What this teaser tells us…
This new Teaser Trailer for WB Games and Monolith Productions is chock full of imagery from the land of Mordor and yet it poses more questions then it answers!
This is everything a good game trailer should be!
First off… lets discuss the visual quality of this trailer! The folks at Monolith have definitely tried to elevate the visual excellence of the game franchise, which is already far and above the average digital entry into Middle-earth. The damn thing looks gorgeous!
However, there is a lot to be gleaned from this Shadow of War announcement trailer, that fans of the game and Middle-earth might miss on a first viewing, being taken in by the dark and beautiful landscape of Mordor!
There are two ‘big picture items’ that unfold in this trailer. The first is seeing Celebrimbor and Talion forging a new Ring of Power… certainly not one to rival Sauron’s, but definitely a Ring of great power. However, when the Ring is made, the two are inexplicably separated. The second item of importance is witnessing the Nazgûl taking Minas Ithil… soon to become Minas Morgul!
However, lets not get ahead of ourselves… we should start this Middle-earth: Shadow of War Trailer Breakdown right from the beginning!
The trailer begins with an urgent musical interlude, with a woman’s voice and dark features opening on the screen. It is reminiscent of Galadriel’s voice over from the beginning of Shadow of Mordor, which of course mirrors the Prologue from The Fellowship of the Ring film. Who is this woman… is she human or elf kind? A powerful ally or a dark sorceress? At this point we don’t know anything and it seems to be one of the biggest unanswered questions so far.
She tells us that ‘the world of men is coming to an end,’ and we see an image of Minas Ithil looking green and full of light. The shape of the landscape looks a bit off to me, the mountains should be much higher here.
We see frightened city dwellers looking East towards Mordor, as lighting flashes and Mount Doom erupts into flame. People running to the walls and looking eastward. The camera turns its focus on two main characters. A man and a woman. This is intercut with images of Celebrimbor’s hammer striking a Ring. We see Mount Doom and Sammath Naur, as the voice over tells us that a Ranger and a Wraith have crafted the one thing that can challenge the might of Sauron, a Ring of Power.
We see them as one entity, hammering upon a Ring and then a great power explodes outward separating man and wraith. Talion is thrown back with the Ring laying between them. Celebrimbor races to take the Ring and is engulfed in shadow, disappearing as the voice over tells us that ‘Power can blind those who seek it.’
We then see inside the lands of Mordor. We hear the voice saying, ‘The great deceiver has returned to Middle-earth.’ We see an unfinished Barad-dûr being built, We see Sauron walking out upon a parapet, as he looks west to Mount Doom and the Naur Trench is fill with magma from Mount Doom.
Below him the armies of Mordor have gathered gathered before the gates of the Dark Tower. In these shots we see that Mordor has changed from the first game and now looks more like the dark and evil land shrouded in Shadow and flame.
In this sequence, we cut back and forth between the chamber of Sammath Naur as Talion reaches for the Ring and the plain of Gorgoroth as the armies of Mordor, orcs and trolls move toward Sauron. (CORECTION: In looking at this more closely, it seems the armies are moving west to Minas Ithil.) The voice over tells us that Sauron is rebuilding his armies and the corruption can no longer be contained.
As Talion reaches out for the Ring and places it upon his finger, the ground erupts before the Iron Gate of the Dark Tower and we see a Balrog emerging from the earth as the camera zooms in on his mouth, filled with the Flame of Udun! Talion screams in pain.
Once more we see the dark face in shadow, telling us that ‘The War for Mordor begins!’ Her face then pulls backward and she is engulfed in shadow, her eye shine in the darkness. Very spooky looking!
We then see the sky from below and what look to be a Fell Beast sailing across the cloud wrack, while shadowy forms follow trailing a black smoky shadow. A very cool looking image. A deep darkness seems to fill in behind them.
We then see that this is the Witch-king upon his steed flying towards Minas Morgul. His iron helm is very reminiscent of the one created by John Howe! He flies into frame and then descends upon the city below.
Then we see the people of Minas Ithil. We see the male character again in closeup, looking up at the sky, which signals to me that he may play an important role in the game. We will just have to wait and see.
Then we see the Witch-king diving down upon the city as the armies from Gorgoroth begin to sack and burn Minas Ithil’s outer defenses. We see several shots of the fell beast flying downward and the trailing shadow shapes flying low over the city.
We see see Minas Ithil taking on the greenish hue of Minas Morgul, as the wraith fire swirls around the main tower. Much like it did in The Return of the King when Minas Morgul was signalling to Barad-dûr that the armies were marched out of the Morgul Vale.
We see several more shots of the city under attack. Watch towers crumbling, fire everywhere as dark armies march on the city. These images of a falling Minas Ithil are contrasted by images of Talion crying out for Celebrimbor and finally walking towards the door of Sammath Naur with the Dark Tower in the distance.
The witch-king upon the Fell Beast descends downward into the center of the city, landing among the men of Gondor. We then see the green wraith trails of shadow up close as they land in the streets of Minas Ithil. From out of the green, smoky shadow we see one of the Nazgûl rise up. Now we understand that the Ringwraiths have come to take the city.
We then watch as Talion exits Sammath Naur and stands upon Sauron’s Road on the heights of Mount Doom, looking Eastward towards the Dark Tower. This is a great shot that looks very much like the door to the great forge of Mordor we saw in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Very cinematic!
There is a great shot of Talion seen from behind as he looks out over the vast dark plain of Gorgoroth. We see Barad-dûr in the distance surrounded by the dark armies of Mordor. You can see Sauron’s Road and beside it the Naur Trench, which carries the molten fire of Mount Doom to the Forges within the Dark Tower.
Talion then looks down at the Ring upon his hand as he begins to understand, that he now has the power to face the Dark Lord. I have a feeling that Talion must now make his way across the Plain of Gorgoroth, which is crawling with the minions of Mordor, and then maybe entering Barad-dûr itself! Will we finally get our first look inside the inner most sanctum of Sauron? I hope so!
Next we see severely a close up shot of Talion, as the camera zooms in upon his face and then directly into his eyes! We can see just how powerful the graphics engine is in Middle-earth: Shadow of War. In Shadow of Mordor the graphic were good and definitely on par with the best games of 2014, but the lions share of innovation was directed toward the Nemesis System. Now it looks like in addition to expanding the system to all aspects of the game, the developers are also putting a lot of time and effort into the visual look and detail of the game.
The Middle-earth: Shadow of War Announcement Trailer ends with a look into Talion’s eyes, as he looks up directly into the cameras and says. ‘I am coming for you!” of course meaning Sauron. This sets the stage for the game as Talion must now travel from Mount Doom to Barad-dûr. Once more he must confront the Dark Lord, but this time with a Ring of Power.
OK… so we have yet to determine who the dark women is… witch, dark elf, or maybe a Black Númenórean Princess? How will Celebrimbor play into game now that he is separate from Talion? What are the powers of the new Ring? Will Talion fight the Nazgûl? Or maybe a Balrog? There are so many questions left to answered… if you think of more or have insights into the trailer we missed, please post them in the comment section below!
Ufthak, of wide eyes