Monolith Productions (not to be confused with Monolith Software, the Japanese studio behind the likes of Xenosaga and Xenoblade) had a lot of success with 2014's Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and is looking to build upon it with Middle-earth: Shadow of War, due on August 22/25 for North America and Europe, respectively.
Monolith's VP Creative Michael de Plater talked to EDGE magazine (issue 305, May 2017) about what worked in the first game and what didn't. He also suggested that Middle-earth: Shadow of War will be the true embodiment of the original vision the studio had.
The things that worked were the Nemesis system and the combat. The things that didn't work were the scale and payoff of the story, and because we're so focused on combat, there was a level of repetition.
I think sequels in videogames are sometimes easier. Things are so complex and hard that you're going to leave a lot of stuff on the table on the first one. Number two is often the fully realized vision of the ideas you had in your head.
de Plater then explained some of the improvements to the highly acclaimed Nemesis System that players will find in this sequel.
Last time we had orcs who had a trait called The Humiliator. Every time they killed you, they wouldn't finish you off - they'd turn and walk away. That was cool sometimes, but now we can be deliberate about when that's happening. If it's going to be a better story for you to not die in the moment, that's when he'll do it.
The goal is to generate the best stories. If someone's dying too much, a good story is to have someone save you.
Monolith Productions is looking to expand massively on the scale of Shadow of War in terms of story, the size of the game world and RPG elements like a proper loot system. Talion and his kindred spirit Celebrimbor will venture beyond Mordor and face the Witch-king alongside his Nazgûl as they assault the human city of Minas Ithil.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War will be available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with Xbox Play Anywhere and Scorpio support.