BEWARE OF (potentially unmarked) SPOILERS!
- The announcement trailer. Not only the fact that there is a sequel, but specific reveals: Talion has forged his own Ring of Power (inside Mount Doom, no less) with Celebrimbor's help; the Ringwraiths have entered the fray, led by the Witch-king of course; and the newest addition to Mordor's forces is an armored Balrog.
- The first gameplay trailer is a sight to behold, with Talion/Celebrimbor leading an orc army in a massive fortress siege, complete with trolls, caragors, and even drakes!
- If taking control of a drake and roasting uruks from above wasn't cool enough, they can apparently face off with graugs. One such battle ends with both dead, due to a point-blank heavy explosion from the graug's own siege catapult, but before that they were equally matched in blows.
- It cannot be overstated how simply awesome Talion's Warchiefs Big Damn Heroes moments are. First a Reverse Mole sniper named Deadeye saves Talion from a gruesome death (via severing the enemy captain's arm first, then nailing him with a headshot), then the future Overlord Ragdug - riding atop an armored caragor over a jet of fire - literally comes out of nowhere to tackle an Olog-hai armed with a medieval flamethrower, solely to save his master. Whether by your command or of their own accord, each rescue is a sight to behold.
- A neat little detail: Tugog actually says Thrak Storm-Bringer's title/surname. If it wasn't scripted, it might mean that enemies could have unique lines for every title another enemy can have.
- In addition, this greatly adds to their personalities, and makes them feel more like actual characters with real relationships with each other, be it friendly or hostile. For all we know, a nemesis could try to avenge a friend of theirs who you previously killed, or even end up in a We Used to Be Friends situation.
- The last game already had hundreds, perhaps even a thousand-plus different lines passed around the randomly-generated orcs, all depending on the circumstances. With such touches added into the mix, and the addition of allies (branded or legitimately-friends) instead of just Talion, how high will the permutations of lines reach? Perhaps a potential ten-thousand?
- The official story trailer, just every bit of it is made of pure awesomeness. It features among other things the revelation that the narrator of past trailers is none other than Shelob herself in human form, and she will take the ring from Talion and the Wraith at some point in the story.
- From the same trailer, Celebrimbor gets some awesome lines as he and Talion prepare to go back to war with Sauron's forces.
Act I: The Siege of Minas Ithil
- Idril and Talion being Back-to-Back Badasses as the Gondorians retreat further into Minas Ithil; Idril charges forward, cutting down two Orcs in the way of the retreat. A third tries to attack her, but before it gets close, Talion hacks off its sword arm and then beheads it. Idril nods in thanks for the save, then returns the favour by stabbing over Talion's shoulder, skewering the Orc about to attack him from behind through the throat.
- None other than Gollum saves Talion from being squished by an Olog. Yes, Gollum.
- The Arena mission during the siege of Minas Ithil is chock-full of awesome moments. A messenger from the Witch-king declares that the Orcs have captured Castamir, Minas Ithil's commanding general, and that they will kill him unless Talion faces the Witch-king's champion in single combat in the city's arena. Fully aware that the Witch-king has no intention of keeping his end of the bargain, Castamir's daughter Idril and Captain Baranor devise a different strategy; while Talion keeps the attention of the Orcs on the arena, they can sneak into the camp and rescue Castamir. Talion agrees and storms into the arena. After cutting down an Olog champion fairly easily, Celebrimbor notes that they need to buy more time for the Gondorians, so Talion attempts to get their attention...
- Outraged by this, several more Orc Captains and their men charge into the fray; Talion cuts them all down - and if you used the Nemesis Forge from Shadow of Mordor, your Nemesis turns out to be the real champion and the most likely give you a proper battle. After you finally win, Talion and Celebrimbor proceed to deliver one hell of a Badass Boast:Talion: I have upheld my end of the bargain! And your... (pauses in disgust) champion has upheld his!
Celebrimbor: For fighting this pitiful enemy, the Dark Lord promised mercy! Gaze now upon the Bright Lord...I MAKE NO SUCH OFFER! (Celebrimbor slams a glaive adorned with his personal banner into the centre of the arena. The Orcs and Ologs in attendance panic at the blinding flash and run for it) Run! Run! Run to your master and give him this message...I COME FOR HIM!
