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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.

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"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."
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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 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 the Elf-lord who once helped to forge the One Ring, Celebrimbor (Alastair Duncan), as the duo forge their own Ring of Power and attempt to put an end to Sauron's coming invasion of Middle-earth, even if they must become Evil Overlords themselves. Differentiating itself from the original is the darker and more disturbing nature of the story. Early on you are shown that you will be helping a Well-Intentioned Extremist build a slave army of a "lesser race" so that you can defeat Wizard Satan.

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The "Nemesis System" from the previous game returns, where enemy commanders have running character histories and abilities that develop as you continue to battle them, or take out their superiors and Mooks. The system also now applies to enemy strongholds, which evolve in various ways as you invade them.

The game was released on October 10th, 2017.

Previews: Trailer 1, Siege gameplay with commentary, Open World Trailer, Story Trailer, Official Xbox E3 2017 Briefing Video, Shelob Trailer, Monsters of Mordor Trailer, Orc Tales Trailer, Launch Trailer.

Uruk Tribe Previews: Terror Tribe, Machine Tribe, Marauder Tribe, Dark Tribe, Feral Tribe, Mystic Tribe, Warmonger Tribe, Slaughter Tribe, Outlaw Tribe.

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Middle Earth: Shadow of War contains examples of:

    Tropes A-B 
  • 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.
    • 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 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 best description we could come up with) 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: For a city, anyway. 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.
  • 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, indicating he will be 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.
    • The Agonizer is a subversion; he 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, so he can be made one if the player so chooses. It's also possible for the player to never meet him.
  • 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.
  • 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 Poison Graug from the last game's DLC), such as the new Arctic Graugs.
  • 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 a bit downplayed; it's been mentioned they can be friends too. While still brutal they seem to have a few laws and customs that varies from Tribes, the warmongerer 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 Crush. Kill. Destroy!, 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. Tolkein himself struggled with the idea that any race, even Orcs, could truly fill this trope.
  • 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.
    • The player can also take on the role of Eltariel in the "Blade of Galadriel" DLC.
    • Baranor is the protagonist of the "Desolation of Mordor" DLC.
    • Celebrimbor and Talion have a breakup at the end of the story, and the latter only survives by taking a nearby ring of power and thus becomes Sauron's servant. While the gameplay remains the same and he remains heroic, Talion gets his own green wraith form, he learns to raise the dead and Celebrimbor's elven rage is replaced by an another, slightly different move. 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 boss, players can try again at a checkpoint directly before facing the boss, instead of having to do the long process of taking the outer and inner control points of the fortress once again.
    • The player is given significantly more control over their army than in the first game. Friendly captains that get injured now enter a bleedout phase and can be revived, they can be resurrected after they die, and there is even an ability that allows Talion to heal them during combat by using his own health. Furthermore, friendly captains that die now have a chance of coming back to life and continuing to serve Talion or betraying him.
    • 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, but it seems to be there to counter enemies who otherwise have no exploitable weakness/resist everything you have on hand.
    • Another change from Mordor is that enemies have their weakness 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/can royally mess up against, 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 1 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 often incorporate much more verticality. To keep them from being too large, Talion has a larger and more easily accessible collection of ways to increase his speed in both running and climbing, the majority of which don't need to be unlocked.
  • 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 Celebrimbor.
  • 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 whether they wear plate armor, furs, or just go into battle bare-chested.
  • Arrow Catch: Arrow proof captain can do this if you try to snipe him 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..
  • Artificial Brilliance: Regular Orcs fleeing from Graugs or other beasts will ignore Talion and continue fleeing, instead of deciding to pick a fight with him.
  • Artificial Limbs: Given the ability of Uruks to now lose legs and arms, the developers have confirmed that these will come into play for Nemesis Uruks that lose an appendage (other than their head) and survive. One Uruk was put back together after having been bisected vertically by Talion!
