There’s no question that Lord of the Rings fans have had little reward for their loyalty in the form of top-tier video games in recent years – meaning the pressure placed on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has been high since the day it was first announced. Since then, the developers at Monolith have provided details of the open world, brand new Nemesis system, and even teased the dark story set to be told.
Finally, good news has arrived for those who felt that the game’s hero Talion and his the quest for revenge deserved a more cinematic treatment. A brand new story trailer sets out the premise and tone of Shadow of Mordor, as a release date of October 7, 2014 lets fans know which day to mark on their calendars (and further details on the game’s box art and pre-order goodies for early buyers).
Entitled ‘Banished From Death,’ the trailer does little to explain the exact mechanics or larger fiction at work. In fact, there is little linking the game’s hero to existing Lord of the Rings fiction at all (not exactly a bad start for a fresh look at the world of men and orcs).
What the trailer does get across is the core premise: players step into the role of Talion, a Ranger stationed at the Black Gate of Mordor and forced to watch his entire family killed before him. Rather than death, Talion finds himself bound to a Spirit of Vengeance, keeping the Ranger alive until he kills those responsible for his death. The role that Sauron and the rest of the LotR characters will play (if any) is still unclear, but the hooded figure responsible for the attack shows that the writers still have a few secrets to reveal.
Curious fantasy fans have already gotten the chance to see Talion’s special Wraith powers in action (granted by the mysterious spirit bound to the Ranger) as part of the extensive gameplay preview previously released by Monolith. Now, a bit more of the story linking the various assassination missions together can be gleaned. It may not be the Tolkien gamers are used to, but it’s a strong enough premise the modern third-person action title.
Along with the trailer comes a first look at the official box art for Shadow of Mordor, set to arrive on next-gen consoles and PC this fall. Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are also in the works, but the developers have admitted some aspects of the game will have to be trimmed for prior consoles.
In addition to the game’s box art, the publisher has also detailed the first pre-order bonuses in store for those who invest in the game prior to release. The pre-order brings with it the ‘Test of Power’ challenge mode, what sounds like a face-off with the best of Sauron’s Black Captains to earn powerful bonuses that will come in handy in the singleplayer campaign. Pre-orders also gain access to ‘The Dark Ranger’ character skin, giving Talion an outfit more in keeping with his darker abilities and deadly skills with a blade.
The trailer for Shadow of Mordor might not be the most staggering or cinematic, but gamers will likely appreciate the use of in-game assets as opposed to a CG upgrade. Adaptations or spin-offs are always viewed with a heavy dose of skepticism (and for good reason), but everything that’s been shown of Monolith’s game has been intriguing, if not promising. Whether that proves to be enough come launch remains to be seen.
What do you think of the trailer? Does it pique your curiosity given the talent and mythology behind it? Or are you waiting to see if a third-person game can offer something genuinely new these days? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor releases October 7, 2014 for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.