Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marvel Puzzle Quest: The One-Year Check-In! An interview with MPQ's Kevin Teich  


It’s hard to believe that @MarvelPuzzle Quest has been around for a whole year, but my favorite mobile game did indeed celebrate its first anniversary last week. Now that it’s reached the ripe old age of one, I thought it would be good to touch base with the developers and see how things have grown and changed since its debut. 

Fortunately, MPQ executive producer Kevin Teich was good enough to take a few minutes and fill me in.

Here’s what he had to say!


Happy birthday to MPQ! A year after launch, how is the game doing?

RKT: Thanks! It’s doing super well! We just had our best week ever in terms of number of players playing the game, number of downloads, and sales. Our feedback is also better than ever. It’s really encouraging, and we’re psyched that so many people are enjoying the game.

Cap's about to open a can of whoop-ass on these goons. 

What are some of the biggest lessons the team learned during the last year?

RKT: Listen to the players! That may seem obvious, but we’ve learned it’s really hard to balance making the features that we want and understanding what players want.

It’s also important to know how listen to  different kinds of players; our experienced, hardcore players posting in the forums may be asking for one thing, while at the same time, we see thousands of players not making it through our tutorial missions.

We’re a small team and can only do so much, and it’s impossible to listen to everybody. But we’re trying!

What were the biggest assumptions you had at the beginning that eventually proved wrong?

RKT: I underestimated the importance of our live events.

I remember the day after we went live, our producer told me that he’d need a few hours of work from one of our designers to see what was going on in the live version of the game and make some tweaks. Now, we have a developers who are dedicated to making content that goes live right away.

We also try to make as many improvements and bug fixes to the live version as we can, instead of waiting for the next version to ship.

Modern Hawkeye's new Speed Shot ability makes him a solid choice!

The team seems to have become quite a bit more sophisticated in how the new characters are designed. The gap in usability between new faces and old is quite large at times… Are there Modern Hawkeye-style revamps planned for old characters that just aren’t seeing action?

RKT: I’d love to freshen up some of those characters that don’t seem to be used that much. There are also some characters that are unbalanced right now, and those are higher priority.

We’ve learned a lot of making characters for our game, and what kinds of character features players like, and we love applying those lessons to our older designs. I can’t talk about specifics, but we definitely keep a close eye on this stuff.

Nobody but Brandon Bales loves this loser. 

Speaking of unloved characters, which ones have been used the least over the last year? Bag-Man seems the obvious non-starter, but any others who’ve been ignored by players? Who have been the most popular?

RKT: Our forums are a great source for this kind of information. Our players run polls on all kinds of subjects, including character popularity. Yelena Belova is another unpopular character.

When we were making the first batch of characters before the game launched, it was hard to look at them all in relation to the rest of the game, because there wasn’t much to rest of the game yet. Now, it’s easier to evaluate how a new character will fit into somebody’s existing roster.

Thor, Goddess of Thunder has garnered a huge amount of interest. We’re really excited to bring her to the playing field in Season 7.

On a more macro level, what’s the team’s philosophy when designing characters? Is the intention that each one should be roughly equal in power/ability, or if not, what sort of roles are you looking towards when creating new heroes and villains?

RKT: We start by digging into the character as they appear in the comics, and identify elements about the character that we want to capture in powers and mechanics. Sometimes this means the character gets a brand new type of power never seen in the game, and sometimes it means they get a simpler power that reflects their personality.

We also look for roles and color combinations that are under-represented in the current roster of characters. We always want characters to be balanced; part of our efforts to make this a deeply strategic game is to not have any one character be clearly superior. Some characters have great synergy with other characters; we also have to consider how characters will be used in combinations.

The most recent implementation of Team-Up info before a battle. 

The addition of Team-Ups was a big change to the game. How have they been received by the players, and how happy is the team with their current implementation? Also, will we ever see location-specific tiles/effects again in the future?

RKT: The initial roll-out of Team-Ups was not received very well. Part of our development philosophy is to get new features out to our players as fast as possible, and sometimes this means that we deliver features who promise in the fullness of time aren’t readily apparent. Team-Ups was an unfortunate example of that. 

We have lots of plans for them, and have been steadily rolling out features to make them better. In R63, you’re able to see what Team-Up your opponent is using before you select your own Team-Ups, which will make it a more strategic choice.

As a cool side effect of Team-Ups, people were able to collect Thor, Goddess of Thunder Team-Ups in the Lightning Rounds we ran last week, so they can call her in for help before she’s available as a full roster character.