- Outraged by this, several more Orc Captains and their men charge into the fray; Talion cuts them all down - and if you used the Nemesis Forge from Shadow of Mordor, your Nemesis turns out to be the real champion and the most likely give you a proper battle. After you finally win, Talion and Celebrimbor proceed to deliver one hell of a Badass Boast:
- At the end of Act 1, Minas Ithil has fallen, Idril's father is dead, and the Witch-king has departed, leaving the remaining Nazgûl behind to finish Talion and Idril off. Talion and Celebrimbor manage to fight off and banish every single one of them! Not even Shelob is able to manage this when they attack her later, and she has the New Ring.
- Eltariel's entrance: it's the Darkest Hour, Minas Ithil has fallen, Talion's about to be transformed into a Ringwraith by the Witch-king — and she leaps into the fray from out of nowhere, cuts off the Witch-king's hand, and singlehandedly saves Talion.
Act II: Rise to Power
- Level 19 Brûz taking all of three seconds to kill a Level 19 Uruk Captain. Is it any wonder Talion and Celebrimbor decide to make him their first army officer?
- Much like Az-Laar wrenching off a poor Uruk's head, it also just goes to show how much more powerful Olog-hai are than their smaller comrades, perhaps even nipping at the strength of regular trolls and/or graugs.
- This carries over into normal gameplay as well. Olog-hai are absurdly effective at murdering Uruk-hai, especially in the Fight Pits.
- Carnán vs. Tar Goroth. Both times.
- For the first mission, Carnán takes the form of a Graug and teams up with our heroes to lay into her Balrog nemesis with wraith-enhanced fists. Tar Goroth ends up escaping from the bout by outwitting them and ambushing them at a critical moment.
- For the second mission, Tar Goroth once again tricks his enemies by swooping in after they reach the end of his tracks, forcing Talion to flee on Caragor-Carnán's back while he's hot on their trail. Talion ends up isolated on a large sheet of ice, and it seems he's helpless against Tar Goroth until Carnán swoops in in the form of a Drake. The three then proceed to clash with the corrupted Maia, breaking away the ice he stands on, until Carnán slams into Tar Goroth, pushing the two of them into the depths and sealing him once more. It would have been an outstanding Heroic Sacrifice if it didn't just inconvenience Carnán.
Act III: Shadow and FlameThe entire Act consists of exactly one mission...but oh, what a mission.
- Whenever Celebrimbor gives a Rousing Speech to his orc army. Special mention goes to the speech he makes at the beginning of Act 3.Celebrimbor: We have conquered the forts of Mordor...but it is still not ours! Sauron's army advances, ready to butcher every last one of us! But we will not die under his rule! We do not serve the Dark Lord! We will sally forth on the battlefield and take this land for our own! You fight for Mordor! You fight for the BRIGHT LORD! CHARGE!
Talion: As long... as there is breath in my body... my fate is my own...
- Talion's speeches aren't bad either: "We are the power in Mordor, and we. Are. FOREVER!"
- Talion's Heroic Resolve after having the Ring taken from him. He's bleeding from the throat, he has a vision (and conversation) with Shelob, then manages to crawl over to get Isildur's ring — all while bleeding to death.
- Then Wraith Talion appears at Minas Morgul, walking alone.Uruk: You must have rocks in your head. This is Minas Morgul, and you are one man!
Talion: I am one. (raises head, and opens green glowing eyes) But we are many.
(An army of wraiths appear behind Talion.)
- A very dark Crowning Moment of Awesome, for Sauron. Upon being cornered by Celebrimbor and Eltariel, and on the verge of being dominated Sauron slashes at him and cuts off Celebrimbor's Ring of Power (which mirrors scene for scene Isildur's stand against Sauron) and ends with Sauron using his shadows to consume the traitor.
- In its own tragic way, Talion proving Celebrimbor wrong by showing he is much more than some vessel. How? By fighting off the Witch-king and conquering Minas Morgul for himself!
Act IV: The Shadow Wars
- Act IV "Shadow Wars" is the epitome of Heroic Resolve: Following Sauron's victory against Celebrimbor, Talion has become a Ringwraith himself after talking Isildur's ring. But instead of joining Sauron what does he do? He forms a resistance against Sauron's armies, fending off his counter-offensive in order to keep his armies divided as long as possible to prevent the Dark Lord from uniting it and invading Middle-earth when it's least prepared. And Talion does this for at least a few decades. Even though he still falls at the end and joins the Ringwraiths, he single-handedly defended Middle-Earth from inside Mordor.
