Shadow of Mordor Easy Mode Would Have "Fundamentally Broken" the Game, Director Says

Michael de Plater explains why Monolith decided against offering a novice difficulty option for the game.

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor developer Monolith Productions could have created an "Easy Mode" for the critically adored Lord of the Rings game, but this would have "fundamentally broken" the overall experience, according to design director Michael de Plater. Speaking with GameSpot, de Plater said it was always important to Monolith that players feel a certain level of challenge so they could understand the depths of the game's ambitious Nemesis System.

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"We could have had an Easy Mode," de Plater told us. "And if we did, the game would have fundamentally been broken. Because if you could just hack and slash your way through the game without having to stop and think, without getting killed, without seeing these guys level up, without the world evolving, people wouldn't have got to experience the Nemesis System."

Monolith's own tests bear this out.

"To be brutally honest, we saw that [in testing]," he said. "The people who were the very end of the bell curve in terms of their coordination and skill--the people who found the game most easy, were also the ones who also found the Nemesis System least engaging."

"Actually, a hard mode is probably what we needed even more in some ways than an easy mode" -- Michael de Plater

De Plater went on to say that Monolith's aim for Shadow of Mordor was to create enemies and scenarios that appeared challenging, but at the same time were easy to take down if you took the right approach and discovered your foe's weaknesses. As such, Shadow of Mordor doesn't need an easy mode, but maybe an even tougher difficulty option, de Plater said.

"Actually, a hard mode is probably what we needed even more in some ways than an easy mode," he said.

Also in our interview, we asked de Plater how Monolith was able to ship Shadow of Mordor with no major technical hiccups. After all, technical struggles have been something of a common occurrence this year with other-big name games, including Driveclub, Assassin's Creed Unity, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

"It's sort of a cliche, but making games is hard, obviously," he said. "I think partly it was the fact that it was our first go at this type of game, so we were so incredibly paranoid and so fearful that we did close things down early, our production was really diligent about closing things down. Our QA did just a phenomenal job. Having our own engine, and our tech team and having those guys on site was hugely integral to it."

"So it just really was a big goal of ours; it was a priority to do that because you don't get two chances," he added. "If we had come out and stumbled on our first go, we'd never be getting a second one, basically."

For more on Shadow of Mordor, which won GameSpot's overall 2014 Game of the Year, check out our review and full video interview with de Plater above.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

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Ghosthunter54

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It does need a hard mode. Maybe patch it in if possible? Anyway, I'm glad this game won game of the year. It's about time someone shipped a finished product again.

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DefconRave

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eh, it's easy enough as it is. Needs a hard mode asap (harsher lvling curve and better enemy a.i).

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SOul_FUNk

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Pls make it Fuckin harder, adjust higher level of tensity like Bioshock did, or even better than that, and pls make the npc even smarter , to increase the difficulties of combat and stealth, and if the npc always facing back when we playing stealth approach , that make us feeling stupid, just like the dumb npc in Metro and Wolfenstein, and that sound ridiculous.

We are mature adults , not some kindergarten kids, pls pls pls , my dear developers.

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isshiah

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Oooggga boooggga me think game too easy!!!

Grrrr give me banana!

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Santesyu

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everyone saying the game was to easy must of been playing on 360 and ps3's, because it was hard for me on my ps4 I still havent finished it, I am at the part where you have to draw out a warchief by making his follower scream, trading the game in first chance I get lol it was hard to me.

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Thanatos2k

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Easy mode pampers people and prevents them from growing as a gamer. Sometimes you just need to get good.

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BigDawgSteve420

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Uh, I like the game and all, but it is ridiculously easy period.

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sonicblast19

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Well the PS3 version is a broken game,lol.

The game itself is ok from every standpoint,I don't feel it should've been easier.

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Rambolike

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I'd like a hard mode though. There are some tough Uruks, but generally, you can beat them without too much trouble. The game is great, with very few bugs; I didn't encounter many, anyway.

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Kyelo

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I enjoyed the game but did anyone genuinely find this game difficult? Early on you pick your battles according to your skills/opponents strengths and later on well just hack away!

