On October 10th, a strange sound could be heard emanating from the city of Oxford in England. This sound was J.R.R. Tolkien spinning in his grave like a Beyblade. This could only mean one thing - Middle-Earth: Shadow of War was finally released on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
The first game in the series was an entertaining fantasy equivalent to Assassin's Creed, which had the interesting Nemesis System, where you battled against a hierarchy of powerful orcs who would become stronger if they killed you. Shadow of Mordor ran wild with the continuity of Lord of the Rings by revealing that the main character was bound to the spirit of Celebrimbor, the Elf who taught Sauron how to forge rings. The game ends with Talion and Celebrimbor promising to forge a new ring that was strong enough to challenge Sauron.
We are here today to look at the biggest changes to the lore of The Lord of the Rings that are created by Shadow of War. From the reason why the whole purpose of the game is destined to fail, to one of the most pointless and distracting character changes in history.
Here are Ten Huge Ways That Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War Changes The Books!
There are story spoilers for Middle-Earth: Shadow of War ahead!
There are twenty magical rings in the world of Lord of the Rings; three for the Elves, seven for the Dwarves, nine for Men, and the one forged by Sauron alone. The three elven rings were forged by Celebrimbor, while Sauron helped to create the rest. The One Ring was created by Sauron.
The power of the One Ring gives it dominion over all other magical rings, save for the ones forged before it. That's what "One Ring to rule them all" means. All rings that were created after the One Ring fell under its dominion, which is why no one created anymore after the One was made.
Celebrimbor's plan involves forging a new ring to challenge Sauron. This new ring should immediately fall under Sauron's control, as this is one of the primary powers of the one ring.
It is revealed in Shadow of War that Isildur is one of the nine members of the Nazgul. Talion discovers that Isildur wasn't actually killed when he was shot full of arrows and fell into a river. It turns out that Sauron's men found Isildur and brought him to Mordor, where he was forced to put on one of the nine rings for Men. This caused Isildur to become one of Sauron's new servants.
It's true that Isildur's body was never discovered in the books, but it would be impossible for him to have survived - he was shot through the throat and in the heart with arrows. He would not have survived long enough to have been brought to Mordor.
The opening act of Shadow of War takes place in the city of Minas Ithil. This is the last bastion of Gondor within Mordor and its destruction would be a huge loss to the kingdom. Talion wants to ride to the aid of his countrymen, while Celebrimbor only cares about keeping the Palantir out of Sauron's hands.
Shadow of War makes it seem as if the siege of the city has only just begun, as the soldiers have only just started to evacuate precious treasures that they don't want to risk being destroyed. In the books, the siege of Minas Ithil actually lasted for two years, before it finally fell, and was renamed Minas Morgul.
Celebrimbor is given far more relevance to the story in Shadow of War. The game makes it seem as if he is Sauron's equal in terms of combat and magic, even though he is an undead wraith. We are shown in cutscenes that Celebrimbor actually helped Sauron forge the One Ring.
In the books, Sauron created the One Ring by himself, in secret. This is because he didn't want anyone to know that he was about to take dominion over the other rings. He also wanted to keep the details of the One Ring's creation a secret, because he placed a great deal of his own soul into it.
Sauron first deployed the nine members of the Nazgul during the Second Age. The first recorded mention of the Nazgul's existence was in the year SA 2251.
It is revealed in Shadow of War that Isildur and Helm Hammerhead both became members of the Nazgul. The problem with this is that they were born long after the nine first appeared. There are no mentions in recorded history of anyone slaying a Ringwraith until Eowyn and Merry killed the Witch-King of Angmar in the year TA 3019. This means that there shouldn't have been two slots for Isildur and Helm to fill, as the nine were all accounted for.
One of the ways in which the Lord of the Rings movies and books differed was in the ability of Sauron to take on a physical body. The destruction of the One Ring meant that Sauron could not regain his body in the movies, though there were plans for the armored version of Sauron from the beginning of Fellowship of the Ring to appear in Return of the King. Sauron was able to regain his body in the books, but it took him centuries to take a new form and it was broken and maimed.
Shadow of War allows Sauron to regain his powerful armored form during his battle with Celebrimbor. It makes you wonder why he didn't do it sooner.
It is revealed in Shadow of War that Helm Hammerhand (the creator of Helm's Deep) is one of the Nazgul. The problem with this idea is that in the books, Helm Hammerhand died in battle and his body was found and buried by his kin.
The game goes to great lengths to explain that Isildur actually survived his (formerly) fatal wounds and was dragged to Mordor by orcs, just so that Sauron could place a ring on his finger and turn him into one of the Nazgul. Helm's frozen body was discovered by his kin and buried. Did one of Sauron's men sneak the ring onto Helm's finger during the battle and no one noticed it when they had his funeral?
One of the most interesting aspects of Sauron in The Lord of the Rings is that we never see him and he never talks. The closest we get to a description of Sauron is when Pippin views him in the Palantir. We never cut to Sauron in his tower monologing about how he can't wait to crush those pesky members of the Fellowship. Sauron is left to the audience's imagination, which is what makes him so effective as a villain.
In Shadow of War, Sauron never shuts up. We hear him talking during his encounters with Celebrimbor (in both the past and present), which really diminishes what makes him such an awesome villain.
The Balrog is one of the most awesome parts of The Lord of the Rings. It is a giant fire demon that takes on the mighty Gandalf in a mano-a-mano fight. We see a lot of the Balrog in the Lord of the Rings games, as it is too good not to include. The problem with this is that Durin's Bane (the Balrog of Moria) is said to be the last of his kind in Middle-Earth. The Balrogs of old weren't as powerful as he was, which is why they died.
It is revealed in Shadow of War that Sauron has a Balrog acting as one of his generals. This doesn't make sense for a lot of reasons. The Balrogs serve Morgoth, which means that they would likely tell Sauron where he could stick his job offer.
Let's say for the sake of argument that a Balrog did join Sauron. This means that Sauron has won the war, as a single Balrog would annihilate a city on its own. It took an individual of great power (such as Gandalf or Glorfindel) to take down a Balrog. An army of Gondor soldiers wouldn't even be able to scratch it.
The portrayal of Shelob in Shadow of War is the total opposite of her character in the books.
In The Lord of the Rings, Shelob was an ancient spider who predated Sauron. She lived in the caves above Minas Morgul and feasted on anyone who tried to pass through her lair. Shelob never interfered with the events of Middle-Earth and never allied with or opposed Sauron.
In Shadow of War, Shelob takes on the form of a sexy lady who likes to show off her legs. She is deeply involved in the events of Middle-Earth, to the point where she interferes in Talion & Celebrimbor's quest to battle Sauron, as she has seen visions of a terrible future where they managed to succeed.
It would have made a lot more sense for the developers of Shadow of War to have created a totally new character and then killed her off at the end of the game in order to explain why she isn't around during the War of the Ring. Instead, they chose to totally bastardize one of the most awesome villains in the series.