- We find out in the "Blade of Galadriel" DLC that Shelob saw Talion as the "counter-balance" against the Eye.
- A bit of Fridge Awesome: Talion is the only bearer of one of the Nine that wasn't royalty.
- The Uruks in general have all have been given just as many improvements and new abilities as Talion and Celebrimbor with their New Ring. It will be frustrating to face them, but at times you will be forced to acknowledge the sheer fortitude on display by your various Nemeses.
- Tank soldiers have the class trait Death Defiance, allowing them to get at least one automatic success in parrying Talion's finisher moves when whittled down to a kneel.
- Slayers can gain as a class trait Fast Learner, which basically means that each time you use a special power or maneuver to damage them during a fight, if they survive they will figure out how to counter that move and become temporarily immune to damage from that method for the rest of the battle.
- Tricksters can have decoys, which are Uruk subordinates dressed exactly like them (including having officer icons, pop-ups, and Wraith displays) that cover their trail when they retreat. They also have a stronger version of Death Defying called Tricky Escape, which makes them parry Talion's finishing move and disappear.
- Another new trait, at least among Dark Tribe Uruks who are noted to be the biggest Sauron fanatics of all the individual Uruk groupings, is Iron Will, which allows Uruks with this bonus to resist Celebrimbor's brand even when at a lower level than the player, for as long as they possess the skill.
- It's not just with the Dark Tribe, should one of your Orc Captains betray you (It can happen at random or when you attack them one too many times or kill their blood brother), they will have Iron Will as well as a reward for breaking free from your control.
- Planning sieges, where you have at least a dozen different forces/things you can pick-and-choose to deploy, from siege graugs, to sappersnote , and much more. And if that weren't enough, you can potentially summon thousands of Shelob's offspring to harass the enemy once-in-awhile. Yes, a battalion of foot-long spiders.
- Having all the Warchiefs in the fort under your control leads to the wall exploding from all sides as your army charges in.
- It's finally happened: Uruk allies can Return from mortal injuries, same as Nemeses. They only way the devs could make this news better than it is already is if they confirmed that their Returns could happen/be revealed by them carrying out a Savior maneuver.
- In a similar manner to Returning from mortal injuries, some Uruk enemies will actually cause shaming to backfire, increasing their level and granting them the title "The Unashamed". They will adorn their body with white hand tattoos to match the handprint on their face, wearing it as a badge of honor. Even better, if recruited, they'll consider themselves the Ranger's top lieutenant, treating their Shaming as a test.
- When you successfully plant a spy in a fortress, it's especially satisfying when a General comes out to face you in the usual in-game cutscene boast — and your mole promptly stabs him in the back, literally.
- Missions in Feral Strongholds will often result in several drakes, graugs and caragors fighting all at once, resulting in glorious chaos, especially since non-dominated drakes will attack everyone.
- The Bright Lord (the quest) is just awesome from beginning to end, but the first part deserves special mention for this simple bit of Gameplay and Story Integration: leading an army of your most loyal followers from across all regions, against an army of your most hated enemies from across all regions. It really hammers in the reality that this is the Grand Finale of the story, and Big Badass Battle Sequence doesn't even begin to describe it. Unfortunately, things go downhill after winning that battle, but while decidedly more tragic in tone, the ensuing boss fights are no less epic.
- In a similar vein, the Army of the Dead side quest features several of your most hated dead enemy captains being resurrected by Zog to guard his stronghold. It's a kind of Creepy Awesome to have to deal with your worst foes one last time, but on a meta note, credit must be given to the devs as well: as this is the final quest of the Carnán quest line, you've probably killed dozens or even hundreds of captains at this point, and you probably thought that you forgot the earlier ones, but this quest shows that you clearly haven't.
- Forthog, the Mysterious Stranger who occasionally steps in to interrupt Talion's execution and kill his would-be murderer. He always has a heartwarming parting message for Talion as well.Forthog: Death comes to us all, Ranger — but we're fighting for life!
Forthog: I've been watching you, Ranger, and I'll be around when you need me!