I have several EU/UK players in my Alliance, and they often mention that the start and end times of events are usually incredibly inconvenient for them, putting them at a disadvantage compared to NA players. Any word on whether something can be done for them? EU/UK-specific servers, perhaps?

RKT: We are actively working on a feature that will make this better, not only for EU/UK players, but all players with busy lives who can’t stay up until midnight. No details yet, but stay tuned.

Those teeth aren't just for show!
After asking for him since the start, Devil Dinosaur was finally made a playable character. You have no idea how happy this makes me! What other characters have been heavily requested, and who’s on the team’s unconfirmed wish list for future characters?

RKT: This is another area in which forum polls give us a wealth of information. X-Men characters are hugely popular. Deadpool was a top request; we were really excited to bring him into the game.

Thanks so much for your time and answers. On a final note,what would you say to get someone to try MPQ if they haven’t yet, a full year after it’s been out?

RKT: It’s an authentic Marvel experience with dozens of characters and a uniquely strategic match-3 game at its heart, and new events every week. What’s not to love?


Infinite thanks to Kevin Teich for the interview and to the whole MPQ team for giving me high-quality entertainment while stuck in boring places for the last year.  Also, mega thanks to Albert Reed for making this interview happen! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Portland Retro gaming Expo - 2014  


The Portland @RetroGamingExpo took place this weekend in the city's convention center. I’ve attended with the fam for the past few years, and it's been a great experience every time. I’m happy to report that his one was no different.

Since it’s smaller and in a different city, the PRGE is a great counterpoint to PAX Prime because the crowd is less dense and more laid-back. In general, everyone seems more easy-going, and there’s a stronger hang-out vibe. It's also pretty easy to bring kids… Not only will they have enough room to walk around without getting trampled by the crowd, it's not tough to snag them some time on the various free-play arcade machines and pinball tables.

Also, of particular note this year was how many vendors there were. Although I don't have hard numbers, it definitely felt like the arts and crafts/used games area was much bigger than last time, and there were some pretty phenomenal things to buy. I didn't spend a lot of time combing through the older titles (my backlog is plenty big enough, thanks) but I did buy several pieces of really awesome artwork, and I'm just so impressed by the talent there every year.

All in all, it's a great show and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s in the Pacific Northwest and has even a passing interest in old-school video games. It's one of the high points of the year as far as I'm concerned, and I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Caution: Pictorial approaching!!

This costume was fantastic. The kid inside said it was hot as hell, though. 

A view of the arts/crafts/used games area. It actually extended pretty far back.

Want to make your own drink-table arcade machine? You can find the materials here.

Just a *tiny* fraction of the vast array of old-school stuff for sale.

Read it closely. This booth had a ton of flasks, all disguised as semi-familiar NES carts. 

R2-D2 makes an appearance every year. 

This time, R2 brought a friend.

The second some of this perler bead artwork goes on sale, I''m buying it so hard.

This lineup of arcade machines was just a part of what was set for freeplay. 

And here's just a portion of the pinball tables. Also freeplay!

My son's still too short to reach the gas in SF Rush, So I lent him a hand. Er, a foot. 

An awesome poster I snagged from Artist's Alley. From what I was told,
it's a quasi-reproduction of a movie poster, and the artist didn't have a card on hand. = (

A truly stunning piece by Jeff Langevin. The wife and I actually ended up buying
four separate works from him. This guy is crazy talented!!

This stylized nine-tailed fox by R.H. Potter was an absolute must-have.
The lines are so clean! The design is so balanced!

Creepy and cute in equal measure, impossible to resist. You can find more at Fablefire's page

A Peach portrait from Jeff Langevin done in  the style of Mucha. So classy! 

A very cool piece celebrating Firefly, also from Jeff Langevin.
I can't get enough of this guy's work!!


That's it for the Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2014... See you there in 2015!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mega Linkage, Shadow of Mordor, Frozen Synapse Prime, Chariot, and 1984's D&D  


Links: We've had a crapton of stuff go up at @Gamecritics (and elsewhere) over the last week, so here are some quick links for your reference in case you missed them on Twitter…

Destiny Mistakes Busywork For Fun – Editorial from @Horrorgeek
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die (XBO) – by @GC_Danny

Shadowgate (PC) – by @SparkyClarkson 

Wayward Manor (PC) – by @JimB_85

Natural Doctrine (PS3/PS4/Vita) – by me!