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Worms (orc informants) on watchtowers tend to jump off to their death if they spot you. This one may actually be intentional.
    • During sieges, allied Olog-Hai 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 boobytrapped this may turn them into The Load if they keep getting downed.
  • 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, since they look extremely badass but you may be better off with an another one. 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 an another move to clear the area of nearby enemies.
    • 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, it's overlord will deliver a nice 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 a 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.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: A fight against an Overlord with fire traits can become this. The initial gameplay demo pitted Talion against Ur-Hakon the Dragon, whose throne room floor had grates that would shoot fire every few seconds.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: An Orc, Uruk or Olog can resist Sauron reclaiming them if Talion treats them well.
  • Behemoth Battle: Carnán-empowered graug vs a balrog. The player has to intervene on the former's part or the balrog 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 dozens of 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: You can choose one of your allies to work as your bodyguard, and summon them with a press of a button. When fighting bosses, it's possible to call them to come to your rescue and can even help deliver the finishing blow if you're in trouble.
    • This can also happen mid introduction, as the trailer shows one enemy Captain comes back from the dead and confronts Talion, only to be taken out by a Friendly Sniper before he can start fighting.
    • In game, if Talion is in a downed state, and an enemy begins its finishing animation, they might be interrupted by one of Talion's allies (assuming there is one nearby) jumping in to slay Talion's would-be killer at the last second.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: Unless you see it as a straight up Downer Ending; Talion and Celebrimbor utterly fail to remove Sauron from power, but consuming Celebrimbor forces Sauron in a form he cannot use his best powers in, and Talion keeps the already weakened Sauron busy by waging war and attacking his armies all around Middle-Earth in order to give time for Middle-Earth to prepare for the destruction of the One Ring. And as the Distant Finale shows, the One Ring and Sauron will eventually be destroyed and Talion will finally move on to the afterlife.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Blood 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.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Executions now cut off legs and arms as well as heads, and some of them outright cleave your opponent in half.
  • 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 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 it charges pretty quickly, it's a viable weapon for practically any combat encounter. Balancing this out is the fact that it has a long charge up before it can be swung.
  • 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.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: The game features microtransactions in which you can buy XP boosts as well as loot crates that contain appropriately-leveled gear and Orc followers that also appear normally in the open world and which can also be earned with in-game currency or by doing online missions and challenges. 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 following him really is.
  • 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.
  • 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 new abilities and perks 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 60-65 — 60 is the natural maximum level for a Captain.
  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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. They 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 the previous game, the Barad-Silme or "forge towers", which are used to reveal the map, reveal collectibles, and function as respawn and quicktravel locations.
  • 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 Rinbearer only to be killed by Samwise Gamgee.
    • 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.
  • 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 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 kicking it off the tower.
    • If an olog rips off the head of an orc captain in a mission, the slow-motion-freeze frame sometimes includes this
  • Decapitation Required: Lampshaded in-game, unless you cut an orc's head the orc might come back, even if bisected. Even decapitation is not guaranteed as some captain can be stitched back as undead.
  • 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 Trope 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/Urk 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.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • The nemesis system is more active as almost any action can trigger a captain ambush (poisoning or blowing up grog barrels, fighting other orcs grunts or captains, getting a very high hit streak, dismembering or shaming a captain, killing a captain's rival, raising the alarm, gaining intel about the ambushing captain from a worm, picking up items, observing a nemesis confrontation between two or more captains, grabbing and stabbing another orc, attacking another warchief's bodyguard after already having killed a bodyguard of his, which will cause the warchief himself to leave the fortress and ambush Talion, etc.) and the captains will even comment on the situation.
      Caragor Riding Captain: [ambushing you when you try to summon a Caragor] I've got that Caragor you wanted. Now die!
    • 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 are simply gonna run for it if they see you, knowing you are gonna 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.
  • 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.
