The lead designer of Red Dead Redemption. A combat system that's reminiscent of the Batman Arkham games, but with rune-covered swords and orcs drenched in lumpy spitoon juice.
You've got our interest, Monolith. Time to play it cool. No need to summon your inner Molyneux/Howard/Pitchford and oversell Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor by announcing features that are ultimately absent, or rigid and prescribed, or completely meaningless to the player's experience.
"The Nemesis System assures that every enemy you fight is a named foe, and if they survive their battle with you, they continue to grow, improve, and act in the world, even as you attempt to do the same"
Oh. You're going to go with that, then? Okay. Let's take a few moments to walk through this Nemesis System.
You kill a million orcs. One happens to get away during a fight. When has this ever happened in any action game? Let's just say one gets away, and its escape doesn't involve sudden invincibility or an awkwardly scripted sequence. Now that orc goes home to his orc wife. He pays his orc bills. He writes the great orc novel. He has an existential crisis when an ogre kisses him, bringing long-suppressed feelings to the surface of his orc psyche in an intoxicating swirl of joy and shame brought on by societal pressures.
How will this orc's odyssey actually present itself? He will jump at you while you fight a crowd of other orcs later in the game, and this time his level will be higher. Maybe he'll even shout "Remember me?" moments before you roll over a lunging worg and plant your blade in the orc's throat, then do the same to three others without missing a beat.
You probably won't pause the game, stunned, because holy shit was that really that one orc that you fought for a few seconds over four hours ago?!?!
It's not that the goal of a world with more possibilities is a bad thing, or that the outcome of every combat encounter should either be a pile of dead bodies or a Game Over screen. Pushing the boundaries of design is great. When you have followed games and read previews long enough, however, it becomes obvious that when a system is given a title and used to paint a flowery version of a very specific scenario, you should assume it does the bare minimum to make that narrative technically true.
Monolith shouldn't limit themselves to the Nemesis System if they want to pitch daydreams that will ultimately make their actual (probably good) game seem relatively disappointing. Not when there so many untapped hype-generating non-features still out there.
Drop a potato in a field.
Come back to that very spot years later and a potato tree will tower over you. Step into its cooling shade. Note the family of birds that have nested in its sturdy branches. Those birds weren't placed by a designer. They are part of this living, breathing world. Look atop the nearby hill, where a family of hobbits have moved in and thrived due to this food source. What would have happened to them if you hadn't dropped a potato on that fateful day?
Forza 5's Drivatars are back.
And they're exactly the same. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will dynamically pull from THE CLOUD to inject your experience with the actual driving tendencies of real Forza 5 players. This data will enhance the AI and ensure that no two playthroughs of the game will be exactly the same!
The moon - Isil, as the elves call it - is an actual modeled object in the sky.
If you look up and study it closely you will notice that it moves and follows the correct orbit. What's more, it has a gravitational impact on Middle Earth. Bodies of water will rise and fall according to the location of Isil. That mud puddle might be an inch deep at sunset, but if you come back at midnight it might be an inch and a half deep.
This will be the most detailed, lifelike game ever made.
There will be pores on the skin of every character. Not just pores, but randomly generated pores. Think of it like Minecraft. If you liked Minecraft you should love this game because it has so much random generation. Due to the numbers of pores involved and the advanced algorithmic permutations, we estimate that there are over three trillion possible pore configurations on the skin of any given human/orc/hobbit/elf/dwarf. This is beyond next-gen.
The Banner Saga
If you like games that pull you in with compelling places and people, imaginative journeys that celebrate hand-drawn art (continued) 8/10
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