Shadow of Mordor dev -- "There's nothing more important than this project"

If upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel fails, it won't be for lack of trying, Monolith Productions studio head says.

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Monolith Productions is working on one of the most revered fantasy franchises for its new Lord of the Rings prequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and if comments from studio head Kevin Stephens are any indication, the developer is not taking the opportunity lightly. While some may say recent Lord of the Rings console games like The Lord of the Rings: War in the North and The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest have left much to be desired, if Shadow of Mordor suffers the same fate, it won't be for lack of trying.

Asked by Game Informer what the project means to Monolith Productions as a studio, Stephens said, "Everything. This is our future. There's nothing more important than this project."

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's iconic work may also be happy to know Monolith is working with Lord of the Rings licensing company Middle-earth Enterprises, as well as Academy Award-winning film director Peter Jackson, and effects studio Weta for Shadow of Mordor. Last week, lead writer Christian Cantamessa said Shadow of Mordor will be "very respectful" of Tolkien's source material, while at the same time offering a new take on the series.

If Shadow of Mordor turns out to be a success, more games could be in store, but Stephens isn't ready to commit to anything just yet.

"Our ambition is to make the best possible game experience we can. And obviously, we have lots of ideas, and we love the IP, but it's pure conjecture about a franchise or the future," he said. "We always set out to make something that could be the next best franchise. That's always our goal."

Shadow of Mordor tells an original story set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The game's protagonist is a conflicted Ranger named Talion, who has Wraith-like abilities. The game is coming to Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC, but not Wii U. No release date has been announced.

Though Warner Bros. has yet to announce a release date for Shadow of Mordor, the publisher yesterday announced Lego: The Hobbit for a spring 2014 release on Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, 3DS, PC, and Mac.

Discussion

107 comments
lackerter07
lackerter07

Who said anything about Nazgul? The Wraith could be any number of things in Tolkiens universe. It could even be one of the Maiar who simply lost the power to take form. If your going to complain about the game not being original then actually read the books because the story writers sure as hell have. You don't spend the time to create massive amounts of AI, charicter data and landscape to do an Arkham spin off. If they stick with Middle Earths undead powers than Talion will not be overpowered at all. The interviews state that they are going to stick with the original material so Talion will probobly have powers similar to barrow wights or Black Numinorion sorcery. He is not a wizard, he is a human ranger taping into the limited power of some form of revenent.


spikepigeo
spikepigeo

Ranger with Wraith-like abilities

F**K YOU!

Seriously? Do you really think that gamers these days are ALL Michael Bay-loving, COD obsessed, pew-pew-explosions!!!!111 MOAR ACTION- juveniles? 

I want an open-world Middle-Earth game that's about travel. About the journey. About roughing it in the wilds. About alliances between men and elves and dwarves and the subtle, mystical magic of Lord of the Rings that we know and love! The magic of ancient places, creatures and artifacts.

Not some action hero that will probably be able to shoot magic out of his hands. It's just not right. From what I've seen of the screenshots and artwork, Talion has glowing blue eyes and bluish magic coming out of his hand. This really worries me.

We already have a Witcher 3 coming out, which I know I will love, but we don't need a mindless LotR title to compete with it. The IP has so much more potential than that!

Perhaps I'm freaking out to soon... but I don't have high hopes.

Hurvl
Hurvl

I guess the gameplay will make or break this, because the story or premise (Ranger with Wraith-like abilities?) doesn't sound like anything to be excited about. I got the War in the North through a Humble Bundle and it doesn't look too bad, but not great either. I hope this one is better.

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

Interesting.  Hadn't heard of this until now, and I suppose it could show a little promise, especially if Monolith plays to their greatest strengths (creating games with a ton of atmosphere and impressive enemy AI).

However, I'm admittedly a bit disappointed in the choice of time period.  I'd have liked to see something taking place much, much earlier.  Doing a Second Age game focused on the first war against Sauron with characters like Isildur and Elendil as the driving force would have been an interesting direction to take.  Or if they want to go with something that most people know next to nothing about, do a game during the First Age about the war against Melkor/Morgoth, the "original" dark lord.  There's a ton of really interesting LOTR lore that has yet to be explored at all in most forms of media, and it just seems like a missed opportunity.

dillon-peters
dillon-peters

well if they want it to succeed they should stop making it look like an Arkham game with a LOTR skin....

gufberg
gufberg

I just saw an interview with the Devs. This looks like a trainwreck waiting to happen to be honest. They talked about how they didn't want to conform to "Fantasy Stereotypes" and that the Uruk-Hai was really just a symbol for the "evil in man" when we are put into extreme conditions. At the end of the day they dont want to make a High Fantasy Tolkien-esque game true to his vision. They want to create your standard, modern "dark and gritty" game. Check out their interview with game informer (the 6 minute one) its on youtube. 

Screw this. 

