Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Nemesis System creates procedurally-generated enemies

Thursday, 23rd January 2014 16:03 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

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.



  1. Edo

    I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised how this game looks(especially if it is in pre-alpha state as it says)even though it apparently heavily borrows from such series as Assassin’s Creed and Arkham .The Nemesis system seems very interesting and I will surely keep my eye on this one.

    #1 11 months ago
  2. Hcw87

    Batman-combat is best combat.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. Sadismek

    This sounds awesome!

    #3 11 months ago
  4. Talkar

    This game looks amazing!
    Too bad they also choose to represent Sauron as an eye :/

    #4 11 months ago
  5. salarta

    I’ll be interested to see how this works. I’ve seen claims of gameplay mechanics like this for a long, long time, and each time they failed to live up to the hype.

    #5 11 months ago
  6. Mus42

    @5 – yep sounds like someone has been studying the Molyneux style of over promising. Hopefully it won’t end up being another load of bullshit. Oh and why oh why do they always have to have some crazy gruff voiced guy doing the video commentaries?

    #6 11 months ago
  7. YoungZer0

    Wow. Never thought a Lord of the Rings game could look this damn cool. Can someone explain to me how someone can be a ghost and a human at the same time in LotR? Is that common? Also nice to see the Oddboyz making an appearance.

    On a different note, why isn’t this a soul reaver game?

    #7 11 months ago
  8. SplatteredHouse

    “There are villains in every game, but how do we make the player create their own personal villain?”

    There’s much of interest it seems in this game, and I like what I saw in the video. That’s a great question, though. In some games it can be that you feel a greater opposition to a fight with one foe than another, but then the narrative/flow of play might just move you on towards what the designer thought was more important. Here instead, a scene has been set and your participation/interruption will cause it to proceed in reaction to a player’s approach. It does look really good also from an atmosphere and visual consideration, but I especially like the game having given its characters (every one) a place, and point in the scenes. It’s characters…Even have character :D No. All this is very good!

    #8 11 months ago
  9. dtyk

    At first when I saw the character walk on the rope line I thought “Yo, this is like 1:1 copy of Assassin’s Creed.”

    They redeemed themselves in the second half. I will probably pick this up.

    #9 11 months ago
  10. The_Red

    Seeing procedurally-generated stuff in AAA games is super cool. It doesn’t hurt that the game looks stunning is the first retail game from Monolith in ages.

    #10 11 months ago
  11. Tormenter


    It’s in no way true to the lore, they’ve taken a massive dump on it.

    I probably would have been attracted by the game if it were it’s own thing.. but doing this, then calling it Lord of the Rings is just insulting to those of us who actually give a shit about the veracity of Tolkien’s world.

    If someone plays it, it’s definately not going to be because they want more Tolkien… I’m really tired of beloved works being raped because someone can make a buck.

    #11 11 months ago
  12. The_Red

    Peter Jackson has already taken a dump on Tolkien’s work with Hobbit movies (Parts of which look worse than bad fan fiction). Not to mention how sloppy and unfocused those movies have become (Again, I’m talking about Hobbit movies. The LOTR trilogy is mostly great).

    At least they have taken some artistic freedom with the LOTR license to make something cool and free from chains of source material. WB did so with Batman Arkham games and Injustice, both of which turned out great in terms of story so what’s the problem here?

    #12 11 months ago
  13. Tormenter

    Edited disclaimer.. misread.. I’ve gone and ranted abou lotr even though that wasn’t your problem.. I agree about The Hobbit…


    I disagree.. as someone how knows the world I’ll say he didn’t get it ALL right.. he even changed a few VERY important key scenes.. and I’m really pretty pissed he left out Tom Bombadil and Goldberry.. but in general, considering the length and the fact that the general cinema going public doesn’t have the same ability to use their gray matter as the same amount of avid readers, I’d say he did as good a job as is reasonably expected for something coming out of Hollywood funding.. Even the bits he added, the stuff about the white city, was very reverential.

    If Jackson hadn’t made the film that way we’d have never gotten a version that close again.

    I do still prefer Bakshi’s though (who ALSO left out Tom and Goldberry. :()… what there is of it.

    As for the problem.. WB OWN Batman.. they fucking don’t own Arda… They can piss around with Batman if they want, but they’re just screwing with us when they hump someone else’s property.

    As for taking artistic freedom… it’s more like taking the piss.

    #13 11 months ago
  14. The_Red

    I can see how the various changes (And omisions) in LOTR films have annoyed you. You are not alone but to me, the quality of film matters more than the quality of adaptation. Jackson at least made some rather cohesive movies with proper pacing (LOTR).

    Maybe he could have done so by keeping Bombadil (Who is really unfortunate when it comes to adaptations) or maybe the inclusion of those 2 could have ruined the balance or pacing. Sometimes faithfulness to literary narrative hurts the cinematic narrative.

    The same thing has happened with Harry Potter movies but in reverse. Some of the changes in earlier HP movies that made them more mainstream and compact for movie narrative actually made them seem less cohesive and much more messier. They fixed the problem in later films which did change some important stuff but mostly in the name of great films.

    My point comes down to this: You have to make sure that the project you’re working on is best suited to the current platform (LOTR in films or Shadow of Mordor in games). Everything else is secondary, including the amount of faithfulness to source material and its format. Here, if the changes meant that Mordor’s gameplay would be better and more fun, then they are perfectly acceptable IMO. In the same sense, if a completely faithful game based on LOTR is less fun because of the said faithfulness, then it has failed.

    #14 11 months ago

Comments are now closed on this article.