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Video Game / Middle-earth: Shadow of War

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This article assumes you've played Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and will have unmarked spoilers from that game. The same goes with the Story DLC, and their folders may include unmarked spoilers for the main game.
"The time has come for a new Ring."

"The world of Men is ending. In the fires of Mount Doom, a Ranger and a Wraith, bound together in death, crafted the one thing that could challenge Sauron: a Ring of Power. But power can blind those who seek it. The Great Deceiver has returned to Middle-earth, to rebuild his armies, to rule all. The corruption will be contained no longer. The war for Mordor begins."

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a Wide-Open Sandbox Action RPG and sequel to 2014's Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Like the previous game, Shadow of War is developed by Monolith Productions and set in J. R. R. Tolkien's world of Middle-earth. It is an officially licensed game of The Lord of the Rings film franchise.

Taking place in an Alternate Timeline version of the events leading up to The Lord of the Rings, the game continues to follow the fallen Ranger Talion (Troy Baker) and the wraith of Celebrimbor (Alastair Duncan), the Elf-lord who once helped to forge the One Ring. Picking up where Shadow of Mordor ended, the duo forge their own Ring of Power and attempt to defeat the menace of the Dark Lord Sauron, even if it means that they must become Evil Overlords themselves in the process.

The "Nemesis System" from the previous game returns, where procedurally generated enemy commanders have running character histories and abilities that develop as you continue to interact with them, their superiors, and/or their underlings. The game expands on this system in numerous ways: for example, followers' loyalty is no longer absolute, but rather is determined by various factors such as your actions (or inactions) and their own ambition; also, you can shun followers out of your army or Mind Rape enemies into insanity.note  Another key addition to the game is fortress assaults, where you lead your troops in an attempt to conquer the local fort, defeat its overlord, and seize control of the region.

The game was released on October 10th, 2017.

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Middle Earth: Shadow of War contains examples of:

    Tropes A-B 
  • Abnormal Ammo: Fiery and Poison siege beasts throw big rocks infused with Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Cursed siege beasts fire... Morgai Fly Nests.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Talion's swords and daggers are able to easily puncture and slash through solid armour and saw through metal shackles.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Many of the Gondorian artifacts wind up serving this narrative role, as Talion and Celebrimbor often share a brief moment to talk about their respective cultures, values, and even hobbies upon finding them. Of particular note are Talion's mentions of having always wanted to learn how to play the lute or study carpentry.
  • Action Girl: Several in fact, compared to Mordor's one.
    • The Great Spider, Shelob is capable of transforming into a human woman at will in this continuity, and aside from easily capturing Celebrimbor and effortlessly torturing him in the prologue, she's capable of fighting toe-to-toe with almost all of the Nazgûl at the same time when in her Giant Spider form and armed with the New Ring.
    • One of the first characters you meet is Idril, a female Gondorian captain who participates in Minas Ithil's defense against Sauron's forces.
    • Eltariel, a Blade of Galadriel is an Elven hunter-assassin who was dispatched to Mordor for the purpose of defeating the Nazgûl, and she implies that she's been at it for years. She's even skilled enough to bring down Talion when necessary.
    • Last, but probably most imposing, is Carnán, a female... thing ("nature entity" is the most charitable description)* who is capable of controlling Mordor's wildlife. She can also transform into various native beasts at will.
  • Actionized Sequel: There is even more hardcore action, the Nemesis System is expanded upon, and there are even more places to explore.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Minas Morgul in the films is an Obviously Evil lair on the side of a cliff, while here it looks like people actually could have lived in it before it was taken over by the Witch-king. Even after it's captured, it resembles a Ghost Town more than anything.
    • In the source material, Shelob is a giant spider. In the game, she's capable of transforming into a sexy lady.
      • On top of that, her spider form is much sleeker than in the films, appearing to be based on some kind of orb weaver rather than a tarantula.
  • Adaptational Deviation: The fall of Minas Ithil canonically happened around a millennium before the War of the Ring. Here, it happens only decades before.
  • Adaptive Ability: Many higher-ranking captains will be able to adapt to a tactic if a player uses against them several times. Some even have a trait that allows them to adapt to them faster.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • The Balrog, Tar-Goroth is heavily featured in the promotional material and is even on the game's box art, seemingly indicating that he would act as a major antagonist. He is actually a secondary antagonist featured in only two missions, and is disposed of very early in the questline he is involved, whereas the Orc necromancer Zog takes the primary spot.
    • The Agonizer, an Orc voiced by Kumail Nanjiani got his own trailer, but he follows the exact same rules as every other orc, appears at random, and it's possible to permanently kill him during your first few hours. It's also possible for the player to never meet him.
  • A God Am I: Two characters either start with or slowly develop a god complex over their questlines.
    • Zog "the Eternal", an Orc necromancer believes he can resurrect and control a Balrog, take it to Sauron and use it to give himself a Klingon Promotion. After Talion manages to stop the Balrog by imprisoning it in ice, Zog switches plans to raising an army of undead Orcs including several exceptional captains to make himself the new power in Mordor.
    • Whether because he always thought so and just hid it carefully, or creating his New Ring convinced him it was possible, Celebrimbor gradaully replaces his Royal "We" terms with personal pronouns ("mine" instead of "ours", for example), and eventually starts believing he can enslave Sauron. However, the fact that he almost succeeds on the latter means he really was powerful enough to do so if the fates had aligned..It was because she could foresee this precise future that Shelob strove to alienate Talion from his Elven partner, to the point that Celebrimbor felt the need to betray him and take on Eltariel, which ultimately doomed his insurrection and got him turned into the Flaming Eye when Sauron absorbed him.
  • Alien Blood: As with the previous game, Orcs have black blood.
  • All Trolls Are Different:
    • The Olog-hai are different from other Middle-Earth trolls. They're smaller, especially compared to their movie counterparts, but as said by Tolkien they were bred by Sauron to be able to stand the sun, and more importantly, in-game they are sentient and quite capable of speaking; they can even become Overlords. They are still very strong and are much faster than their bulky appearance would indicate
    • The Olog Graugs from the first game return, and may now be used as siege beasts by Uruks. Overlords of the Terror Tribe seem keen to hang the corpses of dead Graugs upon the walls of their fortresses as decoration. This isn't even going into the fact there are many subspecies (similar to the Wretched Graug from Shadow of Mordor's Lord of the Hunt DLC), such as the new Ice Graugs.
  • Alternate Timeline:
    • Tolkien's original chronology had Minas Ithil fall and be rebuilt as Minas Morgul in TA 2002. But this series takes place after the Battle of the Five Armies, which took place in TA 2952, almost a thousand years later. It is possible the Gondorians retook Morgul and re-named it Ithil briefly, before Sauron's forces re-conquered it.
    • It's easy to miss, but the presence of a live Celebrimbor in Helm Hammerhand's flashback indicates that Helm, and his Kingdom of Rohan, existed during the Second Agenote , when Tolkien's mythology had Rohan being established sometime in the Third Age. Assuming that Númenor's history and Downfall occurred more or less as they did in Tolkien's mythology (as the presence of Númenórean gear in Mordor would suggest), one can only assume that Rohan's origins are very different in the game's lore than in Tolkien's (where Rohan was created by a pact with Númenor's successor state Gondor). On the other hand, this change neatly explains the presence of Rohirrim gear in Mordor - since Rohan existed during the War of the Last Alliance in this continuity, it makes sense that they would've been a part of the Alliance.
  • Alternate Universe: While being an official licensed adaptation of the Peter Jackson films, the game takes place in its own version of Middle-earth.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted this time with the Uruks. If they become loyal enough, some of your Orc leaders can become friends with Talion. Orcs can be so genuinely loyal to Talion, they can resist Sauron trying to reclaim them. Even the ones on Sauron's side have this downplayed; it's been mentioned they can be friends too. While still brutal, they seem to have a few laws and customs that vary between Tribes, the Warmongerers being more Proud Warrior Race Guy than the sadistic Terror tribe. There's even more than a few Token Heroic Orcs who are genuinely noble, such as Forthog, who seems to have a Stop Being Stereotypical attitude towards Orcs. Additionally, Ratbag and Ranger prove that there's more to Orcs and Ologs than destruction, even though Ratbag started off as a Klingon Promotion-obsessed underling. In fact, Idril ponders what the Orcs would be like without Sauron controlling them. Tolkien himself struggled with the idea that any race, even Orcs, could be irredeemably evil by their inherent nature.
  • And I Must Scream: Some of the nemesis uruks have received worm and maggot related epithets and nicknames because their bodies are infested with live maggots. They believe they had returned from the dead while maggots were devouring their corpse and they wish to punish Talion for what he did. In reality, these uruks are suffering a condition called flystrike note . These uruks were driven insane by the maggots and are convinced they must have died in battle for the maggots to infest their bodies note . These uruks are in so much pain that when they are about to be executed, they beg Talion to do the job properly and put them down for good so they can be free of their condition.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Some (side) missions have you playing as Celebrimbor back when he was alive, as well as in the final boss where he is exclusively controlled by the player.
    • Celebrimbor and Talion have a breakup at the end of the story, and the latter only survives by taking a nearby Ring of Power, turning him into a Nazgûl. While the gameplay remains the same and he remains heroic, Talion gets his own green wraith form, he learns to raise the dead and the Limit Break ability changes from Celebrimbor's Elven Rage to Ringwraith. With Celebrimbor gone, he also speaks less.
  • Animation Bump: A variation; While the PS4 Pro's hardware doesn't quite allow the game itself run in 4K, activating Photo mode bumps the resolution up to 4K, although the mode suffers from a low framerate because of it.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Should Talion get killed by a fortress's Overlord during a siege, the siege mission is replaced with an Unfinished Business mission that brings the player directly into the throne room for a rematch, instead of having to redo the long process of taking the fortress's outer and inner victory points.
    • The player is given significantly more control over their army than in the first game. Friendly captains that lose all their health now enter a bleedout phase and can be revived, and there is an ability that allows Talion to heal them during combat by using his own health. Friendly captains that die now have a chance of cheating death to continue to serve Talion. Finally, by the end of the game, Talion can directly resurrect his fallen allies.
    • Also unlike in Shadow of Mordor, friendly captains can no longer be thrown off cliffs by grabbing them and releasing them by accident.
    • The glaive seems to be one, in this case because no enemies ever become immune to it in any situation. It's slightly awkward due to the requisite charge-up time, but it seems to be there to counter enemies who otherwise have no exploitable weakness.
    • Another change is that enemies have their strengths and immunities visible at all times. This is presumably so you can see what works in general and what doesn't and avoid situations where you come across a captain that you can't defeat, such as learning that the captain who showed up just now is immune to normal melee and you'll want to get some distance or that only one of the two captains you're targeting can be hurt by stealth so you don't waste an opportunity.
    • The maps are larger than they were in Mordor and include much more vertical space. To keep them from being too large, Talion has a larger and more easily accessible collection of ways to cover ground more quickly, whether via running, climbing, or Shadow Striking.
  • Arc Words:
    • "How much are you willing to sacrifice?" Spoken by Shelob when returning the New Ring to Talion and when advising Talion to become a Ringwraith.
    • "Sacrifices must be made" is spoken by several characters, including Sauron, Shelob, and Celebrimbor.
    • "Stalemate is victory" is spoken by Eltariel when talking about dealing with the wraiths. Shelob notes during the final cutscene that Talion continued to stymie Sauron's forces for forty years, stalemating them til a certain Fellowship could destroy the One Ring.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted for Talion, as upgrading his armor will reduce the damage he takes. Played straight for orc captains, who are killed just as easily (or are just as tough, depending on the game's difficulty level) whether they wear plate armor, furs, or just go into battle bare-chested.
  • Arrow Catch: Arrow-proof captains are capable of doing this if you try to snipe them from afar.
    Captain: Don't insult me.
  • The Artifact: The skills menu and tutorials still use footage of Dark Talion's original wraith form from back when the game launched. Instead of a cape and a hood, he had a face-guard of sorts. The guard was removed when the Outlaw tribe DLC dropped in December, and his current look was added to the game in February 2018..
  • Artifact of Doom: The One Ring has less presence in this game compared to the previous game, but the New Ring and the Nine Rings of Mortal Men fill in its place. The New Ring enhances Celebrimbor’s domination abilities, while the Nine Rings grant the Nazgûl abilities such as necromancy. The New Ring ends up destroying Celebrimbor’s humanity, driving him to abandon Talion after he frees one of the Nazgûl (Isildur) instead of enslaving him. Talion, in turn, takes Isildur’s ring to survive and contain Sauron’s forces before succumbing to the ring and becoming a Nazgûl himself right before The Fellowship of the Ring.
  • Artificial Brilliance:
    • Regular Orcs and worms fleeing from Graugs or other beasts will ignore Talion and continue fleeing, instead of deciding to pick a fight with him.
    • Orc captains will adapt to your tactics, forcing you to change up your strategy. For example, if you repeatedly vault over one to freeze him or get behind him, he will eventually start blocking the attack and throw you to the ground.
    • Worms are fully aware that they have information that will lead to the downfall of their masters. They'll engage in fights as normal, but the second they realize you're there they'll start running in the opposite direction.
  • Artificial Limbs: Uruks can now lose legs and arms, the developers confirmed that these will come into play for Nemesis Uruks that lose an appendage (other than their head) and survive. Some Uruks can put back together after having limbs severed, being cut in half at the waist or even bisected vertically by Talion!
  • Artificial Stupidity: During sieges, allied Olog captains may stay and try to destroy the outer walls of fortresses... even if there's an alternate entrance, such as the front gate being wide open. Usually this just means you have one less ally to help you, but if the walls are booby-trapped, this may turn them into The Load if they keep getting downed.
    • Averted for archer worms (orc informants) on watchtowers or rooftops, who jump off to their deaths if they spot you with the specific intention of denying you their intel — and the fact that there's a good chance their head will explode if Talion brands them (only one perk prevents their heads from going boom), so they probably think it's worth broken bones.
  • Art Shift: If you've played Shadow of Mordor, you will notice the new character models almost immediately. Given the advances of the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X, it's almost as if they're meant to take advantage of the new hardware.
  • Award-Bait Song: "Fires of War" is so powerful and emotional, it was enough to qualify for a nomination for "Best Original Song" at the 16th Annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Some powers come off as this. For example, Wraith Executions allow you to send the wraith to execute several enemies at once by using Focus. However, since there are already several other AoE attacks, it may be better to use an upgrade that allows you to do two specials in a row, so you can deal extra damage to a single target but still have another move to clear the area of nearby enemies.
    • Beasts (with the possible exception of drakes) become this at the endgame, as they barely deal any damage to high-leveled captains, even captains with the Beast Fodder weakness. It can be jarring to watch a house-sized graug repeatedly pummel an Uruk that barely reaches its knees, inflicting Scratch Damage with every blow. However, later updates to the game have downplayed this particular trope.
    • You eventually gain the power to resurrect dead captains. However, they need to be allied to you, lose 5 levels, cannot level up anymore and can't be used to fight other allies in a pit fight. Since allies tend to bleed out for a while when their health is depleted, it's better to just save them then to avoid a downgrade, and since the loser of a pit fight is replaced by the winner on the nemesis screen, the easiest way to create an undead army is to just make your allies fight each other in a pit and resurrect the loser. Downplayed as of the July update, as while undead orcs still cannot level up, they will not lose their levels anymore either.
  • Badass Boast: When you attack an enemy fortress, its overlord will deliver a speech about their army. Once Talion reaches their chamber, they make a much shorter, but usually still badass comment on the situation, and Talion has responses to some of them.
    Overlord: I am one of fighting Olog-hai! What are you?
    Talion: Your executioner.
  • Bag of Spilling: Near the beginning, Talion and Celebrimbor pour their levels into the forging of the new Ring of Power, and Shelob ambushes and captures Celebrimbor while they're still weak, forcing Talion to spend the beginning level without his wraith powers. Talion trades the ring for Celebrimbor, forcing them to rebuild their levels and power base so they can steal the Ring of Power back. Notably, several skills that were unlocked over the course of Shadow of Mordor (poisoning and detonating grog barrels, lethal stealth takedowns from above, Shoulder Charge, Stealth Drain, etc.) are innately available this time.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Any fight involving flaming weapons or Stuff Blowing Up can turn into this, due to the flammability of the environment. If you stand in the flames, you can catch on fire — which can actually be beneficial if you've equipped the right gear.
    • Exaggerated during overlord fights if the overlord has a flaming weapon, as he'll also have equipped the throne room floor with grates that shoot flames every so often.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: An Orc, Uruk or Olog can resist Sauron reclaiming them if Talion treats them well. Of course, due to the orcs' Blue-and-Orange Morality, being "nice to them" can involve such actions as reviving them when they're downed, promoting them, murdering their enemies, assigning them to murder their enemies, helping them murder their enemies...
  • Behemoth Battle: Graug!Carnán vs Tar Goroth the Balrog. The player has to intervene on Carnán's part or Tar Goroth will beat her face in.
  • Benevolent Boss: One of the motives for Talion to be a benevolent boss is that Sauron will sway Orcs who have been mistreated by Talion over to his side. Sauron is a benevolent boss only in that he gives Orcs a chance to get back at Talion.
  • Big Bad: Sauron, the great deceiver and leader of the Always Chaotic Evil monsters of Mordor.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Sauron is the greater evil of the setting, but other major antagonists include Shelob (who also opposes Sauron and steals Celebrimbor's ring at the start of the game), Zog the Eternal (an orc necromancer trying to tame a Balrog so he can overthrow Sauron) and later on Celebrimbor himself qualifies since he plans to enslave the Dark Lord and then take over Middle-earth next, and Shelob actually turns out to be Good All Along, and thus not qualifying.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Conquest missions are basically this. Featuring the player's attacking force led by Talion and several captains, with a variety of troops, against the Overlord's warchiefs and their defenses with the sides being switched in Act IV. It is not uncommon to see several dozen Mooks and several captains all on screen at a time.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: After Sauron and Celebrimbor are merged, some Captains will complain to Talion that they can't stand the fact there's a big eye watching them all the time, and add things were better before Talion stuck his nose in their business.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Savior mechanic in a nutshell. If Talion is brought to his knees, and an enemy begins his final blow, they might be interrupted by one of Talion's allies jumping in to slay Talion's would-be killer at the last second.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite all the Foregone Conclusion, given how the Lord of the Rings must happen, the game ultimately ends more bittersweetly than tragically, avoiding, although narrowly, a Downer Ending; Talion and Celebrimbor utterly fail to remove Sauron from power, with Celebrimbor betraying Talion and choosing Eltariel, who turns out to be a less compatible vessel than Talion and thus unable to defeat Sauron using the New Ring, while Talion is forced to take on the Ring of Isildur, thus becoming a Nazgul to survive and continue the fight, eventually falling and joining Sauron. However, as Celebrimbor would have been much more successful than Sauron, his failure is actually good on the long run and Celebrimbor's defeat traps Sauron in the form of the Eye of Sauron, negating much of his strongest powers, allowing Talion to use his Nazgul powers to hold Sauron's armies in Mordor to a stalemate by waging war with him over Mordor, taking advantage of Sauron's inability to interfere and his weakened state. While the Distant Finale shows that Talion does eventually become one of Sauron's servants, the One Ring and Sauron is eventually destroyed, allowing Talion to finally move on to the afterlife and reunite with his family in death.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Sauron is unambiguously evil, while Talion is using evil to combat evil, with a power-hungry spirit sharing his body. The only thing that separates Talion from Sauron is that the former is at least vying for the greater good.
  • Black Speech: Some Orcs will speak it, appropriate since the source material is the Trope Namer. Notably, Ranger the Olog speaks exclusively in Black Speech, although he understands the Common Tongue and can speak it as well.
  • Bling of War:
    • The Marauder Tribe love their plunder, and they like decorating everything they own in it.
    • Talion's armor pieces may get some bling on them too when upgraded — which is unfortunate if you happen to prefer their previous form.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Executions now cut off legs and arms as well as heads, and some of them outright cleave your opponent in half.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Brûz is a jovial, good-natured, utterly massive Olog-Hai, introduced having a pleasant chat with an orc he is about to brutally kill. After Talion dominates him, he becomes one of Talion's most devoted servants, responding to every order with a cheerful comment and generally just expressing glee with his lot in life (he gets to pop heads off bodies all the time, after all). And then he betrays you and becomes much less pleasant.
  • Book Ends:
    • The game begins with Talion's remembrance of sneaking up on his wife with flowers. At the conclusion of the game, Talion is seen as his original human self, strolling through a golden field, stripping off his weapons. The final shot is his sword, with the same breed of flower spouting next to it.
    • At the beginning of his questline, once Brûz is dominated, the game doesn't let you pick any other options than Dominating. In the end, Brûz finds the Bright Lord's palm again, but this time you are forced to shame him.
    • On a meta note: The first content update (released on November 21, 2017) came out alongside the Slaughter Tribe DLC, which the devs referred to as "DLC 1;" among other things, it featured Endless Siege, a sort of "optional Shadow Wars lite" that gave players the opportunity to defend their forts (or lose them if they preferred) after completing the game's story. The final content update (released on July 17, 2018) was referred to by the devs as "DLC 5note ," and one of its most touted features (aside from the removal of microtransactions) was the shortening of the Shadow Wars; when announcing the change, the devs referenced the Endless Siege (which was also modified to turn it from "optional Shadow Wars lite" to "optional Shadow Wars fullnote ") as the reason why the Shadow Wars didn't need to be so long anymore.
  • Boring, but Practical: The glaive attack cannot be dodged, blocked without a shield, and enemies cannot even adapt to it. As such, it's a viable weapon for practically any combat encounter, assuming that you have enough breathing room to charge it up.
  • Boss-Altering Consequence: In order to progress through the game, you have to go through each region and claim the territory controlled by the Overlord Uruks. You must siege the fortresses and eventually walk into the castle and kick the ass of the Overlord in charge. The Overlords aren't stupid enough to go without bodyguards, but you can use that to your advantage. You can take a dominated captain, send them on a quest to become a bodyguard for the Overlord, and when the time comes, they'll betray them and fight on your side instead.
  • Boss Bonanza: Act III. In a single mission the player must face about a dozen orc Captains, followed by Isildur. Then as Ringwraith Talion, fight the Nazgûl in Minas Morgul followed by the Witch-king. Then finally, as Celebrimbor, a three-phase boss fight against Sauron himself. This single mission comprises the entirety of Act III.
    • Fortress sieges and defenses are this as well. In fact, it's entirely possible for sieges to involve all 26 of the region's orc officersnote .
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Olog-hai are inherently immune to several of Talion's tricks, such as Draining (unless you have the Consume skill with the Olog Lord upgrade enabled, as well as Might or Health with at least two pieces of Vendetta gear equippednote ), Shadow Strike Pull, and even vaulting from the frontnote ; charged headshots stun them temporarily rather than killing them, and on the higher difficulty levels, it's possible for them to survive stealth attacks when you've equipped a low-level dagger. Also, since Olog-hai are obviously too large for Talion to grab and drag around, stunned Ologs can be mounted instead; however, while Talion can shank them at will while riding them, they throw him off after a set period of time (as opposed to Uruks, whom Talion can hold onto indefinitely so long as he doesn't get hit by a third party and he doesn't shank them five times in a row).
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The game featured microtransactions where players could spend either Mirian (the standard in-game currency) or Gold (a special in-game currency that could be earned by completing online challenges or purchased with real-world money) to purchase loot chests containing appropriately-leveled gear, Orc followers, and/or XP boosts or Spoils of War boosts. This system was removed from the game entirely by July 17th, 2018, largely due to the weak reception.
  • Broken Pedestal: Being humiliated by an enemy can trigger an betrayal immediately afterwards, and your now former ally will state that seeing the legendary Gravewalker fail so miserably made them realize how foolish it was to follow him.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Some captains mention that they were mere grunts when they last saw Talion. Since Talion (and the player) don't really pay attention to mooks, it qualifies as this. (Although it's unlikely that they actually were grunts in-game, since this would be hell to program.)
  • But Thou Must!: After conquering your first fort in the game, you have the option of selecting anyone of your followers to be the Overlord...except for Brûz, who will later betray you due to feeling not properly rewarded. And there is nothing you can do about it to prevent his eventual betrayal.

