Batman Should Have Stolen Shadow Of Mordor’s Nemesis System

Batman Should Have Stolen Shadow Of Mordor’s Nemesis System
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Random thug number 127 managed to defeat the goddamn Batman. I’m pretty sure that qualifies him for super villain status.

I spent the weekend playing a bunch of Batman: Arkham Knight, and I came away with one thought: “Damn, I wish Warner would hurry up and release Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor 2 already.”

OK, actually I came away with a bunch of thoughts, but that one formed the core. Now, I’ll make no bones about this: I adore Shadow of Mordor, and I hope that a lot of action-adventure games implement their own versions of its nemesis system, which saw orcs procedurally gain their own identities (complete with goals, fears, and leadership styles) based on their interactions with you, the player. If they killed you, they’d grow stronger. If you killed them, they might return — sometimes with faces literally held together by string and shattered dreams — and stalk you, waiting for the perfect moment to claim their vengeance. It was like having a virtual best friend for life, only with more death.

I did some thinking about why I felt like Arkham Knight, specifically, would benefit from littering its lawless land with potential wannabe nemeses, and it came down to one major criticism: while there’s tons to do in Arkham Knight, a lot of it strikes me as filler — gristle and fat rather than meat. The city is massive and beautiful, but the game’s side missions don’t often make me feel much. They’re repetitive, yet required if you want the game’s best ending. As a result, Arkham Knight is bloated, bogged down by the age-old adage “more is better”, from chapter five, volume 13 of Incorrect Adages That Should Really Just Die In A Cold, Sad Hole Somewhere.

Now, I know “add more stuff” seems like a terrible solution when the problem is “too much stuff” (and just enough super villains) but stick with me here.

Shadow of Mordor was so good because the nemesis system tied the whole game together. Even when I was doing something I barely gave a shit about — wrangle mythological Tolkien monster X, find ancient weapon location Y, etc — there was almost always a chance that one of my nemeses would show up and crash my party, rain on my parade, and bleed all over my buffet table. And then suddenly, I’d have this awesome mini-story to think about or share with friends, who would invariably reply, “Please Nathan can we talk about anything that’s not orcs hey are you even listening to me nope you’re thinking about orcs.”

The nuttiest part is, Arkham Knight kinda feels like it was supposed to have a nemesis system built in. There are random baddies in the streets everywhere, constantly chattering over radios and, as a result, establishing their own personalities. Many of them relish the chance to attack Batman when they see him, while others flee in abject terror at the sight of The Crazy Cape Guy Who Broke Frank’s Legs. And Tim’s Legs. And Sharif’s Legs. And when any of them manage to strike a killing blow on you, they even taunt you as you fade away — just like the orcs in Mordor. Never mind the fact that the two basically have the same combat system; that’s clearly by design, given their shared Warner heritage.

But seriously, borrow the AI from Shadow of Mordor‘s dev team (it is probably not quite that simple, but let’s pretend for a moment), elevate thugs to arch-nemeses and super villains when they kill you, and boom: there’s your foundation.

Not only does Arkham Knight seem like fertile ground for a nemesis system, I think it’d actually make for a cooler one than Shadow of Mordor‘s. You’ve got all these random activities that, as is, feel pointless and fillery, but would be fantastic with nemeses involved. Say you come across a body. What if, instead of it being tied to a pre-scripted side mission, it involved one of your nemeses? What if each nemesis had certain cues, modus operandi, calling cards carved in flesh?

So you, as Batman, would have to break out your detective tools, scan the body for telltale signs, and figure out which of your nemeses would commit that specific kind of murder. Next, you’d have to hunt them down. Some might have lairs, others might constantly be on the move. And when you finally found them, you wouldn’t be able to kill them (that’s a big bat no-no), so you’d have to drive them to prison, probably with them chattering all the way, adding further to their character.

I even managed to work the Batmobile into this, and I really dislike the Batmobile (so far).

You could use a similar structure with other crimes: kidnappings, robberies, even militia tanks (imagine how interesting an ex-militia nemesis could be). It would be awesome, and more importantly, it’d make people care — actually care — in a way that’s not just, “You are Batman and do this because you’re supposed to.”

Because in truth, I’m already getting a little tired of Arkham Knight. I’d like to care more, but story missions are the only thing that’s really doing it for me, and the open world often feels bloated, full of Things To Do for the sake of having Things To Do. I’ll concede that the Batmobile has its moments, but even that frustrates more than it delights. If only the game did a better job of tying it all together. Failing that, I would at least take a few random orcs running around, perhaps getting attacked by bees and yelling profanities. Everything is better with orcs.


  • …elevate thugs to arch-nemeses and super villains when they kill you, and boom: there’s your foundation.

