First impressions: The Desolation of Mordor
Shadow of War LOTR action-adventure story DLC humans orcs trolls mercenaries
The last story DLC for Shadow of War, The Desolation of Mordor, was just released, and I spent a little time with it last night. In it, you play as Baranor the Gondorian captain, last seen near the end of the main game's campaign as he is rescued by brooding ranger Talion and love interest Idril. For some inexplicable reason, Baranor is now on his own, save for a few loyal but short-lived men, seeking out mercenaries to help him seize a stronghold in a completely new part of Mordor. He quickly unites with Serka and his band of merry murderers-for-hire and encounters an old ally of Talion's from the first game, Torvin the dwarven hunter, who is still running around Mordor killing whatever fauna he sees.
Baranor is a wuss. Sorry, but compared to Eltariel and Talion, he's just a wuss. He can die rather easily (and apparently when he dies he loses all of the outposts he's claimed and mercenaries in his army) and he has no wraith-based powers, which means the universe of abilities he has to draw from is very limited, relative to the game's other chief protagonists. His main objective is to collect enough gold to pay enough mercenaries to join his army so that he can seize control of Lithlad, and his primary means of getting gold is by taking outposts scattered throughout the region. The mercenaries are just as squishy as Baranor himself, so that's a problem too--nothing like pissing away 1,500 gold because you weren't able to get your bleeding bodyguard's wounds staunched as you were surrounded by orcs and trolls trying to kill you.
Baranor is not a gifted climber like Talion (you have to have a Ring to do that?), so Torvin bestows a contraption that looks and acts suspiciously like Batman's grapnel to help him move around, and also gives him the Middle-Earth-equivalent of a parachute (the game calls it a "kite," but, yeah, it's pretty much a modern-day parachute), because, why not?
I'm not sure how much time I feel like investing in this DLC. Losing Ring-based abilities and Baranor's still-glacial movement rob the game of a lot of what made the base game so compelling. Moreover, the thought of getting hours into this campaign and suddenly losing my gold and my army and having to start that from scratch, well, that would just irritate the crap out of me.