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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: What was Eltariel thinking when she sided with Celebrimbor? Was she being genuinely well-intentioned, albeit hesitant or ignorant about Celebrimbor "bringing order to Middle-earth"? Or did she became a Fallen Heroine too and crossed the Moral Event Horizon by willingly supporting an aspirant Evil Overlord that would be even worse than Sauron? In one hand, she seemed remorseful about taking Celebrimbor's ring and leaving Talion to die, but on the other hand, she appears to be Drunk on the Dark Side when fighting Sauron. She does mention the best she could do against the Nazgûl and Sauron was pushing them back forever so it's not surprising that when the opportunity to break Sauron's hold and control him is alluring to her. The opening to her story DLC explains that she is not allowed to return home until the Nazgul are dead, making it very likely she figured that taking out Sauron would at least make her job easier.
  • Anticlimax Boss: For all the advertisement and the sheer awesomeness of fighting a Balrog, the two boss fights against him are quite a letdown. Due to being horribly outmatched, Carnan the nature spirit does most of the work, so you are in a support role the entire time. The final section, though, which has you riding a frost-breathing plant-dragon to smash a Balrog into a frozen lake, is buggy to the point of being completely immersion breaking and it may also be impossible to lose.
  • Annoying Video-Game Helper: Being rescued by your allies. One of your allies or Forthog may occasionally appear when Talion is downed and kill the enemy before they finish him. The chance of a rescue seems to be randomnote , however, and thus an ally might kill an orc you found interesting or deny you your revenge. Note that this is heavily downplayed, since the feature is genuinely useful, and disabling the "Bodyguard" upgrade lowers the chance of them happening.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Shadow of Mordor was pretty limited on what you could do with your enemies, since you could only kill or brainwash them, and they had very little purpose if branded. This game introduces several new ways to deal with them, such as shaming them by letting them livenote , using them as bodyguardsnote , using them to invade Online forts and even exiling your followers, removing their branding. While summoning was present on Mordor's DLC's, it's been massively improved upon.
    • The confusion over the donations regarding the Forthog Orc-Slayer DLC, a portion of which would go to Michael Forgey's family, caused an uproar among some fans, causing a Broken Base. A factually untrue tweet exacerbated the situation, so Warner Brothers and Monolith decided to abandon having the promotion and just decided to release the DLC for free instead of its initial $5 price-point, giving refunds to all who purchased it. The publisher instead donated a large sum directly to the Forgey family instead, and invited gamers to donate on their own directly themselves, while explaining the charitable donation laws and why they couldn't disclose information, explaining, "Answering that direct question itself could have triggered compliance obligations or put us in violation of cause marketing laws in some of the 241 territories in which the content was available." Donations from fans were brisk and steady.
    • After players set up a petition to replay them, the devs added endless Shadow Wars (Sieges) to the game for free when the first DLC became available.
    • The previous game was criticized for lackluster boss-fights in the story mode in comparison to the Nemesis system bosses you confronted, specially when the final boss was little more than a Cutscene Boss. This game adds more bosses in both number and variation, such as the Nazgul and Tar-Goroth as well as a proper Final Boss with Sauron.
    • The February 2018 update fixed several issues people have with Dark Talion:
      • He now has lines for dominating orcs, but the grunts can still play sometimes since some do like them.
      • The skins menu includes the ability to switch back to uncorrupted Talion. While it may confuse new players since it does nothing before Act IV, those who prefer his pre-ringwraith form can now use it. However...
      • Although switching back to Celebrimbor's wraith is still not possible, the message that appears when you first enter the skins menu mentions "Talion's voice won't change, with some exceptions" hinting that this ability might be coming as well.
      • Equipping the Dark Talion skin also causes some armors to lose at least some of their color, allowing those who dislike the heavy amount of bling some equipment gain upon leveling up to look creepy without losing power. While this doesn't completely resolve the problem (It doesn't seem to affect all armor and equipment, and large changes in appearance still happen (such as Servant/Dark/Terror/Vengeange set's armor's appearance), it is still something.
    • Players who had ethical issues with branding in the main game will enjoy playing as Eltariel in Blade of Galadriel, as she specifically refuses to use that power even though she still has it.
    • On April 2 of 2018, Monolith promised free updates over the next several months, including the permanent phasing-out of the micro-transaction system, and improvements to the final act of the game.
  • Awesome Music: The ending credits song, "Fires of War" by Nathan Grigg and Kelli Schaefer.
  • Broken Base:
  • Canon Defilement:
    • Some of the liberties taken with the source material, like the fact that Shelob can inexplicably turn into a human woman, have not sat well with some of the fanbase. While it makes more sense when one remembers Shelob wasn't a real spider but an evil spirit/spider hybrid who took the form of a spider (Real spiders, for example, don't have stingers), fans are unhappy she was retconned from the intelligent but evil and extremely gluttonous character she was in the books to a Good All Along Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • The identities of two of the Nazgul. They're Helm Hammerhand and Isildur of all people. To say this has not been taken kindly by many fans is putting things mildly, with numerous people pointing out that all nine ringwraiths first appeared over 400 and 900 years before either had even been born, respectively. note  Word of God acknowledged this, and stated they were going by Gandalf's vague description of the Wraiths as having been "kings of men" in their former lives, and used Isildur as the one person Talion would never want to Dominate under any circumstance, thus providing the catalyst for Celebrimbor's betrayal. Blade of Galadriel DLC adds another one by revealing that two of the Nazgul are female, though they are not the original owners of those rings.
    • Along with the above, while the story hangs together on its own terms it includes several things wildly at odds with the story on the page. The timeline of Mordor is extremely compressed (and moved forward) for not much reason while other event orders are either changed or would involve new powers/events being introduced Big one being the replacement of Nazgul. Sauron also is far more powerful and present in this narrative, with powers that he had (importantly) lost by the Third Age and that would have posed a huge problem in canon. He recovers extremely quickly from Isildur's finger chop such that he can physically place a Ring on the latter's corpse (a matter of a few years) and can moreover still use both his Annatar form and his dark battle armor one. Some of this was toyed with and ultimately discarded in the films and it's also at odds with Shadow of Mordor Where the Black Hand either is Sauron or is volunteering as a resurrection vessel. If Sauron could already recreate Annatar thousands of years before Talion was born, why bother?