    Tropes C-D 
  • Call-Back: Talion's Servant armor is similar to the armor Black Hand wore on the previous game. The breastplates of both armors are practically identical.
    • On a less spoilery note, occasionally when Talion takes damage, an Orc grunt will shout "You should rub a plant on that!". This refers to the healing plants present in the first game, which were removed in War.
  • Call-Forward: When the Balrog Tar Goroth is resurrected, Talion can only splutter, "This foe is beyond us, Celebrimbor."
  • Came Back Strong:
    • Occasionally Captains can return from the dead, and may gain status effect resistance or new abilities depending on how they died.
    • In the endgame, if an orc who cheated death kills you in the fight after returning, there's a very high chance they'll replace the current overlord without having to work for the position by killing warchiefs. This only happens if the region is not in Talion's control, however.
    • Shaming a Captain may result in him becoming a Maniac, which bumps his level to 80-85note .
  • Canon Character All Along: After being betrayed and abandoned by Celebrimbor, Talion grabs the nearest ring of power to survive, which eventually (but not after a lot of opposition) turns him into one of the Nazgûl.
  • Canon Discontinuity: A small example: the game ignores the changes Talion's weapons go through in Shadow of Mordor's side missions, and they don their original looks.
  • Catchphrase: Anytime that you hear "Dimwit!" you know that Zog the Eternal has locked eyes with Talion. Similarly, most of the regular captains in the game will open combat with specific lines, depending on their title. Drunken and drooling captains will always shout "What's going on?" before introducing themselves, old and wise uruks will open combat with "Young man!", pain seeker and pain lover ologs will always shout "Paindealer!", and so on. The generic greeting is usually "Ranger!" or "Tark!"
  • Central Theme: Pay Evil unto Evil is a bad idea, and evil can never truly be destroyed without a great cost. Both Eltariel and Shelob note this:
    Eltariel: Stalemate is victory.
    Shelob: Whether a Bright Lord or a Dark Lord rules Barad-dûr, the balance of power must be maintained or all of Middle-earth will fall.
  • Chain Pain: The Machine Tribe's unique advantage is a hooked chain that allows them to trip up Talion if they catch him, while the Terror Tribe wield's several of them for quick, vicious assaults.
  • Character Level: Talion now has it, and two important mechanics revolve around it.
    • Captains and Warchiefs higher than his level cannot be Dominated.
    • Gear which has a lower level than his current level can be upgraded to his current level, although he can find (and equip) gear which has a higher level.
  • The Chosen One:
    • Uruks who are shamed but take it in pride as The Unashamed can be recruited. If they are, they'll state that Talion's Shaming them was a Secret Test of Character and that they are official Talion's "chosen one".
    • Special Uruk Captains are chosen by the Nazgul to be Sauron's servants. They are called, naturally, The Chosen.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Enemy amputations are always clean, even if the opponent loses his entire lower torso. The insides are just black goo that stays in.
  • Co-Dragons: The Nazgûl take an interest in Talion over the course of the game, serving as non-Nemesis bosses with their own unique mechanics.
  • Color-Coded Armies: Hostile Uruks generally have Red accented with grey and black in the armour, while your dominated army is prominently blue. This is completely for the player's convenience as the change happens before your eyes when dominating an orc, and a warchief will never notice his bodyguards having changed their wardrobe.
  • Color-Coded Item Tiers: As with Shadow of Mordor, but the sequel changes Epic gear to orange (Mordor's Epic Runes were yellow) and adds yellow Rare and purple Legendary gear.
  • Composite Character: Caragors are as stealthy and agile as Caragaths were in Shadow of Mordor's Lord of the Hunt DLC campaign, and the latter don't appear in the game at all.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • At the beginning of the story, the New Ring flies onto Talion's finger under its own power, just like how Sauron's One Ring did when it abandoned Celebrimbor during one of his flashbacks in the last game.
    • Several orc titles refer to characters as events from the previous game:
      • "The Tower" is a member of the Terror tribe who picked up the armor worn by the Tower of Sauron in the previous game. If he falls in battle, another Tower may appear in his place.
      • "Of the Black Gate" claims to have witnessed Talion's and his family's executions atop the Black Gate at the beginning of the previous game, and he's all too happy to explain in detail how he saw it happen.
      • "Of the White Hand" will refer to his master, Saruman, although he does not actually namedrop him. The previous game featured reports from an orc who had infiltrated Sauron's army on Saruman's behalf.
        Of the White Hand: On the edges of an ancient forest, another tower looms. Through me, its master will learn of the Dark Lord...
    • One of the artifacts that could be found in the previous game is a dagger, used by orcs when they betray their superior. When a Captain betrays the player, they hold a similar dagger during their speech, although they don’t use it in the following fight.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Talion riding a Carnán-empowered graug fighting a Balrog. Then both parties rank it up for the next fight, with Talion on a Carnán-empowered ice drake vs the now-armored Balrog.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Like the previous game, orcs you cut down may just come back with a very personal vendetta. Certain ways orcs can Cheat Death can turn them into full on supervillains.
  • Crow's Nest Cartography: As in Shadow of Mordor, "haedir towers" reveal collectibles and function as quick-travel locations and respawn points.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Shadow of War explores this concept:
    • While Talion himself already qualified due to his nature as a undead warrior, he becomes even more so of this trope during the endgame, when he is forced to become a Ringwraith by putting on Isildur's ring due to Celebrimbor abandoning his body. He then dedicates himself to prevent the Dark Lord from rallying his forces by repeatedly waging war on them, for as long as he can to prevent them from taking over Middle-Earth, albeit in the end he too succumbs inevitably, and becomes one of the Nazgûl.
    • Surprisingly, Shelob of all people turns out to be this trope. Despite being a very sinister figure who threatens the protagonists at the very start of the game, turns out that she has very good reasons to do so: because of a vision she experienced where Celebrimbor prevails over Sauron, takes over his mind and turns into a even worse tyrant than him as the Bright Lord. Despite this, she also lends her help to the leads because Sauron is just as much of a threat as they are and never plots to turn on them, albeit eventually she will try and kill the Ringbearer only to be killed by Samwise Gamgee.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: The desire of power corrupts our heroes to do anything in their power to stop Sauron. Ultimately, Talion snaps out of it, but Celebrimbor spells it out in Act III that their personal revenge - the thing that previously drove both of them to destroy Sauron for having murdered their families - does not matter anymore, and all he cares about is "bringing order to Middle-earth", a fancy way of saying conquering it by force.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Celebrimbor can get like this on occasion.
    Talion: [after too many deaths] I don't think I'll ever get used to dying.
    Celebrimbor: Then maybe we should stop dying.
  • Death by Disfigurement: Executions now can cut off limbs before doing the same to heads. It's also worth noting that in the Siege Gameplay trailer, every time someone loses a limb they die immediately after. Aside from the executions, Storm-Bringer loses an arm to Mozu right before being headshot and Ur-Hakon loses An Arm and a Leg before Talion finishes him off.
  • Death Glare: Sauron gives one when Celebrimbor/Eltariel try to dominate him, before cutting off her ring finger.
  • Death Is Cheap: Even cheaper than the first game, as Sauron now actively resurrects Uruks.
  • Decapitation Presentation:
    • If Talion beheads an Overlord, he will show the head off to the throng below before unceremoniously throwing it off the fortress balcony (or kicking it if it's an Olog head).
    • Bruz is introduced winning a pit fight, tearing the losing Uruk's head off with his bare hands and raising it with a grin.
  • Decapitation Required: Unless you cut an Uruk's head off, he has the chance to come back, even if cut in half. Even decapitation is not guaranteed to do the trick on Ologs, who can return as 'the Stitch', who are sutured back together and apparently empowered by Talion's magic.
  • Deconstruction: Shadow of War serves as one for the first game, and serves as one for the overall series, albeit by bringing in some of the Unbuilt Tropes from The Lord of the Rings:
    • Shadow of Mordor was a game that explored the idea of fighting Sauron from within Mordor, using his means, his own creatures, and weapons against the Dark Lord. This involved enslaving the Orcs by magic, and encouraging their worst impulses of warfare, competition, and cut-throat violence so that you can subvert it for your own ends. Shadow of War spells out repeatedly that your actions are evil and cannot be excused by the cause you fight for, such as when Talion "shames" Brûz the Chopper, only to be called out by Ranger, the Olog who speaks in Black Speech, and for Ratbag, Brûz's own enemy, to regard his brain-damaged opponent with sorrow before moving past.
    • Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War also attack the revenge fantasy. Celebrimbor is so obsessed and blinded with his personal revenge against Sauron that he doesn't stop to reflect once on his own complicity in buidling the Rings of Power for the Dark Lord, and his attempts to exploit Talion, Sauron's Orcs/Olog/Uruks and others for his own ends. When Talion decides to release Isildur, he's called out for his mercy by Celebrimbor who then betrays him as his host because his desire for vengeance against Sauron overpowers all his honour and noble qualities, and Talion more or less becomes no different than any other disposable Orc you subverted, enslaved, and used as cannon fodder. As Tolkien showed repeatedly in the main series, trying to use Sauron's means to oppose him, a temptation that Boromir briefly succumbed to, and which consumed Saruman, will ultimately only help Sauron.
    • More generally, the games deconstruct the standard high fantasy "lone hero wages war on the evil overlord and his army of darkness" plot. How does one man confront a whole nation's army when it's backed by supernatural monsters and powerful black magic? He both A) embraces the power of black magic with both hands, and B) commits war crimes and black ops by the bucket.
  • Defends Against Their Own Kind: Talion decides that he cannot let Sauron or Celebrimbor win, and knowing that any Ring of Power would restore his powers and keep him alive at the cost of eventual corruption, he grabs a nearby ring which belonged to the Nazgûl formerly known as Isildur. Wearing it turns him into a some sort of proto-Nazgûl, which means he still has free will, and his powers & appearance are relatively unchanged. He uses his Nazgûl-powers to stall Sauron's takeover of Middle-earth and keeps him confined in Mordor for decades, but eventually the ring gets him and he joins the nine as Sauron's servant.
  • Demoted to Extra: The One Ring plays an important role in the backstory of Shadow of Mordor and is a major gameplay element of the DLC campaign The Bright Lord. In this game, the One Ring is only seen as it’s being destroyed.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • The Nemesis System from Shadow of Mordor has been greatly expanded and is more active as almost any action you take can and will be referenced by Orc and Olog captains. Anything can trigger a captain ambush with a wide variety of voice lines for each situation.
    • Sometimes you'll be doing random things like trying to ambush a Captain or hunting for relics just to be ambushed by another Captain. They'll have unique quotes for each specific moment, even ones of Captains going hunting you down not too long after you get a worm to give up info on their weaknesses.
    • Talion will call the orcs by (first) name during Death Threat mission. Some orcs do this as well, but due to the massive amount of names, their list of lines is more limited.
    • After an orc captain dies, the grunt orcs around him will comment about his death while fleeing. In fact, there is death dialogue for every single orc name in the game. Ditto when a Captain is branded; orcs will call out their name as they call him a traitor.
    • Worms will simply run for it if they see you, knowing that you will try to interrogate them.
    • Idril and Eltariel will react in shock if you dominate orcs.
    • Wearing the Eltariel skin in the main game and changing armors and cloaks alters the skin's color scheme as well.
    • The handprint Talion leaves on his opponents during branding eventually vanishes. It may seem like a glitch, but checking which of your allies have it seems to indicate that those you had to shame before branding will always have the resulting scar, and those you recruited without Mind Rape eventually lose them.
    • If you plant a spy, their clothes revert from the blue used by allies to the red ones Sauron's army uses.
    • The game has a special way of dealing with conflicting animations. When you are in a position where you should be able to pull off a stealth kill or execution, but you're stuck in an action that prevents this, Celebrimbor will appear and do it for you with no cost on your Focus or Might meters.
    • While it is normally impossible to recruit Zog, if you manage to do so through glitches, he will have unique voice lines upon saving you, and because he is technically undead, he will never betray you, similar to other undead Captains.
    • Your various orc nemeses will know if you shut the game off in the middle of them killing you and will still taunt you for losing when you encounter them again, rather than the game forgetting that it happened because you interrupted it outside of "normal" channels.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The optional "Fatal Might" upgrade. When activated, the might system reverts to that of the last game and getting hit once or exiting combat resets it. While you need to be more careful in fights and you can't perform special attacks outside combat, your might buildup is multiplied. Even without any "X might gain on hit/kill" gear, the might bar fills in fraction of the time it would normally take, allowing you to perform more special attacks. It also turns enemy poison attacks less effective, as rebuilding your combo is much faster.
  • Difficulty Levels: Several. They mostly affect enemy strength, chance/frequency of ambush encounters, and how many times Talion can get potentially back up and fight before actually dying.
    • Easy: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. 2 Last chances without upgrades, and ambushes are much less frequent.
    • Normal: Basically the same as Easy, but enemies are more powerful.
    • Nemesis: Only one Last chance by default. Enemies deal more damage and are more durable, and ambushes are fairly common. Dead enemy warchiefs will be replaced over time.
    • Gravewalker: No Last chances without an upgrade that isn't unlocked until level 13, enemies are extremely tough and even grunts can down end-game Talion with only a few hits. Using distract or poison tendril while aiming drains all of your focus, informants are much rarer and drop bombs while fleeing, and orcs react to you much faster (You can't just run up to their face and still do a sneak attack like on lower difficulties). Dead warchiefs are replaced over time, like on Nemesis difficulty.
    • Brutal: Enemies deal as much damage as on Gravewalker, but Talion's damage is boosted as well. Most changes from Gravewalker are also present, but worms are more common. One last chance by default.
  • Do Wrong, Right: One type of Ambush involves this, related to Talion's actions. For example, if Talion poisons a grog barrel or uses a Poisonous Elven Light, a Captain with the Poisoner title will chew the Gravewalker out... for using too much poison. A Mutilator Captain may pop up after Talion hacks off a Captain's limbs, and critiques his method. A Captain with The Spider title will get upset that Talion is exploiting Shelob's children if he shoots a spider mound or has the Spider mod for the campfire explode ability.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Leaving behind one of Talion's Captains to die is liable to get them revived by Sauron with an Accursed Weapon to avenge their betrayal on him.
  • Downer Ending: Given that Foregone Conclusion was at play, Talion and Celebrimbor not only fail in their goal to destroy Sauron, but they end up becoming his minions: Celebrimbor fuses with the Dark Lord and they become the Eye of Sauron on top of Barad-dur tower (though it appears this fusion isn't ideal for Sauron either), while Talion is forced to take Isildur's ring and becomes a Ringwraith himself, spending the next several decades resisting Sauron's take over of Mordor until he finally gives in and joins the Nine. Minas Ithil falls, most of the cast dies (except Shelob and Gollum) and Eltariel's survival being uncertain. The only thing that alleviates this is that according to the Distant Finale, Sauron is destroyed when the One Ring is cast into Mount Doom and Talion is finally allowed to pass on into the afterlife.
  • Dragon Rider: Talion can now command and ride drakes.
  • Dramatic Spine Injury: In the gameplay demo, right when Talion is about to be burnt alive by Ur-Hakon the Dragon Lord, one of his loyal Beastmasters rides a Caragor through the flames and attacks Ur-Hakon to distract him. After a few moments, the massive Olog overpowers his assailant and snaps the Caragor's spine over his knee like a twig, whereupon it makes a sad dog-like whimper before it dies. Luckily, the Beastmaster's actions enable Talion to recover and bring the Overlord down himself.
  • The Dreaded: Like in the previous game some orcs have the fear of Talion as a weakness, worms will also run at the sight of you instead of fighting. After his display at the arena the whole stadium evacuate once Celebrimbor promises no mercy.
  • Driven to Madness:
    • Shaming orcs has a chance to make them deranged, an orc can go from wise monologue to perpetually reciting a Madness Mantra or squealing like a pig.
    • Some Orc captains are already insane when you meet them, resulting in every line of their dialogue being complete Non Sequitur weirdness.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Talion declines to rescue Ranger, seeing it as an obvious trap set by Bruz. Ratbag points out that the orcs won't respect a leader who allows them to be captured without reprisal. Celebrimbor says that Ratbag is correct, much to Ratbag's surprise.