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gamingnerd121

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I thought the game was incredibly easy even without easy mode. The thing is though, if you're going to add harder modes to a game, don't just increase the damage number of enemies.

I remember being quite dissapointed by Bioshock Infinite's 1999 mode, because it was pretty much the same as what we've been offered before. But then again, the combat in that game wasn't really praise-worthy.

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seanwil545

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Without giving away spoilers, I found that after a certain point its was sometime difficult to NOT kill off my targeted Uruk.

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C-Sanders

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Wholly agree with monolith comments. Easy would be underwhelming and the game sure could use a hard mode!

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S-181

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By the time you get the ability to use two executions with one critical charge as well as the triple critical ability, the combat does get very easy. Leaving out a few of those OP abilities would have made the game much more challenging and the Nemesis system more rewarding.

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Zloth2

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Yep. The Nemesis system was fun at the start of the game but was all but absent in the last half.

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Chaos_Dante_456

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A harder mode would be great.

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chaos-06

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I've only dies about 3 or 4 times in 15 hours of play so far only because I got a bit too confident and was careless. Mostly, you can just walk into any stronghold and slaughter captains and warchiefs left, right, and center. Probably why the nemesis system really hasn't impressed me at all as I didn't really get the intended experience.

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LordCrash88

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Is that a joke? The game is already incredibly easy and they have to use cheap endless enemy respawning right in the middle of combat to make it at least half working. It's hard to die even if you fight against 50 uruks at the same time...


People must really suck these days in gaming.

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hystavito

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I am forced to agree. I only played it a bit with a friend one night. I watched him play for awhile, then he handed the controller to me, and within minutes I found the "cheap" combo of moves that worked over and over. As you said it kept spawning enemies, although it does reach a point where you have killed them all, for a few minutes anyway, then it spawns more. Not sure what you meant exactly by "in the middle of combat", but the enemies did at least spawn off screen, and then immediately ran towards me.


However, we hadn't progressed the story much and we're only maybe 5hrs into the game at that point, and he had died many times initially so maybe the game adjusted difficulty?

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Arsyad00

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the game was hard?


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naryanrobinson

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"Fundamentally broken" eh?

That's exactly the term I used in a recent article to describe the hierarchy system in this game with the orcs that lose a head and come back with a band aid five minutes later.

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PeterDuck

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Easy mode would not have broken the game.

What breaks the game already are the infinite spawning orcs whenever you are fighting an orc shief.

Infinite respawn is a very cheap gimmick. I still can't believe GS picked this as the GOTY.

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gajbutler

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The game was far too easy, became really boring for me as I unlocked stuff as I just breezed through it. I want an ultra hard mode...

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cwatz12

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I only died twice (both times right near the start of the game, learning to play) and I was a little disappointed about it.

The nemesis system was the big seller, and I never got the opportunity to get those personal revenge stories/rivalries.


Its still a fantastic game, but I wish I got to see more of that system. In short, easy mode would have been a bad idea.

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PeterDuck

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The personal revenge stories are limited to:

" I already killed you before "

" How many more times do I have to kill you?"

"Why won't you just die?"

" you ran away last time but you won't be getting away from me this time"

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BigPrimeNumbers

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Hard mode would've been good indeed. Still, a great game.

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Tabarnaque

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The game is already in permanent easy modo LAUGHING OUT LOUD

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deactivated-5b797108c254e

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Easy mode? Really? Are we talking about the game where you can actually level up just by dying? Once you learn a few basic skills, make sure to learn weaknesses beforehand and learn how to separate the harder mobs from each other is it easy mode...

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DaVillain-

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DaVillain-  Moderator

<< LINK REMOVED >> Korvus commenting here on the gaming article. What madness is this?

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deactivated-5b797108c254e

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Hehe, I actually spent the first few months after registering on article commenting only and never touched the forum. Before that I used this website for about 8 years without bothering to register. Things change =P

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Kim_Jong_II

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<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> The Kim Jongs are curious. You were moderator. Why no more?