  • Contested Sequel: Some players take issue with some of the changes this game brings to the formula, such as how it's impossible to kill off all the captains in an area and have it stay captainless (which some feel damages the Power Fantasy feeling that otherwise forms a core part of the series' appeal) and how you can only pick six pieces of equipment for Talion (sword, dagger, ranged weapon, armor, bow, rune) at a time, compared to the previous game letting the player have fifteen separate equips on the player (all runes, yes, so you can't play dress-up with Talion but still fifteen separate mechanical effects).
  • Complete Monster: Sauron returns. See here for details.
  • Counterpart Comparison: While definetly not 100% identical, Talion's story has some parallers with Anakin Skywalker's; Both are separated from their family, who (eventually) die, and are forced in a situation they don't really want to be in. Both perform more and more morally questionable actions as time goes on, and justify them as being for the greater good. Deep down, they question the motives of their allies, and eventually, mutual mistrust and (perceived) betrayal drive them to the dark side to do what they believe is right. As a result, they both gain Supernatural Gold Eyes, start to wear black and cover their head with a hood. Eventually, they fight their former ally and friend, feeling nothing but hate toward them as they do so, but lose. They later return, but have gained permanent new attire, deeper voices, and now serve the evil they originally fought against. While Talion dies before he gets his own Redemption Quest, his actions redeemed him even before he fell.
  • Creepy Awesome: Talion after being transformed into a Nazgul has definitely left an impression on the fanbase, with his horrifying voice, scary, dark appearance, and his shadowy Ringwraith magic.
  • Cry for the Devil: Each and every one of Tolkien's Orcs are twisted monsters who love to kill and torture. Even the ones who serve the Bright Lord are malicious brutes who just happen to revere the player characters. However, the new improvements to the Nemesis system include improvements for the Branded Orcs, and with those improvements come more admirable and pitiable aspects to the Orcs that may make you feel for a Captain who isn't even on your side. It helps that Tolkien himself was troubled by his decision to make every Orc an unrepentant bastard.
    • The Shame mechanic is especially good at making certain players feel like they're not much better than the Orcs, especially if they end up Deranging them and turning them into a hollow shell of what they used to be.
  • Crossing the Line Twice: Bruz's entire character? Hilarious. Shaming Bruz to the point of gibbering fear? Horrible. Keeping him around afterwards when his only lines, including during fights with other orcs, revolve around him not wanting the "bloody fort"? Absolutely hilarious. Managing to make him an overlord means that all of his speeches consist of him not wanting to keep the fort he currently owns? Absolutely amazing.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy:
    • This has been the overall argument for fans who did not like the true ending of the game, claiming that by having the bad guy winning, everything done during the course of the game was ultimately undone. Though considering Sauron was inevitably going to win since he still amasses an enormous army to conquer the rest of Middle Earth during the Fellowship trilogy, other fans wonder why no one saw this coming anyway. As they note, this is one part where the game is being true to Tolkien, compared to all its other changes. Trying to defeat Sauron by using his own means against him, or wanting to mirror his power will simply not work, as Tolkien set out to demonstrate with Boromir and Saruman in the original series, and which Monolith proves with Talion, Celebrimbor and Eltariel.
      • Eltariel's DLC helps handle this, as it shows Tallion's fall in much more tragic terms, and emphasizes the tragedy that he's a good man who simply couldn't hold out...but has the same issue at the end, as it implies Eltariel was corrupted by Celebrimbor, and has Celebrimbor survive the death of Sauron...
      • Finally averted in The Desolation of Mordor; The DLC completely inverts the bleak tone of the main game as it's tone is much more bright and hopeful, as by the end of the DLC Baranor's life is considerably better than at the beginning. He's found his long lost brother, has a skilled army at his back and will soon be meeting up with his lover Idril to wage a campaign on Mordor. None of the heroes die, no one is corrupted by the dark power. For once in the Shadow of Mordor series, the ever trodden on race of Man manages to pull a complete victory, however minor it may be in the grand scheme of things.
    • Many critics have also noted that while the game's highly touted Nemesis system essentially amounts to slavery, which the game's story condemns the player for. Adding to this is the fact that unlike other Tolkien works where orcs are portrayed as Always Chaotic Evil, the orcs in Shadow of War have free will and their own distinct personalities and motivations. And it is impossible to convert the orcs to your side through positive reinforcement - you have to abuse them and break their wills.
  • Demonic Spiders:
    • Defenders. Their shields block most attacks from the front, and they will likely learn to stop you from vaulting over them if the fight takes long enough. If you get behind them, they still may perform an instant 180 degree turn when you try to hit them, and even wooden shields can somehow flawlessly block a fiery explosion that levels everyone else without as much as scratching them. On the arena, they are rather overpowered, as they are capable of blocking even Olog attacks 97% of the time. They are vulnerable against stealth, orcs who can dodge them (Assassins and Tricksters) and the "Waters of Lórien" upgradenote , but they can still be ridicuosly tough, especially if they are tanks, who regain their health and get up once they are downed once.
    • Fire Drakes can be very difficult to handle, especially in groups. Since they fly most of the time, the player needs to snipe them to make them vulnerable to executions. The problem is they can only be knocked down as they are about to attack. This more often than not results in the player getting hit by their very hard hitting attacks. The fact they tend to be in battles where the player needs to focus on other enemies doesn't help.
    • Like the first game a Captain can become this depending on what abilities they have. A particularly frustrating combination is a Defender with Fast Learner. Because not only do you have to deal with an already defensive Uruk that requires a specific strategy but you have to kill them fast, lest they adapt to it. Coupled with other strengths like Arrow-Proof, it could make them Nigh Invulnerable.
      • Snipers are the biggest pain in the ass if they're on the other side of a fort or outpost. They can bring Talion (or worse, Baranor) down to low health with a single shot, and they will not miss if you don't find cover.
