Warner Bros. Now Has A Patent For Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis System
This patent could be the nemesis of others wishing to use a similar system.
The Nemesis System used in the games Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War is one of the coolest open-world gameplay hooks we've ever seen, letting you form rivalries against non-player characters based on your previous actions. If you were hoping other games would implement it, however, that will be a lot harder to do now, as Warner Bros. has patented it.
As spotted by IGN, this week the US Patent and Trademark Office announced that a patent for the Nemesis System would be valid as of February 23. However, the page listing the issuing date is not available online at the moment.
This followed years of attempting to patent the system that went back to shortly after the release of Shadow of Mordor. A filing from 2016 described a system "for managing non-player characters and power centers in a computer game [that] are based on character hierarchies and individualized correspondences between each character's traits or rank and events that involve other non-player characters or objects."
In other words, it's for the way the world reacts to your own actions. The "hierarchies" mentioned correspond to the pyramid of targets, including captains, you could kill or enslave in Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War. This created a story that would effectively be different for each player, as the characters you chose to kill or spare could have an impact on your next mission--either helping or hindering you. Should you maim a character during a fight, that would be reflected the next time you see them. The best part came when you fell to them in battle, as they'd get more power and prestige within their own hierarchy and taunt you when they next fought you.
It's unclear if Warner Bros. will use this in a future game. The story of the Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War wrapped up pretty cleanly in the second game. However, it's always possible it could be used for a completely different project. If a third game took place during a different time period, it could also work while using similar mechanics.
There are a few different Lords of the Rings games in the works at the moment, including a stealth-focused Gollum game that was recently delayed to 2022 and Amazon's MMO. The Shadow games certainly have something special, though, with a brutal take on the Arkham series' melee combat, tremendous powers, and fluid traversal.