Forthog: Die on your own time, Ranger! You have work to do.
- It's especially satisfying when Forthog kills an Uruk with the "No Chance" trait. In other words, you don't have a bodyguard in waiting, there are no Gondorians, and your mission is about to fail because there's no way to counter the death blow — and in comes Forthog to rescue you. It's Up to Eleven when he does it against an Overlord. Yes, he slays the Overlord, and doesn't stick around to claim the fort.
- For added badassery — Forthog will always be lower leveled than the Captain or Overlord he kills. In one case, he casually killed a Legendary level 60 Overlord... despite being level 43 himself.
- It isn't only Forthog who will come to your rescue. In Act I, an unnamed Gordorian sergeant may prevent you from being killed by an Orc Captain. That's right — just a regular Gondorian comes to your rescue. And they won't just prevent you from being killed, they'll kill the Captain, not matter his power level or how high his health was before they rescued you. The most badass part? They act so nonchalantly after they kill Orc captains you'd think for them it was just Tuesday.
- Read the "Other" section of the Nightmare Fuel page. All of it. Read it slowly, maybe out loud if you have to. Then come back to this page and read the below quote from a Gondorian sergeant after he rescues you. This isn't just some cliché, it's an incredibly courageous declaration from a brave Man who knows EXACTLY what he's talking about.Gondorian Sergeant: Courage, Ranger! They can't take that from us!
- Read the "Other" section of the Nightmare Fuel page. All of it. Read it slowly, maybe out loud if you have to. Then come back to this page and read the below quote from a Gondorian sergeant after he rescues you. This isn't just some cliché, it's an incredibly courageous declaration from a brave Man who knows EXACTLY what he's talking about.
- A captured Captain whom Talion is about to rescue will give a Badass Boast on Talion's behalf:Captain: When you took me prisoner, you marked yourself for death, and made me very, very happy.
- Some of the orcs executions are simply badass.
- Ologs lift a caragor in the air, throw it on the ground and then stomp their head in.
- Poisonous fighters will break the captain (or Talion) and pour their poison straight down their throat.
- Mystic captains have a similar execution, where they take out their ritual knife, slice their enemies' throat, and grab their head, letting the rest of the body be consumed by malediction.
- Marauder captains hold their opponent head backward and shoot him in the face, then proceeds to stomp on the face just to be sure the bolt goes through.
- Hunters take down Olog-hai by throwing spears in its throat every time they dodge the giant's rush then when the Olog is too weak they punch their head down and rip the head off with their hands.
- Orcs using fire weapons and/or fire bombs have a nasty execution for other Orc Captains, they tackle them to the ground, punch them a few times before shoving a fire bomb into their mouth, slamming their foot onto their face to make sure they don't get it out in time before rolling away at the last second. The fire bomb going off and turning the poor Orc Captain into a smear of flaming flesh on the ground.
- Using an execution on a drake is extremely impressive; it involves Talion hacking off one of the dragon-beast's legs to force it down, clambering onto its back and driving his sword through its spine to ensure it can't take off before hacking off its head as it rears up in a desperate attempt to burn him.
- Occasionally you'll get a Nemesis Orc with the sobriquet "of the Black Gate" - this orc is a veteran of the original sack of Narcost, and was among the Black Hand's honor guard as he sacrificed Talion's family to summon Celebrimbor. And he will taunt you about it. Beating this glob within an inch of his life and then Shaming him into derangement will probably feel very, very good, especially once you Level Drain him to the point he loses that title and is naught but a gibbering shell of an orc.
- Case in point: the humiliation of Bagga of the Black Gate. Of course, this arguably goes from awesome to funny simply because the dumb shrakh just cannot take a hint.
- Should all but one of your control points get captured while defending a fortress, your overlord will join the battle in a last-ditch effort to defend it with a few words to give to the attackers.
- Some executions manage to be both brutal and stylish. It's hard to say if they look cooler in slow-mo or in normal speed.
- If you have two bars of might and are behind the opponent, Talion may shove his sword into their skull, pull it out with the head still attached and then shake it off his sword.
- With two bars from the front, Talion may slice the opponent in half with one swing.
- If you shame enough orcs, you'll eventually be ambushed by one called "the Bitter", who angrily states he will not let you shame anymore of his brothers. This comes off equal parts heartwarming and awesome, especially if the orc speaking is one you've previously shamed or encountered.
