Shadow Of War Review Roundup [Updated]

Shadow of More or Shadow of Bore?

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Now Playing: Middle-earth: Shadow Of War Video Review

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a surprise hit when it launched in 2014, and we even named it our Game of the Year. Three years later, its sequel, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, is about to launch.

It's already been the subject of controversy: DLC honoring Michael Forgey, a developer who passed away last year, came under fire after there were indications that a portion of the profits wouldn't go to Forgey's widow and children. Publisher Warner Bros. later apologized and made the DLC free for everyone. Shadow of War's microtransactions have also been criticized, as the first game didn't include them.

Otherwise, however, Shadow of War seems to be going down well with critics. We awarded the open-world game a 7/10 in our review. "It tries to be larger than its predecessor … yet it leaves you wanting less," wrote Justin Haywald. "But at its core, it's a fun experience with brilliant moments that provide fascinating insight into some of the untold stories of Middle-earth." Read more in our full Shadow of War review.

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For more on the open-world game, check out its best trash-talking Orcs, the first eight minutes of Shadow of War gameplay, or our feature video on the struggle to bring The Lord of the Rings to video games. For more on the game's critical reception, meanwhile, you can see our review roundup below, or take a look at our sister site Metacritic.

  • Game: Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  • Developer / Publisher: Monolith Productions / Warner Bros.
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Release date: October 10
  • Price: US $60 / £43 / AU $100

GameSpot -- 7/10

"And that addition sums up several of Shadow of War's additions--things like the storefront and the menus and loot system don't make the game terrible, it just would've been better without them. It tries to be larger than its predecessor, there are more abilities, more weapons, more Orcs, yet it leaves you wanting less. But at its core, it's a fun experience with brilliant moments that provide fascinating insight into some of the untold stories of Middle-earth. I just wish it had known when to stop." -- Justin Haywald [Full review]

IGN -- 9.0/10

"Similar to the way Batman: Arkham City built on the foundation of Arkham Asylum, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is bigger and more ambitious in scope than Shadow of Mordor, with great results. The way it expands the Nemesis system with far greater variety and fortress sieges makes even better use of the stand-out generated characters, and its battles with memorable uruk captains remain challenging all the way through the campaign and into the clever asynchronous multiplayer beyond." -- Dan Stapleton [Full review]

Polygon -- 7.5/10

"If you can get past the microtransactions, Shadow Wars seems set to provide a much meatier extended playtime than Shadow of Mordor ever offered. But more than anything, that's my biggest disappointment with Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Everything about it seems to come with a caveat, some small annoyance or two that you need to dig past to get to the still-very-fun game underneath." -- Philip Kollar & Chris Plante [Full review]

Game Informer -- 9.5/10

"Shadow of War fulfills the promise of its predecessor, completing a dark and violent lost tale set within the world of The Lord of the Rings. I was initially frustrated by the liberties that Monolith takes with this beloved fiction (which are plentiful), but I eventually abandoned myself to the insanity, and fell down the rabbit hole into a superb fantasy adventure. Monolith captures the thrill of power with aplomb; the way it simultaneously speaks of its dangers and corrupting potential is the real magic." -- Matt Miller [Full review]

Eurogamer -- No score

"Shadow of War ends up the very epitome of the difficult second album. A lot has been added in order to scale it up for a full blown sequel and much of it has been implemented with style and aplomb. As fun as the core is, however, it is often overshadowed by an onerous and self-indulgent story. What should be the game's crowning feature is instead reduced to an undeserved supporting role, like an exquisitely carved plinth groaning under the weight of a gaudy bronze bust of an elven wraith who's looking very, very serious indeed." -- Johnny Chiodini [Full review]

GamesRadar -- 4.5/5

"For the most part, this is big spectacle and richly layered experience. The different regions are beautiful and varied to explore, while Sauron's forces are alway entertaining to meet and beat. If there are moments that don't quite click or things that fatigue a little it's because of that scale. There's almost an Assassin's Creed 2 feel of map spatter to all the markers for towers, collectables, bits and so on. I've not 100%-ed it but you’re easily looking at a triple figure time should you try. This isn't a game to get in for the weekend, it's something to buy and cancel plans for the year." -- Leon Hurley [Full review]