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

I want a lore-faithful LOTR game about mechs. But really, I hope this game doesn't suck

Navardo95
Navardo95

They are taking the Hobbits to Isengard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :o

Navardo95
Navardo95

Man the Return Of The King video game on PC was the most graphically intense game at that time..the transition from movie scenes to in-game visuals were epic,there were LOTS of things happening on the screen at a time,the combat was fluid and visceral ,great replay value,terrific audio quality and an easy 9.5/ 10 in my book :))

I hope SoM can reach that enormous level of epicness offered by RoTK


The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

Open world or it isn't a true Tolkien inspired game!

iskaroth
iskaroth

Theres a big problem when creating game based on LotR - its guaranteed to have shallow plot and simple, black/white characters because the source material doesnt leave much room for creativity. 

Iranazi
Iranazi

I hope this turns out amazing, the LoTR franchise really deserves some great games

alpha_unit97
alpha_unit97

Is this an open world rpg or just a straight up action game?

alpha_unit97
alpha_unit97

The last good Lord of the Rings game would have to have been Battle for Middle Earth, also the games made for the movies were quite good. I've been waiting ever since, hope this succeeds... 

SeriousSean
SeriousSean

I remember when Monolith used to work on amazing and original IPs. I remember how excited I was for these guys when they had their first breakout hit. Fast forward like thirteen years and now they're stuck working on stuff like this. I'm just going to blame WB to make myself feel better.

I suppose I shouldn't be so down on a game I know almost nothing about, though.

Dresden05
Dresden05

Looking forward to it, just please drop Xbox 360 and PS3 if it effects the quality of the game.

Too many developers have stumbled trying to work with 4 different console architectures 

Petedj06
Petedj06

I have an idea. Make a LOTOR game that follows the story. Let me fight at Helms Deep, explore Moria, and defend Minas Tirith! This universe has enough content for an epic game without having to break the lore, and destroy the universe. I'm getting tired of all these fantasy games that have a LOTOR skin on top just to make money.

Fine_TableLamp
Fine_TableLamp

@spikepigeo I also agree, How is this staying true to the source material? If you are going to do magic than he needs to be a wizard if you are going to just do sword play than a ranger is fine, but there are only Nine Wraiths and they became what they were by the rings they were given. They also had no powers that I read of and if this Talion guy is like them then he had better have a slight fear of water and fire.

HowlPendragon
HowlPendragon

I totally agree. A lot of devs seem to think that the only way to appeal to the fans of these games are to imbue us with these ridiculously overpowered abilities which are surreal even by Middle-Earth standards.

Even the wizards in both the novels and films hardly used their magic, and if they did it was as subtle and non-flashy as possible.

Part of the reason I liked Skyrim so much is because while there are magic abilities you can learn, they aren't the fancy whiz-bang spells you see in something like Harry Potter. Not to mention you can definitely play the whole game without resorting to magic during battle, excluding your Thu'ums.

We need an open world, turn-based LOTR RPG with the expansiveness (and by that I mean the entire original map of Middle-Earth), and the simplicity of Skyrim that has the extreme amounts of varying skill stats and equipment The Elder Scrolls series is known for.

Hurvl
Hurvl

@ThePowerOfHATNo, why do a game about Melkor, when you can just melk the movie based stuff.

It's just like with the Narnia movies, they do the four same movies that has been done before by the BBC in the 80's. There are actually 7 Narnia books (and I've got them all), but they never bother with number 1,3 and 7 (The Magicians Nephew, The Horse and His Boy and The Last Battle).


Hurvl
Hurvl

@gufberg Lol, they want a more modern stereotype? That's no better than the "Fantasy Stereotypes" they seem to revile. Narrowminded thinking like that "we can't do this, we have constrict to that" is the path to mediocrity.

Navardo95
Navardo95

@The-Neon-Seal Doubt it is...if it was open world they would have bragged the shit out of it..I mean who wouldn't brag about an open world Middle Earth game???

stev69
stev69

@iskaroth In what way does the source material leave little room for creativity? Tolkien created an entire worlds worth of lore. The developers have so much potential to work with, if they fuck it up it wont be because of a lack source material. 

gufberg
gufberg

@iskaroth What is wrong with a morally black/white story? I think we've become too comfortable with the notion that a game must be "dark, grittiy and morally ambiguous " to be considered intelligent or mature. I'd argue that Tolkiens LOTR, and by extension Middle-Earth, is one of the most mature and intelligent stories of the 20th century (and the 21st so far). 

Remember that Tolkien was a Philologist who taught Anglo-Saxon litterature at Oxford. He, and by extension the world he created, is much more intelligent than your average modern 'gritty' fantasy.  Did you know that the ONLY poem we have in the Gothic language is one written by Tolkien because he, in his 20's, decided to learn Gothic as a recreational activity. 

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

@iskaroth The source material leaves lots of room for creativity. Did you know that Middle Earth has vampires (pleanty you can do with that alone)? What about a Balrog who didn't want to be evil anymore and sets off on a world shaking quest of redemption?

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

@alpha_unit97 Apparently LOTR Online isn't half bad either at this point (now that it's had a great deal more content added).  But if you ask me, the best LOTR game thus far is still Return Of The King.  Easily one of the best hack-and-slash games ever made.

gamespotpanayis
gamespotpanayis

@Dresden05 They are the biggest market.. so it's not really possible to ignore them and be the financial success that will be demanded from this IP.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

@Petedj06 There was one, and it was epicly boring. Took hours and hours just to get through Moria (it was like a game in itself), and it was filled with monotonous turn based battles.