    • The online arenas allow you to upgrade your warchief to legendary if they survive 5 consecutive battles. The problem is that the system doesn't really take your orc's status into account (Regular, Epic, Legendary), and they might die because your unknown opponent turned out be Legendary. In practice, this means that to reach the level where your orc turns legendary, you just about need a Legendary orc to stand a chance against your opponents. On the other hand, even one win gives you a free chest that allows you to upgrade any of your orcs.
    • Every single enemy if you play on the Gravewalker difficulty, especially in the beginning of the game. You get no last chances without upgrades, and enemeis strike hard; captains get extremely durable, and eventually your Army screen may be filled by grunts who downed you while you were trying to whittle down an enemy captain's health.
  • Disappointing Last Level: Many players generally agree that Act IV is the weakest part of the game, being what is essentially a long Playable Epilogue that encourages long grinding to get to the Golden Ending of the game.
    • People have noted that branding every attacker and turning them into your forts' warchiefs reduces some of the grinding, since you get several high-level orcs at your disposal; the only downside if an attacker is higher level than you, they cannot be branded.note  And since you don't lose anything if you fail the fort defense, you can just let a way-too-underpowered fort be decimated by Sauron's forces and then dominate the winners. It is still slow and methodical, but constant rebuilding is still more exciting than defending all the time, sitting and watching fighting pits for hours or searching for good uruks in the wild.
    • Monolith has since confirmed that Act IV will receive changes to its gameplay, narrative and presentation in future content updates.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The game's Central Theme is how those who fight monsters end up being corrupted by powers that no one should use for good. Yet, it's very jarring considering that many reviewers and gamers praised the gameplay and combat, which involve using all those cool superpowers granted by the Ring, and the core appeal of the series is that it's a Power Fantasy where you slaughter orcs by the dozens.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Affable orcs like Brûz can make players forget that they are still bloodthirsty monsters who aren't above betraying you or each other. Especially when the shame mechanic makes them looks more pitiful but even deranged orcs execute slaves and ambush others captains for their goods.
  • Ending Aversion: Fans became uneasy about the game's ending for two separate reasons: one was the alleged rumors regarding the Golden Ending being locked behind a big deal of grinding that can be bypassed by Bribing Your Way to Victory, though it has been shown that it's possible to achieve the true ending without spending a single dime in it, though one has to dedicate many hours to do so. And the other one is that it's a complete Downer Ending that renders the struggle virtually pointless, despite it essentially having been a Foregone Conclusion from the start.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Much like in the last game, the Orcs absolutely steal the show for their over-the-top personalities and general badassery.
    • There's one particular version titled "the Singer" who tends to be especially liked for, of course, singing all his taunts while strumming his lute-axe. "You may have heard of one like me~"
    • Everyone from the gameplay reveal trailer, with particular mention going to Az-Larr. The official Shadow of War Youtube channel saw the positive response he received and then made a memorial video. He was even added to the mobile version as a playable character. (Unlike most orcs, he is an official character, and not a randomly generated opponent.)
    • Brûz the Chopper, the first ally you get when you regain the branding ability in the game seems to have supplanted Az-Laar's place as the olog darling of the Shadow of War community after being unveiled in the E3 2017 presentation. So much so he is affectionally referred as "Orcbro" by fans. Players have lamented that Brûz's betrayal is completely scripted, and many try to recruit him back to their army after he has been shamed.
      Celebrimbor: I like him.
    • Ratbag returns due to being one of the most popular characters in the previous one, despite his (seeming) death.
    • Eltariel's lieutenants in Blade of Galadriel are very well-liked for their good nature and willingness to help. It helps a lot that they this way naturally without the need of brainwashing.
  • Even Better Sequel: Shadow of War improves upon the widely-praised combat system and Nemesis System of Shadow of Mordor, as well as fixing many of the complaints players had about the first game (for example: the small and rather bland open world of Shadow of Mordor has been replaced with a much larger open world with more diversity in scenery). Some people have commented that Shadow of War is to Shadow of Mordor what Batman: Arkham City was to Batman: Arkham Asylum. In terms of story, Shadow of War is a deeper exploration of the themes of the first game, namely trying to fight the Dark Lord with the forces and means of darkness, making it morally complex, intricate and compelling where the first game was a more simple and basic plot, made to service new gameplay.
  • Evil Is Sexy: This game managed to make Shelob of all things this. Subverted when it's revealed in Act III that she was Good All Along.
  • Foe Yay:
    • There is some between Sauron & Celebrimbor. During one of the "Shadows of the Past" missions, Celebrimbor calls the former a "beautiful visitor"note , and both Sauron and Celebrimbor want to "own" the other, before eventually becoming one. Throw in jokes about rings and a reference to the Elven marriage customsnote  and you'd have a pretty good basis for a prequel Slash Fic.
    • The Witch-king is pretty interested in Talion. The devs actually joked during a livestream that he occasionally calls Talion with the Palantir to ask if he wants to be friends with him.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • While many powers are intended to break at least something, Shadow Strike Pull makes hunting captains a breeze. You can just stand on a roof and grab every worm you see for interrogation while his buddies wonder where he went. A bodyguard or an another captain giving you more trouble than your target? Just pull them up to a rooftop that's too high for them to scale down and deal with them one by one or just strand them there. Its only downside is that arrow-proof enemies and olog-hai are immune to it.
    • Warchief's bodyguards being near limitless make the Shadow Wars ridiculously easy, as even if your captains aren't the same level as the enemy there are twenty of them against a wave of three. The silver chests, which are bought with the game currency from quests and scrapped equipment, also make it so you don't even have to go looking for orcs.
    • The Vendetta armor set, obtained by completing fairly simple tasks in online Vendetta missions, allows you to use Executions even when not at full Might. True, it does cost you 40% of your HP, but with enough dodging and draining stray mooks, it makes fights a lot easier. Similarly, the set allows you to use ranged attacks even if you're out of arrows, at the cost of 25% of your health.
      • Gets even more ludicrously broken once you unlock Raise Dead, as you can drain the Uruks you acquire to restore your health, while the others will distract the enemy so you can drain safely.
