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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a surprise hit when it launched in 2014, and we even named it our Game of the Year. Three years later, its sequel, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, is about to launch.

It’s already been the subject of controversy: DLC honoring Michael Forgey, a developer who passed away last year, came under fire after there were indications that a portion of the profits wouldn’t go to Forgey’s widow and children. Publisher Warner Bros. later apologized and made the DLC free for everyone. Shadow of War’s microtransactions have also been criticized, as the first game didn’t include them.

Otherwise, however, Shadow of War seems to be going down well with critics. We awarded the open-world game a 7/10 in our review. “It tries to be larger than its predecessor … yet it leaves you wanting less,” wrote Justin Haywald. “But at its core, it’s a fun experience with brilliant moments that provide fascinating insight into some of the untold stories of Middle-earth.” Read more in our full Shadow of War review.

For more on the open-world game, check out its best trash-talking Orcs, the first eight minutes of Shadow of War gameplay, or our feature video on the struggle to bring The Lord of the Rings to video games. For more on the game’s critical reception, meanwhile, you can see our review roundup below, or take a look at our sister site Metacritic.

  • Game: Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  • Developer / Publisher: Monolith Productions / Warner Bros.
  • Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Release date: October 10
  • Price: US $60 / £43 / AU $100

GameSpot — 7/10

“And that addition sums up several of Shadow of War’s additions–things like the storefront and the menus and loot system don’t make the game terrible, it just would’ve been better without them. It tries to be larger than its predecessor, there are more abilities, more weapons, more Orcs, yet it leaves you wanting less. But at its core, it’s a fun experience with brilliant moments that provide fascinating insight into some of the untold stories of Middle-earth. I just wish it had known when to stop.” — Justin Haywald [Full review]

IGN — 9.0/10

“Similar to the way Batman: Arkham City built on the foundation of Arkham Asylum, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is bigger and more ambitious in scope than Shadow of Mordor, with great results. The way it expands the Nemesis system with far greater variety and fortress sieges makes even better use of the stand-out generated characters, and its battles with memorable uruk captains remain challenging all the way through the campaign and into the clever asynchronous multiplayer beyond.” — Dan Stapleton [Full review]

Polygon — 7.5/10

“If you can get past the microtransactions, Shadow Wars seems set to provide a much meatier extended playtime than Shadow of Mordor ever offered. But more than anything, that’s my biggest disappointment with Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Everything about it seems to come with a caveat, some small annoyance or two that you need to dig past to get to the still-very-fun game underneath.” — Philip Kollar & Chris Plante [Full review]

Game Informer — 9.5/10

“Shadow of War fulfills the promise of its predecessor, completing a dark and violent lost tale set within the world of The Lord of the Rings. I was initially frustrated by the liberties that Monolith takes with this beloved fiction (which are plentiful), but I eventually abandoned myself to the insanity, and fell down the rabbit hole into a superb fantasy adventure. Monolith captures the thrill of power with aplomb; the way it simultaneously speaks of its dangers and corrupting potential is the real magic.” — Matt Miller [Full review]

Eurogamer — No score

“Shadow of War ends up the very epitome of the difficult second album. A lot has been added in order to scale it up for a full blown sequel and much of it has been implemented with style and aplomb. As fun as the core is, however, it is often overshadowed by an onerous and self-indulgent story. What should be the game’s crowning feature is instead reduced to an undeserved supporting role, like an exquisitely carved plinth groaning under the weight of a gaudy bronze bust of an elven wraith who’s looking very, very serious indeed.” — Johnny Chiodini [Full review]

GamesRadar — 4.5/5

“For the most part, this is big spectacle and richly layered experience. The different regions are beautiful and varied to explore, while Sauron’s forces are alway entertaining to meet and beat. If there are moments that don’t quite click or things that fatigue a little it’s because of that scale. There’s almost an Assassin’s Creed 2 feel of map spatter to all the markers for towers, collectables, bits and so on. I’ve not 100%-ed it but you’re easily looking at a triple figure time should you try. This isn’t a game to get in for the weekend, it’s something to buy and cancel plans for the year.” — Leon Hurley [Full review]

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