PC Gamer -- 73/100

"It all comes back to the orcs. They’re the reason I kept playing, even when I was losing interest in everything else. A motley, gruesome, ill-mannered crew of swines that are a constant joy to fight and befriend. And the increased variety and depth of the nemesis system makes for a much richer experience overall. I just wish the game wasn’t quite so overfed. A lot of developers think sequels need to be bigger and offer more to get people interested, but I’d prefer it if they were just better. Shadow of War is a great action game that feels like it’s yearning to break free from a prison of open world busywork." -- Andy Kelly [Full review]

US Gamer -- 4/5

"The Nemesis System is an illusion, but it's one I still enjoy. I legitimately enjoyed building my own orc army and stomping over someone else's fortress ... Despite all that, Shadow of War does stumble into a bit of a grind in the latter part of the game and the Chests system could be tuned much better. As it stands now, it's transparent in wanting you to open your wallet and buy a bit of Gold. Those issues are what keep Shadow of War from being an absolutely amazing game, instead of just a great one." -- Mike Williams [Full review]

Easy Allies -- 3.5/5

"Many of the best moments in Shadow of War come from elements returning from the first game, along with a few squabbles between Celebrimbor and Talion that begin to give them some identity. Otherwise, orcs always take center stage. The combat isn't terribly difficult, but it's a lot of fun to rip enemies apart. The story isn't very satisfying, but it's amusing to assemble a cast of murderous Captains. Shadow of War is a successful update to a smart formula, but it lacks enough depth and diversity to keep us enthralled." -- Brandon Jones [Full review]

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Avatar image for catsimboy
catsimboy

I rented it and I'm about to return it after taking the first stronghold. It's a solid "Meh" feeling game. You can tell they put so much effort into it, but the heavy focus on loot drags it down. Like Talion feels weaker just so they can sell loot crates. I feel like I have to sneak around and whittle away at captains using every trap in the area because wading into a "fair" fight means you just get swamped in the increased orc count.

The story may as well not be there it's just Celebrimbor wringing his hands about Sauron, and Talion wringing his hands about the stupid human characters. Plus the whole first act lasted way too long focusing on characters I don't give a Ratbag's ass about. Oh look it's 'Girl' she's here to be a girl and she's tough but also emotional.

Avatar image for wishface
wishface

@catsimboy: I agree.

For me the endless traipsing to and fro across the maps is a huge chore. Havign to endless fight orcs, even with the nemesis system, isn't fun when it's this constant. There's no depth at all. You earn skills really quickly, the loot system just feels tacked on. The story is rubbish. You just do the same thing over and over.

It's one of those games where bigger isn't better. The first game worked (though it too got boring) because it was a tale of revenge. Now having to build a huge army across mordor just feels like a chore.

Avatar image for Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

Lol, you hand-pick the reviews you show here out of the 50's available on the internet. As if you were trying to justify your score somehow.

Avatar image for translucent17
translucent17

I'm really on the fence about this game ... I wanted to like the first one but it was like 50/50 for me...

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@translucent17: Try renting it first.

Avatar image for Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

LMAO IGN totally skewed the review system by giving out 9s everywhere.

Avatar image for HckyTwn
HckyTwn

@Gamer_4_Fun: It has an 84 on metacritic--so who skewed it more, GS's 70 or IGN's 90? Actually, GS has the lowest score of all the reviewers.

Avatar image for translucent17
translucent17

@Gamer_4_Fun: that game informer score is killing me I have a lot of respect for the reviewers and editors over there I need to read their review

Avatar image for HckyTwn
HckyTwn

@translucent17: http://www.gameinformer.com/games/middle-earth_shadow_of_war/b/playstation4/archive/2017/10/05/game-informer-review-middle-earth-shadow-of-war.aspx

Yeah, not sure I agree with the 95 (so far), but it seems as good as the first game (i.e. an 85-ish score seems right). If you liked the first one, good chance you'll like this too.