- Beating a fight full of Captains and/or warchiefs, especially without using allies. Talion single-handedly defeats several captains, several dozen grunts and has once again demonstrated how foolish facing him is. The higher the difficulty setting the better. Even beating smaller fights on "Gravewalker" is very satisfying.
Blade of Galadriel
- Arguably all of the fortress missions deserve a mention.
- Cirith Ungol: Eltariel successfully defends an entire fortress, using only her orc-slaying skills and the handful of allies she picked up earlier. Remember, Eltariel is a hunter-assassin, not a warrior or commander.
- Seregost: Eltariel and Maku disable an entire fortress before engaging the overlord and coming out on top. Bonus points for the unexpected backup by Ogg and Flint and Tinder.
- The fact that Maku possesses a poison that can incapacitate the entire fortress by itself is both awesome and terrifying.
- Núrnen: Eltariel teams up with Maku again, this time in a precision strike against the local overlord. This is a stealth mission, so there'll be no outside help this time, right? Wrong!
Ar-Kaius: What a pathetic wall! I could build a wall that is ten times greater, in half the time!
- As Eltariel reaches the first warchief, Ar-Kaius knocks the wall down and enters the fray, complete with signature flamboyant Badass Boast.
- On the roof of the fortress, Eltariel is cornered by another warchief and his bodyguards, and she's on her own since Maku left to "find [his] own way in"...and then who should show up but Ar-Baruk, leading a small force of spiders. How did an Olog even make it to the top of the fortress, especially with no one noticing? Who cares?
- Gorgoroth: Even a relatively straightforward siege mission becomes a case of Mundane Made Awesome since Eltariel is commanding the attacking army. Again, she's an assassin, not a commander. If that weren't awesome enough, one of her assault leaders is none other than Nazgûl!Talion (who seems to be rather enjoying the change of pace and marching under someone else's banner rather than his own). Then Eltariel sounds the charge, and Talion rushes in at the head of the army...
- Over the course of the siege, Flak "Flint" gets taken hostage by an enemy Captain, who demands that the attackers retreat or else he will kill him. How does Flint get out of this one? He doesn't. He pulls a fucking bomb and takes his enemy down with him. Even though Eltariel herself doesn't react to it, he definitely goes out like a badass.
- It's particularly satisfying when Tinder kills a Captain or two in revenge.
- The overlord fight. To wit: Two Nazgûl. Versus a veteran Nazgûl hunter.
- On a meta note, prior to the Desolation of Mordor patch that enabled overlord bodyguards, this was the only overlord fight in the entire game that involved multiple enemy captains. And Eltariel handles them like a boss.note
- The final boss fight against Talion. Talion resurrects nearby orcs to aid him, and eventually other Nazgûl arrive to help him; Eltariel defeats them all. Talion himself is fairly powerful, shows off many moves he has in the main game, and his Nazgûl-voice finally broke and is just as deep as the others.
Desolation of Mordor
- The absolutely hamtastic intro to Serka which established very quickly the type of man Baranor's brother grew up to be.
- In his first scene on reintroduction, Torvin does something that is literally impossible to do for any other character in the game: kill a were-wyrm.
- After successfully raiding an uruk caravan, Baranor shows hints of the tactical savvy of his brother by coming up with an ingenious plan that will both allow them to raid the caravan and cut off Serka's convenient money supply. Knowing of the were-wyrms' attraction to grog, Baranor spills numerous barrels of the bitter drink, calling out a massive wyrm known as "The Rumbler" which is so huge that it causes a cave-in at the entrance of the cavern. With Serka's constant money supply no longer available the mercenary leader, he has no choice but to join up with Baranor's plan. Just a way of showing that despite their many differences, both of the Haradrim brothers have a solid head on their shoulders, even if it is a devious one.
- And while we're on the subject credit must be given to Serka coming up with his devious money farm scheme in the first place, raiding the caravans he was supposed to be protecting under the guise of bandits. After all he's called the 'Insufferable' for a reason.
