You’re Not Allowed To See Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

now that's what I call next-generation

The reason you’re not allowed to see this new Lord of the Rings game, announced earlier today, is because it’s all bound up in a multi-day slow-reveal at Big Game Retailer’s In-Store Magazine, which has not as yet progressed past ‘lone piece of concept art’ stage. So what you’re expected to do is feel a surge of desire for this “next-generation, third-person action game set in Middle-earth that explores an original story of vengeance and redemption” even though you don’t have the foggiest idea what it looks like.

I was going to be terribly stroppy and refuse to post about the Monolith-developed Shadow Of Mordor until such exclusive silliness had passed, but then I read a thing that sounds rather interesting even though the general grimdark stuff was somewhat turning me off. I’ll tell you what the thing is, if you’ll indulge my clearly exploitative lead-in.

“Every enemy that players face is a unique individual, differentiated by their personality, strengths and weaknesses. Through the Nemesis System, enemy relationships and characteristics are shaped by player actions and decisions to create personal archenemies that remember and adapt to the player and are distinct to every gameplay session. Gamers are able to craft their own battles, enemies and rewards within the dynamic world that remembers and adapts to their choices, delivering a unique experience to every player.”

That’s a whopper of a claim, and I hope MESOM can live up to it without just settling on ‘this Orc has more hitpoints than this other Orc.” Fights that mean something, because that enemy truly hates you, and/or because that enemy does or says something that causes it to be in some way memorable. Great idea, definitely. Perhaps it could be Monolith’s path to redemption after a few so-so years. If, if, that claim pans out. If. If iffity if.

As for more on what the game is, here’s more pasting for you, in lieu of having anything else to go for now.

“In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, gamers take on the role of Talion, a valiant ranger whose family is slain in front of him the night Sauron and his army return to Mordor, moments before his own life is taken. Resurrected by a Spirit of vengeance and empowered with Wraith abilities, Talion ventures into Mordor and vows to destroy those who have wronged him. Through the course of his personal vendetta, Talion uncovers the truth of the Spirit that compels him, learns the origins of the Rings of Power and ultimately confronts his true nemesis.”

I’m almost certain ol’ JRR would have balked at such a frothing, lore-bending setup, but as this is being made with the apparent input of Peter Jackon’s lot rather than the Tolkien estate, they’re hardly going to worry about an exaggerated and hyper-violent take on LOTR.

Out on PC and the new wave of toyboxes. There’s a website, but at present it only offers an admin login form. Handy! A piece of concept art, featuring a moody bloke with a sword and glowing eyes, can be found on the website of Big Game Retailer’s In-Store Magazine if you’re so inclined, but so far there is no sign of what Shadow Of Mordor actually looks like. I solemnly swear to show you screenshots once they are public. Or at least tell someone else to show you.


  1. SillyWizard says:

    Wut. This sounds awful. I mean, thinky-badguys sounds like a great direction to go in, but if the best they can come up with is Possessed Fightman Returns from the Graaaaaave…I really don’t have high hopes for their implementation of genre-changing mechanics.

    • tumbleworld says:

      I’d love to believe the “unique individuals” thing, but… uh… I don’t. Not even a little.

      As for the intro para, it sounds so much like bad fanfic that my eyes kept glazing over as I tried to read it. It took four attempts to get to the end, and I only bothered because I was determined to give it a chance.

      • SillyWizard says:

        Ha ha ha indeed. My brain initially stalled out when I read that the protagonist’s name is “Talion.” And it was only downhill from there.

        • DrScuttles says:

          Hopefully Talion will find Sauron’s Secret One Ring of Power, you know, the one he made in case he lost the regular One Ring, and as the Legendary Super Ranger will transform into Super Rangerjin Level 4 (because he’s like 127% bigger, stonger and sexier than Viggo Mortensen). Oh, and then he’ll fight 3 dragons at once while flying through the air. And the Sauron boss fight features steampunk mech suits. Because Talion is so awesome he invented Middle Earth Steampunk. The game ends with Talion being reborn twice and making out with a cute hobbit.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          Actually, it’s quite possible. the “ion” ending signifies “son of” and “tar” was the Quenya title taken on by Numenorean rulers meaning roughly “I’m a badass don’t mess with me” – so the name is actually as good a name as you could make up for a 3rd age ranger after generations of separation from the glory of the old empire has rendered the names of all but the most noble lines, pale echoes of the past. Fitting too for a ranger because they embraced their connection to the Elves rather than the high period of hubris that eschewed the Elvish title.

