Nerd Confessions Podcast: Prepare to shame orcs this week as we discuss Middle Earth: Shadow of War and the improvements that have been made since the now overshadowed, Shadow of Mordor. We also talk a little bit about Nintendo’s Super Mario Odyssey tour where you get to meet with Mario as he makes his real life Odyssey around the United States. Why is Ellie so bitter about the whole thing?!

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Show Notes:

Nerd News


Super Mario Odyssey event at City Walk, Hollywood

What happened during the event:

  • Very awkward Mario Photo Shoot
  • Unveiling of the Super Mario Odyssey themed trailer taken around the US for the real life Mario Odyssey tour.
  • For the first time you could take a photo with mario and his new Cappy hat.
  • Postcard based around the locations in the game were handed out.
  • If you got in line (before the event start, otherwise you were cut off) you would be able to play the game and get a Cappy hat.
  • World premiere of the Jump Up, super Star music video:

Middle Earth: Shadow of War

What is Middle Earth: Shadow of War?

For Tommy, since he loves to compare things to keep it simple, you can think of Shadow of War as Lord of the Rings meets Assassin’s Creed. What’s funny is that this game now includes gear drops just like the upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Origin.

It’s the sequel to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014) which was a sleeper hit. Shadow of Mordor had a slow launch which suddenly gained tons of traction as people learned about the nemesis game mechanic and the fun gameplay.

There’s been a lot of stigma about this game over the in game micro transactions which were not in the previous game. Especially since there is an online competitive feature. A lot of people fear it is going to be pay to win.

The game is developed by Monolith Studios, the developer of games such as, Aliens vs. Predator 2 (2001) and F.E.A.R. 2 (2009).

What is the Nemesis System?

Monolith states that with this system, “No two players will have the same experience with millions of different opportunities.” Any Orc that kills you will become a Captain in Sauron’s army and gain unique traits and titles based on the conditions of that death or what happened with that character. Rank hierarchy, Captain>Warchief>Overlord

  • Each of these enemies can develop Strengths and Weaknesses from almost unlimited combinations of perks and flaws.
  • Each Orc, upon becoming a Captain or higher rank, belongs to one of several tribes that can dictate how they act, and what hidden traits they bring into battle.
  • All Orcs train in one of many Enemy Classes that reflect how they fight in battle, and upon reaching the rank of Captain, these Orcs and Ologs attain even more powerful advanced classes that come with even more fighting abilities.
  • Overlords will use the influence of the Nemesis system to alter the appearance, layout, and mechanics of the Fortresses they claim.

Development of Shadow of War

Creative Director Michael de Plater said that the development of Shadow of Mordor was a learning study for Monolith in how to make open world games, and the development team limited themselves in the scope of what they could deliver for that game. With those lessons learned, de Plater said that Monolith was able to take a bolder step forward for Shadow of War, saying “this was our ambition to do the big, blockbuster version of the ideas we’d begun to explore in the first game. It’s kind of our Terminator 2 to Terminator.”

Monolith wanted to move the game from the more solitary player experience to one that captured the epic battles shown in The Lord of the Rings films. They created battle systems that enable large-scale battles where parts of the battle would be managed by the various Followers that the player has recruited, thus allowing the player to still focus on the violence and brutality of close-quarter combat. Recognizing the violence inherent with the Middle-earth setting, Monolith aimed to include light humorous elements that play off the thirst for violence that the orcs have, so that the game would not “wallow in it, or feel sadistic”. The console/PC versions were later confirmed to be rated Mature by the ESRB, like their predecessor, although the mobile versions are less violent and were given the milder Teen rating.

Death Drama: On March 3, 2016, Monolith’s Executive Producer, Michael David Forgey, died of cancer. To commemorate the loss of Shadow of War’s Executive Producer, Monolith and Warner Bros announced a DLC named “Forthog Orc-Slayer”. Originally, $3.50 of the proceeds from the DLC made from any of the majority of the U.S. states would go to the Forgey family through December 31, 2019. Warner Brothers was criticized for attempting to cash in on Michael Forgey’s death. Following public backlash, on September 27, 2017, the DLC was made free to all who purchased the game and all proceeds were refunded to those who purchased it beforehand, in favor of Warner Bros making a lump sum donation to the Forgey family.

Shadow of War was released on

Notable Improvements

  • 5 locations that you can conquer compared to the only two locations of the previous game.
  • Fortresses to take over and infiltrate with spies if you wish.
  • Gems to modify your gear and RNG based gear drops which you can also upgrade through challenges.
  • Online nemesis battles that allow you to avenge other players for the unique Orc that killed them.
  • Online fortress battles where you can conquer or have your own fortress attacked. Doesn’t negatively effect you when you lose.
  • Oologs added to the game.
  • Drakes that you can ride added to the game.
  • Balrog battles.
  • Added details to the nemesis system such as shaming which can drive the subject insane.
  • RNG gear, loot chests that can be purchased, daily challenges and microtransactions that allow you to buy these loot chests.

Wrap up

Overall thoughts, what do we think?

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