SHADOW OF MORDOR’s Influence: How Nemesis System Can Improve BATMAN, STAR WARS, & ASSASSIN'S CREED

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis System
Credit: WB Games

In lieu of a formal review for Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, we wanted to take a deeper look at the Nemesis System, an innovative way of interacting with villains – and making them into allies. Suffice to say, the game is definitely a game of the year candidate, an excellent translation of the Tolkien world and ideals into an exciting video game world, and simply a blast to play.

But that Nemesis System, that’s something really special. The developers at Monolith Productions created an entirely new way of interacting with enemies. Director of Design Michael de Plater told us back in September that the goal was to “evolve” enemies “beyond waves of cannon fodder.” With Nemesis, your enemies in the Orc army react to your choices, from the way you stalk and kill other Uruks to the ways you approach each epic battle with a captain or war chief. If you die, the Uruk that killed you rises in the ranks of the army and becomes a personal vendetta based foe for you. If you kill one captain, say with a headshot, they may come back later having survived – but with a metal patch over their eye and half their head.

The other aspect, of course, is Domination. With this unique mechanic, you can actually turn the Uruks upon one another, making those you dominate, including Captains and War Chiefs, fight in your honor.

It’s fun, it’s innovative, it makes the game more uniquely yours, and it is just begging to be stolen. Other adventure games can surely take advantage of a similar system, and hopefully continue to refine and improve upon it until interacting with NPCs and enemies gives a near-identical experience to interacting with other players (though hopefully with fewer 10 year-olds cursing at you after killing you in Call of Duty). Here are three we think would benefit from a little Nemesis action, and how it would be integrated.

Screenshot from in-game engine of Batman: Arkham Knight. Yes, the game really looks like this live.
Screenshot from in-game engine of Batman: Arkham Knight. Yes, the game really looks like this live.
Credit: Rocksteady / WBIE

Batman: Arkham

The Batman: Arkham series is apparently coming to a close – or at least Rocksteady’s involvement in it is – with the next chapter, Batman: Arkham Knight. Of course, that game, with Batman having to battle a foe who is a near mirror-image of him, but with an army backing him up, is the perfect place to incorporate a Nemesis style system. Yes, your main villain will still be the Arkham Knight, of course, but using Batman’s unique powers of persuasion to build your own army, and even steal from his, would be a fun twist to the delayed-to-2015 game. A fellow Warner Bros production, it should be easier than for other studios to borrow the technology, too. Think about it – you pull together gangs, just like Batman turned the mutants from terrorizing Gotham to terrorizing his foes, or maybe you even craft strategic temporary alliances with some of Batman’s most fearsome rogues in a plan to take down the Knight.

Sure, this game is likely just receiving polish at this point, but when Rocksteady is done with the franchise, maybe Monolith can just give it a go, adding in a similar system.

Assassin’s Creed

Credit: Ubisoft

Obviously it’s too late for this year’s editions, hitting this month, to add in anything of this sort, but the Assassin’s Creed franchise, with its constantly clashing factions of Templars and Assassins, would be a great fit for the Nemesis system. Poach members of the rival faction from their ranks, turning them against their masters. Build a rivalry with a fellow assassin that leads to them turning against you and your brotherhood. Or just cut off a Templar grand master from his supply chains, and his lieutenants, all the way down to the foot soldiers before assassinating him – maybe using one of his closest confidants to do it. This is probably the easiest direct translation (aside from our next possibility) of the Nemesis system to any other video game franchise, and you have to think that Ubisoft is looking at Mordor and thinking something along these lines themselves.

Star Wars

Obi-Wan's Jedi Mind Trick
Obi-Wan's Jedi Mind Trick
Credit: Lucasfilm

We know there are a few Star Wars games in development at EA thanks to their new deal with Disney, Lucasfilm’s still relatively new parent company. With the beauty of the Jedi and the “mind trick,” it would be relatively easy to integrate a Nemesis system. After all, what is Domination if not a form of the classic “not the droids you’re looking for” technique? In a Star Wars game with a Nemesis clone, your Jedi (or Sith) character would skirt the line of what’s light and dark with the force, temporarily controlling enemies and turning them against one another. With hat basic function in place, forging a rivalry against another force user would be more natural. Imagine, the dark side force user commanding a platoon of Storm Troopers, recognizing a disturbance in the force when you activate your sleeper agents, and reacting – maybe even trying to do the same to your allied forces. It’s the next step of Nemesis – you can control your foes, but they can control your friends, too. They can sense when you’re turning them against each other and that forces new strategies and perfect timing for that special moment of triumph. Yeah, we want this one to happen most of all.

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