OzzieArcane
OzzieArcane

@Petedj06 They've already done that, repeatedly. You can't release the same thing over and over and expect people to still care.

lackerter07
lackerter07

@Fine_TableLamp @spikepigeo I have read all of Tolkiens work and I think this game could work. While there where only nine Nazgul there where plenty of other spirits roaming Middle Earth. The  Wraith doesn't even have to be an undead entity, it could be a maiar slain in the war against Morgoth that like Sauron and Sarumon did not die but simply lost the ability to take form. Besides, as we saw in the books the Barrow Wights and the spirits of the dead marshes had their own powers. In fact, most of the powers we know Talion has where used by dark spirits in the books, such as the fear/control powers and his ability to see into the wraith world. In the images of the Wraith world Tallion looks nothing like a Nazgul does in its true form, in fact he is wearing elven armor.

 As far as I have seen the game will be open world, in the Gameinformer issue they told us that " where you go and who you fight is left largely up to the player". The interviews have been very vague which means that either they want to surprise us, or have nothing to show for their work. 


 Tallions powers do not seem to be all that powerful, they are mainly for aiding him not killing others. But the one thing that could ruin this game is if you can just run around and destroy orcs with impunity like in Arkam. The combat needs to be challenging and realistic. If they even come close to Force Unleashed type combat in this game I wouldn't even think of buying it. 

archav3n
archav3n

@LucentWolf @The-Neon-Seal They mentioned nothing about open-world. They mention sand-box. It could have a bigger world and non-linear with sandbox gameplay. But they did not commit on open-world. Nothing matches Ass Creed IV that easily besides GTA

ThePowerOfHAT
ThePowerOfHAT

@The-Neon-Seal @iskaroth I think the issue is that it doesn't seem like most people working with the source material have much interest in those sorts of things.  The simple fact that they're cramming this story into the time between The Hobbit and LOTR already forces them to reign themselves in quite a bit as far as story goes, and they appear to be trying to shoehorn Gollum into the story as well, which just seems like a shallow attempt at connecting it to the overarching story.

I'd still rather see a game set in the First or Second Age.  There's a ton of untapped potential in each of those time periods that has barely been touched upon at all in anything other than the Silmarillion.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@OzzieArcane @Petedj06 Works for Pokemon.


But you are correct. All that stuff Petedj06 has been done. I'd much prefer to see more new stuff within the LOTR universe. War of the North was the last one I played, and it was fairly decent. Not amazing, but whatever.

Navardo95
Navardo95

@The-Neon-Seal @Navardo95 Well they always bragged about how massive their game is but all I know is if you had a full fledged open world Middle Earth game you wouldn't remain silent

OzzieArcane
OzzieArcane

@sammoth  That's true but unfortunately Lord of the Rings is not steeped in people's gun obsession. There has never been a LOTR game that sells half of what Call of Duty does. If you want to see how games involving swords that cover the same thing time and time again fair, look at Dynasty Warriors. They sell so poorly outside of Japan that they won't even dub many of the games anymore.

Also Call of Duty while playing the same, doesn't cover the literally exact same story every time. They may have similar premises but comparing retelling the story of LOTR to military shooters would only work if said shooters only took place during a specific war everytime like say World War II.

beriahim
beriahim

@Lhomity @Petedj06 i really hate those purists. they should go try and make their own god damned movie and see how that turns out

OzzieArcane
OzzieArcane

@Petedj06 The Batman comparison doesn't work because their are lots and lots and lots of Batman stories that could be adapted for a movie that have never been used. Lord of the Rings is the same trilogy. Reusing the same plot for a game repeatedly is done by a little series we know as Dynasty Warriors.

pretty_odddd
pretty_odddd

@Petedj06 It sounds like an RPG and a very predictable one at that. If it follows LoTR story, there will be no surprise at all 'acuse everyone knows the story. There will be no branching story except choosing to play as Frodo & Sam or Aragorn party, I don't think it will works.

Lhomity
Lhomity

@Petedj06  I see your point. I just don't find replaying a story that's already so well established in books, films, and games, all that compelling. I got about 30 minutes into LEGO Lord of the Rings before wanting to fall asleep.

I could see it being more interesting if the developers drastically changed up the story and the characters, but in this age of social media and online petitions, I seriously doubt any dev would have the courage to make such changes to LOTR. I've met a few purists who would like to rip Peter Jackson's face off for some of the changes he made.

Petedj06
Petedj06

@Lhomity It has been done, but not well. Wouldn't it be cool if there was an open world LoTR game that lets you take control of the fellowship. Play as any of the character, level them up, play through all the different scenes. It just seems like when they do make a game based on the "real" story, it is a lazy effort. Two Towers and Return of the King were okay for being two generations ago, imagine what they could do now. Your argument is the same as saying that, because they've already made a batman movie, Nolan should never have tried. Things need to be redone, and built up from what came before.