Shadow of War

Shadow of War is an Action/RPG game. Set in the Lord of the Rings universe, it focuses on players fighting against a seemingly insurmountable foe by dominating the enemy's forces from within, forging their own army, and conquering the lands controlled by the evil forces. 

I was a Mission/Level Designer on this game working on specific special types of missions where the player has to hunt down a target nearby their location in the world.  Using a proprietary 3D game engine, I outlined player routes to reach target enemies, set up encounters in pre-built world areas, set-up AI, placed interactable props, and scripted special events for particular missions.  I collaborated with a team of designers focused on enemies and missions that the player encounters natively in-game (outside of main missions).  This involved me understanding the various areas of the game world, the enemy types, and mechanics the player could utilize during these missions. 

Release Date: August 2017

Role: Mission/Level Designer

Genre: Action/RPG

Studio: Monolith Productions

Platform: PS4/Xbox One/PC 

Monolith LogoWarner Bros Logo

"Go behind enemy lines to forge your army, conquer Fortresses and dominate Mordor from within. Experience how the award winning Nemesis System creates unique personal stories with every enemy and follower, and confront the full power of the Dark Lord Sauron and his Ringwraiths in this epic new story of Middle-earth." - Shadow Of War Website


Mission Design Details

For each level, I begin by viewing the area and looking for different level of elevation in the area, corners, open-spaces vs. closed spaces, and combat props already present in the area. From there, I determine good locations to place different types of enemy nodes ranging from sentry orcs that patrol an area to orcs that stay in one location. The mission depicted below is a mission where the target enemy is walking around the area on a patrol route with his gang. The white lines and boxes/circles represent the patrol route.

Patrol Mission In-Editor (Isometric View)

Patrol Mission In-Editor (Top View)

  The in-editor world directly translates to the in-game world.  The images below depict the Caravan mission with the enemy route and combat opportunities highlighted.  I placed various objects nearby the enemy’s route that the player can take advantage of.  In addition, the route I created provides the player high ground as well as areas to hide to have a stealth advantage over the enemy.   


Patrol Mission - In Game Detail: How Routes, Combat props, and placed enemies work together

below is an example of combat opportunities and enemies placed around the target's patrol route.  Near the patrol route is a explosive barrel and further ahead is a wasp nest.  The wasp nest is good to disrupt the target enemy's patrol and gain a surprise on him.  In addition, the nest trap can be activated from the ranged bow or directly from touching it.  because it is hanging on a walking wire, the player can stealthily walk along the wire and drop the nest on the target. 

The other enemies placed in the area provide more challenge because the player potentially has to fight them and the target enemy's group. Thus, a few approaches exist: 1) Take out the enemies that are in the area before going after the target enemy. 2) Stealthy navigate to and follow the target enemy's path. then find a good opportunity to surprise them in an area with less enemies. 3) go on a full scale assault and attack everyone. 

Patrol Mission In-Game Example

Patrol Mission Stealth Example

In the example above, around this corner, there are two stealth opportunities depending on the route the enemy takes.  If the player navigates and remains undetected to reach the upper-right area, it provides a great advantage to the player, allowing a potential stealth kill from above.


Feast Mission Example 1 - Player Choice

The mission below outlines a “Feast” type mission where the player must find the enemy that is hosting a celebratory feast deeper in this area.  There are many ambient enemies in this particular area making it a longer and more potentially difficult mission. I marked the various pathways that I intended for the player to approach this mission, depending on if the player is focused on a Stealth or Assault play-style.  I have also marked the various combat props I added to the area.  The player can take advantage of these during the mission based upon how they want to take out their target.   

Feast Mission 1 Set-Up (In-Editor)

More Detail of Feast mission (In-Game)

  Above is a more detailed look during the gameplay of this mission.  Due to the situational difficulty of this mission with many enemies in the surrounding area on the approach, I have kept a larger number of combat props than usual (to give the player more opportunities). This mission has a mixture of my placed combat props and ambient placed combat props (by the world environment team).   I added the explosive barrels around the area so the player could use those to cause a ruckus as they approached the feast.  If the player is stealthy, they can poison the barrels to kill off the enemies at the feast for a more subtle and crafty approach. I set the enemies and the target enemy is places where the player could decide the path of their approach. From this particular point in the area, there are two ground paths (one with bushes for cover) and one high-ground path (good for causing distractions, confusion, or a stealth kill).  


Feast Mission 2 Details - Leading Player in Large Areas

This is an example of another Feast mission.  The player has to do more searching to find the target enemy because it is set in a larger area.  I wanted to make the feeling of this more of a hunt and help the player less. I set up enemies that are singing while drinking about halfway through the area as a way to direct the player towards the direction of the feast that is occurring.  This mission has two main paths that I intended for the player to utilize.  The stealth route involves the player staying in high ground until they reach the target. By following the easiest reachable places while in high ground, the players will naturally find themselves near the target.  

Feast 2 Part 1 Example

Feast 2 Part 2 Example


Chase Mission - Multiple ways to chase down a running target

For the chase mission, the player is chasing after a target enemy that is running away. Unknowingly, the target enemy is leading the player into an ambush in an attempt to overwhelm the player and kill them. There is custom script for this particular type of mission that tells the target enemy to run along the path I specified (shown below in white). I created the “chase” paths for each of these missions to give the player various opportunities to catch the target enemy before they reach the ambush. Some mission have combat ops that the player can use to knock down the enemy, other missions provides ways the player can gain more speed while running. This mission in particular has combat ops and ways to gain speed. There are also different paths the player can take while chasing after the target orc. The most interesting and surprising is a path (Stealth route) that allows the player to gain high ground and surprise the target orc before the player is ambushed.

Example of Chase Mission In-Editor SetUp


Camp Mission - Using a footprint trail to guide player to a target enemy

For tracking missions, the player can see footprints left by the target enemy. These footprints lead to where the target enemy is currently at, usually with other enemies doing one of the various situational vignettes we’ve created for these missions.  I had to set up the footprints that lead to the target. The important part was creating a trail of footprints that leads the player on an interesting route, a route where there is a high possibility to encounter enemies walking around, enemies to sneak past, vantage points, and other situations.    In the image below, the enemies with lines connecting them are patrol enemies.  Meaning, I gave them a specific patrol route to cover.  I often used patrol routes to make the player be cautious in an area and increase the difficulty.  If they’re trying to be stealthy, the chances of being caught by an enemy on patrol are higher than an enemy that is idle or if enemy that is randomly walking around the area (some orcs switch positions with each other over time). 

Camp Mission pt1

Camp Mission pt2

Camp Mission pt3

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