Middle-earth Shadow of War NYCC Hands-On Preview: A Worthy Followup to an Excellent Game

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is rapidly approaching its release date of October 10 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. I luckily had a chance to play the game for the first time at this year’s New York Comic Con and to say that the game improved from the first title would be an understatement.

Shadow of War has drastically improved, giving the game a lot more depth and mechanics for fans of the series to learn and master throughout their time with the game. The game was running on an Xbox One X and it really did look stunning, The combat was smooth, frame rate didn’t dip, and I walked away very impressed.

During my demo, I got a chance to tackle the new forge takedown mission variant. At first, being thrown right into the mission, it could be a little confusing. From setting up your army to actually making your way through the forge is a lot of work. The player can task their ally leaders each their own upgrades that will help the success of the mission. This is one of the neatest parts as players will have to take note of their enemies powers/advantages and decide strategically what upgrades to equip.

Do you want your orcs to have shields and defend the main bulk of the army while taller trolls try to dismantle the walls of the forge; or would you rather send out archers to snipe the enemies from above and have less hellfire rained down for above? This mechanic almost felt like a strategy game and it was actually really cool.

Once inside, the player will have to hold down certain locations until they reach the main area, where the leader of the forge comes out for the final battle. Holding down these certain locations is sort of like a domination mode in any first-person shooter title, you just need to stand within the circle and let the meter fill up. This is all happening as enemy orcs come flying your way. The cool part is that you will be fighting alongside your ally orcs, each with their own unique set of skills.

The only complaint I had was at first with all the orcs on screen sometimes it was hard to determine which orcs were fighting on your side and which were the enemies. But after a little time of playing, learning to distinguish between the two will become natural. The fighting has mainly remained the same, besides some new upgrades and weapon combos that the game has implemented.

Sadly I did not manage to complete the mission in its entirety, but I did manage to reach the final boss in my second run. An interesting note I took from my first run fail was that when returning back to the forge some of the enemy captain leaders that I killed earlier, remained dead. This made my second run through the forge almost like a breeze. Obviously, you don’t want to die so near the end of the mission, but it played a big factor in my second run which saved me a lot of time.

My time with Middle-earth: Shadow of War was good, it gave me a little sense of the improvements of the game and gave me a little taste of the gameplay to have me wanting more. The game is just around the corner with the release date primed for October 10 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Are you excited for Shadow of War? Will you be picking up it on day one? Let us know in the comments below and stay tuned to Gameranx for the latest news coming out from NYCC 2017!