Middle-earth: Shadow Of War -- The Story So Far Recap
The Path To Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Set almost immediately after their last adventure, Middle-earth: Shadow of War sees the undead ranger Talion and his wraith sidekick Celebrimbor expand their arsenal of skills as they forge a new ring of power in order to dismantle the Dark Lord Sauron's influence. The scope is much larger than before, and in order to survive, Talion and Celebrimbor will have to form their own army of orcs, trolls, and dragons--forcing Talion to fight fire with fire to quell the evils of Mordor and beyond.
For anyone who hasn't had the chance to dive into Shadow of Mordor, here's a quick breakdown of all the key events in the first game, how they lead up to the next adventure, and where Talion and Celebrimbor's story fits into the broader history of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Moreover, we also have a quick look at what happens in the opening hour of Shadow of War, and just what the next adventure has in store for the undead duo. Of course, there are spoilers abound, so be wary of the road that lays ahead.
Be sure to check out our full review of Middle-earth: Shadow of War on GameSpot, where we dive into the epic new game set in the Tolkien's universe.
In The Beginning
Set within the sixty-year gap between The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings saga, Shadow of Mordor begins during a relatively calm period of Middle-earth, which is largely uncharted territory in Tolkien-lore. The kingdom of Gondor keeps watch of the mostly arid and craggy lands of Mordor due to constant activity from orcs, and the persistent rumors of Sauron's gradual return to power. Gondorian ranger Talion and his family are stationed at one of the garrisons a part of the Black Gate of Mordor, intended to shield the dangers of Mordor from the rest of the land.
Death And Rebirth
After a day of training and resting with his family, the garrison is suddenly attacked by orcs and Uruks--a, who serve the Dark Lord Sauron. Led by three Black Captains--The Hammer Of Sauron, The Tower Of Sauron, and The Black Hand of Sauron--the overrun the garrison and take control of the Black Gate. Though he's able to fight off several foes, Talion and his family are held captive and used as sacrifices to summon the wraith of long dead Elvish smith master Celebrimbor to fuse with their Dark Lord. Instead, Celebrimbor merges with Talion's soul, saving him from oblivion.
Bonded together by the Black Hand's spell, Celebrimbor--who has apparently lost much of his memories--forms a plan with Talion to exact revenge against Sauron's army, and retake Mordor. Now living as a hybrid of man and wraith, Talion is imbued with radical new abilities that grant him supernatural speed and power, while also allowing him to defy death itself--reviving upon defeat at the many forge towers from Celebrimbor's past. From there, the pair set off to dismantle the Orc hierarchy in Mordor, either through force or sabotage from within.
New Allies, New Foes
During their travels, Celebrimbor remembers more of his past life as a smith master--memories forging powerful weapons and equipment for armies and Lords. Eventually, Talion and his wraith companion come into contact with the obsessive Gollum, who is forever searching for his "Precious"--the One Ring which was taken by Bilbo Baggins during the events of The Hobbit. Due to his profound and everlasting connection to the Ring of Power, Gollum is able to communicate with Celebrimbor, helping him find artifacts from his past; helping jog his memory of his connections to Sauron.
The Orc Traitor
Teaming with Gondor deserter Hirgon, they work together with other outcasts to dismantle several Orc armies. Eventually Talion meets Ratbag the Coward--who as his name suggests is not well liked among Sauron's army--and they come to an agreement to work together. This pact marks the beginning of the Ranger's foray into the orc and uruk power hierarchy, allowing him to dismantle and sabotage Sauron's army from within. After Talion takes out several captains and warchiefs--eventually gaining the ability to mark and dominate specific soilders--Ratbag ascends to a position of power and makes contact with The Hammer of Sauron, one of the three Black Captains. Seeing through the ruse, The Hammer kills Ratbag and confronts Talion--a battle that ultimately goes to the hero ranger.
The Truth Revealed
Moving on to land of Núrn--the southern and oddly fertile areas of Mordor--Talion meets with Lithariel, a wandering female warrior who serves Queen Marwen of Núrn, and Torvin, a Dwarf who explores the wilds. Working with Talion, they teach the ranger to ride and control the local beasts of Mordor, and also help find more relics from Celebrimbor's past. The undead ranger even finds time to assist Queen Marwen, making even more headway into Mordor's dangerous areas. After dismantling more of the orc armies, the ranger leads a charge of mind-controlled warriors into one of the Dark Lord's strongholds, where the second Black Captain--The Tower of Sauron--awaits. During their battle, The Tower reveals that Celebrimbor deceived Talion, feigning amnesia and purposely binding him as a host to exact revenge against Sauron. They do battle, and using his stealth abilities, Talion defeats The Tower of Sauron.
The Death Of The Black Hand
With only one Black Captain left, Talion and Celebrimbor maintain their alliance and make haste to the Black Gate, where The Black Hand and his minions await their arrival. Using their abilities, Talion and Celembrimbor best The Black Hand of Sauron's army and confront him at the top of the Black Gate. Before they can engage in battle, The Black Hand casts a spell on Celebrimbor, revealing the time shortly before his death and forcibly releasing him from Talion. With this new ritual, The final Black Captain sacrifices himself to merge Celebrimbor with his dying body, giving a new vessel for Sauron--leaving Talion more vulnerable than ever.
The Dark Lord, Sauron
In his past life, Celebrimbor was deceived by The Dark Lord into forging a Ring of Power. Realizing his mistake, he staged a coup against Sauron and tried using the ring against him. But Sauron had the upper hand and captured the Smith Master, slaughtered his family and took the ring for himself. Using his forge hammer, Sauron killed Celebrimbor, but in doing so, allowed the smith master to live again as a wraith. Within Sauron's body, Celebrimbor is able to immobilize Sauron, affording Talion an opportunity to strike. The ranger fells the Dark Lord, forcing him back, into the deeper recesses of Middle-earth.
A New Ring Of Power
With the threat to the land seemingly vanquished, Celebrimbor wished to depart for the Undying Lands--the homeland for spirits leaving the mortal world. However, Talion successfully campaigns for their bond to continue, sensing that Sauron will soon return more powerful than ever. His wish is granted, the pair set out to forge a new ring--one powerful enough to defeat the Dark Lord for good.
In The Fires Of Mount Doom
Traveling to the fabled forge in Mount Doom, where the One Ring was created, Talion and Celebrimbor make their own unique ring--one to rival the power of the Sauron's. But in doing so, they summon the ire of Shelob, who has sensed the power they have created. With a final stroke of the forge-hammer, the immense power of the ring separates Talion and Celebrimbor, allowing Shelob the opportunity to abduct the wraith. Without his powers, Talion must traverse through an orc ridden stronghold to confront Shelob, and restore his bond to Celebrimbor.
In Shelob's Grasp
Talion confronts Shelob in her lair, where she's bound Celebrimbor. Appearing as a giant spider, she soon takes the form of a human woman, and forces Talion to make a sacrifice. Needing Celebrimbor, Talion surrenders their ring in order to free his wraith companion. After being reunited, they attempt to attack Shelob, who uses the new ring's powers to subdue them.
Instead of destroying the undead duo, Shelob offers Talion and Celebrimbor the opportunity to strike back against Sauron's growing army. Informing them of the attack on Minas Ithal, the undead ranger and his wraith companion make haste to the human settlement, and resolve to help the remaining soldiers fight off the armies of orcs. Though their powers are greatly diminished, they make headway into their fight against Sauron, and take the first steps in forming an army of their own.