Monolith’s ambitious new Middle-earth game, Shadow of Mordor, is being developed with one-and-a-half feet firmly planted in new-generation console and PC territory. In other words: the game is primarily a current-gen (i.e. PlayStation 4 and Xbox One) experience, which means the team at Monolith will be cutting some features from the previous-generation versions.
While no cuts have been finalised as yet, the game’s design director Michael de Plater told IGN that they’re anticipating cuts to the game’s Nemesis System. The Nemesis System is the portion of the game that will essentially provide each player with a personalised enemy list. If you have a skirmish with a band of orcs, only to have one of them escape, that one may end up rising through the ranks of Mordor’s army and end up being more powerful with a group of his own followers. What’s more, if you happened to injure him during your initial encounter, signs of that injury will be visible during your next encounter – so he might have burns on his face or something like that. Basically, the Nemesis System plans to obviate that suddenly out-dated gaming phenomena wherein all enemies are simply nameless foes for you to slaughter.
“To break it down,” de Plater told IGN, “Some of the stuff we’re pretty confident will still be very similar on current gen: the core mechanics, like combat, stealth, ranged and movements; the basic control and gameplay, that should all be really solid. What it won’t have is the same level of depth and variety and simulation within the ‘Nemesis system’.”
Unfortunately for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the Nemesis System requires a ton of AI and memory in order to work, and that means those aging platforms won’t be able to cope.
“The story will be the same and the core gameplay will be the same, but [the 'Nemesis system' is] just so huge in terms of content, calculations and AI we’ll just have to try and get as much of it in as we can.”
None of this should really come as a surprise considering the lofty goals Monoloth has set for themselves with Shadow of Mordor. As the previous-generation of consoles grow even older, the discrepancies between multi-generational titles are going to become more and more apparent. The graphical differences are obvious, but now gameplay mechanics are beginning to be affected as well.
What will be interesting to see is whether or not Monolith makes these sorts of feature cuts to make allowances for older PCs attempting to run the game. My money is on that not happening; they’ll probably stick to a minimum PC requirement whereby they can add all the features found on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.
You can see the Nemesis System in action in this gameplay video.