    • Since the "Deadly Spectre" upgrade doesn't give away your location, you can just hang from a ledge and repeat the move on a captain who is too tough to fight in combat. However, as it's a stealth attack, some enemies might be(come) immune to it.
    • In a manner reminiscent to "Scissors Cuts Rock", tamed Graug can be used to bypass combat skills and squash captains flat. Long story short is that anything less than total beast immunity, most often found on hunters, won't prevent you from summoning a Graug against a captain and just stomp them into the ground. Even the legendary adaptive guardian will still fall to this tactic so long as you're thorough in finishing him off quickly.
    • Capes that briefly turn Talion invisible after a successful last chance allow him to perform stealth attacks -which, at very high levels, deal almost 10 times the damage a sword attack does- in battle. The invisibility lasts long enough to deal at least 2, if not 3 stealth attacks; while this obviously doesn't work if the opponent is immune to stealth attacks or if you can't perform a last chance, but it's completely possible to destroy an otherwise difficult enemy in a few seconds with it. I tells wonders that Eltariel's Limit Break utilizes the same strategy.
    • Epic swords that grant you large amount of wrath upon executions. Holy hell. Those with high enough levels allow you to refill Talion's Limit Break with as little as 3 to 2 executions. However, once you activate said break, executions still recharge your wrath, allowing you to stay in it as long as you have enemies to execute. (When it's active, Talion's might recharges constantly, which allows him to perform unlimited executions, which in turn recharge the wrath meter) You can capture fortresses alone with little effort with this. Your only obstacles will be some seriously difficult captains, the melee system's tendency to focus on captains over grunts, and running out of enemies. It's even more powerful than the intentionally overpowered One Ring from the previous game's DLC. They were actually nerfed after a few months. Note (Spoilers) 
    • Eltariel's Light skills in her DLC allows her to pretty much perma-stun any enemy, even captains, that's not immune to it. And it can be used on several enemies at once. And the Cone of Light skill can be upgraded to additionally heal allies in range of the skill.
      • Her Area of Effect actually refills her might unlike Talion's. With enough enemies, you can perform the move several times in a row, and each time adds some lights to every orc affected, allowing many one-hit kills even on ologs. Since every enemy hit by it adds to the combo, you can reach a 100-hit combo extremely easily.
    • Baranor has some of his own. For example, having a full set of bombs gives him an item that not only dazes a Captain, but hurts them, too — and there is no immunity to them. In addition, depending on some of the modifiers, Baranor can become a killing machine, such as being able to poison orcs who land a hit on him, or having a flaming shield that burns and dazes enemies, or having bolts that penetrate flesh and hit multiple orcs. It doesn't hurt that unlike Talion, Baranor's wrist-crossbow can fire multiple shots with no delay, and if the Captain is Soft-Headed, he'll be slain quickly.
      • A surprisingly high number of rune combinations and can end up making any conflict a breeze if Baranor just kills enough captains to get them. One combo can allow you to regain a poison bolt on each stealth kill and gain focus from chain kills; figure out that each chain kill from stealth also counts as a stealth kill, and you can wipe out an entire army of orcs, and come out of it with a net profit in bolts and focus, at the cost of pulling off one stealth kill. Another triples your stealth attack damage, which ends up being enough to one shot common non-stealth immune captains after stacking a few common dagger runes, and even when it isn't, you can grapple or use a launcher bodyguard to just keep slamming your dagger into their neck until they die.
      • It must be noted in the case of Baranor's DLC, the game is empowering the player more and more to see how high a score they can achieve, so the game breaking weaponry is justified.
  • Goddamn Bats:
    • Archers and hunters are sometimes frustratingly accurate. Getting hit by ranged weapons every few seconds and not finding the shooter before losing your first "Last Chance" is especially annoying when fighting overlords. They become a nightmare on Gravewalker difficulty.
    • Caragors are almost useless as allies, but enemy caragors are extremely persistent.
    • Ologs can be this or Demonic Spiders depending on Talion's skill set, but what makes them always annoying in groups is that they will throw you to the ground if you try to roll into them. Thankfully this doesn't do any damage but considering that larger scale fights require a lot of rolling the player can find themselves getting tossed back and forth. On the other hand, one can use the tossing animation for a quick breather, and check the surroundings.
    • Spiders. Invisible on the minimap, their color blends into the surroundings, tiny and attack quickly, and don't deal that much damage but slow you down, give you Interface Screw, drain you special meter and prevent you from shadow striking.
  • Goddamned Boss:
    • Any orc with the "No Chance" trait, especially during sieges. Most orcs who have this trait are assassins, who are good at avoiding your attacks, deal a lot of damage, but aren't too durable. Dying ends the siege, and if you're defending, you also lose the fortress until you reclaim it. Since sieges have a lot going on, it's possible to get overwhelmed by enemies and then get finished off by a captain with said trait. If you're surrounded by aforementioned ranged mooks, it gets even worse.
    • Trickster orcs refuse to stay still and have no problems evading your attacks. Especially if they are arrow- and frost-proof, since you can't force them to stop moving. Some of them can even escape after getting downed.
    • Zog the Eternal, because of his immunities and the fact that he will always resurrect and decide to constantly I Shall Taunt You.
    • Sniper orcs, due to their tendency of shooting at you from extreme ranges, usually from above, and their attacks hurt. They are not too bad on their own, but if one sets their sight on you when you are busy fighting an another captain, they can be devastating due to their pinpoint accuracy. This can actually be turned around, since they seem to have the highest chance of saving Talion if assigned as bodyguards.
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • It's hard to tell if it's a bug, but it's possible to go countless hours into the game and not encounter Zog again after his death. There are some who took their time to reach the Golden Ending but didn't even know he could come back after his storyline before reading about it.
    • One possible bonus a cape (even non-Legendary ones) can give is that after standing still for 6 seconds, Talion turns invisiblenote  until you do something (crouching, aiming and attract are allowed though). However, the timer doesn't care how the 6 seconds are spent, and thus Talion will often be invisible after captains finish talking, or if you check the captains strenghts and weaknesses and keep the list open for 6 seconds.