Velocity 2X (PS3/PS4/Vita) – by @MikeSuskie

Wildstar (PC) – by @Gelles22

Blood Knights (PS3/360) - by @GC_Danny

Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect (PC) – by @GC_Danny

The Adventures of Pip (PC/WiiU) Preview – by @SnakeyDavid

And finally, here's a re-enactment of an interview between Next Generation magazine and Sony's Steve Race from 1995. I play Steve and @DefunctGames is NextGen... It sounds a bit weird since we recorded our tracks separately, but hey.

Whew! Now, on to the blog as usual…


Games: I’ve spent most of my recent free time playing Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. I was pretty hyped for it after I saw it at PAX and mentioned it here at Coffeecola several times. After having completed the campaign last night, I think the game delivered on much of what I promised, although not all of it. 

The action is great, very reminiscent of what I thought Assassin’s Creed should've been since the start, and the links to The Lord of the Rings are good. Fans of that franchise will be satisfied, I suspect.

On the other hand, the main character is boring and the plot doesn't feel fully baked. Worse, the really fun "brainwash the orcs" mechanic that was so heavily promoted in the demo isn't even available to the player until about two thirds of the way through the adventure! Rather than being the core mechanic that I was led to believe it was, it ends up being rushed in at the end, and doesn't play nearly as large a part in the campaign as it should. 

Despite this disappointment and a few other concerns, it remained a positive experience overall… It's not the home-run that I thought it would be, but still quite good. Look for my full review soon.

In other review game news, I've been playing Frozen Synapse Prime for a while on Vita.

To be honest, I feel somewhat torn over it. Essentially, it's a very pure tactics experience where the player has quite a bit of control over their characters… It's somewhat reminiscent of the original XCOM in some ways, and when things go according to plan, it makes you feel like a genius. On the other hand, the tutorials don't really scratch the depths to which the game goes, and I've got some concerns about the AI and the things that are going on underneath the hood.

For example, there have been numerous times when I posted a guard pointing straight at a door in the highest readiness state, and when the enemies come around the corner, they somehow still get the drop on me?  Some of the win/fail conditions also feel a little draconian in their implementation, and despite how much I've been enjoying it when I win, the frustration factor of playing (and replaying) the campaign is quite high… I've been stuck on the same mission for three or four days in a row, and I'm starting to question whether I'll be able to complete it.

That said, I've heard it's absolutely brilliant in the versus mode and I haven't had a chance to test it out yet, so that's next on my list. Either way, fans of tactics should absolutely give it a once-over… There's a lot to like despite my misgivings.

Finally, I just started playing Chariot today with the wife. 

It is absurdly cute, and functions as a local co-op game where two people must bring a king’s coffin to his final resting place. The hook is that the coffin is on wheels, and the two characters must use ropes while pulling and pushing to get the coffin over various obstacles and towards the goal.

We didn't get a chance to play much, but we absolutely loved what we saw… Can't wait to play more, but at the moment, it seems like an obvious thumbs up.


TV: I've been mining my own past for things to share with my five-year-old, and one program that I recalled enjoying as a child was the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon series which first ran in 1984.

In a nutshell, six kids were on a roller coaster ride that went into a D&D-themed funhouse, and somehow they get warped into a fantasy world where they all assume a class role and start questing. 

The first time I saw it, I must have been eight or nine, and clearly my taste wasn't quite as developed back then as it is now. As I sat through the first episode, I thought it was a pretty wretched piece of garbage… Definitely not one that holds up past the rose-tinted glasses.

There was no real intro or 'start' to the series past the opening theme song sequence, there's no pacing at all with each scene coming right on top of the last (and none of it giving the actors any time for anything but reading as fast as they can) and the action was quite lame, to boot. I'll watch a couple more because, hell, I bought the damned thing, but it's amazing to see how terrible it is after all these years. 

Epic sadface!