  • Difficulty Spike: Act 4: The Shadow Wars raises the difficulty noticeably. Talion has to defend his fortresses from Sauron's armies who are likely more powerful than your orcs. During the first few stages, it can actually be easier to sacrifice your low level followers and to try to dominate the attacking orcs as the enemy captains tend to be on a lower level than Talion at that point. Most grinding can be circumvented by this method, and losing a fortress every now and then may actually be a good idea, since you can attempt to dominate each opposing warchief without the chaos of sieges. The chapter received an overhaul in July 2018, which lessened the grind necessary.
  • 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.
  • 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 chances to make them deranged, an orc can go from wise monologue to squealing like a pig.
    • Some Orc captains are this way when you meet them, resulting in every line of their dialogue being complete Non Sequitur weirdness.
  • Drop the Hammer:
    • Celebrimbor uses his smithing hammer during finishers, detonating campfires to cause explosions, or even destroy monuments in the overworld. Story-wise, he also uses it to forge the New Ring inside Mount Doom.
    • One of the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths) you face in combat is Helm Hammerhand, the first king of Rohan. Appropriately for his name, he wields a massive war hammer in combat, which replaces Celebrimbor's bow Azkar after you defeat him.
    • Hammers are now a standard ranged weapon. They have the advantage of splash damage, but they cannot pin orcs to the ground.
  • Dynamic Entry: Captain ambushes can occasionally trigger with an Orc captain bumrushing the crap out of 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 effects, which are listed on Standard Status Effect below. 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.
  • 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: The lead duo form an unlikely one 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 compared to their baby-eating ways, using Mind Rape on their captains repeatedly crossed a line even the worst of the Uruks thinks is just plain wrong.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: A character with the title The Inscrutable may speak with such a fast paced and powerful Scottish bough 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 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 vs. 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. He rants and raves and is VERY reminiscent of old footage of Hitler 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 psychopathic 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 he is the first one the brand with the New ring; they likely just thought that it was normal.
    • The ease with which Talion can sneak about indicates that all scouts and archers have approximately 20:200 vision. Even if he's wearing bright red armor with a bright blue cloak, he can duck-walk 30 feet away from an orc and not be noticed. 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.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
  • 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. An 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.
  • Forever War: Downplayed in chapter IV. It's length is likely meant to represent the decades Talion kept Sauron busy. Played straight with the "Endless Shadow Wars" added in a patch alongside the first DLC, as it allows fortresses to be replayed indefinetly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: During the "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: Shadow of Mordor ended with Talion promising to forge a new Ring of Power. This game opens with him and Celebrimbor setting out to do just that.
  • 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 29% completion, suggesting there'll be more to come after Act 3.
    • The control layout you can find in the options menu reveals that you gain the ability to rise the dead.
    • The skins menu includes Talion. Equipping it changes absolutely nothing, until you reach Act IV and his model is replaced by his corrupted model.
  • Ironic Hell: With the "Raise Dead" power, you can turn an orc who betrayed you into a 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.
  • 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: In the alpha gameplay trailer, the defenders of Seregost make ample use of this, using everything from Arrows on Fire to a caged drake. Conversely, some Nemesis orcs will have fire as a weakness or a fear, making this the best strategy.
  • Kill It with Ice:
    • In addition to fire and poison, Talion (and presumably uruks) now have potential access to 'frost' attacks, which allow you to freeze your enemy solid. If you kill them while frozen, they even shatter to pieces.
    • Carnán in her dragon form uses an 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 Nûrnen seems to be aimed to both his army and the player.
  • Legacy Character: The Nazgûl. At least two of the original 9 kings have been replaced by Isildur and Helm Hammerhead, and Talion later replaces Isildur. The Blade of Galadriel makes that number 4.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Olog-Hai are much faster than their size and bulk would indicate.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: One Uruk-on-Uruk kill animation involves the winner shoving a grenade down the losers 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.)
  • 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 in 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.
  • 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 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 The Lord of the Rings, Return of the King film.
    • 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.
