Lots of rambling ahead.
Okay, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in this game recently. I always ignore achievements and just run around willy-nilly doing pretty much whatever I want, so this means I spend a lot of time aimlessly just doing shit without any specific goal in mind other than lopping off orc heads, collecting stuff, taking over forts, frequently playing online vendetta missions and/or grinding experience/gems or something. Usually the story falls by the wayside, and by the time I get around to playing story missions I’ve out-leveled everything by a solid 20 levels–this makes for lots of time and little story progression in most of these types of games for me, which is typically just how I like it (although I do usually finish stories eventually).
Anyway, here are some Xbox One stats for my time spent with Shadows of War so far:
My first impression of the game was pretty negative, because there were far too many cut scenes, that initial starting zone just sucked the life right out of the game for me… and every single human that jumped in to “assist me” with anything made me want to throw my controller through my television. Oh my god, I can’t tell you how freaking aggravating it was to turn around and constantly find some dickweed in my way as I’m chopping down toothy green invaders. I hate that first zone so much, you have no idea. What a wretched environment.
But then I finished all the quests and found all the collectibles there and I moved on (well, I’m headed back there pretty soon here, but still). The next zone initially sucked because it’s a huge cave system connected by long corridors. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact the maps in this game were just going to suck compared to the first one, so I might as well just ignore that aspect of the game and focus on everything else. That’s when the game finally started to click for me.
The combat is just as good as the first, thankfully, since it was the main draw for me and the initial gameplay videos were obviously played by amateurs who could never get into a fucking rhythm and just flailed around. The new skill system isn’t any better or wore than the old one, as I wasn’t particularly fond of that one either, but they both get the job done. My biggest complaint about the skill system is that they decided to force the player to choose between two very specific skills that I would consider a must-have for this game, dominating enemies vs draining enemies for elf shot. There is absolutely no way I would ever play this game in a billion years without the ability to drain an opponent for elf shot. I must always have elf-shot on hand, at all times. I like my battles as big as I can make them (screw trying to kill some dude setting off the alarm, if I could go trigger the thing myself I would), and the last thing I want to do is leave the fray to go find elf shot. So I find it mightily perplexing that I am forced to choose between dominating an enemy vs replenishing my elf-shot without being forced to stop all the fun and go scurrying about for a refill on some ledge somewhere. Screw that noise.
So this means I am getting 0% use out of the entire domination system… besides captains, of course, who I’ll dominate every change I get. Loot is mostly worthless but plentiful, so I don’t worry about missing out on any of that by dominating every captain I see. They might as well have not even included the ability to dominate anything but beats as captains since it will never see play in my games. Too bad, it looks like it could be fun, but it isn’t worth the sacrifice to me.
I could also replenish elf-shot by choosing a certain parry aug, but then I have to forgo killing grunts on parry, and that isn’t an option either. So basically, unless I end up with an item that gives me elf-shot in sufficient quantities that I can just respec to something else (I’ve had a couple elf-shot refillers, but they don’t get the job done), I won’t be experiencing certain aspects of the game.
Okay, so the combat redeemed the game for me. I also love the new fire system. I enjoy lighting things/enemies on fire, watching the blaze spread, and using it to kill all sorts of stuff. And I’m enjoying the grind of taking over and beefing up fortresses (I have 4 at the moment). I enjoy the online stuff too, and I like that it gives me something to do besides janky scripted story missions. I’ve never felt the need to buy any of the microtransaction stuff, because it’s more fun for me to just grind this stuff; although I do wish training orders were easier to get a hold of, as those are the only thing I’m having trouble grinding out on a regular basis (loot and epic and legendary mobs are easy enough to get without loot boxes, but training orders are a major pain to come by).
There are other things that bug me, like the fact the lighting is shit compared to the first game, and the weird fact that the orcs in this game are completely blind to pretty much everything not standing directly in their field of view 4 feet in front of them. They are dumb as stumps here compared to the first game, and I’m not really sure why. I’d have to go out of my way to get their attention, so traipsing around enemy fortresses is pretty much a breeze, except for the occasional vigilant archer.
Oh, and enemy captains stalk you day and fucking night. If you like being ambushed, just dominate and mount a beast once or twice, you’ll get jumped immediately. There are lots of little triggers in the game that will set you up for an immediate ambush, so it’s always easy to find better skilled (better skills/weaknesses, but you’ll still have to rank them up) followers to populate your forts and assault squads.
Oh, and dominated bodyguards are all but 100% completely worthless, all they do is GET IN THE WAY. Even if I dominate an archer captain, the minute I pull him out, he’ll be right in the middle of the damn fray. So I never, ever, ever, ever pull out my bodyguards (well, almost never). Totally worthless. Man, I wish my attacks didn’t fuck them up. I can’t even somersault around without freezing the stupid fucking idiots. What a waste.
In the end I’m glad I bought the game. I probably sound overly harsh in areas, but that’s just the grognard in me speaking. I like the game, and at the moment microtransactions don’t seem to affect me given my style of play.