- Following Baranor and Serka's first mission together tensions begin to grow and Zoshar, a captain in the Vanishing Sons usurps Serka's role as commander and sends him to the circus, an elaborate fight pit led by a psychotic Repulsive Ringmaster uruk. After saving his older brother from a grisly death in the pit, Baranor and Serka return. Firing a crossbow bolt into the traitor Zoshar's shoulder before he can even speak Serka cements his role as a Four-Star Badass with the following speech.Serka: Serka has returned! Serka the unkillable, Serka the Insufferable, Serka the Destroyer! But if any of you would like to return to my good graces Serka the Merciful asks only one thing. Take this piece of filth (gestures to Zoshar) and throw him to the wyrms!
- And finally the finale. After defeating all the outposts and finally taking the fortress of Shindrum for the Vanishing Sons, Baranor and Serka make good on the company's name, as when an elite force of uruks come to retake the fort they find it empty... and with dozens of barrels of grog laying about. Before they can react, "The Rumbler" emerges from the ground completely annihilating the entire force. And Baranor and Serka walk off into the desert while beginning to plan for a future of war in Mordor.
- If the player takes out all of the Warchiefs before the final assault, taking the fort is insultingly easy, as there are no Captains outside of the inner chambers. Baranor ends up looking like a Magnificent Bastard if he just strolls from checkpoint to checkpoint.
- This can be even easier if one upgrades the Serka skill tree to sabotage the enemy fort, essentially turning the battle into a complete and utter cakewalk as the walls, gates, and bulwarks simply collapse before you and your Uruk enemies are forced to simply flee in terror.
- As for the fort itself, it seems like Serka and Baranor have a shiny new fort for the Vanishing Sons. Nah, they basically give a middle finger to Sauron and the Orcs by letting The Rumbler destroy it. They don't need Sauron's toys.
- From a gameplay perspective, the augments Baranor can accumulate throughout the campaign can make him into a near superhuman, what with abilities like summoning ghûls and spiders after a stealth kill, gaining an extra Last Chance, or turning your shield into a version of the freezing stun or a flaming weapon. By the end of a campaign one can feel as though their gadgets have given them powers even greater than Talion, and there are dozens of these things to boot.
- Adrenalinenote . Skilled stealth players have pretty much won the game as soon as they find and equip it. Since enemy reaction times are slowed as well, it's incredibly easy to clear outposts of captains for the extremely low entry fee of one Brutalize (say, of a lone archer who's looking the wrong way): stealth-attack a captain, run away and Brutalize another grunt, run back to the captain and stealth-attack him again (or Execute him using all that Might that you built up during all those Brutalizes), rinse and repeat until the captain is dead. (Bonus points if you Brutalize the captain to death as well, since his death resets the ten-second timer.) It's almost entirely possible to solo a fort filled with warchiefs and their bodyguards. Naturally, this trick is completely defeated by enemies who are Vigilant Against Stealth, but it's fairly trivial to avoid them during your Brutalize spree and save them for your bodyguards (more on them in a minute).
- Thorned Hilt, especially stacked with Heavy Blade. The former augment adds 300 stealth damage, which is enough to insta-kill many Captains, but added with the latter, which adds another 50% damage if Baranor stealth kills while gliding, it can make the game insultingly easy. Add the above Adrenaline...
- Even at the start of the game, before Baranor's even picked up any augments, his Númenórean gauntlet makes him an incredibly slippery target when properly used. The grapple can instantly zip him out of sticky situations, while the kite allows him to set up stealth attacks from anywhere. In short, Baranor's what a stealthy Talion player wishes he could be; sure, he's a Glass Cannon, but his ridiculous mobility means that it's nearly impossible to land a hit on him. There's nothing like infiltrating an outpost with absolutely no augments or bodyguards to your name, setting off the alarm, fighting off the entire outpost singlehandedly while picking up augments and ammo refills from treasure orcs and Ologs who randomly spawned amidst the angry garrison, defeating two or three captains, and finally leaving the outpost only after you're weighed down with Coin and you've decided that you've nabbed all the good loot that the outpost has to offer. Oh, and you're playing on Gravewalker difficulty with the mithril augment equipped, so you have no Last Chances and no health packs, and any misstep could be your last.
- On another lesser note, credit is due to the human mercenaries of the Vanishing Sons who can prove just as deadly as nemesis Uruk and can turn the tide of battle with their incredibly useful combat abilities. There will be numerous times where a well-timed summon of a mercenary ally will completely turn the battle in your favor.