          I’d like to believe this is why they chose the name, it means something like “son of the noble”

          • SillyWizard says:

            “Okay, we need a name for our protagonist. What’s something cool and deadly and preferably sharp? Start brain-storming”

            “Uh. Blade-ron…Knifeon…Stabbernuts…Swordeon….”

            “No no. Let’s go for something more primal. More…force-of-naturey.”

            “Hornion? Clawmangle…Talion…Saber-tootheron…Fangfucker….”

            “What was that? Yes! Talion! It’s like a Talon, but with an ‘ion’ at the end so you know it’s a fantasy name! What, JRR Tolkien has never used a name with that kind of suffix for a single one of the hundreds of characters he’s written about? Fuck you. You’re fired.”

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Yes, that’s probably more likely!

            Although I’d have definitely gone with fangfucker.

          • MichaelGC says:

            Coo – according to Wikipedia “talion means a retaliation authorized by law[.]” Learn sumfink new every day! I’ve no idea why they didn’t go with Fangfucker Stabbernuts, though.

        • BooleanBob says:

          Expect bookstore confusion in abundance when the game is a monster hit and spawns a first spin-off novel, I, Talion.

  2. Creeping Death says:

    Sigh. As much as I hate how games tend to crap all over the LotR material (and this one seems to go full blown in that regard. Resurrection, wraith abilities, strolling into Mordor on a revenge trip?) I’ll probably still end up playing this. I guess it’s better than nothing. Right?


    • SillyWizard says:

      “Something,” sadly, is not always better than “nothing.” Take, for instance, cancer.

      Or a game that shits all over a beloved franchise.

      • Antsy says:

        That’s kind of how I feel about the movies to be honest but this game does sound especially egregious.

        Then again the only Tolkien based game I ever really enjoyed had Thorin sitting down and singing about gold, a lot.

        • Volcanu says:

          You sir, clearly never played LOTR on the SNES.

          And thus never spent an (entirely canonical) few hours searching for Gaffer gamgee’s missing glasses and picking moss in a dungeon constructed of identical screens arranged in a complex maze pattern.

          Mmmm, that thar’s some good gaming.

          • Antsy says:

            Was it the same as the Amiga one?

            I did not enjoy that :P

          • twaitsfan says:

            Holy crap that was the worst LOTR game, screen after scrolling screen of the same thing – even worse than the unreleased atari 2600 one that someone miraculous found the prototype of:

        • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

          He only sung about gold until the lines had filled up the picture, then he fucked off, especially if you needed him to do something Wait, Wait, Wait, Thorin Appears, Ask Thorin to not keep fucking off, Thorin Goes East, Go East, Attack Thorin with key… infinitum!

        • welverin says:

          I liked the rpg’s from Interplay way back when, I was disappointed they never made RotK though.

        • NotQuiteDeadYet says:

          Whoa, whoa WHOA there partner. Hold on a quick second. What was wrong with those movies?

          Also, yeah, this game looks generic as fuuuuuuuck. I’m trying to write a grimdark-ish fantasy myself, so I can see the appeal of going to the good old “my family was murdered and now I must swear vengeance RAAAAGGH”, but, jesus christ. Talion? They should just go all the way, and make his last name Steelphoenix, or something “awesome” like that,

          • jrodman says:

            I’m sad that you didn’t make his first name a compound word as well.

          • fish99 says:

            They did deviate from the books quite a bit, plus to my tastes at least they over used special effects and many of the effects they did use were fairly bad. Far too many weird slow-mo sequences as well and the tone is off in many places. Some bad casting too, thankfully Ian McKellen held the films together single handed.

            They really don’t compare with reading the book.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            They’re an adaptation and they’re pretty faithful as adaptations of books go. The 1st film had its fair share of changes, some fundamental, but was the most faithful of the 3. I’d be lying if I said some of the changes didn’t disappoint me at the time. There are a few character assassinations for the sake of having certain movie/fantasy tropes accommodated and the 2nd and 3rd films largely rely on the Sam/Frodo scenes to keep things grounded. Overall they’re great films and I left each one with net positivity.

