Shadow Of War’s Blade Of Galadriel expansion out today, along with free nemesis system update


My favourite Middle-earth: Shadow Of War nemesis story isn’t my own, but one I found on Reddit. It was about a musician Orc who the player mercilessly humiliated time and time again, until his mind had broken and all he could do was murmur about how he’d “lost his song”. It’s tragic stuff, and while the new behaviours added in today’s patch might not generate the same heart-wrenching tales, they should mix things up if you’ve found those encounters have grown stale.

The Blade Of Galadriel expansion is also out today, and lets you step into the Elven shoes of Eltariel, one of Talion’s sidekicks from the main game. She’s better known as the Blade Of Galadriel, so expect to run around stabbing Nazguls in the name of freedom, justice, or whatever it is that Galadriel actually stands for. Bright white lights, maybe.

There are plenty of bug fixes and UI improvements in the free update – though I suspect you’ll be more interested in the additions to the nemesis system. They’ve added a bunch of new traits and behaviours for the captains, including “Tunnel Rat” Orcs that “burrow into the ground and summon Ghûls”, and “Tremor” Ologs that “pound the earth with tremendous force, staggering nearby threats and heavily damaging structures”.

While those are welcome additions, the nemesis system really shines when novel abilities are attached to an interesting and surprising personality. I’m thinking of the dude with venom attacks who has a chance of appearing when you poison some grog, indignant at you stealing his job, or the bard that can ambush you with a song who then tries to bash your head in with his lute. These new behaviours sound like they’ll add some more variety to the combat, but it’ll take more than that for me to reinstall. You can find the full patch notes here.

Here’s the trailer for the expansion, though avert your eyes now if you don’t want the main game spoiled:

I’m glad we get to see more of Nazgalion. While they got a tad repetitive, I did end up invested in the story missions from the main game. Talion’s fall into the dark side (sorry, wrong morally dualistic mega-franchise) felt convincing after all that callous orc slaughter, and how Isildur’s ring ends up further twisting him could be fertile territory to explore. I’m sure more committed Tolkien fans than me will disagree, but it feels authentically Lord of the Rings-ey. Sexy lady Shelob is nowhere in sight, which helps.

Middle-earth: Shadow Of War – The Blade Of Galadriel is out now on Steam for £11.99/$14.99/€14.99.


  1. plebman182 says:

    They really ruined the nemesis system I feel in this game due to the fact they intended it to be grindy as fuck to force MT purchases. First musician I seen amused me, the 8th by the time I was starting chapter 2 bored me and made me start to hate the game as I had seen the same traits in numerous orcs and some of them just do not shut up the moment you meet them and having to sit there for what feels like a decade as they monologue was so boring after hearing the same speech for the 50th time.

    • Carr0t says:

      Yup. Like most of the commenters so far I loved the initial part of the game, but once I got to the grindy Shadow Wars bit I took over the first castle thing, got half way through the second one, and then just… lost interest. I waited for it to be <£25 on sale before picking it up instead of it being a day 1 purchase precisely because of the microtransaction lootbox stuff, and have no desire to spend extra cash on a game which has now bored me.

      It's not even like I'm finding it too hard. Getting to the end boss of a castle is pretty easy, but it's just *dull*. Doing the same things over and over, and then he wipes the floor with me because he's so overpowered compared to his minions. At least make some of them close to his/my level so I can get some good gear before taking him on.

      Ironically, if they'd ditched the grindy microtransaction bullshit, but priced it maybe £10 more (Certainly around the £50 point, maybe even more), it would still have been a day 1 purchase for me.

      • Massenstein says:

        Yeah, I was originally going to buy almost immediately (after reading first reviews obviously) but thanks to microtransactions I’m waiting until it drops to even larger sale. Unless a similar, better game comes out first.

  2. dontnormally says:

    Just say no to lootbox grindy nonsense, no matter how fun it looks like it could have been without the lootbox grindy nonsense dragging it into the mud.