Apropos of nothing, here are some great-looking screens from The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt

Techland recently released a new gameplay trailer for Dying Light to showcase the asymmetric multiplayer aspect of the game. Featuring a game-changing day & night cycle, unprecedented freedom of movement, and vast open world with 50+ hours of gameplay, Dying Light will also offer a full-fledged co-op multiplayer for up to 4 players – with a twist.
“The game is absolutely huge as it is, but to provide the ultimate zombie survival experience, we added an extra element of unpredictability to our nighttime gameplay” – says Dying Light’s Producer Tymon Smektala. “Online players can face the threat of a possible invasion of their game by the Night Hunter, an extremely powerful, human-controlled zombie mutation. These invasions are an inherent part of Dying Light, available on all platforms for all online players from day one. However for our hardcore fans who pre-order, we’re offering them a bonus Be the Zombie which lets you actually take control of the Night Hunter and invade online games of other players.”
Dying Light can be pre-ordered from the game's official website, from select retailers and is also available for pre-purchase on Steam. These pre-orders and pre-purchases come with the free Be the Zombie DLC, letting players take control of the Night Hunter themselves. By playing as the Night Hunter and invading other games, players get access to a completely new character with a unique set of moves and abilities which can be upgraded using experience points. The Be the Zombie mode will be available across all platforms.
Dying Light will be released in 2015 on January 27th in the Americas, January 28th in Australia and New Zealand, and January 30th in Europe and Asia.
D3Publisher (D3PA) and Marvel Entertainment announces that on October 3 Marvel Puzzle Quest will celebrate its 1-year anniversary since its worldwide launch on the App Store and Google Play.  In commemoration, Marvel Puzzle Quest will be the first Marvel video game to feature the brand new character, Thor: Goddess of Thunder.  Thor: Goddess of Thunder will be a legendary (4 star) character reward for Season VII and all players will be able to test her powers in a battle starting on October 17th

The celebration of the 1-year anniversary will also bring Devil Dinosaur as a playable character to Marvel Puzzle Quest via an Anniversary Pack and as a daily reward for Day 365 players starting on October 8th.  In addition, the days leading to the Thor: Goddess of Thunder reveal, Marvel Puzzle Quest will be featuring fan-favorite special in-game events based on a recent poll with the community.

For New York Comic Con Convention (NYCC) attendees, the Marvel Puzzle Quest team will be at Booth #347 inside the Javits Center during show hours on October 9 – 12, 2014.  Visitors to the Marvel Puzzle Quest booth at NYCC will be able to go hands-on with the game on tablet and PC to discover the expanding gameplay within the Marvel Universe.  Members from the team will be on hand to walk players through gameplay and discuss upcoming in-game tournaments and events.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to earn in-game resources for Marvel Puzzle Quest at the booth via a free raffle.  For a limited time only, D3Publisher will be offering bonus Iso-8 resources to new users that download the game now through October 18th.  

Marvel Puzzle Quest is developed by Demiurge Studios and available for free on the App Store for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod®, iPod touch®, Google Play for AndroidTM devices, and Steam® for PC.  The game is rated “T” (Teen – Violence, Blood, Suggested Themes, Drug Reference, and Mild Language) by the ESRB for PC.  For more information on Marvel Puzzle Quest, please visit www.marvelpuzzlequest.com and follow us on Twitter @MarvelPuzzle or like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/MarvelPuzzleQuest.


SEGA® of America, Inc. and  SEGA® Europe, Ltd. today announced that  fan-favorite Japanese role-playing-game (RPG) Resonance of Fate  is now available for purchase for the first time on PlayStation® Network for PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.  Resonance of Fate is a unique RPG set in a dystopian future where Earth is no longer capable of sustaining life. Adding a fresh spin to the RPG genre, the game features a cinematic action gameplay system centered around gun-play and a fascinating steampunk-styled world.
As part of the Private Military Firm, our heroes (Vashyron, Zephyr and Leanne) seek out and complete quests for their clients but are eventually led on a journey that will reveal the dark secrets behind the world they live in. Key features of the game include: 

         Battle System: Battle in fantastic cinematic action as your characters wield firearms in a semi-real time gameplay system
         Hero Actions: Pull off spectacular moves and precision attacks through this special mode designed to chain attacks together
         Unique Story: Built around a gigantic tower-like machine, the story will delve deep into fate and the machinery that controls it
         Beautiful environments: Masterfully crafted environments pepper this title to illustrate the deep tapestry of this dystopian world
         Customization: Customize your characters and give them a unique look within the game

o   Extensive Weapon customization allows your character to have specialized weapons from parts unlocked or bought throughout the game
o   Change the look of your character by unlocking costumes along the way


