Video game innovation is always a beautiful sight to behold, which is why some gamers have expressed their anger that what they see as “the best gaming innovation of the last 20 years” is not being utilized by game developers.
The definitive take is coming from a Reddit thread where fans of the Middle-earth series are baffled at the games’ signature gameplay mechanic being absent from recent video game releases. They are talking about, of course, the Nemesis system, a Middle-earth trademark in more than one way.
The Nemesis system is an RPG mechanic that takes into consideration all prior interactions between the player and various NPCs and modifies the gaming experience based on that information. For example, if an enemy NPC kills you in battle, he might get promoted in rank, or he may taunt you for kicking your ass when you meet again. It’s a remarkably flexible system that adds a unique flavor to each NPC interaction.
The Nemesis system was first implemented in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, and made a return for its 2017 sequel, Shadow of War. It hasn’t seen any action since then, though, which inspired Reddit to rant at the mechanic’s wasted potential.
The general consensus in the Nov. 26 thread is that the Nemesis system is indeed a great feature, with some going as far as to say that Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War were single-handedly carried by it. If gamers think so highly of Nemesis and it’s already seen success in a popular franchise, why has no game developer used it for over six years?
The answer is as corporate as it gets. The Nemesis system was patented by Middle-earth publisher Warner Bros., which effectively means that Warner is the only source that can bring back the feature. This leads to the question of why Warner Bros. hasn’t utilized its own patent for over half a decade. The situation is obviously not ideal, but it isn’t completely dire either.
The Wonder Woman game, which is currently in development, is supposed to bring back the Nemesis system. The only issue is that the game was officially announced by Warner Bros. in December 2021, and two years later, we still have zero indication of an actual release date. It’s better than nothing for sure, but it’s looking like gamers will have to wait a while longer before “the best gaming innovation of the last 20 years” makes its long-awaited return.