Last year's Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor may have been based on The Lord of the Rings series, but it played fast and loose with the source material from the start. That trend continues in the upcoming downloadable content pack, titled The Bright Lord.
Set thousands of years prior to the main story of Shadow of Mordor, The Bright Lord will put players in direct control of Celebrimbor, the legendary character who forged the Rings of Power that serve as a driving force for the whole Lord of the Rings franchise.
In the core game, Celebrimbor was a phantom empowering main character Talion while simultaneously often at odds with him. In the new campaign, Celebrimbor is taking on big bad guy Sauron all on his own. Luckily Celebrimbor has also stolen the One Ring, providing him an unending source of power, albeit one that also comes with great temptation.
"Celebrimbor is more powerful ... but also more fragile"
Though the One Ring will provide Celebrimbor with many of the same powers as Talion, Monolith director of design Michael de Plater promises that the two characters will feel quite different in action.
"Celebrimbor is more powerful, more agile, but also more fragile — more of a glass cannon," de Plater tells Polygon. "The enemies are also much more numerous and powerful. It's definitely a challenge. In terms of specific skills and playstyle, it's balanced so that you really need to use your domination skills, the One Ring and your improved archery skills to succeed."
As an elf, Celebrimbor will be more naturally skilled with a bow than Talion. He'll also be facing much tougher enemies, as de Plater noted. Elite orcs and warchiefs in The Bright Lord can now reach up to level 25, up from the level 20 cap in the core game. They'll also be receiving some deadly new skills to go along with the bigger numbers.
"The level 25 Uruks have had all of their powers and abilities tuned and balanced," de Plater says. "And we have given them the means to counter any cheap strategies. As well as the Uruks, you will face Sauron himself, and he has a number of new powers, including the ability to turn your followers back against you."
Though The Bright Lord's 10 new missions technically take place in one of the same pieces of land as Shadow of Mordor's original campaign — the valley of Udun — it will look very different than players remember.
"We get to see the world at a time when Sauron's power was at its height," says de Plater. "His army is more numerous, more disciplined and better armed, and his war machines are being built. Also the ruins we see in Shadow of Mordor are being built in this time as you try and recreate your elven kingdom within Mordor."
it will look very different than players remember
On top of the 10-mission campaign, The Bright Lord will also include a new challenge mode that offers the ability to get level 30 runes and the chance to play as Celebrimbor in the main campaign.
No release date has been set, but Warner Bros. says it is "coming out soon," and the game reportedly received a massive update this week to prepare for the new content. Warner Bros. also did not share a price for the DLC, but previous add-on content Lord of the Hunt was priced at $9.99 or free as part of the $24.99 Shadow of Mordor season pass.
At Warner Bros. request, de Plater declined to comment on whether The Bright Lord will be Shadow of Mordor's final downloadable content pack or whether Monolith has started work on a sequel. For more on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, check out our review or our Game of the Year 2014 write-up, where it took the number four position.