How Middle-Earth: Shadow of War's Nemesis Fortress Assaults Let You Put Your Own Stamp on the World

How Middle-Earth: Shadow of War's Nemesis Fortress Assaults Let You Put Your Own Stamp on the World

Richard Walker

Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis System was a pretty big deal, ensuring each and every player had their own personal stories, battling unique enemies in randomly generated encounters. By comparison, the original version of the Nemesis System seems positively half-baked. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War's enhanced take is raising it to the next level, and Fortress Assaults are a big part of this. We recently had the chance to play through one too, so here's exactly how they'll work.

Situated in Núrnen, the particular stronghold we get hands-on time with is ruled over by a hulking old orc named Gûnd the Elder, who commands a formidable army of Warchiefs and underlings. Before taking on a Nemesis fort, you're presented with an overview of what you're up against, including information on the stronghold itself; whether it has fortified high walls, gates to breach, or artillery in the form of siege beasts, for instance.

This also enables you to plan your attack accordingly, taking in additional units to help in the battle, be it an Olog-Hai war troll bodyguard to help defend you, your own fiery siege beasts to counter the enemy's ranged units, mounted cavalry to scale the walls, or a Wild Drake that you can mount and soar through the air with, raining fire from above. These are just a few of the options you'll have to help support Talion during the ensuing siege, which involves a series of goals to complete before facing the fortress Overlord.

Ultimately, Talion needs to seize three 'Victory Points'; zones dotted throughout the fort's grounds leading up to the throne room where the final battle with Gûnd the Elder awaits. Of course, the Warchiefs you'll fight at each Victory Point and the fort's Overlord will be completely different each time, as will the stories that unfold during the battle, whether you choose to dominate or kill enemies, shame them to reduce their level or ignore them all together. The Nemesis System still throws up an entire range of variables.

Dominating the minions of Sauron, meanwhile, means 'breaking' them first, using Talion's bow, sword or dagger, or calling upon the powers of vengeful Elven Wraith Celebrimbor, who continues to inhabit his body. Manage to overcome an orc and you'll gain a health boost and a potential ally to add to Talion's burgeoning army, while vanquishing certain foes also results in dropped gear, granting a new weapon or piece of armour that can be equipped to Talion, altering certain stats, buffs and bonuses, as well as his appearance.

Marching through the Núrnen fortress gatehouse, ward and courtyard, we cleave a path through Gûnd's legion, taking on orcs on the back of caragors, archers positioned on the fort's battlements, a Wild Drake circling above and a marauding troll rampaging its way through the castle grounds. And once Victory Points A, B and C have been captured, the route is open into the throne room, and a final showdown with the fortress's reigning Overlord.

Like Shadow of Mordor, the combat is tight and responsive, with a range of fluid attacks and counters that you'll need to put to good use against the hordes of surrounding bad guys. Smash the fortress Overlord enough to break him, and you'll have the opportunity to dominate him then depose him from his position. Once you've taken the Overlord out, you can then install your own and claim the region with a bang of Celebrimbor's glaive spear into the ground, at which point you can than choose the type of tribe that'll dictate the fort's look, as well as the type of orc army that will inhabit your captured stronghold.

Once you've taken the Nemesis Fortress and the surrounding region, new missions will then pop up and you'll be tasked with defending it, assigning an Overlord and choosing your Warchiefs to hold the territory. This is just one facet of Middle-Earth: Shadow of War's improved Nemesis System that fleshes things out immeasurably. Add to that the promise of an expanded, more detailed and varied world that goes beyond the borders of Mordor, and this is destined to be a sequel you'll definitely want to keep your flaming Eye of Sauron on.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor launches for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on 22nd August in North America and 25th August in the UK and Europe.

  • I'm hoping they saved something epic for E3.
  • It's sounding more like a RTS than Batman in LOTR clothing. I like the idea of breaking into the forts, but defending them after I've won? Nah. I'm playing the first one now and it's pretty good. The trophy list adds some anxiety with how long it takes to set some things up. I'm hoping this game keeps that in mind. This sounds like a single fort could take a half hour to beat.
  • Typo: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor launches for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on 22nd August in North America and 25th August in the UK and Europe Shadow of War.
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