Is there anything more menacing than Shadow of Mordor's grisly assortment of orcs and uruks -- especially the ones with super creepy taunts that nobody knows how to kill? Well, how about one such grisly uruk riding into battle on top of an acid-vomiting ogre?
That's the new kind of orc-killing Middle-Earth fans will get once Shadow of Mordor's first DLC pack arrives later this year. Known as "Lord of the Hunt," the expansion focuses on building out the chaotic wildlife in Monolith's excellent new open world game by adding some monsters, a handful of epic runes, and a few extra missions with Torvin, the beefy and ambiguously sexual dwarf hunter players got to meet briefly during the original story.
Shadow of Mordor developer Monolith told me over email that the "Lord of the Hunt" expansion will add two new creatures to the mix, both of which are variations on existing wildlife creatures. The "wretched graug" are like regular graug, only they can spit poison at enemies. The developers describe it as "a tank with projectile vomiting and other abilities." Caragath, meanwhile, are lithe versions of the game's caragors.
"If the Caragors are Lions these guys are Panthers," a Monolith representative wrote. "Solitary and stealthy hunters." The image they sent over (see above) was even titled "stealth caragor." Caragors were one of my favourite parts of Mordor's open world: the way they would butt in to many passing encounters to start trying to eat me and my enemies injected the perfect level of randomness and chaos into the mix. So having a new class of caragor-esque monsters is a good thing in my book -- especially since Talion will be able to use them to amp up his own predatory stealth abilities.
In addition to the two new critters, Talion will also get an ability to control ghuls -- the game's zombie-like creatures that usually come out at night in large swarms. He'll be able to dominate ghuls he encounters and also summon a ghul horde on command, Monolith said.
All this new stuff sounds neat, for sure. But the part that really stands out to me is the fact that warchiefs will be able to mount their own monstrous steeds in "Lord of the Hunt." As I noted in my review last month, battling back and forth with a colourful assortment of orcs that grow and change alongside you is the best part of Mordor by far. Adding a fresh layer of depth and complexity should (hopefully) make it all the better. Giving your nemeses an extra leg up also just sounds like a welcome challenge, since most players who've reached a high enough level in Mordor will agree that Talion becomes pretty overpowered by the end of the game.
Monolith told me that the new "beastmaster warchiefs" will "come with specialised showdown missions and custom missions to draw them out." In order to defeat one of the new warchiefs in battle, therefore, you first have to get them off their hideous steed. It's not only the warchiefs that can mount monsters, mind you -- any ranked nemesis will be able to. But putting warchiefs on mounts adds another challenge to besting these high-powered opponents -- similarly to how players need to draw the current chieftains out by infiltrating their stronghold and wreaking havoc in one way or another.
I have to get my hands on the new beasts before I can render a proper judgement, of course. But giving Mordor's best villains some additional abilities sounds pretty exciting. At least, on one level. One another level, it sounds a bit... terrifying. As I reported earlier this month, players are having trouble figuring out how to permanently kill Shadow of Mordor's orcs. Given the emails and comments I'm still receiving on a regular basis, it sounds like not much has changed since I first wrote that story. In that light, the thought of putting an ostensibly immortal bad guy on top of a giant scary monster could throw off the game's already delicate balance.
As always, we'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, if you're playing Mordor and have any insight into how you think the nemesis system works, don't hesitate to reach out. My email address and Twitter handle are both listed at the bottom of this post.
The "Lord of the Hunt" DLC will be available later this year (Monolith wouldn't say when, exactly) for $US9.99. It can also be acquired as part of the game's season pass, which costs $US24.99.