  • Dynamic Entry: Captain ambushes can occasionally trigger with an Orc captain bumrushing you from offscreen. This works the other way as well. Sometimes when Talion is downed, even with no last chance, a branded captain or Gondorian soldier will run in and shoulder-ram the enemy, saving you.

    Tropes E-G 
  • Early Game Hell: The first area can be absolutely punishing even on normal difficulty. It has just as many Captains running around as any other area in the game but is much smaller, so you'll keep tripping over them going from one quest to another. And since the random traits are all present from the beginning, you could be saddled with a Captain who can turn up at any time who is immune to standard attacks, can't be vaulted over, and carries an unblockable poison weapon that takes out all your health in one hit. (The developers seem to know this, and it's the only time where Talion may be rescued from a Captain by a normal Gonderian captain.) As a part of the tutorial, the game introduces you to most enemy types by making them ambush you, possibly forcing you to abandon whatever you were doing beforehand. Once you get the ball rolling, start getting better gear and abilities, and the constant ambushes stop, the difficulty decreases dramatically. Enemies also appear to be lower level the first time you leave Minas Ithil for Cirith Ungol and have more exploitable weaknesses. It gets even more hellish on Nemesis difficulty, as every uruk is more durable, captains tend to be several levels higher than Talion, and your "Last Chances" are halved. And that's not even covering the "Gravewalker" difficulty.
  • Edge Gravity: Enemy orc captains cannot be thrown off ledges until they are "broken" and friendly captains cannot be thrown off ledges at all.
  • Elemental Weapon: Different swords can inflict different Status Effects. As of the Blade of Galadriel update, swords also display their effect even out of combat if you have at least one full might bar. If it doesn't have an effect, it'll glow instead.
    • Captains can spawn with weapons that can apply poison, fire, or cursenote 
  • Eloquent in My Native Tongue: Ranger the Olog-hai has nothing but mean words for everyone he reluctantly works with, but nobody he talks to knows Black Speech, so his insults just bounce off of them.
  • Empty Levels: Downplayed. At first, due to ability enhancements being mutually exclusive, once you acquire enough skill points to upgrade all of your major abilities, you effectively plateau in terms of power and only the things that change is the level of orcs and the gear they drop. However, once you hit the max cap, you gain access to several skills that passively increase things like might gain, wrath gain, and so on - you'll stay at level 80, but your power curve will still gradually increase even after your major skills are all bought.
  • Enemy Mine: Talion and Celebrimbor form an unlikely alliance with Shelob, the malevolent spider-woman that kidnaps Celebrimbor at the start of the game and forces Talion to surrender his ring. She hates Sauron more than she does our heroes, so she provides Talion with visions of the future to assist him in his quest. Notably, she never betrays them and ends up giving the ring back after he saves her life from the Ringwraiths.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Many of the Uruks and Ologs, the poster boys for Always Chaotic Evil, will outright declare that using Mind Rape on their captains crosses a line even the worst of the Uruks thinks is just plain wrong.
    • Similarly, forcing your captains to duel their blood brothers will result in expressions of shock and disgust. Killing an Uruk and then getting killed by his blood brother triggers this quote:
      Uruk's blood brother: That's what you get for killing an Uruk's blood brother, you monster!
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: Captains with the title The Inscrutable speak at an incredibly fast pace with a Scottish bough so thick that the subtitles eventually devolve into question marks.
    Gruk The Inscrutable: Not as big as they say, you, not nearly. 'Spected a mountain, all a' got's a Ghul-mound. You speak my language, do ya? Ya speak blood do ya? Speak guts? Cause I'm da reckonin' (?????) rip ya throat out so fast it'll wistle!''
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: An aversion in Shelob's case, if one subscribes to her actions as Pragmatic Villainy. She nudges Talion just enough for him to see Celebrimbor for what he is — a Dark Lord wannabe.
  • Evil Hand: From the gameplay trailer, Orcs with a Dark Curse (those gifted with some of Sauron's Black Magic) can nullify Talion's Ring and develop a ghostly version of Sauron's armor around their right hand which trails darkness.
  • Evil Is Petty: Some ologs snap your current sword in half if you die to them. Fortunately, killing them afterwards not only adds the sword back to your inventory, but also improves it's stats.
  • Evil Overlord: Not only Sauron (who's the archetypal example of the trope), but the aptly-named Overlords. They differ from the Warchiefs in the first game, since they single-handedly hold direct control over their respective regions and are holed up in mighty fortresses guarded by both their minions and monsters such as graugs and fire drakes. They even sit on dark thrones while waiting to confront Talion. In order to take control of said region, Talion must kill them and place one of his own branded orcs in power, or at higher levels brand them as well.
  • Evil Versus Evil:
    • J. R. R. Tolkien explicitly said that attempting to use the Ring for good or to forge another Ring would just result in another Sauron. The previous game and this one similarly portray Celebrimbor and perhaps Talion as well as Obliviously Evil Well Intentioned Extremists who embrace becoming Evil Overlords to have their revenge on the Dark Lord. By the end, Talion has a Heel Realization and refuses to follow Celebrimbor, who goes along to confront Sauron hoping to enslave him and rule Middle-Earth as the Bright Lord, but ultimately fails.
    • To really spell out the nature of Celebrimbor, the game has you watch him give more than one New Era Speech. His ranting speeches are VERY reminiscent of real world fascist dictators and it becomes quite disturbing quite fast. It is about that moment the player will realize that this game is about helping Ghost Hitler build a slave army of sociopathic mutants so he can overthrow Wizard Satan. No wonder that Talion takes a third option.
    • Carnán's questline involves a orc necromancer called Zog the Eternal, who is vying to rule Mordor by using Tar-Goroth to defeat Sauron.
    • The Eltariel DLC introduces the Nazgul sisters who want to take advantage of Sauron's weakness to take over.
    • While he is in the background, Saruman is still engaging in his mechanations to depose Sauron as well, though instead of acting a little more direct as he did possessing Queen Marwen in Shadow of Mordor, his Orc lieutenants are still operating against Sauron.
  • Eviler than Thou: Zigzagged at the end of the game. Sauron is clearly more evil than Celebrimbor, who at least has a genuinely messed up backstory, but Celebrimbor is the bigger potential threat to Middle-earth. When they clash, Sauron ends up on top.
  • Eye Scream: The first gameplay videos feature Talion - or, rather, Celebrimbor - killing an Uruk captain by whacking him about the head several times with a smithing hammer, before driving the stake on the hammer into the captain's eye socket and sending him to his death several dozen feet below. He came back anyway. Orcs in the finished game may only have one eye, and a headshot kill on an orc can result in this.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Branded Orcs can now betray you and rejoin Sauron, who grants them a Dark Curse that prevents them from being branded again.
  • Facial Horror: It's possible to find orcs with only one eye; those aren't especially bad. However, kill an uruk with poison, and they might come back with half their face melting off. The metal plates and bags from the first game return as well.
    • Captains with the title "The Twins" have diprosopus, with two faces on one head, sharing an eye.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • Somehow, neither Talion or Celebrimbor realize that Brûz The Chopper doesn't have a handprint on his face after his branding. Downplayed, since the brand-only prints heal and disappear over time, and Brûz is the first Orc they brand with the New ring; they likely just thought that it was normal.
    • The ease with which Talion can sneak about suggests that all Orcs have atrocious vision. Even if he's wearing bright red armor with a bright blue cloak, Talion can sprint at an Orc and not be noticed until he shanks him in the neck. Justified in that he's imbued with the powers of a wraith and much of his power comes from More than Mind Control.
  • Fantastic Racism: Celebrimbor sees orcs as nothing but cruel savages. He's... not wrong, but he still thinks this after said orcs save Talion countless times, help the two to capture enemy fortresses and help them fight Sauron.
    • He also tends to make many disregarding remarks when they find Gondorian and Dwarf artifacts. Either giving them a back-handed compliment or comparing them poorly to Elvish works.
    • One special piece of dialog that can come from an enemy Captain brings this up in regards to Talion's warpath against the Orcs.
      Orc Captain: Now, why would a Gondorian come here and try to murder ALL of the Orcs? Maybe you have a problem with ONE Orc, maybe a hundred. But... ALL of us? Maybe the problem is with you.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: The three protagonists Talion, Eltariel and Baranor. Talion seems to be the Thief archetype at first, using daggers stealth kills and various tricks, but he becomes a "shaman archetype" (a Thief-Mage hybrid) when he becomes a Nazgul and gets the power to brainwash enemies and resurrect the dead. Eltariel is the Mage, as she uses the Light of Galadriel to cast powerful light spells for both combat and self-healing. Baranor is the Fighter, being a captain of Gondor skilled in weapons but unable to use any supernatural power or trick.
  • Fighting Spirit: Just like the previous game Celebrimbor functions like this with Talion. but when he is abandoned, Talion gets his own wraith clone to operate in Celebrimbor's stead.
  • Fire Purifies: Some uruks firmly believe in this. They usually have enough burns on their body to disprove their claim, not that they care.
  • Fisher King: Overlords decorate their districts of Mordor according to their Tribe, including the likes of fortress ornaments, monuments and other aesthetics fitting to their specific culture. The sound of the alarm will also vary depending on the tribe that the overlord is part of and even the sky changes color to fit their particular culture; Marauders have a deceptive pure blue, Mystics a grey cloud cover, the Terror Tribe an ominous red, etc.
  • Flash Step: The "Spectral Dash" ability in the Predator Skill tree ability allows Talion to close distances between him and his target instantaneously, with this ability costing focus. Another ability replaces combat dodging with the ability to teleport through his enemies (except for Ologs, for whatever reason), as long as you have enough focus.
  • Foreboding Fleeing Flock: When the Nazgûl go to retrieve the New Ring from Shelob, you'll see ghuls and Shelob's brood flee in droves. Talion even comments on this.
    Talion: Even Shelob's brood fear the Nazgûl.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Anything involving Minas Ithil. The city is better known in canon and later in the game as Minas Morgul, the Tower of Dark Sorcery.
    • It's pretty self-evident that Sauron will still be around by the time of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and that Talion and Celebrimbor would have failed in their quest to defeat him. Also, trying to use any Ring of Power in order to defeat Sauron will always end poorly.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After dominating Brûz, he remarks "Bright Lord? Dark Lord? Same thing, really", and those familiar with the source material know it's not a joke. Shelob makes a similar comment as well, stating "Why should I do that, Ringmaker? You and Sauron are one". By the end of the game, Sauron absorbs Celebrimbor, essentially making them the same thing (read: being) in a literal sense.
    • Castamir sharing the same name as the man who started the Kinstrife and betrayed the rightful king, to foreshadow him betraying Minas Ithil to the Witch-King if for the more noble goal of sparing his daughter.
    • In one of his tutorial monologues, Brûz questions why Warchiefs accept bodyguards based on how well they do in the arena and says that you'd have to be an idiot to trust an orc either way. Brûz, who was chosen by Talion and Celebrimbor after an impressive showing in the fight pits, later stabs Talion through the back to take over his fort.
      • Bruz also notably lacks the blue handprint almost all other dominated Captains share, hinting that his loyalty isn't as absolute as it may seem.
    • In the Isildur flashback, when he puts on The One Ring, the letters gleam blue identically to the New Ring, showing that the New Ring is tainted.
    • Talion's default items slowly become corrupt the further you play the "main" Nazgûl questline. It's easy to miss since the player more than likely stops using them in favor of better gear.
    • As you capture forts, Celebrimbor slowly starts using personal pronouns when describing the player's army - instead of the usual Royal "We", he starts using "my army" etc.
  • Forever War: Downplayed in chapter IV. It's length is likely meant to represent the decades Talion kept Sauron busy and it was greatly reduced in length since the July 2018 patch. Played straight with the "Endless Shadow Wars" added in a patch alongside the first DLC, as it allows fortresses to be replayed indefinitely.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Since wearing the new Ring makes Talion visible in the wraith world, he has his own wraith form for a while before he rescues Celebrimbor from Shelob at the beginning of the game. It is only seen when you drain enemies, which you don't really have any reason to do.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: An Orc can go from shoveling caragor shit to high-ranking Captain in the game. Even slaves can become asskicking authority figures if they're lucky enough to land the killing blow on Talion, though they'll still be mocked for their former status by the other Orcs.
  • Frontline General: If there's one thing that sets Talion apart from Sauron, it's that he's with his men in the thick of battle. When taking over an enemy stronghold, Talion personally leads the charge and has to kill the resident Overlord himself.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Orcs are one of the more technologically advanced races in Middle-Earth, and the Machine tribe are specialists in maintaining their tech. Areas with a Machine Overlord tend to be heavily industrialized, with factories and metalworks, and Machine Captains frequently employ explosives in combat.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • If you go and read the item descriptions of some of Talion's items from the past (mainly Ioreth's Embrace and Acharn, half of his son's broken sword) after completing several of the Nazgul missions, they will change to reflect that Talion is losing his memory of Dirhael and Ioreth. Ioreth's Embrace is changed to Dark Embrace, stating that while he can still remember it is a memento from their anniversary, the days are rapidly becoming more distant. Acharn, meanwhile, when fully upgraded flatly states that its original owner is long forgotten.
      Acharn: The dagger Acharn. Forever cursed, its original owner long forgotten.
      Ioreth's Embrace/Dark Embrace: A tattered cloak so stained in blood its origins can no longer be discerned.
    • Whenever you are betrayed by an Orc, their banner will not actually change color until either the dialogue or their actions make it clear they are now against you.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Due to the more complex mechanics of the Nemesis system, Celebrimbor's branding power is weaker with his Ring of Power than when he was mind breaking Uruks left and right in the first game. He also states that no Uruk can stand his ring, yet Captains with the Iron Will trait can do just that. Then again, it's justified in that Sauron wasn't directly involved in Mordor, and that game had a far shorter timeline, meaning Uruks didn't have time to resist — in the Bright Lord DLC, Sauron manages to recapture Uruks that Celebrimnor had taken using the One Ring.
    • Some orcs will still refer to Talion as the Bright Lord, despite him being a Ringwraith and having no reason to keep that namesake. Possibly justified, since he is still doing the same thing as before, and not all orcs know what this Bright Lord should look like and/or have never seen Talion before but have heard about him, so to them he is Only Known by Their Nickname.
    • Likewise, some allied orcs might still swear loyalty to Sauron after branding. In some places it's understandable (they don't want to blow their cover, especially if they are trying to become a spy), but sometimes less so (sneaking towards a camp they plan to raid).
    • When first facing off against Brûz, normally you'd be too under-leveled to actually Dominate him (which ties into the fact that he never is; only pretending to be. However, for players who actually do take the time to get to lvl 19+, the story result is the same, despite the fact that he doesn't have Iron Will.
    • The Overlord of a region is supposed to be the biggest, baddest orc around. However, if you play well and don't ever lose a siege, the overlord will be of whatever level you were when you conquered the location, while the warchiefs and common captains are leveling via quests and sieges, the overlord sits in the citadel and never levels up. This can easily lead to a level 25-30 overlord where all other characters on the army screen are level 50-60.
  • Game-Over Man: If you die during a story mission or otherwise fail, Shelob will have some choice words to lament your failure.
  • Genius Bruiser: Some of the Olog-hai are extremely eloquent, a constrast to their hulking brutishness.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: During a "Chase" Nemesis mission, one captain will ambush the other, seemingly alone, who flees, trying to lead the other into a trap. If you can stop the chased orc before he reaches his allies, this becomes a very easy fight. However, if they reach their support, you are in for quite a fight.
  • Giant Mook: Olog-hai trolls fulfill this role, acting as living battering rams that can crush anything on their path. And just like Uruks, they exist as part of the Nemesis system.
  • Golden Ending: After you have completed the main story mode, a new mini-campaign is unlocked called "Shadow Wars" where you need to defend the fortresses you captured from your enemies. Once you complete all the stages, the game's true ending is revealed and ties up directly with the Lord of the Rings trilogynote : When Sauron absorbs Celebrimbor, he now launches a counter-offensive against Talion, who spends several decades defending his position until he finally succumbs and becomes a Ringwraith subservient to Sauron. Then a cutscene taking place in the future shows the One Ring being destroyed, causing Sauron and Talion's deaths, the latter finally allowed to pass unto the afterlife.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Downplayed. The villainous Sauron is associated with black and red, with his Ring of Power having glowing dark red runes. The Anti-Hero Talion and borderline Villain Protagonist Celebrimbor are meanwhile associated with white and blue, with their own Ring having glowing light blue runes. This is also reflected by their uruk armies: Sauron's forces wear red, while Talion's forces wear blue. It turns out the true "good color" is Galadriel's golden light, which Eltariel wields.
    • Dark Talion sports a sickly green motif, as befitting a Nazgûl. However, his followers still wear blue armor.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Even though he still fell at the end, Talion's defiance of Sauron during Act IV "Shadow Wars" prevented the Dark Lord from uniting his forces and invading the rest of Middle-earth when it was still unprepared and with the exception of Shelob and Carnán, no one in Middle-earth will know it was actually one of Sauron's own Nazgûl that defended the land from within the darkness.

