Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor orcs are individuals: no two are the same, and no two players will have the same encounter with these foes, according to the game’s director of design Michael de Plater.
Speaking with Polygon in just one of the man previews published this morning, de Plater attributed such variety to the workings of the game’s Nemesis System which creates procedurally-generated enemies shaped by the player’s actions.
“We wanted to make it feel like a dynamic society, [we wanted it to] feel alive, and to make it so that as you’re traveling, you’re really able to have an affect on that world,” he said. “We didn’t necessarily start with the idea of making it procedural. I think the starting idea was we wanted to do something new and next-gen with our enemies. There are villains in every game, but how do we make the player create their own personal villain?
“When players can create their own stories, it becomes so much more meaningful and memorable. In every game, you fight so many nameless grunts, and we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to make those more interesting and give them more possibility without creating scripted villains.”
Players will be controlling the resurrected ranger Talion who has returned from death with Wraith abilities. Not only will he make use of his ranger skills but he will also use the Wraith powers bestowed upon him to read his enemy’s mind. Players will be able to develop both sets of kills through separate trees and toggle between the two.
In one instance in the game shown to Polygon, Talion uses his Wraith abilities to read the mind of an enemy in town, Ratbag, and he used said connection to become knowledgeable of the orcs’ chain of command. Instead of killing Ratbag, the rangers brands him, makes him his minion which leads him directly to the war chief then Ratbag fights alongside Talion.
This particular scene provides an example of how the Nemisis System works in gameplay, allowing the players to plan attacks, gather minions in order to overt failure and use interrogation techniques to store learned information for later use.
Enemies will also remember Talion throughout the game, as the game tracks all enemy encounters.
“You could be meeting some of these guys four, five or six times if they kill you, or if a fight is inconclusive, or if they’re injured. Those scars are going to mark your enemy,” de Plater said. “They’re going to remember you. They’re going to hate you even more, and they’re going to level up and hunt you down.”
You can get an idea of how this plays out in an Alpha gameplay walkthrough video posted below.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is due in 2014 for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.