Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is not just your average Lord of the Rings title. Since its announcement, developer Monolith has reiterated that Shadow of Mordor would hold a darker tone than the main series. Protagonist Talion – a Ranger brought back from the dead by supernatural forces, looking for revenge – has a background closer to The Punisher than The Hobbit.
Monolith and publisher Warner Bros. Interactive have been pushing a steady stream of content since revealing the game in November of last year. We’ve had gameplay trailers feeding snippets of information about dynamics such as the Nemesis system, and had the story teased alongside the announcement of veteran voice actors including Nolan North. The title is looking impressive so far and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor easily made it in our list of top ten video games we wanted to see at Comic-Con 2014 last month.
Now, Monolith has unleashed a new story trailer at Gamescom 2014, Germany’s annual equivalent trade show event to E3 in Los Angeles. Whilst before these story trailers have focused on Talion himself, and the brutal murder of his wife and son, the ‘Sauron’s Servants’ trailer takes an altogether different approach. The new trailer instead focuses on the villains themselves – in particular on the vicious Black Hand.
The Black Hand is one of Sauron’s servants, and the antagonist directly responsible for Talion’s grief. The Black Hand is shown alongside two other villains – fellow Black Captains. Shown in a vision, the Black Captains look set to be a real challenge to players, complete with their own dark powers to rival those of Talion and his Wraith companion Celebrimor.
The Black Hand is very much set up as the enemy to hate. He gloats over the death of Talion’s family. “Where was your bravery when we bled your wife and gutted your son?” asks the Black Hand of our hero. Finally, after scenes of destruction and dark magic, we’re given a brief glimpse of Sauron, the Dark Lord himself. The trailer is dark, brooding and brutal – fitting in entirely with what we’ve seen of Shadow of Mordor so far.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor left a big impression on us at E3 this year. The dynamic of swaying Orcs to your side through Wraith powers was an interesting approach, and the chance that all of a player’s plans could be changed by an unscripted event could lead to many unique playthroughs. Meanwhile, the promise that the story of the game will tie together the stories of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings – a claim backed by the Tolkien estate – is enough to get fans excited about seeing just how this darker story fits with the universe.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will release on September 30 of this year, and will be available on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. A PC release will follow on October 2.