    Tropes H-M 
  • Harder Than Hard: Start a new game on Gravewalker difficulty. Try to kill a few captains. You have no last chances until you purchase an upgrade deep in the upgrade tree, and everybody, even grunts, are extremely durable and deal a ton of damage. You will die. A lot.
  • Hard Mode Perks: Indirectly. Enemies who die have a chance of coming back, and sometimes they have become Legendary during their absence. The chances of them returning is largely calculated by your history together, meaning that Captains you've met several times have a higher chance of coming back from the dead. Gravewalker difficulty makes facing each captain more difficult, and you will die or run away from some fights, causing more orcs to become "tied" to Talion by the game. This is especially noticeable at the endgame, since on most difficulties below Gravewalker, the player is so overpowered that they will likely win any fight easily.
    • More directly, Online Conquests are always set to Normal difficulty, so even players who struggle with Gravewalker difficulty in their games tend to breeze through Online Conquests with little real trouble.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Much attention is paid to the fact that Talion and Celebrimbor are becoming more and more like Sauron the more power they build. This ties into The Lord of the Rings, where the point is made that anyone attempting to use even a new Ring of Power against Sauron would be consumed by it and become a new Dark Lord — and Celebrimbor has already wielded the One Ring.
    • Discussed in the opening of the story trailer between Talion and Shelob:
      Shelob: How much are you willing to sacrifice? To suffer?
      Talion: I have given up everything!
      Shelob: ...Not everything.
      • She invokes the trope directly when Celebrimbor promises to bring Sauron to her if she returns his Ring.
      Shelob: Why would I do that, Ringmaker? You and Sauron are one.
    • Eltariel warns Talion that he is in danger of becoming this, so that he can try to avoid it:
      Eltariel: I strike down Men corrupted by these Rings. Do not become one of them.
    • Talion himself asks Celebrimbor, "How much of your soul was lost in that Ring?"
    • At the end when Talion learns Celebrimbor's plan is to dominate Sauron, he bluntly insists, "I will not trade one Dark Lord for another!"
  • Hearing Voices: Being hit with an Anti-Magic Cursed Weapon will result in Talion hearing Sauron whispering to him until the effect wears off.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: As in the previous game, you have to use your Wraith powers to brainwash orcs and other weak-willed monsters into helping you put an end to the conquering of Middle-earth by the evil Sauron. Notably, Domination appears to be more of a "strong persuasive" effect as opposed to the previous game's "mental override" effect; in this game, followers keep their personalities and can form bonds of loyalty with you...or betray you.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: Celebrimbor's actual goal is not to destroy Sauron like Talion would have wanted, but to dominate him instead (since Sauron cannot be destroyed as long as the One Ring exists, and as far as everyone knows, it has been long lost) and use his forces to "bring order to Middle-earth" (i.e. take it over completely). He nearly succeeds doing this during the Final Boss fight, but fails.
  • Hold the Line: The entire point of Act IV, The Shadow Wars. Talion wages war with Barad-dûr for as long as he can in the hopes that, by the time he inevitably falls, someone else in Middle-earth will have come up with a way to defeat Sauron for good.
  • Humanoid Abomination:
    • The main villain is Sauron, a Maia who was corrupted by Melkor and takes the form of a towering humanoid entity clad in spiky black armor.
    • Shelob, the daughter of the eldritch spider-monster Ungoliant, and herself an eldritch spider-monster. Her having a humanoid form retroactively explains how she was able to communicate with Gollum.
  • Immediate Sequel: Downplayed. Shadow of Mordor ended with Talion promising to forge a new Ring of Power, while this game opens with him and Celebrimbor finishing doing just that. But, of course, one does not simply forge a Ring of Power in Mordor overnight.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Talion talks at great length about how Gondor is his people, how Numenoreans were awesome, and how affected he is by seeing the Gondor flag artifact. This is despite the fact Talion is notably a Northman and unrelated to the Numenoreans.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Downplayed in the case of Orc Marksmen, particularly those possessing the Sniper Shot trait (read: all Marksmen spawned after the Blade of Galadriel update in February 2018). Marksmen with Sniper Shot can inflict major pain from extreme distances and are the only enemies who can damage you while you're somersaulting; your only options are to close the distance or take cover, since their attacks require line of sight.
    • Just as in Shadow of Mordor, all melee grunts pack short-range throwing axes, and they're surprisingly accurate with them if you're not moving.
    • Graugs are now capable of throwing boulders, and not only are they frighteningly accurate, they're also intelligent enough to aim at where you're going rather than where you are.
  • Improperly Paranoid: When attacking an enemy fortress, the resident Overlord may declare that they've captured one of your spies and proceed to execute them. He'll even do this if you don't actually have a spy there, upon which your generals will mock him for killing one of his men for no reason.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite being an Alternate Universe, the True Ending shows that the events of the movies still happened.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • Even after conquering all four conquerable keeps, the Siege Mission tab in the Quests window only shows 50% completion, suggesting there'll be more to come after Act III.
    • The control layout you can find in the Options menu reveals that you gain the ability to raise the dead. This is averted in the PC version at least, as if you don't have a saved game, the ability will be marked "(Locked)."
    • Notably averted in the Character (skill tree) screen, which hides the Raise Dead and Ringwraith skills until you unlock them.
    • Averted once more in the skins menu, which includes a second Talion. Equipping it changes absolutely nothing, until you reach Act IV and that model is replaced by his corrupted model.
      • Also subverted. The skin menu also includes a corrupted Eltariel skin you can view from the start of the game. Which would make you think she also turned to the dark side (like Talion and Celebrimbor) near the end of the story or in her DLC campaign... until she doesn't. Then you find out it was just a "What if?" joke from the developers that got put in for the game's final update.
  • Ironic Hell: With the Raise Dead power, you can turn an orc who betrayed you, was forcibly re-recruited, and subsequently got killed into a lifeless shell 100% loyal to Talion.
  • Irony:
    • Back in Shadow of Mordor, Celebrimbor was all set to move on to the afterlife after killing the Black Hand, and Talion was the one who talked him into crafting a new ring. In this game, Talion's starting to have doubts about the new ring while Celebrimbor is all for using it to defeat Sauron. The power of the new ring may have had something to do with the change of heart. Cebebrimbor points it out harshly when Talion protests about its use, saying it was he who wanted to forge a new Ring, saying it in such a way that it leaves it up to interpretation on whether it was Talion or Talion influenced by Celebrimbor's will.
    • The first thing Bruz says when you meet him reeks of this by the time he betrays Talion and Celebrimbor.
    Bruz: You know I always said you were an optimist. Know what that is mate? It's about sizing up a situation thats bloody impossible and saying: "Yeah, alright — I'll have a go!"
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: Inverted, the Witch-King targets Talion as a potential Nazgûl and seems to leave Celebrimbor to his master Sauron.
  • Kill It with Fire: All over the place in this game, naturally.
    • As in Shadow of Mordor, Talion and the Orcs can both use flaming weapons. Some of Talion's skills can be upgraded to ignite fires, and various Orcs can be equipped with fire bombs. And, of course, campfires and grog barrels are as spectacularly flammable as ever.
    • Some Orcs are afraid of or weak against fire, making this trope an excellent strategy for dealing with them. In particular, all Revenants (undead Orcs) are Flammable, so revenant-heavy forts are extremely vulnerable to fire-based assaults.
    • This plus Death from Above is drakes' MO in a nutshell. Also, fire graugs (found in Gorgoroth and Lithlad) make heavy use of this.
    • The Warmonger legendary gear set is made of this trope, with a nice bonus of causing fire to become beneficial to you.
    • Fortress assaults take this up to eleven, as both attackers and defenders can field archers equipped with Arrows on Fire, siege beasts equipped with flaming boulders, and even the aforementioned drakes. Also, see Battle Amongst the Flames above.
  • Kill It with Ice:
    • In addition to fire and poison, Talion has access to frost attacks, which allow you to freeze your enemy solid. The Shattering Blow skill upgrade for Ice Storm even causes flurry kill finishers to shatter the victim to pieces.
    • Carnán in her dragon form uses ice breath to fight against Tar Goroth which is extremely effective. At the end of their boss fight, she buries him inside a lake of ice.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Celebrimbor's first speech in Núrnen seems to be aimed to both his army and the player.
    Celebrimbor: There is a new power in Mordor: YOU!
  • Legacy Character: The Nazgûl. At least two of the original nine kings have been replaced by Isildur and Helm Hammerhand, and Talion later replaces Isildur. The Blade of Galadriel makes that number five.
  • Lemony Narrator: Almost completely averted, but someone on the writing team clearly couldn't resist when it came to the quest summaries in the Quests menu:
    A Sighting: Ratbag unwittingly led you into another trap set by Brûz. He's very sorry.
    Army of the Dead: Zog's acolytes raised Zog and an army of Revenants from the casualties of the Siege of Minas Ithil. You ended the ritual and his life. Again.
  • Life Drain: Unlike Shadow of Mordor, draining and branding enemies now always restores health, with Elf-shot recovery becoming an optional upgrade.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Olog-hai are much faster than their size and bulk would indicate. That being said, they're still firmly on the Mighty Glacier end of the combat spectrum.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: One Uruk-on-Uruk kill animation (if the killer possesses a flaming weapon) involves the winner shoving a grenade down the loser's throat and rolling away; what can be seen through the explosion is more than enough to count as this trope. Needless to say, they won't be coming back from that one. (The game counts it as a decapitation to make it stick.)
  • Light Is Not Good: Just as in Tolkien's works, the desire for power, even for the most noble reasons, i.e. to fight and oppose Sauron, will ultimately corrupt even the most noble, whether it is Saruman the White Wizard, Boromir son of Denethor, and in Shadow of War the self-proclaimed "Bright Lord" Celebrimbor who turns out to be just as much a deceiver and tyrant as Sauron was.
  • Magma Man: The Balrog that Zog summons has lava dripping out from under its armor, and similarly appears in a burst of lava that juts out from a fissure in the earth.
  • Magic Knight: A new enemy class is the Mystic Orcs who are gifted with Black Magic and capable of cursing Talion (disables powers, prevents you from gaining juice for your limit breaks, and replaces the map with Sauron's creepy eye), and they're also not afraid of throwing down physically, particularly given how Captains and others among them can be given mystically-imbued swords.
  • Mark of Shame: The handprint Talion leaves on an orc's cheek upon branding and shaming. While orcs you've only branded eventually lose the scar, those whom you shame or shun keep it permanently. Most of the time, they become the laughingstock of other orcs, but a few take it as a point of pride and become "the Unashamed".
  • Meaningful Rename: Orc Captains can take on new titles depending on things that they've done or had done to them. For example, a captain who cheats death can become known as "The Survivor" or "The Unkillable" as well as "Iron Skull" if they come back after dying from a fall, "The Flame of War" if they come back after being burned, "The Wraith Touched" if they come back after being killed with a wraith ability, 'Of the Flies" if they come back after being doomed, "Of the Beasts" if they come back after being mauled, "The Machine" if they come back after being cleaved, etc. An Olog captain who wins a pit fight can change his title to that of the "Pit Fighter"; a captain who flees from a Nemesis mission can gain the title of "The Gutless"; a captain that gets shamed can become known as "The Mindless", "The Deranged", "The Maniac" or "The Unashamed" depending on what happens to them; an archer captain who kills Talion can become known as the "Lucky Shot", and many more. An Orc whose level has been reduced to the single digits loses any titles they had.
  • Men of Sherwood: The Gondorian soldiers in Minas Ithil can hold their own against the invading Orcs. Sometimes, they'll even intrude on the Captains' Nemesis Events, and rescue Talion when he's about to be killed.
  • Mind Rape: The "Shame" mechanic can act like this in the most extreme cases, even rendering Orcs mindless. Even worse is the "Worse Than Death" upgrade, as demonstrated by Brûz as punishment for betraying Talion, who is reduced to a sobbing wreck and driven insane. Other orc characters comment that they'd rather be dead than be like this.
  • Mirror Boss: The Nazgûl act a bit like this, having attack patterns that are very similar to Talion's own Wraith abilities, such as warping to Talion or pulling Talion towards them.
  • Mistaken Identity: In a great showing of how various Captains can show up according to strange circumstances, there is a chance that summoning your Bodyguard will cause a small scene of someone placing their hand on Talion's shoulder, only to zoom out as Talion turns, and show an enemy Captain of the same species (Olog or Uruk) instead of said Bodyguard. This is usually followed by a remark from the Captain to the effect of, "Expecting someone else?"
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The game recognizes that most of Talion's attacks induce a lot of friendly fire, but if you intentionally wail on a follower for up to 25% of his health, he'll realize it's not an accident anymore and instantly betray you. What's really dark is that there's an achievement for this.
  • The Mole:
    • It's now possible to infiltrate enemy armies or fortresses with one of your own branded orcs working as a spy, which can help actively sabotage any sieges you might initiate.
    • During Act I, Talion finds out that there is a traitor among the Gondorians and is trying to identify him. He is revealed to be Castamir himself.
  • Mood Whiplash: When you start a siege, there are the usual epic speeches traded in both direction, with the occasional opening of the overlord executing a spy. However, they can get the wrong guy, and one of your uruks will point it out. Already switches the mood from war-thirsty to amused when they laugh about the overlord getting the wrong guy, but it's particularly mood-breaking when it turns out you never had a spy in that fortress, which confuses whatever poor sod points it out off of his previous lust for blood, right before another follows with an enthusiastic Rousing Speech as if no one else heard or noticed that.
    Uruk: ...hang on a minute, we didn't have a spy here!
  • Mooks Ate My Equipment: Very rarely, a Captain or Warchief can destroy one of your equipped weapons if you die while fighting them. You can get it back if you defeat the captain in a Nemesis mission.
    • In at least one case a grunt has finished a player off and then broken their sword (gaining a title as the breaker) before becoming a Captain making this trope almost literal.
  • More than Mind Control: It's entirely possible to inspire actual loyalty beyond Celebrimbor's power of domination. In fact, it's probably smart to do so, as otherwise the Orcs might throw off the Branding and rejoin Sauron.
  • Mouth of Sauron:
    • Not the actual Trope Namer (despite the source material, obviously) but some Uruk captains have a Mook that brags about them and threatens adversaries on their behalf.
    • In the region is not in your control, the overlord occasionally sends a captain to taunt you. They'll even leave without a fight if you let them.
  • Mundane Utility: Idril is in the habit of using an elven pendant, whose crystal shines even in total darkness, as a reading lamp.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Talion wears his Ring of Power on his index finger, just like Sauron did in the opening of The Lord of the Rings films.
      • It's notable that the books differ from the movies (and the games by extension) in that Sauron is never said to have worn the One Ring on his right index finger. On the other hand, the movies' and games' portrayal of ring-wearing is a rather oblique reference to an elven custom mentioned in Tolkien's essay on the Laws and Customs of the Eldar. See, in Elven culture one wears the wedding band on the index finger of the right hand. Make of that entirely what you will.
    • In the announcement trailer, the manner in which the Witch-King and his fell beast nosedive towards Minas Ithil (i.e. the to-be-Minas Morgul) is almost identical to when the Nazgûl descended upon Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
    • When Talion finally falls, he calls the ring, "Such a little thing", which is what Boromir called the One Ring. "Why should I give it up?" and "The ring is MINE!" are a call back to Frodo claiming the One Ring for himself.
    • Tar Goroth leaps from the lava in front of Talion in the same way that Durin's Bane leapt in front of Gandalf in Fellowship of the Ring.
    • Talion as a Ringwraith summons the shades of Minas Ithil to fight for him in the same way Aragorn did the Oathbreakers, the shades of the Men of the White Mountains.
    • In the finale when Sauron cuts off the ring-finger in both Celebrimbor and Eltariel's hands, it's staged and shot in the same angles of the prologue of the first film only now it's Sauron/Annatar on the other end.
    • One of the Gondorian artifacts that you can collect has the narrator comment on how she finds it unlikely that a Hobbit could ever survive in Mordor.
    • During the mission "The Best Defense", Ranger (the Olog) may yell "You Shall Not Pass!" In Black Speech.
    • Early in the game, a drunken Orc can be heard wishing he had two throats, in order to drink and sing at the same time. This is a reference to the Orcs in the animation versions of The Hobbit and The Return of the King, which did have two throats.