          • fish99 says:

            I had the good luck to read the books for the first time right before seeing the films (i.e in the preceding 12 months), so that probably coloured my experience and opinions a little. And for the record I did leave the cinema having enjoyed the films, it’s just that when you watch them again at home (with less awe from being in a cinema with a huge screen), and you then go back and re-read the books, you start to see the changes and flaws.

            Stuff like Frodo abandoning Sam (!), Frodo trying to give the ring to a nazgul (!!), Aragorn falling off the cliff, the elves showing up at Helms Deep, the changes to Denethor and Grimer’s characters, the way the film implies they were attacked at weathertop because of Sam stupidly lighting a fire (whereas in the book, Aragorn deliberately makes a fire to protect them), the path of the dead bit being completely changed, no barrows or old forest. Stuff like that.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Oh of course there are an awful, awful lot of changes. Some in a big way and some in a more subtle way that are in some cases more upsetting than the large changes. e.g. I can live with no Old Forest but the complete reduction of Denethor’s character to an incompetent lunatic with no redeeming features, and the notion of Eomer being “banished” from Rohan are but two things that had me squirming in my seat – and that’s without even addressing the flaws in the main characters or some of the special effects.

            Things are variously simplified, exaggerated or just changed outright, not so much to speed up the movie as to fit with mainstream expectations and the movie industry copybook on what a blockbuster movie needs to feed audiences with to help their popcorn go down. I have always understood this was a necessary compromise in order to get a live action version of the story done with a budget large enough to do justice to the more fantastic elements in the books.

            But it’s a movie adaptation of a book and as such it can never be as rich as the source material and concessions always have to be made to what you believe the target audience wants. Jackson is a good director but he’s not in the A-league. The best directors who are capable of ignoring the rules and still creating something great, simply won’t touch something like this, nor would the studios seek them because generally they’re put off by the restrictions that come with big-budget mass-market movies and the studios see them as a risk. So much of what happens in Peter Jackson’s LotR is merely alluded to or much more understated in the books. Like you say, he embellishes. But he does so to create a high fantasy action adventure adaptation.

            I’m glad they didn’t make the films before I had the chance to read the books. But then I’d have no problem if my kids, if I had kids, wanted to watch the movies first and read the books second. Either way, it could never be the same for them as it was for me anyway.

  3. nekoneko says:

    “Resurrected by a Spirit of vengeance and empowered with Wraith abilities, Talion ventures into Mordor and vows to destroy those who have wronged him. ”

    This sounds truly awful.

    • RiffRaff says:

      no it actually sounds brilliant, but that’s just because it is the exact plot of soul reaver.

      • SillyWizard says:

        Indeed. They could make the plot center on a simple bank clerk in the Shire arrested and tried for a crime that’s never identified; they could make it about Satan arriving and harassing the residents of Rivendell, trailed by a dwarf, an anthropomorphic black cat, and a woman with a scar on her neck; they could make it about a few novelists in Bree getting together to write an ironic conspiracy theory book, only to be swept up in their own hubris and become the focal point of a (sort of) real, existing cabal of conspirators.

        All of these (locations aside) are premises of brilliant novels. But none of them belong in Middle Earth.

        • HothMonster says:

          I don’t know, now you have me considering the merits of an existential lotr game. It can star a ranger with some marmots.

        • BenLeng says:

          I want to play your proposed Focault’s Pendulum in with Orcs game so hard now! Make a kickstarter!

        • RiffRaff says:

          “But none of them belong in Middle Earth.”

          well that was what I was saying, but at this point the lord of the rings franchise has become so distant from the actual books that I just cant muster the energy to care what they do with it anymore. eventually I expect a cyberpunk LoTR, or LoTR goes to Middle Australia, or even space. the gods basically do come from space anyway and EƤrendil has a flying boat so why not.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            And Saruman is already a bit steampunk, even more tastes catered to… The real elephant in the room though is that Beorn is essentially a furry. I know you’re going to say he’s a werebear but Tolkien doesn’t actually have him distinctly transform. It’s just that it’s ambiguous whether he’s a man or a bear. He’s sometimes like one and sometimes seems like the other. He’s a furry. I expect the next Hobbit movie to embrace this fully.