    • 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 Developers' 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • Obvious Beta: Not the entire game (although there are plenty of glitches), but Act IV and beyond seem a bit rushed. Some developer comments have implied that they ran out of time, potentially explaining many of these issues.
    • Dark Talion originally didn't have any lines for dominating orcs, but this has been since addressed with a patch.
    • Orcs still call him the Bright Lord, although this may be intentional.
    • The missions become a lot more repetitive and grinding becomes more common. Whether this was to sell lootboxes is a discussion for someplace else. This is set to be addressed in a future patch, which promises improvements to the narrative, and the announcement hints that due to the endless siege mode, capturing forts won't be a heavy focus.
    • Undead fortresses are identical to mystic ones. Somewhat justified since Mystics are interested in magic and necromancy.
    • Talion still uses some of Celebrimbor's weapons; most notably his hammer, and during some animations some weapons actually still turn blue for a few seconds. He uses a more appropriate hammer in the Blade of Galadriel DLC, making it possible this one will be changed later down the line.
  • 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 repeated 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.
  • Permanently Missable Content:
    • Complete Act III without claiming all the artifacts, and Celebrimbor won't be reacting to subsequent artifact dialog by Idril.
    • 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 in the market if you want to keep them, however.
  • 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 havent 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, so a poison weapon is covered with poison etc.
  • 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: 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.
  • Promoted to Playable: Eltariel and Baranor are playable on their respective DLC stories.
  • 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-Larr the Demolisher shouts an awesome war cry just before the battle starts.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: 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-dur. While Talion ultimately falls and becomes his servant at the end, he had previously spent decades of warfare to keep Sauron busy until Middle-Earth was prepared for his return, 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 Palantir 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 burnmarks 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.
    • 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. With the Fate Worse Than Death perk, they may become a Maniac, increasing their level instead of lowering it.
  • Save Scumming: 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 beem 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: The "Online Conquest" gamemode allows you to play against your own fortress to test it's defenses, which the game saves when you advance time. You can even have the same orcs as both attackers and defenders!
  • Sequel Difficulty Drop:
    • The game lists the strengths of the captain/warchief/overlord as soon as you encounter them or learn of their identity. You still need to interrogate worms to learn the enemy's weaknesses, and the enemy's fears and terrors cannot be exploited unless you have this intel, but it's still quite possible to play through the entire game (even on Gravewalker difficulty) without collecting any intel at all, since you'll always know what you shouldn't do.
    • The enrage mechanic has been changed significantly from the first game and captains who get enraged no longer regenerate their health incredibly fast. In addition to this, a Cooldown has also been added after the enrage wears off so that a captain can no longer become continuously enraged.
    • Interrogating and dominating orcs no longer requires you to grab them and stand still for several seconds during which you remain vulnerable, and moves that previously only branded opponents now also instantly dominate them and open the interaction menu. Additionally, domination can no longer be interrupted by enemy attacks unless you're trying do it by holding the stun button.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike:
    • Unlike Shadow Of Mordor, you can send more than one Death Threat to a nemesis, though you need to wait many turns to fully power them up. note 
    • Uruks in general now have their own traits, especially among specific types/classes. Among them is Death Defiance (automatically reject one finishing move at low health), Fast Learner (an Adaptive Ability that allows one to counter and temporarily No-Sell damage from whatever move damaged them), Decoy (Exactly What It Says on the Tin, where the interface can't tell them apart), Iron Will (immunity to being Dominated and made an Follower), and many more.
    • All orcs, even those that lack the Fast Learner ability, are able to adapt to Talion's attacks if these attacks are used against them repeatedly. The chances of an enemy adapting to an attack also increase with the difficulty setting.
    • In the first game a weakness or fear usually meant the captain will die or lose all resolve the moment it is exploited, here only an orc with mortal weakness, which is rare unless the captain is very low level or has been shamed repeatedly, works like that while normal weaknesses will simply make the captains take more damage and dazes will disable their strengths and make them unable to attack, but will only last for a certain period of time and will not trigger again until its cooldown has expired.