    Tropes N-P 
  • Napoleon Delusion: A potential result of shaming an uruk badly enough to make them deranged. They might start thinking they're a different uruk entirely (possibly one you've already killed).
  • Nature Spirit: Carnán, who appears in Núrnen. The developers have made her history deliberately vague, stating whatever she is, even Celebrimbor is scared of her.
  • Near-Villain Victory: No, not Sauron since he actually wins, but Celebrimbor. According to the vision Shelob saw, Celebrimbor enslaved the Dark Lord and went on to become even worse than him by successfully conquering Middle-Earth, Talion narrowly avoided that by refusing to follow Celebrimbor's plans. The Bright Lord also nearly succeeds in branding Sauron, but ends up being overpowered and absorbed into him at the end of their fight.
  • Necromancy: Mystic Orcs have among their number those who have learned to channel Sauron's power this way (not surprising, as he's the Necromancer, after all). Those on Talion's side retain the power. After Talion takes Isildur's ring he gains this power as well.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Largely averted. From the initial 16-minute long gameplay video, only Celebrimbor's hammer finisher and mid-introduction kills don't seem to be in the final product (altough, given the Developer's Foresight, they could just be rare occurences) The initial gameplay seems to be heavily scripted, due to the unavoitable death of Az-Larr and the fact that captains refer to each other by title instead of their name. Battering rams are absent from the final game as well.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The nemesis difficulty rises the difficulty considerably; You'll need to pay attention to enemy strengths and weaknesses, unless you want to get curb-stomped. It reduces the amount of last chances by one, and they give you less time to react and the circle is smaller. Fighting more than 2 captains at once usually results in death, and the chance of an ally rescuing you is smaller. Dead enemy warchiefs are also replaced over time.
    • Gravewalker difficulty, a difficulty setting that was added for free alongside the Outlaw Tribe DLC, takes this up to eleven. Enemies hit almost three times as hard as on Nemesis difficulty, including regular grunts, and take less damage overall, there are no last chances by default, captains gain between ten to twenty levels every time they kill Talion meaning that they can hit max level very quickly while the player is still very low level in the starting area, bleedout and daze timers are reduced, worms spawn less frequently and will throw flash bombs when they are being chased, and plenty of other changes.
  • No Man Should Have This Power: One of the Central Themes, as characters tell Talion his wearing a Ring of Power is a very bad idea.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Invoked in the Orc Tales trailer, as an Olog talks about how Talion spared his life instead of killing him.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Besides Talion/Nazgûl and Celebrimbor/Sauron comments all throughout the story some orcs brings the parallel between them and Talion as orcs can come back from the dead now too.
      Orc: What is so different about you? See? You can't answer that! You're just killing and dying like everyone else.
    • How Shelob sees Sauron and Celebrimbor.
      Celebrimbor: Return what you have stolen from me, and I will bring Sauron to you.
      Shelob: Why would I do that, Ring-Maker? You and Sauron are one.
    • Brûz sees no difference between Sauron and the Gravewalker. Part of it is being Dominated, but one gets the impression he knows that any ring wielder is heading down Sauron's path.
      Brûz: Bright Lord, Dark Lord, same thing really! End result's me ripping spines out — which I like t' do anyways, so either way's a win.
  • No Saving Throw: Assassins with the "No Chance" perk prevents Second Chances from working. However, it does not prevent you from being rescued by a Savior.
  • Not Worth Killing: Talion can now Shame or Shun Uruks which lowers their level and also has a chance of making them deranged or maniacs.
  • Old Save Bonus: You can import a Follower and a Nemesis from Shadow of Mordor by playing that game's Nemesis Forge mode. They will show up at specific time during the story mode.
  • Only Mostly Dead: Sauron can do this to his minions. In Shadow of Mordor, it seems they were really that tough and/or their medicine was that good, but now Sauron can explicitly bring them back (still with scars, though).
  • Only Works Once: Captains with the Adaptability trait will counter moves you repeatedly use against them.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • To establish Carnán as The Dreaded, Celebrimbor (who is a powerful wraith who had previously matched blows with Sauron) is terrified of her, so much he tells Talion to drop his weapons and kneel.
    • Talion himself gets this when he first encounters a Balrog. For the first time he expresses fear and doubt saying that "this foe is beyond us".
    • Ratbag's Olog sidekick Ranger speaks only in Black Speech in most of his dialogue. Except in his last line to Talion after he shames Brûz and completely breaks him.
      Ranger (in Common Tongue): You are a cruel one, Gravewalker.
    • Ratbag is still a coward but after Ranger is captured he is way more abrasive and even beheaded the messenger.
    • The Witch-King of Angmar gloats about Talion's defeat in all of his encounters and how he cannot hope to win. Come the Golden Ending and he drops the hostile attitude and puts his hand on Talion's shoulder in a friendly manner as he welcomes Talion into the Nine.
  • Orcus on His Throne:
    • Where are the Overlords as you besiege their fortresses? Literally sitting on their thrones, waiting for you to arrive for the final showdown. Justified since each one has decked out their throne room to serve as a personalized boss fight arena, forcing you to fight on their terms.
      • Also applies to Overlords serving you: when in their stronghold, they have their title and all their skills. If you choose to take them out of their stronghold, they'll temporarily lose said title/skills and become a 'regular' bodyguard, meaning it's actually beneficial for them to stay on their thrones.
    • The Shadow Wars chapter is an attempt to justify what Sauron was doing between the years between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by showing that rather than this trope in action he was being distracted by Talion's attempt at a Forever War.
  • Our Demons Are Different: A Balrog named Tar Goroth is summoned by orc sorcerer Zog the Eternal to harry Talion in his journey.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Fire-drakes resembling much smaller versions of Smaug from The Hobbit trilogy can be found and even ridden. Notably, the Nazgûl have traded up their fell beasts for drakes during the events of the game. The in-game appendices reveal that drakes are an infertile crossbreed of dragon and fell-beast that Sauron has been breeding solely to use as living weapons.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: As in the first game, the orcs can vary widely in appearance and personality, and are divided into different tribes. Notably, unlike the Shadow of Mordor referring to them as Uruks — the Black Speech name for their race — Shadow of War predominantly refers to them as orcs.
  • Panthera Awesome: While often mistaken for Warg-like mutant wolves, Caragors are actually hideous sabertooth cats. Per the Word of God, they are to a lion what Wargs are to a wolf. Despite their size and ferocity, they are surprisingly agile and nimble, and are able to climb vertical surfaces or descend from great heights without harm. Monolith probably borrowed the concept and name from Middle-Earth Roleplaying, an obscure 1980's Rolemaster rule set which explicitly had Caragors as the descendants of Cat-Demons who, in turn, were the offspring of Tevildo the Prince of Cats (an early version of Sauron from Tolkien's drafts).
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Complete Act III without nabbing all of the collectibles, and Celebrimbor won't be reacting to subsequent artifact dialog by Idril or Shelob memories.
    • There are a few captains who only appear once during a playthrough, The Agonizer being a good example. If they die and don't cheat death, a restart is required if you really want them back. Most orcs can be sent to the Garrison if you want to keep them, however.
    • Averted with two achievements/trophies thanks to patches. Both achievementsnote  involve infiltrating spies into enemy fortresses, and if you played the game at launch and finished the Shadow Wars, all of the forts would be yours permanently. This was quickly rectified with the addition of Endless Siege, making it always possible to lose a fort and work on those achievements after Act III.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Shelob holds Talion in this pose after he's bereft of the New Ring and is dying.
  • Plot Hole: If you don't play Zog's final mission until after Act IV, he'll resurrect many of the orcs you faced on the gates of Barad-dûr. However, since the mission canonically happens before the finale, this means that he has managed to resurrect orcs that haven't actually died yet.
  • Point of No Return: The game gives a message like this at the approach of The Bright Lord mission where it advises the player to do all other available storyline quests possible. This is because Celebrimbor still plays a part in these other quests and he permanently leaves Talion in Act III, which The Bright Lord quest triggers.You can still go back to play any unfinished missions in the post-game, though.
  • Power Glows: As of the Blade of Galadriel update, the sword(s) of whoever you are playing as glow in their wraith's color when you have at least one might bar filled. Talion's is blue, Eltariel's are yellow, and Dark Talion's is green. If the sword can inflict a status effect, the glow is replaced by said effect instead (e.g. a sword with a chance to inflict poison is covered with poison)).
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: When facing overlords, they always comment, mock, taunt or try to scare Talion before the fight. Talion has responses to some of their lines.
    Overlord: All who stand before the lord of this fort are swiftly put to death.
    Talion: That's right! Yet you are still here.
  • Pretend to Be Brainwashed:
    • An orc who betrays you may reveal that they were faking it the entire time, mentioning just how difficult keeping up the masquerade was.
    • Brúz shows no signs of branding; no blue eyes, no handmark, no change in personality, with the only change being the color of his clothes. Sure enough, he literally backstabs Talion and takes over Nurnen's fort.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Mildly, but the Uruks and Ologs are showing signs of this, as opposed to being purely Always Chaotic Evil.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: In the gameplay reveal trailer, Az-Laar the Demolisher shouts an awesome war cry just before the battle starts.
  • Pure Is Not Good: Celebrimbor goes on about purity a lot. He gains control of the Haedir by purifying them, killing an orc by freezing and shattering him is "purifying," and he claims his New Ring is superior because it is pure and untainted by Sauron. But the question is raised: pure what? The Bright Lord's actions and goals are hardly different from the Dark Lord's, and he uses his Ring in exactly the same way that Sauron did: to dominate and command others, up to and including the Nazgul and Sauron himself.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Even though Sauron gets everything he wants including victory over the heroes, he is deprived of his physical form when he absorbs Celebrimbor into him and is locked in a eternal duel with his spirit as the Flaming Eye of Barad-dûr. While Talion ultimately falls and becomes his servant at the end, he had previously spent decades waging a civil war within Mordor and hampering the growth of Sauron's army, ensuring his eventual defeat.