          • edwardoka says:

            I am still appalled that Beorn is not being played by Brian Blessed.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            James, Beorn appears as a bear in the Battle of Five Armies. It’s been several years since I’ve read The Hobbit, but I distinctly remember Tolkien specifically referring to Beorn in his bear form during the battle.

            Beorn’s not a furry (you might as well be stabbing me in the fucking eye when you use that term in relation to Tolkien’s mythology), he’s a skin-changer, and he and his ancestors are referred to as such in the book. There’s no allusion to some kind of “in-between” permaform.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            Of course you’re right. You may have noticed that most of my posts aren’t entirely serious. The Hobbit marvelously alludes to his powers without actually being crass enough to include a werewolf style changing scene. But even as a man, Beorn has many bear-like characteristics – his hair, his massive size, etc. I’m probably asking for too much when I hope the movie isn’t going to have an incredible-hulk style transformation scene.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            Heh, sorry ’bout that. I take my Tolkien lore a little too seriously, so I jumped the gun there.

            About that movie? Oh yeah, there’s gonna be a transformation scene — the WETA FX guys have already confirmed it. As much as I love Peter Jackson, his obsession with embellishment drives me absolutely batty sometimes.

    • Volcanu says:

      I’m keen (read, dread) to see how they implement these Wraith abilities. Im guessing it wont be:

      Left click to snuffle for nearby hobbits, Right click to emit a high pitched shriek.

  4. rustybroomhandle says:

    For me, the only games that have ever truly captured Tolkien, are not even set in that universe. I am of course talking about Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge.

    • Antsy says:

      I completely agree. I don’t think it was a coincidence that I lost myself in those games on my old rubber keyed Spectrum so soon after reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time.

      • TheSplund says:

        I believe I still have the cassettes in a box somewhere (and the Trapdoor one too)

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      In my half-written articles I’ve done this year file, I’ve got a piece on Lords of Midnight making that exact argument. It’s the best Tolkein game of all time.

  5. Cyrius says:

    Battle for Middle Earth 2 was rocketsauce

    • Davie says:

      That was easily the best LotR game. It borrowed from the books as well as the films, the writing was not utterly atrocious, the only lore-destroying stuff were acceptable RTS mechanics, and the whole thing was just a fun classic RTS.

      Well, actually, Third Age Total War is probably the best overall. But that’s not technically its own game.

  6. Dave Tosser says:

    Monolith, what are you doing?

  7. RedViv says:

    Legacy of Sauron: Soul Reaver, then?

  8. Lemming says:

    This is an excuse to have another character in a dark hood, brooding down at something from on-high at night in the rain, isn’t it?

    It’s going to be Assassin’s Creed/Dishonoured/Thief/Batman with a LOTR skin.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Clearly you didn’t see the bit where this brooding, be-cowled anti-hero has glowing eyes.

      Not so smug now, are we?

  9. Anthile says:

    Freedom Force had more sensible origin stories- and that one had time-traveling Nazis in it.
    “Where once stood Graves only Tombstone remains”

    • frightlever says:

      Every other new blockbuster is a superhero movie – why no Freedom Force 3?

      • BooleanBob says:

        I think it has something to do with people not really being attracted to superhero franchise movies for their, um, superheroes – but for their franchiseness.

        Like, it’s based on something that you’ve vaguely heard about and a whole bunch of other people like, so, that’s subliminally absorbed as an endorsement of quality or something?

        ‘Agents of Shield? Oh, it’s from a thing, so it’s probably worth seeing or whatever.’

  10. MOKKA says:

    By now, Tolkien must’ve drilled himself halway through the earth considering the rate in which is body is rotating in his grave.

    • Lemming says:

      I like to think he’s rolled into CS Lewis’ grave and they are now in a tumbling embrace.

      • HothMonster says:

        They were spinning out of control but then they bumped into Philip K. Dick and realized things could be worse.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        Hah, fat chance. It’ll be at least another millennium before they’re on speaking terms again after Tolkien’s rant over the Narnia books

  11. Nick says:

    The trees appear to move.

  12. morbiusnl says:

    no matter what I fill in as my bday, I cant get past the age check. anyone else?

  13. SillyWizard says:

    I’m a bit surprised at the lack of commentary on “Talion” (I can’t even think that name without quotation marks) carrying a bit of The Sword that was Broken (and then reforged. Speaking of which, when is this game supposed to take place in the Middle Earth timeline?)

