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Watch Middle-earth: Shadow of War’s secret ‘bonus ending’

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Spoilers ahead, but here’s the narrative content locked behind the grind-heavy final act

Middle-earth: Shadow of War completes the narrative arc of the original game, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. But some critics have criticized developer Monolith and publisher Warner Bros. for burying the game’s final scene behind a grind-heavy end-game. For those who are curious but don’t want to grind, that final, so-called “bonus” cutscene has been posted by many players on YouTube.

[This article contains spoilers for Middle-earth: Shadow of War.]

We’ve embedded one of those clips above, from YouTuber Shirrako.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War was released just yesterday. In our review, Polygon made note of the game’s final act, called Shadow Wars, for being a clever inversion of the game’s core gameplay. After going on the offensive for so long, players are tasked with holding the territory that they have gained. But the journey, while a lot of fun, is also pretty long.

From our reviews editor, Phil Kollar:

From the outside, Shadow Wars is a legitimately inspired idea. It provides an endless playground and plenty of motivation to keep raising and upgrading your armies, replacing your allies with bigger and better alternatives, and slicing down floods of enemies. It’s also a great time to fiddle with the game’s asynchronous multiplayer, which allows you to go on vendetta missions to take out orcs that killed other players, or even siege another player’s fortress for loot.

But, our review also pointed out how the situation was fraught with controversy.

Why lock the game’s emotional finale behind dozens and dozens of hours of, effectively, bonus gameplay content? And why sell loot boxes that make that end-game less of a grind?

While many players will complete the main game, fewer will be ever reach the bonus ending. So, when you’re ready, feel free to get a taste of it in the video above. It’s an emotional, cathartic conclusion for the game’s main character, Talion. After all his fighting, you can see him regain his human form, throw down the weapons of war, and walk blissfully to his final reward.