States in Shadow of Mordor

Isn’t is cool that a game can exist in different forms or states across guests but at the end of the day its the same game. Shadow of Mordor is an action-adventure video game created by Monolith Productions, more importantly the makers of Captain Claw. I would probably write about Captain Claw later as it was one of my favourite games growing up.


Shadow of Mordor came out with their new Nemesis System wherein the enemies around us come ‘alive’ in the most realistic way possible. Mordor is an open-world game and our protagonist encounters enemies in the form of Uruks spread across the world. Like other games, these Uruks get suspicious of you, chase you around and even attach you. But the best part about them is that, incase they kill you during a battle, they directly enter the Nemesis System hierarchy. They enter the ranks of Sauron’s army directly. If we’re defeated again, they start to grow in ranks.


There is almost a parallel story to these Captains in the ranks. They often have fights between themselves, they overthrow others above and below them and there’s always new Uruks that join the ranks from time to time. The eco-system of these Uruks are maintained seemlessly throughout the game. This is different for each guest as the hierarchy can be completely different even if two of them are at the same point in the game’s storyline.


Also, incase guests encounter battles with these Uruks and the Uruks survive or flee, they bear scares and injuries from their battle with the guest. They also remember how the guest fought during their previous encounter and also talks about it before the fight begins. This is such an interesting mechanic to have as its so powerful in storytelling. Revisiting someone from the past and them having memories from that encounter is a great experience for the guest.


The knowledge of the Uruks can be used by the player by dominating them and collecting intelligence which could be used to build strategies or to have insights into war chiefs higher up in the hierarchy.Thus the whole game world is build on state transitions and intentional emergences providing the interactor with a more real world experience.

I have never seen such a state being saved throughout the game and how it affects the entire play-through of the game.


3 thoughts on “States in Shadow of Mordor

  1. *high five* for Captain Claw!

    SoM’s class system was definitely one of the USPs for the game. I have invested a few hours into it and it definitely makes the game interesting. With so many open world sandbox games coming out, the novelty of free roam is wearing off. Apart from big budget games by Rockstar, most other titles feel shallow when you recognize that a few mechanics are being repeated with just minor variations. Repeat them enough and they start feeling tedious. That’s why I thought SoM had a very clever solution to this problem. The entire hierarchy system makes the game feel very organic. Things do not feel hardwired and it’s good to see the consequences of your mini battles as you progress through the main story. Also, the individual traits (fear, vulnerability and strengths) may be randomized but they add a lot of personality to low level opponents. Thus, without burdening the player with extra abilities, they managed to introduce an entire new layer to the game!

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    I have never had the chance to play Shadow of Mordor but what you describe as the “Uruks” remembering what happened in the previous battles is a very dynamic version of what usually happens in JRPG boss battles where you face off with a boss early in the game and then lateryou face him again and he talks about the previous battle. However, considering the large heirarchy and each Uruk being unique and the main part, it can happen anytime during the game! That’s seriously insane and the heirarchy is very interesting since it shows that even the enemies have an army system and are not just mindless individual AI without any “leadership or organizational skill”. I would love to know if these higher ranked Uruks actually act as the strategist or leader in battles with the player. If so, then tht would be just the icing on the cake and great motivation for me to actually play this game.

  3. Shadow of Mordor, one of my favorite RPG games ever. I loved everything about the game, especially the Nemesis system you talk about. I just got hooked on this game thanks to the combat system and out of combat realism involved. Until now were used to having a hierarchy focused around the character we play against a bunch of NPC or other players in different game settings. Even if there was any hierarchy it was purely passive and just a top down system that is unchanging. As you said SOM has done a great job in making the ‘enemies around us come alive’.
    The parallel story that revolves around something other than you in the most realistic way makes it even more fun and engaging. I really had a great time reading this article, I have wanted to play that game again for some time now, and you just gave me a reason to!

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