There’s a moment in the 16 minutes of footage of Middle-earth: Shadow of War [official site] below where the clipped voice-over refers to the “RPG systems” as player finds some new armour. It seems odd to me to think of that as the RPG system though when the rest of the game greatly expands the original’s Nemesis system and is about relationships forming dynamically between procedurally created characters. That sounds more like roleplay, to me. Watch it below, it’s cool.
Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system, if you missed it at the time, created rivalries between the half-wraith main character(s) Talion and Celebrimbor and the individual Uruks you were fighting. You’d kick a guy’s butt, he’d escape, and then come back later with a beef, a scar, and a WWE-style cutscene intro. The back half of the game then became about turning those Uruks to your side and infiltrating the enemy army.
Shadow of War takes both those ideas further by putting you in greater command of that new army and letting you do things such as, as shown above, storm enemy forts. The relationships you form with other creatures include becoming nemeses after fighting just as before, but also being betrayed by members of your own army, being saved by members of that army that you’ve deployed as spies, and – as the voice over lady says – “even friendship.” I guess Shadow Of Friendship is a less catchy game name.
This does mean a lot more cutscene-wrestling intros breaking the flow of all the free-running and Arkham Asylum-esque combat, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt at this point given the amount of personality it’s wringing out of a fantasy universe that’s been rendered generic by copycats. Also because there’s a big dragon near the end of the video that you can fly around on.
Shadow of War is due for release on August 25th.