    Here’s my main problem with the idea: Batman can’t die and keep coming back to life like Talion. I suppose they could have a workaround where the villains just beat Batman up really badly and then walked away, but that would be pretty stupid.

    • they could make it so they are beating you up then suddenly the batmobile or robin or somebody appears grabs you as your going unconscious and rushes you back to base to heal. As it wouldn’t be that hard to believe batman would have a gadget that detected if he was about to die and called for help

        • come on your talking about batman with his ultimate plot armour surely they could think of some way ie a temporary fix that when it wears off will make him super tired and weak for a while but he’ll use just this one night to make sure its finished. Or you could play it off more as his armour is damaged and he goes back to fix the batsuit

      • But then what are the bad guys getting promotions for? Almost knocking Batman out? They would have no way of knowing how close Batman was to death.

        And as Batguy says below, the Arkham games (or at least previous ones, I haven’t played Knight) take place over a single night, in which case both Batman recovering that quickly, and villains getting promoted in such a short time makes little sense.

  • But the point in Shadow of Mordor is that you “die”, then reawaken at a tower as time continues. If Batman dies, well, I don’t think he’s coming back. Time rewinds, it’s as if the defeat never happened.

    Not to say you couldn’t find *some* way to make it work, but it’s not as simple as he’s laid out here.

  • great idea I think that could work quite well if it had been brought in as a feature from the start maybe for another batman game perharps?

    And yeah we need them to make another middle earth game maybe middle earth:shadow of gondor set when sauron is invading gondor it would give you a whole new place to run around in etc

  • The Mario games should have a nemesis system.
    The military-like heirarchy of Bowsers minions lends itself to goombas/koopas etc, rising through ranks to become subbosses or what have you, and coupled with the classic Mario “lives” system, he can keep coming back to life and encountering them over and over.

  • Shadow of Mordor reputedly started out life as a Batman game, but the feeling was that the Nemesis system wouldn’t work in Batman so the game was moved to a middle earth setting where it could work. That’s why the combat, traversal and so on feels so Arkham-like.

  • Now now, just because Shadow of Mordor completely ripped Batman’s combat and combat controls, doesn’t mean Batman needs to retaliate! 😛

  • why have innovation when you can spew out the same crap each sequel and have sheep flock to it?

  • Okay I know I’m 3-4 years late but this a still a brilliant idea. I’ve been thinking over the idea of doing this and how it might work for a while today and here’s what I’ve got.

    I think it could be a game that starts off pretty basic with Batman new on the job trying to take down members of the mafia. You could meet Jo Chill as an easy first boss, or maybe sparring against Ra’s al Ghul. These would be two central points of the story I think along with probably Carmine Falcone. Then you’d have the mafia dudes who you can take out or run into along the way.

    These guys could slowly evolve and turn into Batman’s villains if beaten in certain ways, along with the possibility some civilians can also become other ones.

    For example, you could have a fight against a mafia head or two in a chemical factory where you can knock the boss into a vat of the chemicals. This would create the Joker.
    He would return all joker styled up with some hints as to who he used to be so you can put it together. Maybe make it so you visit Arkham Asylum and see whoever is in charge of The Joker so he gets assigned a random psychologist, one of which could be Harleen Quinzel (Who would of course become Harley Quinn later in the game). Touches like this to make it feel like a Batman game. Take advantage of his large rogue’s gallery so everybody feels like they’ve got different villains.
    Add in jail breaks where villains can break out in massive groups where some will try to run, some will team up and others fight between themselves all while trying to beat up Batman. You could have a few different mafias along with a separate section of solo villains (maybe an award that makes fun of you if you manage to create every single one of Batman’s worst enemies)
    You could have ones that beat you climb the ranks for beating Batman and each of them have different crimes that is there main.

    Other criminals: (Remember this is only like a slight chance of happening, higher for more interactions)
    Scarecrow – Scare a boss away but fail to catch him
    Victor Zsaz – Get killed by a random melee (with murderer trait)
    Bane – Have one of the bosses get captured at least three times (Then they take venom in prison so they can beat you)
    Catwoman – Hostage Mission fail where a female hostage gets thrown out the window. (As a bonus, if you look at the base of the building you will see cats surrounding her body)
    Penguin – Mess with a bosses plans five times but fail to kill him as he rises the ranks.
    Deadshot – Get killed by a random ranged grunt (with murderer trait maybe?)
    The Batman That Laughs – A mission after creating The Joker where you get the chance to kill him. If you do, you get a cutscene that shows Batman’s descent into madness, crossing realities and then Batman letting The Joker live. (This one would probably be 100% and should have an award to go with it. The Batman should act almost exactly like you do, same combat style etcetera.)

    That’s all I’ve got so far, but I would love to here anybody who sees this comments on my idea and ways they think some villains could be created.

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