    • End-game Talion isn't quite as powerful as he was in Shadow of Mordor's endgame. This has been confirmed to be intentional, as Mordor was designed to make Talion as overpowered as possible, but the devs wanted this game to stay challenging even after beating everything.
  • 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 it's 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 Numenoreans.
      • 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 any uruks under his control/friendly to him cap at 80, but enemy uruks cap at 85.note  The fortresses you attack (or defend from counterattacks) can go as high as level 1000. Extra levels that destroyed equipment note  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.
    • There are now caged Graugs, not just Caragors, meaning players won't have to scour the countryside looking for them to unleash on Orcs. The orcs also have baits to summon them, which (at least for the Feral Tribe) includes drakes.
    • 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 resurrect sthose that were killed, and the Nemesis Forge brings back your main living nemesis from the first game.
  • Sequence Breaking:
    • Talion will usually perform special powers long before they are introduced into the game, such as Shaming.
    • It's possible to play any remaining missions during Act IV, and Talion looks normal, is still bonded to Celebrimbor and Eltariel has her full hand. The devs actually anticipated this, and Talion has lines if you pick some of these missions as his current objective, seemingly thinking back to when they ''actually'' happened.
    • It seems that you don't need to finish any of the Act II questlines to reach Act III, if you know exactly what missions to play. Once you unlock the full map, play the Gondor quests until the game allows you to capture Seregost's fort, the 4 Nazgûl-missions from Eltariel's questline,note  freeze Tar-Goroth and recapture Nurnen's fort from Brûz after he betrays you. Capture all remaining fortresses you may have remaining and should be able to begin "The Bright Lord". May also qualify as Speed Running.
  • Sequel Hook: During the shot of the rings description, 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 something about killing the messenger?
      Ratbag: Right. 'Always kill the messenger.'
      Talion: ...That 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!
  • 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 Morgûl 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.
  • Standard Status Effects: There are a few different status effects both Talion and Orcs can suffer from
    • Burning causes additional damage over time, in addition it causes Orcs to panic.
    • Poison, which also causes damage over time and slows down those affected, and in Talion's case removes the counter and dodge button prompts and depletes his "might". It can also either cause infected Orcs to go berserk or explode depending on upgrades. Also Balefires, caused by shooting at a poisoned grog barrel, can apply both of the above statuses at once.
    • Frost, a status effect that can freeze enemies in place, which acts as an enhanced version of the stun from the first game.
    • Cursed, which causes Orcs that are affected to panic, but when Talion suffers from it, causes the mini-map to be obscured by the Eye of Sauron and drains Talion's Wrath and Focus meters.
  • 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.
  • 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. Thks 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.

    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 its besieged by Sauron's orcs. The city will not fall until you progress further in the story quest.
    • During Carnan's questline, you must deal with Tar Goroth on the loose that while it's still weakened, could potentially unleash untold havoc and destruction if left unchecked. Even worse, there is an orc mystic trying to bind it in order to overthrow Sauron and install himself as the new master of Mordor. Despite the urgency of the quest in 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 the Balrog will not interfere in anyway on them.
  • 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.
  • 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 messenger is extremely chatty about a traitor in Minas Ithil, bragging to everyone in his way that he has a message from him, despite everyone pointing out that the warchief is not going to be pleased that the messenger is shooting his mouth off. When the messenger finally gets to the fortress to make his report, the furious Warchief cuts him in half before hearing the message and yells at everyone around that it's supposed to be confidential information.
    Messenger: Warchief, I have important news from the traitor in Minas Ithil-! [He is promptly subjected to a Cruel and Unusual Death by the Warchief]
    Warchief: 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!
  • 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. The Worse than Death upgrade takes this further with a chance to turn the unfortunate orc into an insane wretch. 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 it 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 Nazgùl 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • World Building: 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.