    • Challenges that require killing grunts can be performed on your own troops, even if the challenge claims otherwise.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In the full ending, Talion takes one last look at Minas Morgul before joining the nine without a struggle. However, the Blade of Galadriel reveals that by that point most of his humanity is already gone and Talion's final moments before turning were full of anger and hate towards a former ally.
    • Talion's final wish in Bo G is that he doesn't want to die in Mordor. In the end, he is finally killed when his fellbeast is hit by falling debris from the erupting mount doom in the middle of Mordor.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: This xkcd comic becomes even funnier with the knowledge that Sauron and Shelob were lovers, and that she was one of the few sentient beings he didn't put a ring on when given the chance, which ultimately came back to bite him.
    • Players find it amusing that Super Mario Odyssey gives Mario the same domination ability as Talion — except that game has no problems with brainwashing beings and bending them to your will, which War explicitly moralizes on.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Celebrimbor disappears after forging the new ring. Talion's first reaction is to start searching for him, and he doesn't even hesitate to give away their best chance of defeating Sauron in exchange for Celebrimbor, despite CB's protests. The bridge scene feels like a messy breakup, with Celebrimbor leaving Talion for an another person.
    • Ratbag and Ranger. They lived together quite a while, and once the latter disappears, the former searches all around Middle-earth to find him, and hugs him once he is found. He does consider him more of a pet than anything else, though. Ranger himself has a bit of a hot and cold approach toward him.
    • The entire scene of Sauron giving Sûladan a ring feels like a proposal, with him kneeling and offering him a ring. Man, the rings really add a lot of subtext to the series.
  • Iron Woobie: Talion. All he wants is being allowed release from his undeath and rejoin his loved ones in death, but he can't so long as Sauron threatens Middle-Earth. Even when he could very well allow himself to die when Celebrimbor abandons him to pursue power for his own, Talion opts to turn himself into a Ringwraith and remains locked in war with Sauron inside Mordor for many, many decades.
  • It Was His Sled: Talion becomes a ringwraith. Even the devs don't seem to consider it a spoiler anymore, considering they sometimes post fan-submitted screenshots of Dark Talion in social media and occasionally play in post-act IV during livestreams.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Despite him betraying Talion, kidnapping his close ally and tries to kill him, it's hard to not feel sorry for Brûz when he is shamed as punishment. Even other orcs note they'd rather being dead than suffer the same fate as him.
    • It's worth noting that even the act of betraying Talion isn't anywhere near as sinister as betrayal tropes usually are, since the Orcs are only ever "Loyal" to Talion in the first place because they are brainwashed into it.Spoilers  This is less a case of "an ally betrays the hero" then it is a case of a slave breaking free and punishing the one who enslaved him.
    • There's an orc captain variant who's extremely old and has only lasted as long as he has because Sauron's necromancers keep bringing him back to life. If the player keeps killing him over and over, he'll start begging to be put to rest in broken sentences.
    • Some of the Orcs when they become Deranged can become this. Of note is that one who particularly hounded the player beforehand can be reduced to bawling "I tried" and similar sentences. It almost makes a player want to kill them just to end their suffering.
    • Killed someone's Blood Brother? They are clearly heartbroken about it. Their quest for revenge ends in either death, brainwashing, or something even worse.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The game's heavy use of the word "shrakh" (Black Speech for "shit") finally broke people and it's now the curse of choice for Shadow fans.
    • To a lesser extent, so has "glob".
    • Brûz the Chopper has been referred to a "Orcbro" by some people due to his personality.
    • It's popular to make insinuations about any Uruks named "Shag the (Descriptor)."
    • Celebrimbor's Act 1 obsession with his Ring and the Palantir (or "Palanteeyah", as he pronounces it).
  • Moral Event Horizon: After veering dangerously close over the line between Well-Intentioned Extremist and Evil Overlord, Celebrimbor finally crosses it when he willingly abandons Talion after the latter has a Heel Realization that they are Not So Different from Sauron and refuses to go along with his plan to dominate their enemy and use his army to "bring order to Middle-Earth" - since Talion only wanted to destroy Sauron so he could finally rest in peace. And to further twist the knife, Celebrimbor tells him he is merely a vessel and he has others. This is to hammer the point that anyone who uses the Rings of Power for good eventually becomes corrupted by them.
  • Most Annoying Sound: In the "Archers of Morgoth" mission, Carnan will repeat the same two lines every few seconds. Check that; she SHOUTS the same two lines every few seconds. You will want to finish the mission as quickly as possible — not because you're worried for her (or your own) safety, but just to get her to shut up.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    Celebrimbor: You will obey!
  • Narm:
    • Those with even a passing familiarity with Tengwar can't take the new Ring of Power seriously. This is because the inscription isn't written in Quenya or Sindarin, it's simply an English cypher. But they couldn't get that right either, the inscription is complete gibberish that was written on a keyboard with a Tengwar font. You'd think they'd take care on something so important to the story, or at least consult fans that could have translated it. Or ya know, looked at the alphabet at all.
    • In the Blade of Galadriel, Talion on the army screen of Minas Morgul looks extremely bored.
    • Underneath the voice filters, Nolan North's take on Isildur is similar to his Penguin voice; Since the other Nazgûl voices have only been deepened, it means that the young Gondorian who cut the ring from Sauron's finger sounded like a raspy, overweight middle-aged man.
  • Narm Charm: Having a troll making a head popping noise doesn't really scream epic fantasy, but Brüz's personality is just so charming and it still underlines that there is no difference between the Bright Lord and Dark Lord.
  • No Yay: While the original game had certain orcs with some... over-affectionate lines directed towards Talion, this game makes it even more blatant by adding orcs with the "Obsessed" nickname, whose lines are pretty much "I Have You Now, My Pretty".
  • Older Than They Think:
    • With the (somewhat) exception of the top Elves, most of the entities in Tolkien cosmology have a level of "being" beyond what they are walking around as. Sauron is the most obvious example but it also applies to Gandalf, the Balrog(s) and certainly Tom Bombadil. So while giving Shelob a distinct "another form" (and what that form is) is specific to the game, it's hard to say it is wrong. Shelob being a sentient communicator and another type of evil altogether from Sauron is straight from the text.
