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Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War's Upgraded Nemesis System Explained

The highlight of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was the game's Nemesis System, which created meaningful and surprising rivalries between players and computer-generated enemies. In the upcoming sequel, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the Nemesis system isn't just going to make the bad guys a little bit more memorable—it's going to be used to create entire armies, both friendly and otherwise.

A 16-minute gameplay video outlines some of the changes coming to Middle-earth: Shadow of War's Nemesis system, and from the looks of things, the game's scope is significantly larger than its predecessor's. As the "Bright Lord" (because, you see, Sauron is the "Dark Lord"... yeah, we know), Talion the undead ranger uses his brand new ring of power to recruit orcs into his personal army, which he'll use to take over Mordor and free the land from Sauron's control—at least, that's the plan. Lord of the Rings lore suggests that Talion won't be entirely successful.

The video doesn't go into how Talion convinces various orcs to join him, but does show what it'll take to bring down one of Sauron's fortresses. Remember the epic battle scenes in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers? It looks kind of like that. Players will be able to use siege weapons to help with hostile takeovers and can give their forces orders that'll change the tide of battle. You'll be be fighting more than orcs this time around, too—Shadow of War also lets players battle (and team up with) trolls and dragons and all sorts of other nasty critters.

Monolith Software is also working to make orcs' individual stories more meaningful, as laid out in a hands-off demo shown to various members of the press at the Game Developers Conference. Members of your army can betray you, and hold grudges if you mistreat them. Orcs come from different tribes, too, and each one has its own strengths and weaknesses—and individual prejudices to overcome.

All-in-all, Middle-earth: Shadow of War looks like its going to be much, much bigger than Shadow of Mordor, as befits a series so massive that new content (sort of) is still being published decades after its creator's death. Middle-earth: Shadow of War is scheduled for release on August 25, 2017 on next-generation consoles and PCs.