The last expansion released for Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Middle-earth: Shadow of War – Blade of Galadriel, was underwhelming and only appealing to those who were hungry for new content. Desolation of Mordor in a lot of ways repeats the same issues. It provides an interesting take on the Shadow of War gameplay system by giving players control of an ordinary soldier but won’t win over gamers who’ve moved on from Shadow of War.

Be Human

Desolation of Mordor has players taking control of Baranor, a soldier from the Mina Ithil army. Those who’ve played the campaign will instantly recognize the dedicated warrior and his righteous personality. Unlike Talion Baranor doesn’t have access to a Ring of Power, meaning death will end with players losing their progress but not their skills. You can trick the system by restarting missions to prevent losing progress but those who’ve played through the original campaign shouldn’t have a problem in this adventure.

Desolation of Mordor takes place in the Eastern desert of Lithlad and Baranor is seeking to remove Uruk control from the region. To accomplish this Baranor must capture a fortress by recruiting mercenaries to aid in his quest. Baranor can recruit mercenaries by earning coin through artifacts and hiring warriors, who must be kept alive by obtaining healing items from fallen enemies. It’s much better than the Blade of Galadriel which had you befriending Uruks where here the game makes it’s clear that these allies only fight for those who pay the most.

Less Power

Baranor himself can be upgraded by obtaining items from fallen enemies and earning experience. Since Baranor doesn’t have the same powers as Talion he’ll have access to more standard upgrades and must rely on technology more such as a grappling hook to climb, a parachute to glide through the air, and a crossbow for long-range attacks. These new additions make Baranor much more distinct than Talion but after playing as a powerful supernatural warrior Baranor feels more like a handicap. After experiencing the speed, strength, and acrobatic abilities of Talion and Eltariel Baranor’s traversing abilities simply couldn’t compare.

This translate to the story as trying to conquer the fortress is the main goal of the entire DLC. It does showcase how difficult it is for someone ordinary to plan and invade an Uruk fortress but after experiencing Talion’s adventure this felt more like a long fortress capture mission. You’ll fight against Uruks, recruit allies, and eventually take the fortress with very little noteworthy moments throughout. Baranor’s combat style was definitely different from Talion and Eltariel but there was very little opportunity to use it here.

Only for the Really Dedicated

Desolation of Mordor will give those dedicated Shadow of War fans a tiny distraction but don’t expect anything remarkable. The three-hour adventure serves as passable DLC with some unique moments, giving players the chance to experience how the war feels from a human’s perspective. But for those who’ve stopped playing Shadow of War Desolation of Mordor doesn’t provide enough reasons to play again.


Middle-earth: Shadow of War - Desolation of Mordor Review
  • New Combat Mechanics
  • Parachuting
  • Human Nemesis System
  • Short
  • Uneventful
5.5Overall Score
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