    • HothMonster says:

      Impossible to know with that description. He could have been resurrected the next day or 100 years later.

      • MrUnimport says:

        Would be rather amusing for him to be resurrected after Sauron’s defeat and spend the whole game ambling about looking for someone to shank.

  14. alsoran says:

    That picture looks like a screenie from the Hobbit that I played on my spectrum 48k. Sigh, would play it again if I could.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      link to (use chrome) Let me know when your mind is sufficiently blown!

      • analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

        Last time I tried to run a Spectrum emulator it made my Anti Virus go apoplectic, so I had a look inside and the Anti Virus was right.

        I’ll let the thoughts of getting up before school and running the old Melbourne House classic stay halcyon!

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          Sounds nasty, but this one is pure javascript and nothing untoward seems to be happening even when I try it from behind the over-zealous firewall at work.

  15. Mercurial says:

    The header image to this article takes me back to Christmas 1982 and my rubber keyed Spectrum.

    To the 12 year old me the Hobbit was awesome.

    It was also random and incredibly unfair. I loved it.

  16. Gyro says:

    Sounds like Orc mischief to me.

  17. Blackcompany says:

    “take on the role of Talion, a valiant ranger whose family is slain in front of him…”

    This sounds vaguely – nay, dangerously – close to the plot of a little known first person fantasy novel I read recently. The name of the novel is Talion: Revenant. Quite a good read, if you’re into first person fantasy and slow reveals. In the book, however, the “rangers” were known collectively as Talions, and each was referred to only as Talion by those outside their order.

    Oh…and the part ripping off the Crow wasn’t there. Like I said, the book was good. This game, on the other hand, sounds truly dreadful. Perhaps if they could be bothered to create their original world and lore – or at least borrow from somewhere other than Tolkien – I might be interested.

    As it is, I’ve had all of the D&D-meets-Tolkien I can handle in gaming. Tossing in a side of Soul Reaver and likely robbing combat systems the way you have literature, won’t get me to play it.

    • SillyWizard says:

      …the fuck?

      link to

      Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha! This is a real thing!

    • jrodman says:

      I had trouble remember what first-person meant in context of a book. I was wondering where the crosshairs go.

      I am getting dumber all the time.

  18. ffordesoon says:

    I’m not even a Tolkien fan, and that plot made me laugh with how obviously non-canon and fanficcy and generic it is.

    What always confuses me is why they even try to adhere to canon with these things. Tolkien’s universe was so carefully delineated that trying to slip between the cracks seems like a fool’s errand, especially when you’re trying to deliver on the core LOTR fantasy. Like that one game that starred another fellowship of characters sort of like the characters we know that just happened to be in a lot of the same places at the same times as Frodo & Co. I mean, what?

    If it makes for a better game, go hog-wild with your lorebending! Shit, you could even excuse it by saying that There And Back Again and/or LOTR proper are hobbit-written histories that gloss over political complexities and entirely fabricate major events and people in order to make hobbits look good. Tolkien taught Anglo-Saxon literature; he would probably approve of openly contradictory alternate histories to his own.

    • The Random One says:

      Ha ha, yes! I’d love to see that, and it would even be a proper grimdark adventure! I wonder if anyone working on games today has the big guts and brains it’d take for that to work, though.

    • tormos says:

      I kind of love this idea so much I might try to work up an outline for a story where the hobbits are all Gibbon-esque revisionist historians trying to force a false narrative on events.

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        The Hobbits are mere puppits, the Elves are the ones behind it all.

      • Juan Carlo says:

        I am surprised no one has done it yet, especially given the popularity of reimagined fairy tales where the bad guys turn out to be not so bad (see: Wicked). LOTR is ripe for such a retelling just because the bad guys are all pure super evil without a whole lot of shades of grey and the good guys are all defending an older way of life (i.e. landed gentry and monarchies) that keeps power concentrated in the hands of a very few. I mean, you could make a good case for the Orcs as being political downtrodden minority attempting to overthrow their oppressors.

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          There’s actually a lot of existing material by Tolkien you can draw on. The Orcs, and even Sauron, have tragic origin stories. It’s just that by the time of the LotR the antagonists are all far beyond redemption. This is even exaggerated in the movies.

