Middle-earth: Shadow of War has officially launched for consoles and PC, continuing the adventures of Talion and the spirit of the Elf lord Celebrimbor, who possesses his body. Inspired the works of J. R. R. Tolkien (The Hobbit; The Lord of the Rings), WB Games’ Middle-earth series takes visual cues from Peter Jackson’s film adaptations but also takes creative liberties with the canon.
Talion may be the main character of the game, but the stars of WB Games’ marketing have been the Orcs. Detailed cosplayers were dispatched to E3, PAX West and New York Comic Con, where they interacted with gamers and even crashed a developer panel about Shadow of War. Live-action Orcs carried the game’s marketing from events to social media and TV.
WB Games teamed up with theCHIVE to produce a series of comedy vignettes about what it would be like to live with an Orc. “A Dork and His Orc Roommate” features theCHIVE gaming editor Jeff Solomon and his new roommate Thrak as they engage in activities from babysitting to getting ready for a date.
“Our approach with this program was to communicate the benefits of Shadow of War’s Nemesis System while appealing to our user base in a creative, entertaining way,” Lauren Stanat, account director at Chive Media Group told AListDaily. The Nemesis System determines friends or foes in the game depending on the player’s actions. “The broad premise is that life is better with an Orc, so we created a social-first program that connected Thrak and our gaming editor as roommates.
“In line with the ‘Not Today, Brian’ spot and [WB Games’] ‘Nothing will be forgotten’ messaging, we see Thrak aiding Jeff in very relatable, everyday situations new roommates go through. Thrak is thankful for Jeff’s friendship, and we see him paying it forward in some very funny ways across the series of vignettes.”
Marketing surrounding Shadow of War has largely focused on the slogan, “Nothing will be forgotten.” This refers to the game’s story, but also the fact that players can carry over decisions they made from the previous title.
Shadow of War builds upon the Nemesis System introduced in Shadow of Mordor, allowing players to gain followers from several races of Middle-earth and plan out complex strategies using these to complete missions. Players can transfer their top Nemesis and their most loyal follower from Shadow of Mordor into Shadow of War, as well as the mobile companion game.
Live-action TV spot “Not Today, Brian” illustrates the loyalty of followers gained through the Shadow of Mordor Nemesis System. Another version of Thrak the Orc shows his loyalty for a player named Brian, who saved his life on the virtual battlefield long ago.
“Eat It, Jerry” shows the flip side of the Nemesis System—friendship is forever, but so are grudges. Like “Not Today, Brian,” this comedy spot goes back over the years to show why an Orc is determined to harass a Middle-earth: Shadow of War player for the rest of his life.
The game received an added push through the help of social media influencers like Devin Graham and Critical Role. Conan O’Brien tried Shadow of War for his Clueless Gamer segment, taking the opportunity to mock actor-comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who plays an Orc named The Agonizer. The video has been viewed over 1.3 million times.