    • Many complaints were made about how a new ring being created is against the spirit of Tolkien. In fact, in the original text, Saruman was working on his own version of the One Ring and may have actually succeeded as he's described wearing one during his first meeting with Gandalf. Tolkien mentions in one of his letters that in a "realistic" Middle-Earth, Sauron and Saruman would have divided the lands between them with the latter successfully gaining the knowledge to create his. note 
    • Some criticism has been drawn to Baranor, a black man being featured in the trailer and cover, the Haradrim from the far south of Gondor were identified as a human race with dark/brown skin. The Haradrim were an antagonistic faction (albeit of the Worthy Opponent variant).note 
    • While the presence of fire-drakes caused some controversy Gandalf explicitly says the purpose of the expedition to the Lonely Mountain was to prevent Sauron from reaching and recruiting Smaug no canon source ever states that there were no dragons left in Middle-Earth. Indeed, Gandalf at one point says "there is not now any dragon left earth" who could melt the Ring, implying that there are still dragons alive. It's not out of the question that Sauron could have some of these lesser dragons or dragon-like creatures in his army; given how destructive even these seem to be, this may actually lend credence to the idea that Gandalf would want to prevent Sauron from recruiting Smaug.note 
    • Some accused the creators of straight-up plagiarizing A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones, by having the Nazgul being capable of raising undead minions called wights, similarly to the White Walkers/Others though they were more like zombies than ghosts. However, Ringwraiths always had their ability to turn living beings into their wraith servants, and similar spirits used by Sauron himself (called Barrow-wights) are mentioned in the books.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy:
    • Microtransactions, lootboxes and the market. Those things are a Berserk Button of greatest magnitude for most players, who are opposed to the idea of having a single-player game with any of those, and are afraid most of the high-end content will be restricted to be accessible only by paying real money in a game they'll already have purchased full-price. Others trust the developers' assurance that their contents are optional, can be obtained through normal gameplay, and don't see them as that bad. Either way, the game has become infamous for how it is monetized by WB.
      • Not helped by one of the developers stating that all the current playtesting has been done without the lootbox system enabled, which many interpreted to mean that it's as slap-dash as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's controversial microtransactions were. Reviews have since called the microtransaction model a silly afterthought.
    • While the game in general got overall, very positive reviews, the more mixed ones all mention the aforementioned Loot Boxes and various instances of Canon Defilement as things that drag down the experience.
  • Player Punch:
    • Having any orc follower that you have grown attached to getting killed is bound to be one. Even worse is if they are brought back by Sauron and are now your enemies.
    • Several players lamented about Brûz's betrayal and subsequent Mind Rape being completely scripted and unpreventable. Many have reported to trying to recruit him back after finishing his questline, but unfortunately, he is programmed to betray you because of his permanent deranged state which resulted in certain players choosing to put him out of his misery.
    • Celebrimbor abandoning Talion and revealing that he considered him nothing but a vessel.
  • Play the Game, Skip the Story: Among early reviews, some say that the plot is lackluster, but the gameplay is an improvement over the first game's (if you don't count the lootboxes, that is).
  • Power Up Letdown:
    • While largely averted with actual powers and gear, (since the upgrade system allows you to just turn off annoying upgrades) gear suffers from this on a cosmetic level. As you level them up they get progressively shinier, cleaner and prettier, but if the player happens to prefer dark colors they need to choose whether to upgrade and risk getting some bling in their equipment or look creepy but lose power. Especially after Talion transforms into a ringwraith, as the servant set is torn, worn, and Red and Black and Evil All Over, but leveling it up adds a golden highlights to it and it gets repaired. It's like if Darth Vader had golden highlights on his suit, and really affects the creepiness factor of the armor. On a positive side, some players have been requesting the ability to downgrade their appearance, so it's possible that something will be implemented.
    • As mentioned under Scrappy Mechanic, swords that deal fire damage cause an explosion when it triggers, which, while harmless to Talion, tends to affect flurry kills rather annoyingly.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Downplayed. The ability to switch back to Celebrimbor after beating the game is one of the most requested features on the game's forums. However, Dark Talion is also beloved by many, and the main reason people want to switch between the two wraiths is to hear him talk again. Downplayed even further now that he has his own lines for branding.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Poor Eltariel got hit with this pretty badly by some people after she Betrayed Talion to help Celebrimbor against Sauron. Some players seem to think this single act (regardless of Eltariel being otherwise heroic) as an absolute Moral Event Horizon moment, declare her to be just as evil as Sauron (or even worse!), and don't consider ANY kind of reasoning for her actions. "The Blade of Galadriel" did not do much to help, as people still seem to treat her as a Villain Protagonist for targeting Talion (even though she's only doing it under Galadriel's orders, and that Talion agreed with the idea of eventually dying by her hand to avoid a Fate Worse than Death). It comes off as pretty myopic, considering some of the morally questionable actions the player can get up to in the main story.
  • Rooting for the Empire:
    • After cruelly and coldly betraying Talion and leaving him to die, many fans outright rooted for Sauron against Celebrimbor since he's not even pretending that he's not going to be another Evil Overlord. Sauron's victory in the final battle against Celebrimbor, complete with the ironic reversal of slashing the Bright Lord's fingers in the style of Isildur likewise makes the bad guy winning into an awesome triumphal moment. It helps that Sauron is very much the devil we know; or more specifically, the devil we know will eventually lose, whereas had Celebrimbor successfully enslaved Sauron, he would have been a much greater threat than Sauron by himself.
    • Ironically enough, this also happens to Celebrimbor himself, because he's a vengeful wraith elf prince who goes all in on Branding Orcs and making an army out of them, which is probably the biggest selling point of the game. By comparison, Talion can look a little bland, given he's more of an everyman who's closer to earth and has reasonable doubts about the morality of what they're doing. The plot also has him hold the Idiot Ball early in the game, such as blindly trusting Shelob and underestimating Carnán's power despite Celebrimbor's warnings. At the very least, a lot of players miss Celebrimbor screaming commands while Branding Orcs after he leaves Talion after Act 3.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: Due to the otherwise high amount of Developers' Foresight, (the lack of) some features comes off as rather annoying.