Avatar image for martintule24
martintule24

Waiting for this game game to drop to 20, after hearing about the true ending being locked behind loot boxes.

Avatar image for Mogan
Mogan

@martintule24: The way I've seen it described, it sounds like the story (which is apparently not great) wraps up at the end of the campaign, and then, if you beat all the fortress defense missions that unlock as the endgame, you get another cutscene.

I get the impression Monolith kinda oversold it by calling that last cutscene the "true ending."

Avatar image for SirNormanislost
SirNormanislost

@martintule24: source?

Avatar image for martintule24
martintule24

@SirNormanislost: pretty good gaming on YouTube.

Avatar image for Deadlysyns87
Deadlysyns87

@SirNormanislost: You can work your way up it just takes awhile. Or you can cheat and spend money.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

I have had a very pleasant day so far. Got an email that my game was delivered to my house so I went home on my lunch break from work and got this downloading. Getting some sushi and my car washed with the remainder of my lunch break. Now to just finish up work for the day and I will be home free to start gaming! Looking forward to diving into this game.

Avatar image for luludoobee
luludoobee

@Legend_of_Link: SMart move to download over lunch. Enjoy the rest of your day gaming.

Avatar image for streamline
streamline

@Legend_of_Link: I never heard of anyone getting their sushi washed before, but whatever works for you.

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@Legend_of_Link: Hope you got the poor man's car wash because you are going to need cash to buy more orcs.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bd1e31726b43

@Utnayan: Its a car wash. I don't think it is going to break the bank.

Please stop posting on my account. I am asking you nicely. I really enjoy coming on this site and talking to people who are excited about video games and share the same love for the industry that I do.

It really sucks you sending me four different messages all of them incredibly rude.

Please man. I wish you the best in life. Don't ruin this gaming site for me.

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@Legend_of_Link: What do you mean stop posting on your account? You bragged about having enough money to buy all the microtransactions you want and insulted a majority of the members here. If anyone is ruining anything for you, it's you. Quit shilling and this won't happen. It's obvious you post with an agenda, not caring about the industry, OR it's consumers/communities.

Avatar image for sealionact
sealionact

I don't get the OTT venom towards the microtransactions. You can play the game and finish it without them, and anything you buy in the store can be found or earned without buying them. There was M.T. in BF1 and Destiny 2 - I didn't buy anything and it didn't affect the game, the outcome or my enjoyment (Or boredom with D2) of the games.

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@sealionact: Because in this game the end of the game is artificially lengthened while your resources are dried up to force you into purchasing orcs off the shop. The grind is upwards of 40 hours - of which case you are rewarded with a horrid ending video anyway. I suggest reading the review here. So yes, much different. Not to mention competitive play.

Avatar image for VGjunkie87
VGjunkie87

@Utnayan: Must not be too bad it's currently sitting around 9/10 rating out of a few thousand user reviews on steam. Thats with a lot of users bombing reviews solely for the microtransaction "controversy".

Avatar image for jt2251
jt2251

@Utnayan: You just convinced me to pick this up. TY

Avatar image for sealionact
sealionact

@Utnayan: The grind is the game isn't it? The first one without M.T. took 36 hours if I remember it. I've read reviews, and nowhere did it say they were forced to buy Orcs in order to finish the game. For those who want to "artificially shorten" the game, the option is there ....

Avatar image for serialkisser
serialkisser

Its $30 here in Asia but i still don't think its worth getting it.

Besides i have been SUPER busy with Divinity Original Sin 2 and Total War Warhammer 2 so i don't even have any time to play that. I guess i will quietly skip this one until much later. It has a user score of 4 at metacritic, guess people do really hate it for its micro transactions. A pity, i found the first actual fun game.

