In a bold new step for video game protagonists, Monoloth Productions' Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor casts players in the role of a gruff dude with facial hair who is seeking vengeance for his murdered family. Its somewhat generic hero notwithstanding, Shadow of Mordor is an easy contender for Game of the Year thanks to its innovative and addictive Nemesis system, which allows any random enemy to gain a name, develop a fighting style, and rise up through the Uruk ranks to become Talion's greatest enemy.
Shadow of Mordor's DLC season pass comes with a $25 price tag and the upcoming Lord of the Hunt DLC is also being planned as a paid content pack, but sometimes the best things in life are free. Among those things are the free DLC content packs that Warner Bros. is releasing for Shadow of Mordor, including the Power of Shadow pack that was released last month and now the Power of Defiance pack, which lets players who prefer role-playing as a female character adopt the skin of Lithariel, the Warrior Commander of the Tribesmen of Nurn.
The Power of Defiance pack isn't hugely substantial, but the update does include the "Test of Defiance" Challenge Mode and the "Defiant to the End" Epic Rune, which is nice. It's also hard to complain about free additional content for a game when Warner Bros. could just have easily decided that the Lithariel skin was microtransaction territory.
In the story campaign, Lithariel is an ally who is sent to Talion by her ailing mother, Queen Marwen, to enlist his help in liberating the Tribesmen of Nurn. Hers is the second character skin to be made available through free DLC, as the Power of Shadow pack offered the option to play as Talion's uber-Nemesis, the Black Hand of Sauron.
Playing as Lithariel in the "Test of Defiance" challenge the main objective is to kill six Warchiefs and fifteen Captains. Lithariel will deal more melee damage than Talion but has less armor, and if the player quits or dies they will fail the challenge. Since Lithariel is human, it's also not possible to use wraith powers. Luckily the "Defiant to the End" gives the player an extra last chance after being downed, which might be the last chance that saves the day.
Shadow of Mordor offers more or less infinite gameplay, since even after completing the story and collecting every collectible that isn't nailed down, there's still lots of fun to be had in building up nemeses to the highest possible level and then orchestrating their downfall. The new skins only add more reason to go back to the game, and it wouldn't be surprising if Warner Bros. releases more skins and free content in the future.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is available now for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC. Power of Defiance is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.