  3. DuncUK says:

    The Shadow Wars section of the original game was so laborious to play that by the time I’d ground my way through to the end, I was quite burned out on the game and the nemesis system had lost all appeal. As a result I can’t find any enthusiasm for DLC. Maybe I’ll pick it up in a year or so on sale.

  4. suibhne says:

    The first game was paced pretty well. If you’re into grinding (enthusiastically or compulsively), the game still pushes you into the second territory at a reasonable point. This is even more meaningful because the Nemesis system unlocks at that point, and the entire game experience feels complete at 30-40 hours. In contrast, the sequel ended up feeling like endless grind to me, with every territory essentially the same except for aesthetics. After 35 hours, my game map looked ridiculously incomplete with no promise of a meaningful payoff, and I simply couldn’t care any longer.

    The first 20 of those hours were a fair bit of fun, but I wish I’d invested them into a different game – perhaps one where I might have been able to go through a complete experience. I’m not opposed to investing 80-100 hours in a game (looking at you, The Witcher 3…as well as numerous large, narrative-driven RPGs), but there has to be real progress in narrative or gameplay systems after the 15- to 20-hour mark. This game has neither.

  5. FesterSilently says:

    Yeah, am I in the extreme minority who *didn’t* quite get on with Shadow of War?


    1. I’ve got nearly 200 hours invested in the rough-around-the-edges, quite grindy, but lovingly hand-tooled original game.

    2. I (unwisely, and against my own long-standing promise) pre-purchased Shadow of War, on the merits of the original.

    3. I don’t mind grind, if done right, and I’m no stranger to investing *hundreds* of hours into certain games (Skyrim, Morrowind, Witcher 3, Rainbow Six Siege…all over 100 hours)

    But, upon spinning the game up and exploring the world and grinding my way happily through the first 5-6 hours of Middle Earth, I discovered that: a) the graphics, though empirically and technically better, just weren’t doing it for me, in *this* game, and b) I was definitely *not* having any fun. :/

    The closest analogue I can think of, would be my (eerily similar) experience with Company of Heroes and Company of Heroes 2: I played (and *still* play) the hell out of CoH1, and pre-purchased CoH2, but, after literally a dozen or more hours skirmishing and poking around the campaign(s), I just could not find me a thrill.

    With CoH2, it seemed to me that they’d added so many mechanics to the gameplay, that it simply muddled the experience for me.

    I feel more or less the same with regard to Shadow of War.

    And I am sad. Because I really, *really* want to love this sequel to a game I love to death.

    But…three failed attempts and six-ish hours later, it lays there at the bottom of my Steam list, wasting away, next to the likes of CoH2, Elder Scrolls – Oblivion, Crysis 2 and Dragon Age 2.

    • Chiller says:

      I feel almost exactly the same.
      There are probably dozens of us! Dozens!

    • jp says:

      The game was too similar to the first one with too little new things added.
      I too got bored very quickly, forced myself to play up to the shadow wars part and immediately quit. Did look up the ending on youtube though.

      Absolutely hated the nemesis system. The orcs talked too much and for some bizarre reason the loooong monologues were unskippable. Attack a orc, monologue, hit the orc one time, another orc shows up, monologue. Continue fighting for couple seconds, another orc, monologue! Continue for a couple seconds, oh noes, ambush! monologue… Even killing or branding them was a chore of monologues.

      All the orcs were also completely forgettable. Apparently you also had a special encounter near the end with your most problematic nemesis. I sure as hell didn’t notice that and only know it now because someone mentioned it, they were that forgettable.

      The gear system was also a chore, with the whole do thing x to upgrade it to see if its actually worth using.

  6. Lawlcopt0r says:

    As a Tolien fan, it does feel similar to Lord of the Rings, it just doesn’t feel like it’s actually the same world because they get the specifics all wrong. It feels more like someone invented their own thing that is strongly inspired by the feel of the movies.
    If you see it this way it’s easier to enjoy without getting mad