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DaVillain-

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DaVillain-  Moderator

<< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >><< LINK REMOVED >> He retire a long time ago. GS users tend treat Mods with no respect so he had to quite.

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deactivated-5b797108c254e

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Yep, although I got asked by a lot of the mods to return and I'm thinking about it. Screw the haters =P

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Carpetfluff

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Let's be honest, it's only really tough as the start before you power up a bit, although you can still find yourself caught out and dead in a hurry if you get a mix of captains that have a lot of invulnerabilities. Most people still complained it was too easy anyway.

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DB2538

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Publishing games without bugs and glitches is the developers responsibility. We gamers and GameSpot should not praise a game because it was without bugs at launch, instead we should punish those developers and games that is unfinished and rushed to the market.

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BusterFriendly

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<< LINK REMOVED >> The problem is the best way to avoid bugs is make dirt simple, boring games like Shadow of Mordor. It's easy to debug when it just doesn't do much.

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Jmoney5555

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@busterfriendly that's your opinion but a lot of people really liked this game including me! Dirt doesn't really change my opinion on a game

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Carpetfluff

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I agree, but the point here was that Shadow was pretty solid on those fronts in comparison to most of the AAA games that hit in the pre xmas run up. The other solid one probably being, ironically, Far Cry 4 which was easily the most solid Ubi release in months.

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Saladudo

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Get rid of prompt and FX.

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Tabarnaque

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<< LINK REMOVED >> Getting rid of prompts is stupid because I am forced to subjugate myself to the "cinematic experience"™ whenever I perform an elven punch then thousand sword cuts, with the camera this close I cannot see a thing of what is happening.


If anything, what we truly need is something that cuts every cinematic stops and camera angles, and that includes being forced to stop in your tracks whenever a captain talks, seriously, get in a fight with 6 captains at once, they just don't gaddamn stop blablablablabla IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS

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OldDirtyCR

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I believe that's an option in the menu.

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Marky360

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This game was super easy for me I mean could just run around mercilessly killing Orcs with no difficulty what so ever. Even the boss's were super easy I could just go in killing sprees with no one being able to stop me. I don't find this a bad thing though I think it's great when games make you a badass that can effortlessly kill your enemies instead of ones where your a weakling and get pwned all the time because you have super low health or your attacks do no damage.

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esqueejy

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"The people who were the very end of the bell curve in terms of their coordination and skill--the people who found the game most easy, were also the ones who also found the Nemesis System least engaging."


Oh brother. That's like sounding the mating call for all the tweeners (chronological and/or mental) who overcompensate for low self-esteem by branding themselves as "hardcore" and "elite" to come spray the walls with their chest-thumping braggadocio and delusions of grandeur.

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Tabarnaque

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<< LINK REMOVED >> I don't think you understand what he's saying, he's saying that if you are too good at the game to die, then you don't get to experience the nemesis system to its fullest.


Frankly it's a sort of an oddity, that a AAA game actually presents you with a real game mechanic for once and not just sparkles, the nemesis system includes a fail state, something that just does not exist in other modern games (you die you restart 10 second earlier).

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Stiler

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Eh? I thought this game, just like Batman and the AC games, has some of hte EASIEST combat of any game, the main part is counter counter counter, watch the pop up, hit counter, over and over an dobver, that gets old SUPER QUICK.


Sure there are some bosses and characters that you have to "open" up first (usually by jumping over them) but that's about as hard as it gets.


It's like all thees new action-adventure games forgot how to make combat that is'nt super-simplistic and has more then a handful of moves.


Did none of the current developers that make video games ever play games like Severance, Rune, Die By the sword, Bushido Blade, Mark of Kri, etc?


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calinks

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Yea, at first the game may seem or be difficult but once you unlock some abilites it gets very easy. Thats the only downfall of the game for me. I never really got that true nemesis experience because I got too good too fast. I would have loved the game be a lot harder so I would truly feel like I have big obstacle to overcome. I'm hoping a sequel can get deeper and harder.

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berserker66666

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If people want easy mode, they should just play COD games.

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elheber

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What? The whole game was Easy Mode from the get-go.

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