Middle-earth: Shadow of War Invades the PC with Support For NVIDIA Ansel, HDR, and SLI

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Monolith’s made great games for over two decades, and they’re responsible for such stand-out titles as No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R., and of course, 2014’s Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. But their newest game, the open-world, third-person action-adventure RPG, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, might just be the most ambitious and addicting one yet.

Rooted in the lore from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Legendarium, and taking influences from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies, Middle-earth: Shadow of War drops you right back into the action as Talion, a Ranger whose body acts as a kind of spiritual vehicle for the ghostly Celebrimbor, an elf smith who Sauron once tricked into forging the first Rings of Power. As you explore the detailed and varied landscapes of Middle-earth, you’ll build up an army, upgrade your character, create allies and enemies, siege fortresses, and advance towards Celebrimbor’s goal of usurping the Dark Lord Sauron and conquering Mordor.

Of course, in a game such as Middle-earth: Shadow of War, just about anything can happen thanks to the freedom of exploration and player choice. You might stumble across a sprawling, snow-covered mountain range one minute, and then ambush an Orc mob the next, chaining together the perfect set of attacks to dispatch them. Using NVIDIA Ansel is a great way to eternalize those moments, and even share them with the rest of the world. With Ansel activated, you can pause the game at will, and then take as many screenshots as you see fit, from any angle or any location desired. In addition to NVIDIA Ansel, the PC version of Middle-earth: Shadow of War also includes NVIDIA SLI support and High Dynamic Range (HDR): a new technology for supported panels that creates incredibly vivid, bright, and color-rich images.

Playing as Talion (along with his ethereal copilot Celebrimbor), you’ll need to gather forces to create a well-rounded and powerful army. Most recruits belong to tribes, and each tribe tends to favor certain styles of combatants. For example, the Dark Tribe relies on sneaky assassins who excel at lightning-fast strikes and quick escapes, while the Machine Tribe instead has a penchant for explosives and engines of war.

And while some creatures might willingly join your cause, you can still expect a lot of opposition, at least until you forcefully convince them otherwise. Central to this component is the game’s enhanced Nemesis System. Compared to the first game, the Nemesis System has been expanded, with new enemy character types, different classes (such as beast masters and tanks), and a lot of extra personalities and roles. After defeating and dominating a foe with the Ring of Power, your enemies and allies will remember how you treated them, and their behavior will reflect whatever boons, mercies, or humiliations were applied. Similarly, if you left a once-friendly character on the battlefield to die, they might resurface as a particularly angry war chief later on, bent on bringing you down. On the other hand, if you rescued one of your followers and then made them an overlord, they may be a lot more loyal.

The Nemesis System also spreads out to regions and their fortresses, which you’ll need to conquer to spread your own power and progress through the game. Before attacking a fortress, you’ll review your own army’s strengths, specializations, and weaknesses. You’ll want to compare your potential units to your opponent’s army before taking them on, and then select the best possible offence, maximizing your destructive potential while minimizing your adversary’s effectiveness. In addition to viewing the enemy’s ranks, you’ll also see what tribe and overlord belong to the fort, and what level the structure currently is. If a fortress’s level is too high, you can try to lure the war chiefs out, assassinate them, and destroy the tribe’s monuments to reduce their influence, which brings the fort’s level down.

When it comes to personally smashing your enemy’s faces in as Talion and Celebrimbor, you’ll have a wide array of abilities and charged skills to employ, and loads of weapons, armor, and ring runes to harness. Aside from some pieces of gear being outright stronger than others, each equipped item will change the appearance of Talion, adding a distinct layer of personalization to your choices. If you’re on the hunt for epic or legendary loot drops, you’ll have to earn the equipment by battling advanced enemies. Luckily, thanks to the tweaked Nemesis System, you can study up on these elite monstrosities beforehand. As just one of countless different combinations, a given adversary might lead a fanatical gang, have an advanced class-rank of commander, suffer from a vulnerability to fire, and get enraged (and grow extra deadly) after being frozen. These are all important considerations to take to heart before simply leaping head-first into the fray.

If you’re fortunate enough to get a rare loot drop, some of the gear includes unique challenges. Once you’ve completed a given challenge (such as stealth-attacking an enemy who’s on fire), you can unlock additional benefits. You can also boost your equipment by collecting gems, purchasing sockets using the in-game currency, and then adding the gems into the available slots. On top of all that, wearing matched sets of various gear can also apply bonuses; wearing a fully matched set can turn you into a truly fearsome warrior indeed.

You can grab Middle-earth: Shadow of War on Steam, or from the Windows 10 Store, where it is an Xbox Play Anywhere title, letting you enjoy the game on both a PC and Xbox One. But before you play on PC, be sure to download our Shadow of War GeForce GTX Game Ready driver from GeForce Experience or GeForce.com for the best possible experience.