Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor comes out tomorrow. While Tolkien fans will be delighted to finally play a Lord of the Rings game that's actually really, really good, others might be disappointed that Sauron doesn't make much of an appearance. Turns out: he's in Mordor, you just have to pay more to get to him.
With the release of Mordor just hours away, publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and developer Monolith Productions detailed their excellent new game's season pass offerings this morning. Most of this is standard stuff—a few extra story missions, bonus trials, and good ol' fashioned content like runes and alternate skins for player character Talion. But there are two things that stand out to me when I watch this new trailer:
Apparently one of the extra missions involves playing as a very important elf as he a) wields the ring of power and b) fights Sauron.
Hang on. Wielding the ring of power (the one ring that rules them all, I take it, but the language here is a little vague and I don't want to spoil anything) and fighting Sauron, the most important super-villain in all Lord of the Rings lore? Aren't those two of the most important things I'd be looking for in a quality LOTR video game? Why are they tucked away as extra downloadable content, for which I need to shell out more cash?
To be fair, I was extremely positive about the base Shadow of Mordor game in my review last week. A big part of what I liked about the new game is that "it doesn't put much stock in its fiction's most recognizable set-pieces," since the main storyline was pretty dull anyways. I don't mean to imply that players will be getting an incomplete experience if they don't purchase the Sauron-killing DLC or the full season pass, therefore. I still haven't tested any of the extra material, so there's no telling if the Sauron-killing mission is actually interesting or just an added bit of fan-service for those hungry for it. In either case, Shadows of Mordor still feels like a full meal whether or not you choose to spend an additional $25 for a season pass, or purchase extra goodies at a piecemeal rate.
But still, holding out on giving fans a chance to fight the biggest and baddest bad guy in the Lord of the Rings universe reeks of crass over-commercialization of an otherwise solid product. It's like getting the next game in the Batman: Arkham series, only to find out that you need to buy an additional chunk of "content" just to be able to fight The Joker.
Lame. Luckily, the rest of the game is so good that I still think it manages to make up for this lapse in judgement.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor comes out tomorrow. Read our review of the game here. Below is a bulleted list of everything included in the game's season pass taken from WBIE's press release. The season pass is available for an extra $25. It includes three new story missions and a handful of different "challenge modes," collectively known as "The Trials of War:"
- Guardians of the Flaming Eye Orc Warband Mission: Face Sauron's elite Defenders before the Black Gate and earn the Rising Flame rune.
- Lord of the Hunt Story Mission: Players will gain new skills and earn unique epic runes as they hunt and tame legendary monsters of Mordor.
- The Bright Lord Story Mission: Play as Celebrimbor, the great Elven king of the Second Age, and face Sauron and the might of his forces.
- Test of Speed Challenge Mode: You can demonstrate your efficiency in battle and earn high scores for Talion's speed in defeating your foes.
- Test of Wisdom Challenge Mode: You can prove your strategic abilities, through earning points for skill, speed and efficiency.
- Endless Challenge Mode: This mode will continually spawn new legions of enemies. The Runes that you will earn will provide powerful upgrades.
- Access to future content: Including runes, skins and additional add-on content.