    • The Nemesis system
      • While the ability for captains to betray Talion is okay, even a welcome change from the "you get it, it's always there" of the predecessor, some people's games have this happen so frequently (often several captains at once), and with so little reason, that recruiting captains is seen as a temporary measure at best, with killing them being more reliable. Captains who betray you almost always receive the "Iron Will" trait, which prevents them from being recruited back. This trait has a chance to disappear after being shamed, but it takes extra time nonetheless. "Iron Will" was later nerfed, making it less common and easier to remove from orcs.
      • The "Blood Brothers" trait is one of the more annoying traits an Orc captain can get. When killing a captain with said trait, the captain designated as his blood brother will ambush you to avenge his fallen comrade. By itself the trait isn't that bad, but the problem is caused by the fact enemy captains can be linked to your own orcs. The game does not tell you when a captain gets a blood brother, and any captain can get one whenever time passes. Killing a blood brother linked to one of your captains is a guaranteed way for them to betray you. Dealing with this trait is rather cumbersome, as your options are: 1) Try to avoid the linked enemy captain at all costs. 2) Kill said captain, wait for his blood brother to betray you and recruit him back into your army through multiple shamings. 3) Recruit the blood brother in your army, even when you don't find him interesting. 4) Having an allied Uruk kill the captain for you, which will not trigger any of the normal repercussions like betrayals or ambushes. What makes this trait even more annoying, is that newly spawned enemy Orc captains can suddenly decide to become a blood brother to one of your favorite captains.
      • While betrayal and blood brother add depths to the orcs and has its ups, orcs keeping their enraged by rivals when both are dominated is just messy, basically one orc will try to kill the other if you summon them and even ambush his rival's Nemesis mission.
      • There's no real way to upgrade your overlords and warchiefs; either you get some training orders from the market, or mess up your infrastructure by demoting them to captains and then training them; but this seems to increase their chance of betraying you.
      • It's impossible to kill all the captains of an area and have that area stay captainless for longer than an instant. If the game detects an empty army page, it will immediately spawn a small amount of new captains, seemingly just to avert this. By contrast, in the previous game, the army page would only get new captains if time advanced — which was something the player had to trigger manually (or receive as part of the penalty for dying). Players have noted that the automatic spawning of more captains doesn't add anything to the experience, since advancing time manually does so anyway, but it does damage the Power Fantasy feeling that otherwise forms a core part of the series' appeal.
      • You cannot create a pit fight between undead orcs and another allied orc, despite the fact that this would speed up grinding considerably, since you could just resurrect the undead one for unlimited target practice.
      • Unless you have a training order you can't move your captain from region to region, which is really tedious as you have to build a different army in every area. Especially infuriating is that enemy Captain have no problem chasing you through Mordor.
      • Getting rescued by your allies moments before dying is awesome, unless you're actually trying to level up your opponent or create a small plotline. While bodyguards can just be turned off, Forthog can still (albeit rarely) kill your opponent before you want them to die. Likewise, while Uruk kill animations are cool to watch, leveling up an Uruk and then having their head chopped off by an another uruk is rather annoying.
    • Gameplay:
      • Despite the new movement options that involve a lot of jumping, it's not possible to perform stealth takedowns from the air.
      • A minor one; weapons that deal fire damage at random can and will end flurry kills early, as they create an explosion when the element triggers. (Every elemental weapon also has the neat ability to enrage captains who hate said element, but otherwise aren't too bad) Especially annoying if the piece of equipment is your best one, so you need to downgrade to get rid of the effect, but on the other hand, it does make the player think whether they want sheer power or a elemental gimmick.
      • You no longer receive experience points for killing random grunt orcs - which makes fighting them often feel like little more than a waste of time (unless you do it to farm gems or money or to build up elven rage or might before a fight).
      • While usually consistent, the combat priorization can occasionally glitch out, like in the first game. Surrounded by captains, and you barely managed to build up one special move? Talion might spend it on the only defenseless grunt instead. It gets especially annoyong if Talion suddenly decides that Savages are his most important targets at the moment. However, the game does fix one large problem the previous game had; Talion can no longer accidentally execute his own orcs.
      • The restriction that you can't activate multiple modular upgrades at once for a single skill has irked some player. For example in Shadow of Mordor dominating an Orc both brands them and gives you Elf-Shot, while with this game's modular upgrades you can only choose one or the other.
      • The "X chance that defeated opponents explode" ability some armors give you, since you too take damage and get knocked back by said explosions. Granted, it would be pretty OP otherwise, but as it makes any fight with multiple enemies a Suicide Mission, the effect is practically worthless.
      • Talion can now perform a shadow strike to enemies on ladders. While the move itself is useful, it ends with an automatic jump that's anything but, since all it does is launch you away from your target.
      • This game adds the ability to replay missions, but for whatever reason, you cannot replay "The Fall" (of Minas Ithril) or "The Bright Lord", the game's ending mission with the final boss fight.
    • Regardless of one's feelings about the market, it has one glaring design flaw: you can't destroy several orcs at once, and there's a 300 orc storage limit. Silver War Chests (purchaseable for 1500 units of in-game currency) have a low chance of including a legendary training order, but also come with two orcs. Trying to get one training order will inevitably result in a large amount of spare orcs, but destroying one takes a while since you need to hold the button for a few seconds to confirm it, and the market needs to sync with the game's servers. If you decide to use a lot of the easily-aquired money to buy a lot of chests at once, you'll quickly run out of space. In short, it's fast and easy to fill out the storage, but cleaning it up can take over an hour at worst.