505 Games and Hidden Path Entertainment announced the official launch of Defense Grid 2 (DG2), the long-awaited sequel to the 2008 quintessential tower defense game, Defense Grid: The Awakening.DG2 introduces new worlds and threats to test player's tower placement strategies in single-player mode, online player-versus-player and multiplayer co-op campaigns. With 21 engaging maps and countless ways to win, DG2 will challenge your strategy skills and redefine the tower defense genre.
Defense Grid 2 features gorgeous landscapes and intuitive gameplay as players defend against new threats to ensure the survival of the human race. The game features dynamic level movement, a rich story and cast of characters, hundreds of challenge mode experiences, new multiplayer modes, and a procedurally driven audioscore. DG2also introduces players to DG Architect, a level creation tool set connected to Steam Workshop, in which players can create their own unique levels to share and potentially sell.
Defense Grid 2 is priced at $24.99 for digital download on Steam (PC, Mac, Linux), PlayStation®4 and Xbox® One. A special edition of DG2, priced at $29.99, is also available on Steam and includes: the digital book, The Art of Defense Grid 2; the ebook,The Making of Defense Grid 2: The Complete Story Behind the Game by Russ Pitts; and additional content including “A Matter of Endurance,” a new original audio story written by Hugo award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal and performed by the English voice cast. 

Defense Grid 2 for Mac and Linux is now available to play and will be optimized for each platform on October 14.
A new trailer is available for launch: 


The wait is over, HE is here. Slender: The Arrival, launches today on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system. Tomorrow, Xbox fans will have their chance to experience The Arrival on Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft; both are priced at $9.99. Slender Man takes to the big screen with his first foray into the world of console gaming, promising big thrills and chills for a whole new audience.

Developed by Toronto indie team Blue Isle Studios and the only official Slender Man game, The Arrival puts you at the heart of a mystery surrounding the enigmatic Internet persona that has captivated and terrorized millions. Experience lives touched by Slender Man and follow the trail to connect them all to this unstoppable force of evil. Slender: The Arrival wraps players in a dark, foreboding atmosphere and a story fraught with terror, paranoia and other-worldly forces lurking behind every turn.

Written by the creative team behind Marble Hornets, this latest iteration in the Slender Man universe expands the canon established by the original web-series, with some new twists and extended content. Building on the successful Steam launch last Halloween, Slender: The Arrival comes to consoles with brand new story elements and features extended levels that continue to unfold the Slender Man mythos. Players are enveloped in a world of sensory deprivation filled with haunting visions and audio cues that create an ominous backdrop perfect for fostering a healthy dose of tension and paranoia. Follow the clues and unravel the mystery, that is, if you can survive.

The new content will be offered to Steam and PC players who already own Slender: The Arrival at no additional charge as free DLC. More information about this offering will be announced in the coming weeks.

Slender: The Arrival is rated T for Teen and is available starting today on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system for $9.99 digital download from the PlayStation®Network, and tomorrow (September 24) on Xbox 360 for $9.99 digital download from the Xbox Live Games Store.

Independent publishing label Midnight City will also release Costume Quest 2 this Halloween season from Double Fine Productions.

For more information, please visit our website: www.midnight-city.com
For more on Blue Isle Studios, please visit: www.blueislestudios.com


Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has released Gauntlet, a fully modernized reboot of the celebrated dungeon crawler, on Steam for PC, offering full support for SteamOS and the upcoming Steam Machines shipping next year. Developed by Arrowhead Game Studios, the game is available for an M.S.R.P. of $19.99.

Players select from four classic fantasy-based characters: Warrior, Wizard, Valkyrie, or Elf. Each character has its own distinctive play style and unique strengths and weaknesses. Upon selecting a playable character, the gameplay is set within dungeons where the object is to fight through the chambers slaying evil creatures and completing challenges. An assortment of special items can be located in each dungeon that can restore the player's health, unlock doors, and shift the odds in the player's favor with magical relics which can aid the player in surviving longer in the Gauntlet. The enemies are a vast assortment of fantasy-based monsters, including ghosts, grunts, demons, spiders, sorcerers and skeleton warriors.

Players can improve their heroes' abilities and powers by unlocking achievements called "perks." Multiple difficulty settings add to the game's replayability. 
Gauntlet consists of environments like dusty crypts, dark caves, and fiery dungeons, each with varying styles of gameplay. Some dungeon maps allow players to explore and fight their way through chambers slaying evil creatures, completing challenges and discovering hidden secrets and gold. In other levels, Death itself chases players through an unpredictable labyrinth. There are also endurance maps where players must defeat waves of monsters to survive.

Gauntlet is rated Mature for Violence, Blood and Gore, with a setting to disable the game's gore.