    Tropes R-S 
  • The Reveal: From a gameplay standpoint, Branded Uruks and Ologs can break Talion's control, even without Sauron's help.
  • Red Herring:
    • In Act I, Talion experiences a vision from Shelob showing there is a traitor among the Gondorians in Minas Ithil who are working with the orc invaders. The obvious suspect is the sinister bald guard with an eye-patch, though it turns out it's not him, but actually General Castamir, the commander in charge no less, who arranged the invasion just so his daughter Idril could be spared.
    • Even affects the orcs. Occasionally, when attacking a fortress, the Overlord will come out with someone he considers a spy, slit their throat, and toss them off the wall. Even if you didn't have a spy at all.
      "Uh, boss? I don't know who that was, but we didn't have a spy here!"
  • Reforged into a Minion:
    • The creation of the Ringwraiths is detailed when Talion sees their memories and how they were mortal kings and warriors that were corrupted into his dark servants. For example, Isildur was slain in combat, with his body brought back to Mordor and then Sauron revived him by placing a ring into his finger which turned him into a Nazgûl. Sadly, this ends up being Talion's fate as well at the end of the game.
    • Played tragically in Act III when the Nazgûl revealed they have raised the Gondorian guards killed in Minas Ithil as wights, including Castamir.
  • Relationship Values: The "Orc Tales" trailer graphically shows how Talion's actions can affect Orcs, Uruks, and Ologs from their point of view. It also shows the mechanics of minion loyalty.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Castamir betrays Minas Ithil and hands over the Palantír to the Witch-king in exchange for his daughter's freedom. Not only does the Witch-king grant her the "freedom" of dying with her people, he immediately kills Castamir before the man has a chance to react.
  • Rewatch Bonus:
    • Knowing that Brúz will betray you makes you notice the lack of details other branded orcs have but he doesn't; his personality doesn't change at all, he has no burn marks from Talion's hand on his cheeknote  and his eyes don't turn blue.
      • When Ratbag lists the overlord's duties, the camera briefly zooms into Brûz at "Make sure you don't get killed by your followers". It's not really noteworthy unless you already know the twist.
    • Once you know Celebrimbor's real plan, Shelob's final vision makes much more sense.
    • When Celebrimbor angrily retorts that Shelob is not an ally, she replies she's not Celebrimbor's ally. Given she despises Sauron, she is hinting to Talion she is Talion's ally.
    • Eltariel's line "Sometimes, stalemate is victory" in the mission "Fire and Fury" becomes much more relevant in Act IV. The Nazgûl plotline as a whole is oozing with subtle nods towards the aforementioned chapter..
  • Sanity Slippage: Shaming a Captain may result in them being Deranged. Occasionally, they may become a Maniac instead, going just as insane but increasing their level instead of lowering it.
  • Save Scumming: It's perfectly possible to quit the application when something happens the player dislikes but just before the autosave occurs.
  • Say My Name: Same uruks have enough respect for Talion to use his real name instead of "Tark", "Ranger", "Gravewalker" etc. It's a bit surprising to hear the first time.
  • Scars Are Forever: Both averted and Played Straight. It seems that after an orc is branded, they eventually lose the handprint Talion leaves on their face... unless said orc was shamed at any point in time. If they have been shamed, the mark remains on their face until they die as a Mark of Shame.
  • Screw Destiny: Shelob grants Talion certain visions of the future that show great disasters in the making that he attempts to prevent. As it turns out, Shelob is specifically trying to prevent one vision from coming true — one where Celebrimbor wins against Sauron and rules Middle-earth as the cruel and tyrannical Bright Lord — which is why she kidnaps him at the start of the game. Talion manages to avoid that by releasing Isildur and refusing to follow Celebrimbor anymore.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Invoked. The "Online Conquest" gamemode allows you to play against your own fortress to test its defenses, which the game saves when you advance time. You can even have the same orcs as both attackers and defenders!
  • Sequel Escalation:
    • Talion and Celebrimbor have certainly become more powerful, thanks to their Ring of Power:
      • Talion was one man and his ghostly buddy making trouble for Sauron's army by harassing some of its command staff. Here, he's an outright rival to Sauron who can (and does) build his own army of orcs, some of which are actually loyal to him beyond Domination
      • Talion could originally ride caragors and graugs. In this game, he can also take control of spiders, and even fire-drakes. Story-wise, Celebrimbor was also considering taking control of the Nazgûl, and even Sauron himself, the latter of which he nearly accomplished.
      • In the original game, Talion always wielded the same weapons, which could be slightly customized with runes that the nemeses dropped. In War, nemeses drop additional weapons and other equipment - while others can be found/rewarded - which can be upgraded by beating its challenge (such as stealth-killing a burning enemy) and/or upgrading it with gems. You get even further bonuses if you use the full set of same-themed equipment.
      • The combat has been amped, allowing Talion/Celebrimbor to fire arrows while in mid-air, perform multiple stealth kills at the same time, and short-range teleport enemies to them, among various other things. Overall, Shadow of War has over one-hundred skills in the tree to choose from, compared to Shadow of Mordor's 40-ish.
      • The upgrades of the previous game can be turned up to eleven; Terrorize is a more scary and violent version of Brutalize, and scares away even more enemies. Bursting Toxin turns poison into a chain reaction, causing dying enemies to explode and create a poison cloud that spreads the poison. Proximity Trap allows you to prime walls/bait/cages and so forth from a distance, causing chaos whenever an uruk comes near (which they should, as it's an upgrade to Attract), allowing you to conserve arrows. Even the outline of your last known location can be weaponized, as you can leave the wraith to wait for and kill the inspecting enemy.
      • It's possible to quick-throw daggers and even perform executions while riding beasts. In fact, Beast-mounting has its own skill tree.
    • The enemies have also been upgraded in various ways:
      • Captains-and-above have significantly more abilities than in the first game, including the ability to summon Graugs, Caragors or Drakes, ride Caragors into battle, heal beasts, throw explosive or stun bombs, lay traps, mines, teleport, throw knives, resurrect dead orcs around them, summon sappers or gangs of Ologs, Hunters, Archers, Warriors or Berserkers, use clones of themselves, use Area of Effect attacks, regenerate health, use debilitating shouts, wield chains, harpoons or flamethrowers, defy death, defy capture, explode upon death, enrage the grunts alongside them, become iron willed or unbreakable, and more.
      • In this game, it's now possible for orcs to betray you and abandon your army, as well as become impossible to dominate after that.
      • Remember how orcs would become Deader than Dead if beheaded? Well, some of those can even be brought back to life now, up-to-and-including those that are bisected.
      • The enemy forces were previously composed almost entirely of orcs and uruks, while this game adds Olog-hai trolls. The Nazgûl and a Balrog also serve as bosses, whereas the first game only had three Black Númenóreans.
      • In Shadow of Mordor, the Captains in each region were very loosely organized beneath a quintet of Warchiefs. In Shadow of War, there can now be up to six Warchiefs in a region, and they are in turn subservient to an Overlord, who possesses undisputed command over all uruks in a given region.
      • In the previous game, the max level any orc/uruk could be was 20, but here they can go considerably higher: Talion and his followers cap at 80, but enemy orcs cap at 85note . The fortresses you attack (or defend from counterattacks) can go well past level 700. Extra levels that destroyed equipmentnote  can gain go up to level 90.
    • You were limited to two regions in the first game, while now you can visit five: Minas Ithil/Morgul, Cirith Ungol, Gorgoroth, Núrnen, and Seregost. A sixth region, Lithlad, is available with the Desolation of Mordor DLC.
    • There are now caged Graugs, not just Caragors, meaning players won't have to scour the countryside looking for them to unleash on Orcs. Baits exist to summon all kinds of beasts that can attack enemies (spiders, ghûls, caragors, graugs, and drakes), although drake bait only appears in fortresses and outposts if the region's overlord hails from the Feral Tribe.
    • In the first game only your biggest nemesis appears in the penultimate mission - here most of the captains you had rivalry with in the five regions come during the game's climax. Then there's Zog's quest that resurrects those that were killed, and the Nemesis Forge brings back your main living nemesis from the first game.
  • Sequel Hook: During the shot of the Ring's destruction, a blue light can be seen escaping the Eye of Sauron. The Blade of Galadriel DLC confirms it's Celebrimbor escaping, and that he's calling to his ring.
  • Serious Business: The Uruks consider the multitude of Gondorian artifacts scattered across Mordor during the siege of Minas Ithil to be this, as one of the (many) ways to trigger a Captain ambush is to simply pick one up, prompting the ambushing Captain to claim the artifact is "property of Sauron".
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Retroactively serves as one to the Lord of the Hunt DLC campaign in Shadow of Mordor. The story chronicled Talion's and Torvin's efforts to frustrate the Orcs' efforts to tame the Caragaths, with a side plot of denying the Orcs access to Torvin's blasting powder; by the time of Shadow of War, not only does Sauron's army possess both capabilities, they're commonplacecaragor riders are all over the placenote , and there are entire advanced classes and tribes revolving around beasts (Beastmasters and the Feral tribe) and bombs (Destroyers and the Machine tribe).note 
  • Shoot the Messenger:
    • It turns out that being a messenger is the worst job an Orc can have in Mordor.
      Talion: Isn't there an expression about killing the messenger?
      Ratbag: Yeah, ALWAYS kill the messenger.
      Talion: ...Well, that actually explains a lot.
    • Also, Man-Breaker, one of the warchiefs that you encounter during the main story missions, increased the brutality of his messenger executions every time one of them was stupid enough to brag about their secret messages. When you encounter him, he's up to bisecting uruks with his 6-inch thick shield:
      Man-Breaker: How many times have I told you all? Never speak of the traitor openly! Let this miserable dead glob be an example to the rest of you. The next maggot to even whisper the word "traitor" around me will get worse!
    • Overlords sometimes send captains to threaten you, but the captains retreat immediately afterwards. There's nothing stopping you from attacking and killing/dominating them.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: At the end of the story mode, Sauron absorbs Celebrimbor but ends up locked in a battle of wills and locked in the shape of a giant flaming eye. Talion does a nationwide version by holding his stronghold and Minas Morgul until he can't or someone defeat Sauron.
    Eltariel: Stalemate is victory.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The story mode turns out to be a struggle against the inevitable as Sauron comes out as the immediate victor until the Distant Finale: Minas Ithil is conquered and most of the characters die in the process. Talion loses Celebrimbor when he is absorbed into Sauron and manages to linger on as a rebellious Nazgûl during Act IV "Shadow Wars", where he repeatedly resists Sauron's counter-offensive for many, many years until he too eventually succumbs and joins the Nine. Having said that, thanks to Talion waging war inside Mordor from Minas Morgul, he was able to keep Sauron distracted for many years and prevented him from unleashing his invasion sooner when Middle-Earth was distracted.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sickly Green Glow: Everything associated with the Witch-King and Nazgûl, especially Minas Morgul. Talion gains this glow when he becomes a heroic Ringwraith.
  • The Siege: Talion can lead his army into massive sieges against fortresses ruled by Overlords. And in reverse, there will be times when Sauron's forces counterattack, trying to take back fortresses from your grasp.
    • The story also features Sauron's assault on Minas Ithil, with Talion attempting to aid the Gondorian defenders. As it is known that the city eventually becomes Minas Morgul, the end result is rather clear.
  • Spiders Are Scary: You can now summon Shelob's offspring — one foot long spiders — to harass the enemy. While Shelob herself is very sinister and creepy, being capable of stealing Celebrimbor's ring to herself, she ends up being a subversion since she never turns on the leads, surprisingly provides assistance to them in forms of visions and willingly returns the ring.
  • The Starscream: Orcs in your army may choose to betray you to gain prestige for themselves as Bruz demonstrates.
  • Stat Grinding: The July update introduces skills that increase passive abilities, such as might gain, on each skill point invested. There's no limit on how many times the upgrade can be bought and upgraded, and while Talion caps at level 80, he'll still gain skill points from "leveling" after that point.
  • Status Effects: There are a few different status effects that both Talion and Orcs can suffer from, and specific legendary gear sets allow you to turn them to your advantage:
    • Burning causes additional damage over time. Orcs on fire stumble around in a panic, causing them to stop attacking; this also nullifies the Agile strength possessed by Assassin and Trickster captains. They can also accidentally light others on fire. The Warmonger legendary gear set is heavily connected to fire.
    • Poison causes more damage over time than fire. Poisoned Orcs are otherwise unaffected, but they occasionally stop whatever they're doing to vomit (which can be a lifesaver if you're about to get killed and your would-be killer pauses to puke his guts out instead). If an Orc dies while poisoned, his corpse might explode, further spreading the poison. If you're poisoned, the screen takes a green tint and starts wobbling, you run a lot more slowly, the Counter and Dodge prompts are hiddennote , Focus is drained and Elven Agility is disabled, and the Might meter drains rather quicklynote ; if you're climbing, you might randomly lose your grip and fall off unless you succeed at a Quick Time Event. The Dark legendary gear set is heavily connected to poison.
    • Balefire, which is caused by mixing fire and poison (typically by shooting a poisoned grog barrel), applies both of the above statuses at once.
    • Frost freezes enemies in place, essentially acting as an enhanced version of the stun from Shadow of Mordor. The game treats frost as an Elven ability, so Orcs never have frost attacksnote  and you can never be frozen; frost graug breath attacks only stun you. Also, the Bright Lord legendary gear set is heavily connected to frost.
    • Curse deals minor damage over time, but it also causes affected enemy grunts to flee in terror, opening up stealth-attack (and stealth-chain) opportunities in the midst of combat. Captains do not seem to suffer any ill effects other than the aforementioned damage over time, but it's at least possible to run into high-level captains who are Terrified of Curse (high-level captains are basically never terrified of or mortally vulnerable to any of the other elements). Notably, despite Curse causing its victim to be surrounded by a swarm of Morgai flies, it is not the same as being attacked by Morgai flies, and captains who are afraid of or enraged by one are not necessarily affected by the other. When you're Cursed, the minimap is obscured by the Eye of Sauronnote , the Wrath and Focus meters drain, and Elven Agility is disabled. As Curse is an inherently evil status effect, you don't have any innate skills pertaining to itnote  and can only inflict Curse on others after equipping gear with Curse traits. The Terror legendary gear set is heavily connected to Curse.
  • Story Arc: Each quest chain is a smaller story that ties into the main goal of conquering each region.
    • Eltarial's arc involves working to foil the Nazgul and their elite Uruks known as the Chosen.
    • Bruz's arc involves learning the ropes behind building your army, and then defending Nurnen from Bruz once he betrays you.
    • Carnan's arc involves defeating a Balrog released by the formation of the New Ring, then making sure it actually stays dead once an Orc mage tries to raise it and bind it to his will.
    • Gondor's arc involves helping Baranor save as many Gondorians as possible from the Orcs after the fall of Minas Ithil.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The Machine Tribe orcs may talk about how they've learned the secrets of explosive black powder, and a lot of the legendary gear you get off Machine Tribe units has to do with explosions, like randomly making deceased enemies go kaboom or summoning suicide bomber orcs instead of normal followers. Better hope you have gear that lets you resist explosions yourself or you'll be hurt too!
  • Suicide Attack: Sappers can be used to attack other enemies as suicide bombers. With the right Machine Tribe legendary gear, you can summon your own.
  • Suicide Mission: On "Gravewalker", your decreased health, huge amount of enemies and the faster bleeding rate of your allies usually means most of your allies will die extemely easily. This can be migitated (to an extent) by using lots of spies, but this of course requires more allies.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Talion spends decades keeping Sauron's forces at bay, but inevitably succumbs to Isildur's ring and becomes a Ringwraith. But, as Shelob points out, Talion's actions buy valuable time for Middle-earth to stand against Sauron. When the Ring is destroyed, Talion finally passes into the afterlife to reunite with his family.
  • Sworn Brothers: Orcs can have it as a perk. They get angered if their Blood Brother is hurt and will track you across Mordor if you kill him. If a Blood Brother is removed from the region (either via death or by using a Move Order to move him to your Garrison), the remaining Blood Brother will eventually get a new Blood Brother. Notably, certain orcs will inform you that they hated their Blood Brother but are still avenging them on principle, or even thank you for murdering their Blood Brother for them — while still assuring you that you're dead meat.
  • Symbolic Weapon Discarding: In the Golden Ending, when Sauron is killed along with Talion and the rest of the Nazgul, Talion can be seen walking through the fields of Valinor, removing his armour as he goes. The last part of his arsenal he leaves behind is his sword and his dagger, both of which he drops onto the ground. As he walks off into the sunlight between two massive stone sculptures, a little white flower grows beside his dagger. Since Talion's dagger is the broken sword that used to belong to his son, and the flower is one that he gave to his wife on their anniversary, it shows that Talion is finally reuniting with his family after fighting Sauron's forces for decades.