      • On a related subject, it's possible for Talion to have hundreds of useless items, that requires them to be sold one-by-one. In fact, some people who complained that they didn't have enough in-game currency to upgrade forts didn't know that cashing in old junk was an option (notably Yahtzee) to generate tons of cash.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Talion's clothes revert to default in cutscenes, but this is justifiable as they are pre-rendered to allow 4K visuals. (4K files are often huge in terms of file size, and having multiple variants of the same cutscenes would quickly become a nightmare)
    • Thrown hammers turn into arrows if they hit an arrow-proof enemy. For whatever reason, neither hammers or longbows also can't trigger nemesis introducions.
    • Dark Talion still uses Celebrimbor's weapons, and his dark green effects sometimes revert to light blue. Shadow Strike pull is the worst example, as Talion clearly uses Celebrimbor's blue hammer and the move emits blue smoke. While harder to notice, activating photo mode during regular shadow strikes shows that the afterimage of Talion's sword is still Celebrimbor's sword. As Talion receives his own hammer after becoming a Nazgul which he uses in The Blade of Galadriel, it's likely something the devs missed.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: One that actually forms the basis of the opening act, no less. So you want to start forming your own army and taking out Sauron's fortresses? Fine, but you have to spend about 10 hours doing Shelob's quests in Cirith Ungol and Minas Ithil first, because she took your ring (and with it, your branding powers).
  • Tainted by the Preview: Not necessarily tainted, but the fact that the game still seemed to be in alpha as of May, three months before the initially-announced release date was a bit unnerving to some. Even as the game itself seems to be rather-solidly built, and the graphics are steadily improving from the last-gen level first seen, the time-frame involved was the real kicker. This was fixed somewhat when numerous publications post very positive first impressions of the game, along with more and more footage, and even moreso when the date was pushed-back to October.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Those who dislike the market will be happy to know that the orc who previously appeared in the Market screen was added into the nemesis system when the market was removed. And he isn't unique, so he can respawn. So now the players have a physical manifestation of microtransactions they can chop up into tiny pieces over and over again
  • That One Achievement: "If You Can't Beat Them", if only because you need to die thrice to the same orc (humiliation doesn't count), and the usually rare rescues your allies can perform keep happening surpringly often. Bodyguard rescues can be turned off by turning off the power, but Forthog or even a Warchief can still save you. This one is easier in Minas Morgul and now that endless sieges were added, as you can now get rid of every ally in any location, thus making Forthog's rare appearances your only obstacle.
  • That One Boss: Funnily enough, the more Nazgul there are, the easier they are to beat. One-to-one battles against them are surprisingly difficult. Helm constantly summons wildlife to attack you, making it hard to focus on fighting him. Isildur keeps rising the mooks who've died on the battlefield, and undead orcs can't be countered traditionally. Arguably, the hardest thing about Isildur's final fight are your own allies, who tend to swarm Isildur so you can't hit him.
  • That One Sidequest: Many of the challenges to upgrade Eltariel's gear are pretty tough.
    • The Ice elemental set's armor and swords require you to freeze several enemies in a small timeframe - but unlike the other elements with similar requirements, there are no ice Ao E attacks in the DLC. The only way to freeze several opponents in one move is either a certain piece of gear (being cursed freezes nearby enemies) and the icicles in Seregost, both of which rely on luck. Your best bet may just be to use your bow to freeze enemiesnote  and using the freezing set bonus to kill them quickly.
    • One item requires you to kill a drake while riding a graug. While using the bow is allowed, finding both creatures at the same time can be difficult, as you can't just summon them.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • The scripted betrayal of Brûz the Chopper and his subsequent Shaming, just to introduce a gameplay mechanic, didn't sit well with many players who grew fond of the big lug and wanted to have him stick around as a permanent ally. Brûz can still be dominated and kept as a follower after the shaming, but most of his personality will be gone and he will have a high chance of betraying you again.
    • The returning orcs you chose in Mordor's Nemesis Forge have very small roles. Your opponent shows up as an early boss fight in "The Arena", and never appears afterwards. Your "closest ally" is rescued in a later mission, but behaves exactly like every other ally; meaning that it's possible that the first thing they ever do after the mission is to betray you. To be fair, the fact that not everyone played the forge or the previous game does limit their roles.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Caragors make terrible allies. Even several of them ganging up on a single Uruk who is theoretically weak to their attacks (ie: one who possess traits like "Beast Fodder") will be effortlessly destroyed due to the AI making them too non-aggressive against Uruks to do anything. This was later addressed in a patch.
    • Assassins with the swift movement trait are horrible in pit fight, they'll spend most of the fight dodging the opponent but rarely attacking which leads to the getting killed relatively easily. This makes perfect sense, since an assassin's strength isn't a straight-up head-to-head fight.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Forthog Orc-Slayer gives some vibes of this, what with his perfectly human face in a corpulent Uruk body combined with his highly detailed skin.
    • The original character models are used in the opening cutscene. Then the game switches to the new character models, to quite jarring effect.
    • Due to their small role in the story, Gondorian civilians and soldiers aren't as detailed as other NPCs in the game are, and there's something about them that feels off.
    • The February 2018 update added the option for the player character to look at the camera in photo mode. The end result of this is that your character slowly turns their head when you move the camera and just stares at you without even blinking.
  • What an Idiot!: Zog the Eternal attempts to bind a freakin' Balrog to his will. Celebrimbor says it's doable but Zog's plan is to become the new Big Bad thanks to it, which means fighting both Sauron and all of the Free Peoples with one weakened Balrog. Even without Talion's intervention, his plan would have crumpled before you could say "You Shall Not Pass!"note 
    • Did Castamir really think the Witch-King would keep his word? Seriously?
  • WTH, Costuming Department?: Some feel this way about the Servant set's armor. At level 35note  it's dirty, torn, red and black/dark green. However, each upgrade repairs it a bit, and its color scheme changes to dark blue cloth and black armor with yellow highlights at max level.note  While the armor's spikier appearance looks pretty cool, the fact that it has very little resemblance to the level 20-40 version and the sheer amount of yellow/gold in it annoys some players, especially since the armor is meant to be similar to those the Nazgûl wear. Fortunately, the July update adds an alternate version of the armor, with a darker color scheme and a new passive ability (Grunts have a chance of turning undead upon death).


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