          • Kieron Gillen says:

            There’s the Last Ringbearer, the Russian novel of the war from the orc’s perspective.
            link to

            I admit, this kind of games appeals enormously. I keep an eye on the copyright laws and see whether there’s a chance in hell of LoTR dropping out of copyright in my lifetime.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            I think you have to wait 80 years after something was first published. In the case of H.P Lovecraft the recent explosion of derivative works and references is down to the copyright expiring on some of his work. LotR was, unfortunately, as recent as 1952 so you’ve got another 20 years or so to go. However it gets complicated because the appendices were published in a later edition, and much more material was published even later, some posthumously, that deals with the same characters and events. The Silmarillion, for instance, was not published until 1977.

            Moreover, that’s actually an oversimplification of how it all works. Another sci fi/fantasy setting that many people would love to explore is H.G Wells’ War of the Worlds, published in 1898 but somehow still protected by copyright on account of something Wells wrote that was published in the 1940s.

            I could be wrong but I once went to a game design conference where a pen&paper RPG designer explained it all in a seminar he gave. He had an enormous beard and wore socks with sandals, so I have every reason to trust him on the matter.

          • Kieron Gillen says:

            Yeah – that’s the problem. It does differ a little region from region though…

        • JamesTheNumberless says:

          Oh and actually, it has been done on a massive scale by link to – which I played, modded, coded and did some writing for, about 10 years ago. Specifically I worked on some of the content for the lands inhabited by the “evil races” and it was all about bringing them to life in a way that would encourage people to roleplay with subtlety. I don’t suppose anyone even knows what a MUD is anymore though :)

  19. xenominim says:

    The bit about the Nemesis system sounds interesting but I wager the whole thing is just another conversation tree system like the Bioware games, Fallout, Alpha Protocol, etc. Chances are that’s all it’s going to be, a handful of special enemies you meet, make choice 1, 2, or 3, and that will determine if they show up again later or not and how angry they are at you. Because to claim every single enemy you run across in a third person action game will be unique is a Molyneux style promise, if this is as hack and slashy as it sounds we’ll probably be slaughtering at least several hundred baddies before the end, I don’t think they’ll all have something interesting to say.

  20. Werthead says:

    This sounds like the biggest load of bollocks I’ve ever heard in my life.

    Today, anyway.

  21. JamesTheNumberless says:

    Ok, I was a very, very big Tolkien fan (well I’m actually rather small but I’m not sure how else to phrase it) in my student days. I read literally everything that was published with Tolkien’s name on it before 1998 and used to run Tolkien trivia contests. I can still tell you the names of the 7 sons of Feanor without pausing for breath or blinking and I’m absolutely convinced that it’s possible to do this “theme” without ruining the lore.

    First of all, Tolkien’s world was full of things that didn’t seem to fit into the mythology with any continuity, and vague references to spirits and the undead but also to powers tied to Middle Earth itself that nobody, except perhaps Galadriel and the Elves who had left long ago , and probably Sauron himself. Had any deep knowledge of. Elves truly belong on the earth but Middle Earth isn’t really for them, even the ones who never saw the West, end up there in the end. Men are likewise transient, but they leave ME and nobody knows what happens to their souls when they die. Dwarves are a greater mystery and Hobbits… Nobody even knows what they’re doing there in the first place. There are even powers, like Bombadil, that seem greater than the Ring but literally have no interest in Elves or Men or the Valar/Maiar themselves.

    No of course I never got laid when I was at Uni, what kind of a question is that?

    We know there were other rings, lesser than the rings of power. We also know that 9 were given to mortal men and I can assure you without having to go into too much detail that we don’t know the lineage of all 9 of the ring-wraiths from Tolkien’s work alone. However we do know that they were great and powerful men of old, mostly of Numenor – from whom the “rangers”, Aragorn’s lot, are descended. We also know that Sauron has all 9 rings in his possession and that he needed to spend a lot of time gathering his power back before he could use them in any meaningful way.

