenever she felt like it.
There’s also a line in Tolkien’s work that states that Ungoliant hates light, but somehow craves it. De Plater stated that Shelob feels a similar “love/hate relationship” with Celebrimbor and his new ring.
It’s certainly interesting to see Monolith take some liberties with Tolkien’s established lore. Shadow of War certainly fits into the established Middle-earth setting rather well, but the studio isn’t afraid to make its own choices about characters and tone.
Of course, we have to take what de Plater is saying with a grain of salt. There are probably various reasons that the team decided to sub out a giant spider for a svelte woman, with marketing and deep lore both contributing to this design choice.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War releases on October 10, 2017 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.