We had the opportunity to speak with Keith, a Game Designer from Monolith Productions, and in the absence of PR, he was unable to tell us too much about the game aside from the expanded nemesis system and new fort assaults. So instead of rehashing the same things we’ve heard 100 times now, we’re going to extrapolate what Keith’s body language revealed about Shadow of War.
The following information is pure speculation based on absolutely nothing.
1. Gandalf makes an appearance.
Some fans of the Lord of the Rings films were disappointed by the lack of familiar characters. Few major characters from the film trilogy made an appearance in Shadow of Mordor, namely Sauron and Gollum. We know Gandalf spent some of the time between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy searching for Gollum in an attempt to discover how he came to hold the Ring. As Gollum shows up in Shadow of Mordor, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Gandalf made an appearance in Shadow of War. This became exceptionally apparent when I tried to walk through the exhibit and Keith yelled, “You shall not pass!”
2. The Eye of Sauron is Sauron’s left eye.
When skirting around some of our questions, I noticed Keith only winked with his left eye. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but although not noted in The Silmarillion, Sauron has a stigmatism in his left eye. This is very apparent upon closer inspection of the Great Eye. This also explains why Frodo, Sam, and Gollum were able to sneak all the way to Mt. Doom without the Eye spying them. Sauron’s self-consciousness of wearing glasses ultimately leads to his downfall.
3. Celebrimbor is Aragorn’s grandfather-in-law.
During our interview, Keith clasped his hands together an excessive amount. Undoubtedly, this signals that a new romantic narrative will take center stage in Shadow of War. Seeing as how Talion’s late wife, Ioreth, is…late, it is unlikely that he will be the centerpiece of a love story. Celebrimbor, who is shoved into the genealogy as son of Curufin, is the most likely candidate for a blossoming love, as his personal life (beyond inadvertently helping Sauron forge the One Ring) is a mystery.
It is worth noting that Celebrimbor, in an attempt to conceal three Rings of Power from Sauron, sent the Rings away, one of them making its way to Galadriel. This particular Ring, Nenya, was forged by Celebrimbor and adorned with a “white stone.” Assumedly this white stone is actually a diamond, making it very apparent that this had less to do with protecting the ring and more to do with the fact that Celebrimbor proposed to Galadriel following an affair that may have lasted centuries.
I was further convinced of this theory when I noticed Keith was wearing a gold ring. Despite this attempt to throw me off the scent, I deduced that there is a silver theme involved here. Cele- means silver, and it makes sense that if Galadriel was going to cheat on her husband, Celeborn (“Silver Tree”), it would be with another silver being (e.g. Celebrimbor (e.g. “Silver Hand”)). It was previously thought that Celebrían (“Silver Queen”) was the daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel, although I believe in Shadow of War, we will discover Celebrían is actual a result of Celebrimbor and Galadriel’s affair, and she inherited her silver from Celebrimbor rather than Celeborn. This means Celebrimbor is actually Arwen’s grandfather, making him Aragorn’s grandfather-in-law.
4. Young Aragorn shows up and be somehow related to Talion
Keith crossed his arms each time he mentioned Talion’s name. Such a guarded expression suggests some major twist, and seeing as how people complain about incongruities in the canon introduced by the video game series, it makes sense that Monolith will attempt to better interweave the storyline. We know that Talion and Aragorn are both Rangers, but aside from that, Talion’s heritage is suspiciously absent. They won’t necessarily be blood-related, but I got a strong indication from Keith’s crossed arms that the two will be interconnected in some way. This also furthers the connection between Talion and Celebrimbor, one that reached a high point when Celebrimbor willingly agreed to stay bound to Talion, rather than ascend to Valinor at the end of Shadow of Mordor. If Talion and Aragorn are related (they are) and Celebrimbor is Aragorn’s godfather-in-law (he is), it becomes evident that Celebrimbor and Talion are actually related.
5. Shadow of War contains an infinite amount of jokes.
Keith smiled and told me that “people are laughing even when they die.” The demo was approximately 15 minutes, so even the worst player only had time to die three or so times. I don’t know if players will still be laughing after their hundredth or thousandth death, but Keith’s telling smile suggests that the catalog of jokes is prepared for as many deaths as even the absolute worst player can muster.
6. Aerial combat between Drakes and Fellbeasts is introduced.
Gameplay trailers have shown that Drakes, a breed of Lesser Dragon, can be dominated and ridden by Talion and Celebrimbor in Shadow of War. So far, only air-to-ground fighting has been showcased, but I have a feeling aerial combat will have a place in the game, possibly featuring the Nazgûl and their fell beasts. Either way, Keith kept flapping his arms violently between questions and I don’t think that could possibly be interpreted any other way.