  • 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 that are shamed will accuse you of getting a sick pleasure of torturing them, particularly if you've repeatedly done so.
  • You Will Not Evade Me:
    • Trying to run away or attack from afar? Be careful because some orcs are capable of hurling grappling hooks to pull you back towards them and attack you.
    • 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: You play as Eltariel after the events of the main game.
  • 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.
  • Badass Grandpa: Ogg, Bow of Morgoth. Being one of the original Orcs from the days of Morgoth, he’s probably the oldest living Orc in Mordor. That being said, the years have not diminished his skill with a crossbow in the slightest.
  • 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 is mostly a grudging ally to Eltariel until its Final Battle.
  • 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 Talion lost Núrnen, Seregost and Gorgoroth's forts at least once during the Shadow Wars.
  • 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.
  • Dual Wield: Eltariel's main weapons are two swords.
  • 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 him 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.
  • Famous Last Words: "Got one word for ya, maggot: boom."
  • Gameplay and Story Integration:
    • When fought as a boss, 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-10's in level and have glaring mortal weaknesses, compared to the enemy captains, who are closer to Eltariel's level in the 20's and 30's 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.
  • 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: The DLC seems to be this, but at least some time has passed from the ending since Talion mentions that his fortresses have been attacked several times. However, it's unlikely that the DLC takes place after the Shadow Wars, since that would mean Eltariel really took her time before finding Talion.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The DLC's opening cutscene is basically the ending of the main game from an 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.
  • 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 Barad-dûr, just like Nazgûl bosses are in the main game.
  • P.O.V. Sequel: We see what Eltariel was doing while Talion was busy defending Middle-earth 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 still around. She goes to hear his calling.
  • Taking You with Me: Flint is not one to be taken hostage.
  • That Man Is Dead: Talion finally succumbs to Isildur's ring's influence, invoking the trope almost verbatim.
  • 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The DLC takes place after the main game, and explains what happened to both Eltariel and the New Ring.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: There's a small error in the final battle. 5 other Nazgûl aid Talion in battle, but they all wear the default masks. However, as the Witch-king, Helm, Süladan and the sisters wear unique masks, the total number of Nazgûl would go to 10 even before we add Talion to the mix. Of course, it's possible that some of the named Nazgûl were Killed Offscreen during the decades it took for Talion to fall, that they can change their masks, note  or that the error is completely intentional, since having the other Nazgûl in the fight without removing their powers would not just raise the difficulty considerably, it would also make the fight feel less personal.
  • 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 mere mortal, 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 and hour) unlocks Serka as an 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 crossbows instantaneously fire, so a Captain can be seriously brought down in health with ten quick shots (or killed if Soft-Headed.)
    • When taking outposts of more than three Captains, one will always have a mortal stealth weakness, allowing Baranor a relatively easy kill.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Everything Is Better With Spinning: 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.
  • Final Death Mode: If Baranor dies, most of the DLC resets, with the exception of Story missions and Torvin upgrades.
  • 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 Eltariel skin for obvious reasons.
  • Hero of Another Story: According to a conversation between Baranor and some Gondorians, Idril stayed behind in Mordor while he went for reinforcements.
  • 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: The guy in charge of the human mercenary group is Baranor's brother. The two last saw each other back when they were kids.
  • 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.
  • 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. Of course, nothing can stop you from avenging fallen friends.
  • 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.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The DLC takes place in Lithlad, the desert next to Nurnen. Downloading the DLC unlocks it for the main game as well.
  • Speed Run: Invoked. Once you beat the main story once, you won't need to play the story missions again. From now on, you just need to capture 5 increasingly difficult outposts and capture the fort, and the faster you are the better your rating.
  • Super Wrist-Gadget: Baranor uses a Numeronean gadget (given to him by Torvin) on his left wrist, which includes at least a shield, a grappling hook and a crossbow.
  • 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 men to your army with only your weapons and allies.
    • 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.


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