What’s Gus Playing? Episode 6

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The GrogHeads’ munchkin of malice is mauling in Mordor ~

Lloyd Sabin, 6 November 2017

There is a lot to learn and the game is rather wide open, but you can get your ass kicked very easily.

I pre-ordered Shadow of War 8 months ago when I saw some footage of the game’s siege mechanics and drooled all over the keyboard. I am a casual Tolkien and Lord of the Rings fan at best, which is probably a good thing since Shadow of War does NOT stick to canon…not even a little bit. Which has sent some hardcore fans in to a bit of a rage. Fortunately for you, reader, there are other things in the game that have enraged me. The most enraging is the repetitive gameplay…a lot of the missions in Shadow of War are very, very similar, and very similar to the missions in Shadow of Mordor. I am only in the first act out of four, however.

The gameplay can be a bit tough as well, but I have improved at it as I have progressed. Another item that kinda, sorta enrages me is how long it takes to get to the aforementioned siege battles. The developers are making me slog through the first act, which is like a mini Shadow of Mordor game. Maybe I am being impatient but I need that sweet siege action. Give it to me!!

Despite my impatience and the sameness of Shadow of War, the game runs smooth as butter on my relatively robust rig…so CTDs and bad performance are not things I can get enraged at. I consider the performance a minor miracle considering the sheer amount of action that is going on at any one moment in Shadow of War. So much, in fact, that my 43 year old brain was flummoxed at what to do next for the first 5-6 hours of the game.

There is a lot to learn and the game is rather wide open, but you can get your ass kicked very easily. There are also a ton of fighting combos and character tweaks to master. If you love fighting games, and Lord of the Rings (but don’t kneel before canon), you will probably enjoy Shadow of War. Something about it keeps drawing me back…probably the promise of the sieges and army assembly.

And even though this is not technically a review, I would probably be remiss in not mentioning loot boxes and marketing here. Neither is much of a big deal to me, but Shadow of War has been getting shelled online for its loot box mechanics and its more-than healthy dose of marketing bloat buffeting Shadow of War. Me personally – sure it’s a little much, but easily ignored. Which is what I do.

So in the end I may be a little old for a game as frenetic as Shadow of War – but I’ve been advancing so maybe not too old, yet. Check out the below screens and wish me the best on getting to that sweet, SWEET siege action soon.


As you can see, the marketing tropes appear almost as soon as you boot the game up. They can be overlooked and ignored completely, but gamers have been raging about them online.


So this is Shelob. Yes in this game she is a very attractive brunette woman, most of the time. This, er…’departure’ from canon has angered many. I am a Tolkien aficionado in the most basic sense, so it didn’t matter much to me.



The game is very graphics intensive. Early days after release saw many reports of crashes and bad performance, but I have not had one glitch or CTD in 8 hours of play.


Don’t let the misleading title card disappoint you. You are being besieged in this opening act, you are not doing the besieging. And it will be chaotic. Gird your loins.


I took a moment from the chaos to admire how beautiful the city looked while being ransacked by Orks. I wish more historically-themed games were developed with this kind of detail.


The ‘nemesis’ mechanics from Shadow of Mordor return in Shadow of War. Don’t take any crap from anyone, and you will be successful. Even I was, after a time, and I am playing at ‘Normal’ difficulty…which can be quite brutal. There are also online vendettas available where you can avenge other Rangers who have fallen to Ork captains and kings.


Not really a lot of time to enjoy the architecture and sites while being besieged.


There are many RPG-type tropes in Shadow of War, like the inventory and character progression system for your Ranger, but I still think the game is more accurately described as a fighting game.


Shadow of War is undeniably beautiful. That beauty and a hefty amount of content seems to be winning me over, despite the repetitive, chaotic gameplay. Yes, I think Shadow of War is starting absorb me through gaming osmosis. After being close to putting it aside a couple of times, I am being assimilated!


This was probably the most fun I had so far, taking over an Ork siege machine and turning it on the enemy army. It reminded me a little bit of the off-shore siege battery mechanic in Shogun 2 – Fall of the Samurai, even if it was slightly less devastating. Hopefully there are more gameplay segments like this coming up.


That’s it for this week. Next week’s entry will most likely continue charting my progress (or lack thereof) in Shadow of War since the game is huge. I hope to report back by then that I have at least started assembling my army in Act 2, if I am not fully engaged in some hot siege action.

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