    So it’s plausible that the main character in this game is a descendent of one of the original 9, whose spirit has been called to Mordor by Sauron to become one of the Nazgul…. Save for the Witch King who enjoyed some autonomous power of his own in the intervening years between the last alliance and the ringbearer’s quest, not enough is really known of the exact identity of the Nazgul in LotR nor whether they were really all the one and same who were originally given the rings. Men’s souls on death are meant to go somewhere that not even the Gods know about. Yet as we see from the case of the Oath-breakers it seems there are ways of keeping them bound to Middle Earth so who is to say how exactly Sauron’s power of binding the 9 to the rings works? Ancestry and artifacts are powerful things in Tolkien’s work and I would certainly not raise an eyebrow if Tolkien himself wrote that an unhappy descendant of one of the fallen Kings of Numenor found his soul ensnared by Sauron, in posession of the 9 rings, desperately seeking a way to rebuild the Nazgul – or if this ranger’s soul was bring corrupted by the soul of his ancestor (still a ringwraith but nearly powerless after centuries of separation from Sauron). Or it could simply be that his family kept one of the lesser rings of uncertain number… Afterall he wouldn’t be the first wraith-like dead Numenorean even in LotR to not be a Nazgul.

    Cold be hand and heart and bone,
    and cold be sleep under stone:
    never more to wake on stony bed,
    never, till the Sun fails and the Moon is dead.
    In the black wind the stars shall die,
    and still on gold here let them lie,
    till the dark lord lifts his hand
    over dead sea and withered land

    Still, it’s likely to be a boring sword-em-up, isn’t it?

    • SirKicksalot says:

      I don’t mind these “what if” scenarios. My understanding is that the game draws from the old Hobbit/bridge movie concepts.

      The one thing I don’t get about it: “Mordor in the days before it transforms into a blasted hellscape”

      • JamesTheNumberless says:

        If you read between the lines you’ll notice that Mordor was all flowers and bunny rabbits before Sam lit a cooking fire. That started a chain-reaction which set off Mount Doom and turned the place into a wastland… Everything you think you know is just Elvish propaganda.

  22. Volcanu says:

    “a valiant ranger whose family is slain in front of him the night Sauron and his army return to Mordor, moments before his own life is taken”

    This also sounds a bit weird to me. Where have Sauron and his army been? On holiday? Have they come back to Mordor after a lovely few weeks on the Costa del Sol, only to discover someone’s left a window open (I’m looking at you Shagrat) and this Talion is sleeping Goldilocksstyle in Sauron’s bed?

    I always thought the nasty things had slowly crept back to Mordor over a period of years prior to Sauron’s return from Dol Guldur. Rather than them all suddenly marching in through the black Gate in a giant column

  23. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    Probably been said ‘Ask Thorin/Gandalf to open the window’, ‘ask Thorin/Gandalf to carry me’. tell Thorin/Gandalf go East.

    Edit: That place is too full to enter.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      “look at map” – doesn’t parse

      Gandalf is waiting


      [insert manic miner]

      LOAD “”

    • VictorLudorum says:

      You see: A door and dead Elrond.

      >OP DO

      You miss the chest by a wide ailing.
      Thorin sits down and sings about gold.
      The black river evaporates.
      With one blow you cleave its skull. The door is dead.

  24. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    Sell crack to Elrond you say!

  25. analydilatedcorporatestyle says:

    All existing Lord of the Rings games need Silmarillion DLC, that will put an end to all this silliness!!!! People could just get back to shooting Zombies just above the teeth!

  26. DatonKallandor says:

    Well obviously they had dig deep into the stupid-well to come up with that backstory for the main character.
    I guess we should be grateful it’s not yet another Man-Dwarf-Elf trio running around 5 minutes after or in-front of Frodo. We already got at least half a dozen of those.
    War in the North’s take on it was good though – they read the books, made the whole thing work and their Eagles easily beat Jacksons version of the Eagles.

  27. bstard says:

    You are standing in an open spot on a semitary west of a gravestone, with a signs of abuse by cheapskates and culture barbarians.

    >> ROLL OVER

    It’s not possible to ‘Roll over Christopher in his chest’ right now.

  28. fish99 says:

    Ah the Hobbit adventure, that bring back memories of getting trapped in the chest at bag-end. You literally could not get out if you climbed inside and closed the lid.

    Thorin drops Dead elrond.


    You take Dead elrond.


    You attack Throin with Dead elrond
    You swing broadside at his body but at the last moment Thorin jumps aside.
    With one well placed blow Thorin cleaves your skull.
    You are dead.
    You have mastered 2.5% of this adventure.