Avatar image for VGjunkie87
VGjunkie87

IMO people should focus on personal accountability and put the same effort into informing people on the importance of good decision making. Instead we can be lazy, point the finger and blame something else as the root of the problem...publishers and developers trying to make as much profit as possible from their investments is just so completely immoral, how dare they =P

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@VGjunkie87: It is immoral to sell a game for $59 and then inflate an end game with an artificial grind to basically force gamers to purchase from the shop to complete it. I mean we can bitch about it all we want, but how dare they? =P

Avatar image for jt2251
jt2251

@Utnayan: How are you forced to purchase anything? Lol

Didn't realize you were so easily pressured into giving people your money.

Avatar image for TaronAroyan
TaronAroyan

Initially I thought about pirating this POS game, now I am not even sure if its worth it. I never pay for titles of any POS publisher (EA, Ubi, Activision and such). I am like an "equalizer" for all the suckers that pay their hard earned cash. These companies are thieves and charlatans (including the developers) who strive on abusing the weak and the young among us, so I have absolutely no qualms from harming their bottom line. Proud not be a sucker.

Avatar image for sealionact
sealionact

@TaronAroyan: Lol ....you're not Edward Woodward, you're not harming EA and you have nothing to feel proud about. Sad and inadequate possibly, but not proud. "Equalizer" ....lmao....

Avatar image for TaronAroyan
TaronAroyan

@sealionact : As I said "I am proud not be a sucker", and not giving my money to EA and encouraging other to do the same, which is much better then a corporate apologists like you and the other one. Are you proud of fighting the EA fight on the boards? How does it make you feel? Are you like white knight for EA? At least I think I am fighting for the small guy (deluded or not), but what about you?

Avatar image for sealionact
sealionact

@TaronAroyan: Me? By your definition, I'm a sucker. I look forward to a game. I read previews and reviews and where possible play demos. Then I look at what the game costs and I make a decision - I buy it, or I decide it's not for me and I don't. People like you that download pirated versions of games, music or videos have no appreciation or respect for the effort, expense and creativity it takes to make even a bad game. You are never going to get as much pleasure from a game you pirated, because you didn't even make the sacrifice needed to buy it.

Funny thing is, you are by definition a sucker. As in; you suck. You laughably claim to be "The equalizer" for gamers who spend hard earned money buying games, when you're no different from any other person who downloads software because they can't afford to buy it. You are not "fighting for the small guy", you're just dowloading stuff you haven't paid for so you can't even call yourself a pirate, never mind "The Equalizer"....

Seriously...don't even bother replying.

Avatar image for TaronAroyan
TaronAroyan

@sealionact: If you read my other comments you can see I support good publishers and pay my hard earned money to them, I just scorn people like you for enable this scam for their practices. Can't you understand that the practices are anti-consumer? Even if you don't use it, many other young and gullible people use them and you enable this thieves.

P.S. I know you said please no reply, but that is the point of the discussion. Every person like you needs to know that you are enabler of anti consumer practices.

Avatar image for VGjunkie87
VGjunkie87

@TaronAroyan: PeePee

Avatar image for lastofus234
Lastofus234

Anybody know if its been cracked yet would like to try before i buy it on my pc curious to see how it will run on my

Intel I7-7700 3.4ghz
1070 Nvidia GTX 8 gb
16 gig ram

Avatar image for Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

@lastofus234: 1440p/ very high, 1080p/ultra

Avatar image for Utnayan
Utnayan

@lastofus234: If you buy it on Steam you can try it, and then get a refund within 2 hours of playing.

Avatar image for deactivated-5bda06edf37ee

@lastofus234: i hope it comes with viruses. scumbags would deserve it.

Avatar image for lastofus234
Lastofus234

@groowagon: lol I just want to try the game for a few hours n see if I like it if so I would buy it

Avatar image for Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

Shadow of War gets shafted for microtransactions, yet Destiny 2 doesn't and gets rammed with love and articles all the time. You guys are lol.