Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor is a stand out title of last year’s shelf of games. Showcasing the exceptional nemesis system as well as a fresh vision of Mordor and a crash course in some Silmarillion history. Looking back on it 5 months later it’s hard to argue that Shadow of Mordor isn’t worth the asking price.
But a question that’s itching me is whether the DLC deserves a spot in your steam library. Because not even five minutes after finishing ‘The Bright Lord’ and ‘Lord of the Hunt’ DLC I couldn’t help but feel like these two should have been in the final product for a number of reasons, despite being pretty enjoyable forays against evil in their own right.
The Bright Lord
Released just over two weeks ago, ‘The Bright Lord’ is set two and a half millennia (give or take) before the story of Shadow of Mordor, fleshing out what was flashed in one of Celebrimbor’s memories during the story, where he steals the One Ring straight from Sauron’s grasp and raises and army of Uruks against him.
Clocking in at about two hours of gameplay, ‘The Bright Lord’ mirrors Talion’s tale of unbridled hatred and need for revenge against the agents of evil.
Both are pitched against the hordes of Mordor with the only their blades and the otherworldly powers of the One Ring and Celebrimbor’s wraith powers respectively.
A fun aspect of this DLC is how dialed up the difficulty is, not just in terms of how many times you have to hit an Uruk (although they take a fair few more hits) but also the Warlords. Nearly all captains are maxed out to level 25 and every Warchief is at level twenty-five with maybe two weakness (if you’re lucky) and legions of uruks at their beck and call (reminding us that we’re up against Sauron’s full might).
All of these Uruks are vulnerable to the power of the ring and the Celebrimbor’s power to dominate the mind. It’s almost essential to brand Uruk’s left, right and centre to even out the odds. Given a few extra powers to distinguish Celebrimbor from Talion, as well as a beautifully fluid and highly elvish fighting style, the Elf Lord is fun to play and displays the great grace of the elves but also the boundless rage and arrogance of the house of Feanor. One of the stand-out parts of this DLC is wielding the One Ring. Giving you infinite focus, once you brand enough Uruks, for a limited time as well as slowing time while you strike countless kills in about 15 seconds.
This is the first time in-game set in middle-earth where players experience the true power of the ring first hand (not just watching it from above like in Battle for Middle-Earth 2), as it seems that Celebrimbor is the only one other than Sauron who can wield it’s true power. But the real draw of this add-on, the reason I bought it was to throw down with the Dark Lord himself.
This DLC hits where the ending of Shadow of Mordor struck out horribly.
It builds through the two hours to a confrontation with the Dark Lord, after bending his warlords to your will and taking them against him. This duel leaves no doubt in player’s minds to Sauron’s power. He towers over Uruks and Celebrimbor, and every strike from his mace leaves a ring of fire and dust.
Despite all these, this DLC feels like what was supposed to be the final fight in Shadow of Mordor’s storyline, instead of three quick time events and a cut scene that leaves you sitting there asking ‘thats it!?’. The ending of SOM was a disappointing flash in the pan and ‘The Bright Lord’ DLC is what should’ve been, despite being two thousand years before. I’ll admit I’m mildly bitter at the prospect that I paid for what really should’ve been the ending to one of my favourite games but if SOM did grab you to the extent it did me, and you’ve a love for the Tolkien universe, it is an add-on worth grabbing.
Lord of the Hunt
‘Lord of the Hunt’ strikes me much the same as ‘The Bright Lord’ did insofar as I feel that it should’ve been a part of the story arc that took place on the second map Nurn. It’s set up is mostly the same as the first time Talion targets the Warlords of The Black Hand in Udun. You partner up with the Dwarven hunter Torvan to take down a particularly nasty set of Uruk warlords who are exterminating and subjugating the twisted creatures of Mordor.
The staples of this DLC are so few to the point of why I feel so strongly it should’ve been in the original product. You encounter deadly variations on the monsters of Mordor such as cousins to the caragors, which let you make stealth attacks on a mount, and the wretched graug, the poisonous sister to the rancor look-a-likes that stomp through parades of uruks. You assist Torvan in protecting the wildlife of Mordor by turning the likes of Ghuls and Caragors against the warlords.
Aside from a new, gritty hunter look sported by Talion and some fun banter between the Captain and the Dwarf, this isn’t a whole lot to write home about.
It falls short of a DLC that gives something different and enjoyable from the main game that deserves the asking price.
These are the two heavy hitters of SOM’s DLCs. As well as ‘The Bright Lord’ and ‘Lord of the Hunt’, there are several warlord packs and weapon runes for a euro or two to add-on. These are nice toppings to the game but will not impact your play through in any noticeable way. Of the DLCs offered, I enjoyed the trial packs the most, setting you tasks to kill X number of warlords and Y number of captains along with bonus objectives within an allotted time. Shadow of Mordor is great to go back and play by merit of its combat and nemesis system, and the time trials give players extra things to back to once finishing the story and still enjoy the landscape without wandering around and killing a few uruks now and the just cause.
At this point, I’d recommend picking up the season pass, giving you the most value for your money and collecting all the little things like skins and runes that aren’t worth going out of your way to buy on their own.