    Tropes T-Z 
  • Tainted Veins:
    • Cursed orcs can have these. Purifying an orc (using a freeze/elf power to kill them) might result in this if they come back. If an orc has this and and a cursed weapon not given by Talion, they might become a necromancer.
    • Talion briefly gets these when hit by aforementioned cursed weapons, or walks through the green wall of corruption in Minas Morgul. His veins and lips are permanently colored dark blue after he takes Isildur's ring and becomes a proto-Nazgûl.
  • Take Your Time:
    • That is pretty much a given since this is an open-world game, but this trope can be particularly egregious during Act I where you are allowed to advance time either by your own choice or dying at the hands of your enemies, all while Minas Ithil's defense is hanging by a thread as it is besieged by Sauron's orcs. The city will not fall until you progress further in the story quest. This one is actually somewhat justified, as while the Gondorians have been forced to retreat to the Upper City, they seem to be holding their own fairly well (enough that they can spare the high-ranking Captain Baranor to lead raids behind enemy lines, and he doesn't seem to have much difficulty getting into or out of the besieged city). Indeed, even Minas Ithil's Fall starts out as a relatively routine hold-the-line mission not unlike an earlier quest, and it's only the arrival of the Nazgûl that turns the battle from a stalemate into a rout; later Enemy Chatter actually has some grunts mocking the surviving veterans for being too weak to conquer Minas Ithil on their own and relying on the Nazgûl to bail them out.
    • During Carnán's questline, you must deal with the Balrog Tar Goroth, who could potentially unleash untold havoc and destruction if left unchecked. Despite the urgency of the quest at hand, the map has opened up quite a bit by this point, allowing the player to focus on other activities like taking forts or defending your own from invaders — and Tar Goroth will not interfere in any way. While this is a lot harder to swallow than the Minas Ithil situation detailed above, it can still be Hand Waved with the notion that Carnán hurt Tar Goroth a lot — after all, when's the last time you ever heard of a Balrog running away from anything or anyone?
  • Talking Is a Free Action: When a Captain appears, he launches into what may be a paragraph of posturing. Apparently, all of the other Uruks and Orcs stop what they're doing to enjoy the speech, as does Talion. It becomes even more ludicrous if a warchief appears with his bodyguards, as each and every one of them launches into a speech, though the last one will always be a short statement along the lines of "Enough talk, let's fight!"
    • Annoyingly averted in the case of your time-based abilities during this; you get to sit and watch as your meters and hitstreak run down while they talk.
  • Throw the Mook at Them: Olog-hai war trolls can pick up orcs and throw them at other enemies.
  • Title Drop: The source material gets Title-Dropped when Isildur, in a flashback declares themselves "The Lord of the Ring".
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Castamir thought that the Witch-King will honor his bargain and didn't seem to get the message about the age of men ending if Sauron wins.
    • One worm is extremely chatty about the traitor in Minas Ithil, bragging to everyone in his way that he has a message from him, despite everyone pointing out that the warchief Man-Breaker is not going to be pleased that the worm is shooting his mouth off. When the worm finally gets to the keep to make his report, the furious Man-Breaker cuts him in half before hearing the message and yells at everyone around that it's supposed to be confidential information.
      Worm: Man-Breaker! I have news from the Traitor in Minas Ithil! (He is promptly subjected to a Cruel and Unusual Death by the Warchief)
      Man-Breaker: How many times have I told you all?! Never speak of the traitor openly! Let this miserable dead glob be an example to the rest of you! The next maggot to even whisper the word "Traitor" around me will get even worse!
    • Some Captains will repeatedly drink the same poison grog until they die. Including Man-Breaker in the scenario above, if you poison a nearby grog barrel without him noticing.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Inverted with the Shaming mechanic, where Celebrimbor can disgrace an orc so badly that they go down a few levels. Sometimes, they'll be so humiliated that they'll go mad, the chances of which can be increased with the Worse than Death ability. Case in point: Brûz the Chopper goes from a bold pit-fighter who doesn't bat an eye at challenging the Gravewalker for his fortress to a sniveling coward who insists that he never wanted the fort in the first place. However, Shaming can produce a straight example by turning its victim into a Maniac if you're particularly unlucky.
    • Of course, it's possible for this to be Played Straight; an orc who died or ran away screaming might come back worse than ever. As examples, and orc terrified of Morgai Flies may turn into a walking morgai hive, and one that Talion has disfigured enough may come back as a half orc, half metal monstrosity nicknamed "The Machine".
    • In Act IV, if an orc returns from the dead and then kills you during the ensuing fight in a region not controlled by you, there's a very high chance they'll get to duel the overlord. There's also a very high chance they'll win unless the current Overlord has his spot because of Talion dying to him. So the ally you abandoned on the battlefield may end up instantly becoming the overlord after his revenge.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The starting equipment is connected to Talion and Celebrimbor's loved ones, and you can't sell them no matter how much better equipment you get. Of course, the real reason for them being permanent fixtures is that they get upgraded into Talion's Ringwraith set, with the exception of Azkâr, which gets replaced by Helm's Hammer.
  • Tragic Villain: Some of the Nazgûl were once great men, until Sauron deceived them. Helm Hammerhand was genuinely concerned for her daughter's safety, and took his ring to both rescue her and get revenge on the man who took her and nearly took his life. Isildur suffered an even worse fate; he was given a ring after he had already died, just because Sauron felt his death wasn't a high enough price to pay for opposing him. Finally, we have Talion, a ranger from Gondor, who witnessed his family's Human Sacrifice, was used and abandoned by someone he considered a friend, and took his ring willingly to help people with it, knowing he would be enslaved for possibly forever.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Even though it was a Foregone Conclusion for anyone who read the novels or seen the movies, the Official E3 look trailer spoils that Minas Ithil has fallen and the Nazgûl reclaimed it, alongside with the Palantir.
  • Treasure Room: The overlords in Marauder fortresses are surrounded by waist-deep piles of coins, gold and whatnot. Sadly, you cannot take anything with you.
  • Truer to the Text: Ironically, despite the various creative liberties taken with the lore, the game nails several of Tolkien's major themes and even some nuances with surprising accuracy:
    • Minas Ithil housing a palantír that gets seized by the forces of Sauron during the city's fall comes straight from the lore, although it's carefully noted in both The Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales that the "seized by the forces of Sauron" bit is only an educated guess (albeit strongly supported by the events of Lord of the Rings) since the accounts are written from the good guys' point of view and they never manage to conclusively determine the fate of Minas Ithil's palantír.
    • While the identities of the named Nazgûl were almost certainly different characters in the source material, their backstories draw heavily from their canonical counterparts, as noted in their individual entries in the character sheet. Suladân is effectively a Captain Ersatz of Ar-Pharazôn the Golden whose name was probably changed due to copyright issuesnote , Helm Hammerhand takes several cues from the canon characternote , and Isildur's backstory is pretty much lifted wholesale from the Distant Prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring with a few details altered and added to show how he became one of the Nine.
    • The Bittersweet Ending that leans so hard on the "bitter" part that it's practically a Downer Ending? It's the bread and butter of The Silmarillion, Tolkien's original and definitive Middle-earth work (the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, the Battle of Unnumbered Tears, comes to mind); in fact, all of Tolkien's Middle-earth works have some variation of this, even the relatively light-hearted The Hobbitnote ; even The Lord of the Rings ends on a much sadder note than its film trilogy counterpart. A major theme in Tolkien's works is the futility of using force or military might to conquer evil.
      • More specifically, Talion can almost be considered to be a loose Expy of Túrin Turambar as a well-intentioned Anti-Hero who performs some very morally dubious actions and comes to a bad end, although Talion's is at least something of a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Even Shelob's Bad Future where Celebrimbor defeats Sauron only to become an even worse tyrant is derived from one of Tolkien's letters (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, letter 246), which ends with a brief description of a What If? scenario in which Gandalf would have used the One Ring to become a Knight Templar dictator.
      J. R. R. Tolkien: Gandalf as Ring-Lord would have been far worse than Sauron. He would have remained 'righteous', but self-righteous.
    • The Witch-king being oddly chummy with Talion in Act III and the Golden Ending is also covered in the above letter, where Tolkien explores a scenario in which the Nazgûl manage to intercept Frodo at the Sammath Naurnote ; according to Tolkien, they would have tried to sweet-talk him out of Mount Doom rather than attacking him like they did at Weathertop, as he had increased in Heroic Willpower due to his prolonged resistance to the One Ring's corruption and was no longer just a frightened hobbit who was frantically trying to escape. Notably, the Witch-king is as antagonistic as one would expect during his first encounter with Talion, when the latter is bereft of the New Ring; by the time he starts being Affably Evil, Talion has recovered the New Ring, used it to dominate enough orcs to raise whole armies and conquer nearly all of Mordor, and killed a Nazgûl — a feat that veteran Nazgûl hunter Eltariel was earlier established to not have been able to accomplish despite all of her skill and experience — and confiscated his Ring of Power, demonstrating a staggering amount of willpower in his own right.
    • Notably averted with Shelob, who's just as much of an In Name Only character at the end of the story as she was at the beginning.
  • Tsuchigumo and Jorogumo: This game's version of Shelob is basically a jorogumo, spending most of the game in the form of a beautiful woman.
  • Uncertain Doom: Idril and Baranor refuse to leave Mordor even though staying means certain death, they are willing to face their doom together, while Eltariel is last seen watching as Celebrimbor's spirit is devoured by Sauron and the two become a flaming eye on top of Barad-dur. The DLC's do show what happened to them afterwards, though.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • The name of a late game skill which allows Talion to resurrect deceased Captains and high-ranked Orc followers who have not been decapitated.
    • Blood Brothers will turn on Talion if for whatever reason one of them betrays Talion or is killed or shamed by him, regardless of their loyalty status with Talion. Even if they are a zombie.
  • Uriah Gambit: Some endgame equipment can only be upgraded by resurrecting captains, and as only friendly ones can be resurrected, this means they need to die by some else's hand. Unfortunately, normal fighting pits will replace the loser with the winner in the nemesis system, so you'll need to force two allies to fight or send them after a stronger enemy. They can be resurrected after a pit fight, but only by using the "rise dead" move near them, and they are still removed from the army screen. (Fortunately, if the screen has empty slots, you can assign them there. Otherwise they become a case of What Happened to the Mouse? after they despawn.)
  • Video Game Caring Potential: Players will inevitably desire to keep valuable lieutenants alive and justly rewarded for both practical and sentimental reasons, and they pay in kind - up to and including being Big Damn Heroes and coming to your rescue of their own free will.
    • It's a testament to this that the players seem to adopt favorites from the very first reveals. Az-Laar the Demolisher, a huge Olog who, in the first gameplay demo, was incinerated by an oil trap and dragonfire, has already earned somewhat memetic popularity, spawning multiple forum threads calling for bloody vengeance, a Twitter account, tribute videos, and a confirmation from developers that in the final version of the game, the player will be able to save their allies caught in similar situations if they act quickly enough.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • The player can optionally play like a Bad Boss: deliberately shaming underlings, abandoning them to their fate, forcing them to fight their friends, and even grooming them to greatness specifically to kick them out and have a Worthy Opponent for loot harvesting. The developer even noted players can kill otherwise unsatisfactory Orcs they just got through loot boxes just to grab their epic gear, which strays into What Measure Is a Mook? territory.
    • If there's an orc you particularly don't like, you can shame him down to level 1, break his mind and turn him into a blubbering mess, kill his blood brother, and brutally execute him in front of his underlings.
    • The worst thing you can do? Pit one Blood Brother against another in the Pit. It gains you an Achievement, but it's the most cruel act you can do in the game.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Killing your own guys also deprives you of allies, which will bite you in the ass later when you really need the help. In addition, trying to mess with Blood Brothers will result in both betraying you for being a manipulative shitheel.
  • Villain Protagonist: Celebrimbor makes it clear he doesn't care about what happens to Middle-Earth, as long as he is in charge of it.
  • Villain Respect: In the true ending, after decades of holding the Nazgûl back, when Talion finally becomes a Nazgûl himself; the Witch-King simply puts his hand on Talion's shoulder and calmly says that it's over, and together they're going to fight Middle-Earth. There is no Evil Gloating. No Evil Is Hammy dialogue. Coming from the Witch-King, that is amazing, as we have never seen him talk this way to anyone.
    • Some enemy orcs mention how they have defended Talion through the years, and only use his real name when talking to him. Doesn't stop them from killing you, but it's still something.
  • Villainous Friendship: The orcs who are blood brothers will either try to avenge one's death or shrug your mind control if you pin them against each other and actively contribute in hurting them. A lot of possible dialogues are about how they are the only people they care about.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Being on the same side does little to prevent the Captains from constantly duelling, raiding and executing each other in Nemesis Missions.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Sometimes a killed captain has a chance to return after being killed, covered with stitches and/or metal plates, and with limbs replaced with very crude prosthetics.
  • Wham Line:
    • From the "Web of Fate" video: "Sacrifices must be made." Not only is it a Call-Forward to Shelob's "How much are you willing to sacrifice?", but Sauron's decision ultimately doomed his plans, because Shelob actively began campaigning against him.
    • After the fortress defense at the Sea of Nurnen:
      Brûz: Told you I'd defend this fortress like it was my own. [shanks you] Turns out, it is! [throws you off of the balcony]
    • After the battle at the gates of Barad-dûr, Celebrimbor reveals the true scope of his plans:
      Celebrimbor: And I will dominate Sauron. His armies will be mine.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Uttered verbatim by Brûz in the Shadow of War 101 Trailer on Talion getting a Ring of Power. It's hard to tell if he's sarcastic or not.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?:
    • Shadow of War looks closely at Orcs, Uruks and Ologs and how Talion's and Sauron's actions affect their lives. It ties in with the Relationship Values meter that determine the loyalty of said minions.
    • One Olog, when ready to be executed, will sometimes be surprisingly eloquent, telling Talion that while he's offed 312 people, he knows how many he has killed and hasn't taken their deaths lightly, then guesses Talion can't even remember how many he has killed.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The fates of some of the supporting cast, as well as your many lieutenants, are never shown at the end. This includes Ranger and Ratbag.
    • Even though Nurnén is visited again, Lithariel and Queen Marwen are not seen again; they were last seen fleeing the region. Lampshaded In-Universe when Talion wonders what became of them.
    • Sometimes an ally who returns from the dead will not be added to the army screen due to a glitch, and disappear from the game as soon as they despawn unless you reassign them on an empty spot on said screen.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Celebrimbor assures Talion that their power of brainwash will not be misused if applied only to orcs, who despite being Always Chaotic Evil, are shown to develop their own personalities and even bonds of friendship. Despite him being less than thrilled about the prospect of this idea, Talion goes along with it anyways. It's not until Celebrimbor tries to have him brand Isildur - a formerly human Nazgûl - that Talion refuses to follow the wraith any longer. In addition, while Eltariel won't blink at killing Orcs, she refuses to brand anyone.
  • Why Won't You Die?:
    • Orc enemies can still come back after you've seemingly killed them in a fight, maybe even during the battle you just killed them in. Decapitation is usually, though not always, permanent.
    • Eltariel is both intrigued and disturbed by Talion's immortality.
    • From early in the game:
      Orc 1: (Blood Knight attitude) It's the Gravewalker!
      Orc 2: (confused) I thought he was dead.
      Orc 3: (scared) HE IS!
    • This can happen to your enemies too, even after you decapitated them. Specifically, there are the "Stitched" type of enemies that had their heads sewed together and pretty much became immortal.
  • Worldbuilding: Even more so than Shadow of Mordor. For example, inside a fortress the player cam find Orcs shoveling mud or snow, huddling around fires, repairing buildings, carrying supplies, drinking Grog, training with dummies, and depending on the tribe that owns the region, worshiping necromancer totems, feeding furnaces and so on. They also engage in idle chatter with other Orcs as Talion walks around. And it's not entirely limited to the orcs either: occasionally while in the wraith world, you might see things like a Caragor lying in wait inside a patch of brush, never once moving until prey comes within close-range, as befitting a predator species, or two Graugs engaged in a fight, either outdoors or inside the fighting pits. A trio of Caragors will often be found sleeping in the overworld, and won't wake up unless provoked.
  • Worthy Opponent: Defeated Orc captains may thank Talion for killing them, seeing it as a good death in the name of Sauron. Also seen in the Orc Champion in The Arena mission.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Some orcs will break your equipped sword if they manage to kill you. Their titles will reflect this accomplishment, and when you encounter them again, they may taunt you over the fact that they broke your sword.
  • You Monster!:
    • It's possible to encounter a former ally who covers his identity with a mask, and calls himself "The Nameless" or "The Faceless" while considering himself to be a manifestation of every orc whose lives Talion has ruined. Sending another Uruk to duel him can result in dialogue where he explains that eventually, Talion will either kill them if it's a good day, or do something even worse on a bad day. He might not be entirely wrong depending on the circumstances.
    • Orcs whom you've Shamed will accuse you of getting a sick pleasure of torturing them, particularly if you've done so repeatedly.
  • You Will Not Evade Me:
    • Orcs from the Machine Tribe are equipped with a grappling hook to pull enemies back towards them and open them up for attack.
    • Talion can get an upgraded to his Shadow Strike that allows him to warp an enemy, as long as they are not beasts or Olog-hai, to him. The Ringwraiths also have a similar attack where they pull Talion towards them and attack.