For more information on Gauntlet, please visit 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Preview Qs with Monolith's Michael De Plater on... Shadow of Mordor!  


Interview: I’ve blogged about it a few times, but in case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty stoked for Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.

Like I've said before, the game wasn't even on my radar until I got hands-on at PAX, but it only took a minute or two before I was sold. 

In case you're not familiar with the game, it's most easily described as an open world where the main character has mobility options similar to the characters in Assassin’s Creed, and the combat tastes a little bit like the fistwork seen in recent Batman titles. 

However, the real draw to the game and the thing that makes it stand out to me is the ability to mind-control orcs in Sauron's army. The player can go into a menu and see all of the commanders and generals currently under the dark lord’s control. After doing a little intel, these guys can be located and ambushed.

Once controlled, they can be commanded to perform other jobs, like defeating rival orc leaders, attacking the higher-ups in the chain of command, and various other things. It's a neat idea that I haven't really seen before, so taking that level of strategy and putting it on top of solid action game fundamentals makes for a very exciting package.

If my own lack of knowledge prior to playing the demo is any indication, I'm guessing that other people who would really be interested in Mordor probably haven't had it brought to their attention yet, so in order to rectify that, Michael De Plater from Monolith was kind enough to answer a few questions in this brief interview as a way of trying to get a little more info out about the game.

Here are my questions, and here's what he had to say!


BG: The main character appears to be a human who’s sharing his body with a wraith of some sort. How canon will the plot of the game be, in relation to other LotR games, and to the films/books?

MD: The story is accurate to the Middle-Earth canon. The Wraith is the spirit of Celebrimbor, who is a unique and powerful character within the history of Middle-Earth. He was the Elven King who worked with Sauron on the forging of the Rings of Power before being dragged back to Mordor and killed by the Dark Lord. We explore some twists and turns in our story that explore why Celebrimbor’s spirit remained bound to Middle-Earth and why he was able to possess your human character, Talion, at the moment of his death

BG: How much customization of the main character will there be?

MD: Although Shadow of Mordor is very much an action game, we have do have RPG progression. We have skill trees for both the Ranger Talion and the Wraith Celebrimbor, and we also have Runes which are weapon upgrades connected to our Nemesis System (the unique, procedurally created enemies and bosses in the game.) Depending on the power, abilities and the way that you defeat your enemies, they drop Runes which you can use to craft your bow, dagger and sword. Side activities and exploration also allow you to collect a currency called Mirian to upgrade your core stats, add more rune slots and unlock some very powerful weapon abilities. On top of all that we have unlockable skins, such as Dark Talion, that change the appearance of your character.

BG: How big will the story-based missions in the season pass be, in relation to missions found in the base game?

MD: In terms of gameplay length, they will be of a similar size. What we're excited about is that they allow us to add some really fun new gameplay mechanics, and we are also able to increase the challenge for people who have played the main game.

Q: Are there any ‘safe zones’ or headquarters for the player to visit when away from combat?

A: The Forge Towers which are unlocked as you explore are safe, and you can fast travel to them any time you are not in combat. As you explore the world, some areas are not crawling with enemies so you can focus on exploration and discovering collectibles and lore.

Q: Is it possible to subvert the entire orc army? Conversely, is it possible to win the game by not controlling any orcs, or by killing them all?

A: You can kill or dominate an entire hierarchy of a zone. However, as soon as time moves forward (if you die or travel to another zone) then there are new Captains waiting to move in and challenge you. The world never stops evolving. There's also no "non-lethal" way to win the game, you are going to need to kill and dominate your enemies to win and move the story forward.

Q: Are there sidequests adding LotR flavor that don’t relate to the main storyline?

A: Yes very much so. In fact we have a large number of artifacts and collectibles that unlock lots of lore and flavor. There are also glyphs that reveal more secrets of Celebrimbor's past, and weapon challenges that reveal the legends of your sword, dagger and bow. The appendices contain a great deal of lore, as well as some beautiful concept art as well.

Q: If you had one sentence to grab the interest of someone who might not ordinarily be interested in a LotR game based on previous titles, what would you say to hook them on Shadow of Mordor?

A: Not only is Shadow of Mordor a deep action game, it has the potential for the most fun, varied, memorable and personal boss fights you've played, because they are created in response to your gameplay and your story.


Infinite thanks to Michael De Plater and Monlith for their time. For more information, you can read up on the game at the official website, and it should be available in retail stores and for download (PS3/PS4/360/XBO/PC) on September 30.