    The Blade of Galadriel DLC 
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Downplayed. You play as Eltariel during the events of the Shadow Wars. However, as an Elf wielding the New Ring, Eltariel shares several of Talion's moves, although she refuses to dominate Orcs and packs a huge offensive advantage due to the Light of Galadriel.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Installing the DLC adds Eltariel as a playable skin for the main game. The devs added in a skin selector with a free patch when the DLC was released. Completing the DLC adds another playable Eltariel skin.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: While Talion is indeed the Final Boss of the expansion, the Nazgûl Sisters are the primary villains in this DLC while he remains an ally to Eltariel until its Final Battle.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As Foregone Conclusion has already mandated, Eltariel fails to save Talion, who eventually succumbs to the power of Isildur's ring and refuses to hand it over to Eltariel, forcing her to fight and defeat him, which ends up as the last blow that allows Sauron to finally turn Talion to his side, but the experience changes her, causing her to stay in Mordor and keep fighting the forces of darkness, eventually leading to the fall of Barad-Dur. Celebrimbor is freed due to Sauron's death, and Eltariel resolves to find him, although whether or not she seeks to defeat him or to surrender the New Ring is up to anyone's guess.
  • Book Ends: The DLC's first boss fight is against Talion, as is the Final Boss. For added irony, their roles are almost reversed during the latter. Originally, Eltariel is trying to kill him while he tries to convince her that he is still one of the good guys, while during the latter he is trying to kill her while she tries to convince him that he is still one of the good guys.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: It's a small example, but it's established that Talion lost Núrnen, Gorgoroth, and Seregost's forts at least once during the Shadow Wars (the latter occurs offscreen during the events of the DLC).
  • Dark Action Girl: The rogue female Nazgûl serve as the real main antagonists of the expansion and are notable for being the only female enemies fought in the game.
  • Darkest Hour: By the time Eltariel confronts Talion, he's already lost Gorgoroth and Núrnen, and the forts at Cirith Ungol and Seregost are about to be besieged. While Eltariel manages to defend Cirith Ungol, Talion is forced to retreat from Seregost — and both of them know that there's no way this will end well for him.
  • Degraded Boss: As only three of the Nazgûl are completely anonymousnote , it's almost a given that some of Talion's Nazgûl backup during the Final Battle are named Nazgûl that Talion and Eltariel fought earlier in the game, probably Sûladan and Helm Hammerhand at least; however, all of them wear the generic Nazgûl mask and are equally easy to defeat. This is also a Continuity Nod to the main game, as the Golden Ending's depiction of Talion's fall shows all of the Nine except the Witch-king wearing the default mask. It also stands to reason that they were still recovering from their earlier battles when they were dispatched to help Talion, and thus they were not at full strength.
  • Dual Wield: Eltariel's main weapons are two swords, one of which also serves as a dagger.
  • Enemy Mine: Even though Eltariel is charged with eliminating the Ringwraiths, she still sides with Talion after he became one — though he is still in control of himself — to help fight against a new threat that could take over Mordor.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Ever since Talion ousted the Witch-king of Angmar from Minas Morgul, a new evil force has been brewing to take his place and dominate Mordor while Sauron is too busy being locked in duel with Celebrimbor's spirit, and Eltariel agrees to help Talion fight it.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: Inverted. The main game states that Talion fought the darkness for decades, and as the DLC is an Immediate Sequel that ends with his fall, the DLC covers at least two decades.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Talion can't fight the darkness, and goes full Nazgûl in the end.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • Whether an enemy or an ally, Talion consistently uses moves and powers he had in the main game.
    • Akoth's not kidding when he says that Cirith Ungol's in bad shape for a siege. The allied captains under him are all in the low-10s in level and have glaring mortal weaknesses, compared to the enemy captains, who are closer to Eltariel's level in the 20s and 30s and aren't as vulnerable.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: While Celebrimbor was associated with blue and Nazgûl Talion with sickly green, Eltariel's power glows in a golden light.
  • Heads I Win, Tails You Lose: Eitrael's first fight with Talion has you win the fight, but Talion will disarm Eitrael afterwards.
  • Honor Before Reason: Eltariel accedes to Talion's request to not let him die in Mordor. Had she removed his ring and slain them immediately, he'd have never fallen.
  • I Choose to Stay: After seemingly defeating Talion, Eltariel is allowed to return home by Galadriel. She refuses and opts to stay in Mordor fighting against its evil knowing that Talion is not truly dead.
  • Immediate Sequel: Zig-zagged. The opening cutscene is the main game's ending cutscene from Eltariel's perspective, but it seems that some time has passed by the time Eltariel arrives in Minas Morgul for her initial confrontation with Talion, since he mentions that his fortresses have been attacked and he's lost some of them.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The DLC's opening cutscene is basically the ending of the main game from another angle, and isn't afraid to mention some plot points, with the ending of the DLC being a P.O.V. Sequel to the main game's Distant Finale.
  • Lighter and Softer: While the DLC has its dark moments (such as Talion's fall at the end), it is this compared to the main game. All of the orcs join you voluntarily, are extremely friendly, and are just enjoyable to watch. The story, save for the few aforementioned dark moments, also isn't quite as serious as the main game.
  • Main Character Final Boss: At the end of the Blade of Galadriel DLC, previous player character and protagonist Talion, after spending most of the game working alongside new player character Eltariel, and helping her defeat the rogue Nazgul (in addition to spending literal decades earlier fighting and dividing the Orcs of Mordor to prevent either Sauron or Celebrimbor uniting them to take over Middle-Earth), finally falls to the corrupting will of his Nazgul Ring of Power (helped along by lingering anger and resentment towards Eltariel for being the reason why he's a Nazgul now), and turns against his former friend and starts fighting her. Talion is the final enemy you have to fight in that DLC, solidly reminding players that the hero we once knew is no more.
  • Mutually Exclusive Party Members: You are forced to choose whether you want to recruit The Digger or keep The Architect.
  • No Body Left Behind: Using the Light of Galadriel on an orc results in this if they are affected by it for too long.
  • Painting the Medium: During the first boss fight, Talion's boss icon is marked with a T for Talion, just like NPC allies are in the main game. During the last boss fight, Talion's boss icon is marked with the Eye of Sauron, just like Nazgûl bosses are in the main game.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: We see what Eltariel was doing while Talion was busy waging civil war in Mordor as a rogue Nazgûl.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Eltariel gains the power by wearing the New Ring.
  • Saved by Canon: Talion. We know he lives until the One Ring is destroyed. In a way he's also Doomed by Canon since we know he can't shake off the Ring's influence forever.
  • Sequel Hook: Eltariel lives to see Sauron's destruction during the final battle against him, but senses that Celebrimbor's spirit was released and is calling to his Ring. She goes to answer this call.
  • Taking You with Me: Flint is not one to be taken hostage.
  • That Man Is Dead: Talion invokes this trope almost verbatim as he finally succumbs to the malign influence of Isildur's ring at the end of the story.
  • Trickster Twins: Flint and Tinder. Though not officially twins, their Blood Brother status is close enough, considering their matching scars, Twin Banter, and shared love of explosions. Sadly, Flint’s death leaves Tinder a broken shell.
  • Weakened by the Light: Orcs aren't too fond of the Light of Galadriel.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Eltariel's goal remains the same; kill the Nazgûl. Including Talion.
  • Wham Line: Significantly downplayed, but upon retrieving the first piece of Light Bringer's legendary gear, Eltariel compliments the person who fashioned the gear, causing Galadriel to reveal that Eltariel knows him personally.
    Eltariel: This is of very fine make. The armorer who forged it was gifted indeed.
    Galadriel: In some respects. In others, he was flawed. You know this better than most.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The DLC takes place after the main game, and explains what happened to both Eltariel and the New Ring.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Although Talion defeats Eitrael in their first fight, Eitrael manages to win against Talion in their final fight because he was crippled and exhausted from previous battles.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Galadriel won't allow Eltariel to return home until her mission is completed. She is allowed to return after defeating Talion in combat, but Eltariel knows that he isn't destroyed just yet and opts to remain in Mordor.

    The Desolation of Mordor DLC 
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Baranor is the main character here. As he is a relatively normal (read: mortal) Man who doesn't have access to a wraith or a Ring of Power, the gameplay changes as well.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Baranor is unlocked as an alternate skin for the main game with this DLC. Beating it with a gold rating (Which is easily done by beating it on Nemesis difficulty in under an hour) unlocks Serka as another skin.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Upon death, the DLC resets... but story missions and Torvin upgrades are not affected, so if you happen to die just before the last mission, you can just continue from where you left off.
    • Baranor can regain his health instantly, unlike Talion. His grapple hook also allows him to instantly escape hairy situations. Orc Captains have no defense against his bombs, either. Baranor's crossbow fires instantaneously, so it's entirely possible to empty a full load of Steel Bolts into a Captain's head, which could possibly kill him. Baranor can pull off stealth attacks (but not Brutalize attacks) from midair while gliding on his Kite, and while his health can be brought down to zero while gliding, he cannot be killed in midair (making parasailing a very viable survival strategy if a Marksman is shooting you to pieces). Also, instead of environmental hazards like Gorgoroth's lava fissures or Núrnen's poison spouts, Lithlad features air vents that help Baranor by serving as launch points for his Kite.
    • Baranor can assign up to three bodyguards, and they have a higher chance of having desirable traits such as Enraged by Injury, Power Crazed (particularly useful since mercs tend to be lower-leveled than Nemesis orcs), Explosive Shot, etc. (On the flip side, mercs also have an unfortunate tendency to have glaring mortal weaknesses, and Enraged mercs have been known to turn on their fellows in the heat of battle and pummel them to death.) Mercs can also possess orc epic traits as standard traits, such as Thick Skinned or Devastator (an analogue to Great Strength). Also, mercs will never turn against Baranor (although that's because he's paying them) and he cannot hurt them, so you don't have to worry about betrayals when fighting alongside your allies in close quarters.
    • The Big Bad is Dazed by Executions, making him a relatively easy kill.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: When you finish a run, your ranking adds an extra augment to every run from now on; the augments gained from Bronze, Silver and Gold make the game easier, especially bronze as it increases your chances of getting better augments to your gear. Mithril rating gives you an augment that when installed, removes your ability to heal but allows you to gain 75 health on each kill, making the game harder. (But not that much harder. See Self-Imposed Challenge below.)
  • The Bus Came Back: Torvin reappears in this DLC.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Not just for Baranor, but for the race of Men as a whole. In the main game, aside from Talion, human characters only appeared at select moments in the story, but here they are a major focus, and part of the Nemesis System. Not only that, but the DLC also is the first of the series not to include Gondorians or Númenóreans, but Easterlings and Haradrim.
  • Final Death Mode: If Baranor dies, most of the DLC resets, with the exception of Story missions and Torvin upgrades.
  • Fission Mailed: In the opening, Baranor gets eaten by a were-wyrm, Fade to Black. The scene returns with Torvin having rescued him.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: In the ending cutscene, Torvin reveals that the biggest were-wyrm in Lithlad is a female, and he has named her Gwendolyn.
  • Head Swap: Both Baranor and Serka skins replace Talion's head and arms instead of being a full replacement like Eltariel. This way gear isn't affected, something that wasn't possible with the Eltariel skin for obvious reasons.
  • Hero of Another Story: According to the Appendices, Idril led a band of wounded Gondorians to the hidden refuge of Henneth Annun while Baranor headed for Lithlad to open a new front in the war for Mordor.
  • Hired Guns: The Vanishing Sons are an Easterling mercenary company that Baranor can hire warriors from to serve him as his equivalent to dominated Orcs.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Serka, the current leader of the Vanishing Sons Mercenary Company, is Baranor's brother. The two last saw each other back when they were kids, and they had different names back then: Serka was Jagai, while Baranor was Warad.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Baranor's Super Wrist-Gadget includes a shield. While you cannot counter when it's up, it nullifies all damage if the opponent hits it. Shield bashing is possible as well.
  • Official Couple: Idril's character bio confirms that she and Baranor are one.
  • Only in It for the Money: The mercenaries Baranor can hire are 100% loyal to him... but only because he is paying them.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Although they are not twins, Baranor was raised by the royalty of Minas Ithil, and acts calm, collected, and does whatever is best for his people out of the goodness of his heart. His brother however, grew up among mercenaries and his primary motivation is money. Funnily enough, while Baranor has a head full of hair and small goatee, his brother has a thick beard and a shaved head.
  • The Quisling: Baranor will angrily accuse Serka of being this for guarding the Marauder Orcs' ill-gotten plunder from Minas Ithil.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Averted, in that unlike in the main game, you cannot exact revege on whoever killed Baranor since, well, he died. Dying resets most of the DLC, including the Nemesis System.
  • Sand Worm: Beneath the sands of Lithlad, there are were-wyrms, giant worm-like creatures with Lamprey Mouths which can snatch their prey from the surface.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Beating the DLC on Gravewalker difficulty unlocks the Mithril artifact, which removes the ability to use Healing Elixirs, instead restoring 75 health for each kill. However, it isn't that much of a challenge, since 75 is a lot of health, and if you remember to keep a few Steel Bolts in reserve at all times, you can go from being at death's door to good as new with two or three headshots. invoked
  • Shifting Sand Land: The DLC takes place in Lithlad, the desert next to Seregost. Downloading the DLC unlocks it for the main game as well.
  • Spin Attack: One of Baranor's super moves involves him spinning his bladed grappling hook around him, cutting any unfortunate uruk caught in the area in half.
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: Baranor uses a Númenórean gadget (given to him by Torvin) on his left wrist, which includes at least a shield, a grappling hook, and a crossbow.
  • Touché: In the final cutscene, upon running into Torvin, Serka angrily reminds the Dwarf of his debt and warns him that he knows where he lives, only for an unconcerned Torvin to fire back, "At least I have somewhere to live." Serka is forced to concede the point.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Instead of an immortal man/elf killing and brainwashing orcs with superpowers, you play as a mortal man raiding outposts to gain money to hire human mercenaries to your army.
    • For one, instead of wraith powers, Baranor relies on a grappling hook to climb and a parachute to glide. The chat on their introductory livestream compared it to the Batman: Arkham Series and Just Cause.


Video Example(s):


Sauron - The Lord Of The Ring

Abhorring the chaos of nature, Sauron chose the appearance of a imposing armored figure as his primary physical form.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / TinTyrant

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