Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War’s Shelob Takes The Form Of A Woman, Here’s Why

If you’re a fan of The Lord of the Rings–or even if you’ve just seen The Return of the King–you’ll remember the horrifyingly large spider, Shelob. The monster very nearly kills Frodo, after all, quite possibly coming closest of all enemies to actually halting Frodo’s quest. But in Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Shelob takes the form of a decidedly un-monstrous woman. Recently, creative vice president Michael de Plater explained to Eurogamer why, exactly, Shelob isn’t a massive spider in the game.

Monolith and de Plater, it turns out, have extended JRR Tolkien’s lore to explain Shelob’s transformation. De Plater views both Shelob and her minion, Gollum, as heroes of a sort, with Shelob having successfully manipulated Gollum into succeeding in destroying the One Ring, where Frodo failed. In his and the team’s eyes, Shelob and Gollum are “more human” than the unnaturally moral main characters.

“A big part of what we do is look at these characters that are in kind of the grey zone–they’re not as pure good as Gandalf or Aragorn, they’re more human,” he argued. “So you’ve got Shelob representing darkness and then you’ve got Galadriel representing light, so you’ve got a duality between these two powerful women basically opposing each other in the same way that there’s a lot of duality in our game.”

As a result, having Shelob appear as a woman allowed Monolith to convey that duality more clearly. It allows them to draw distinctions, such as communicating that Shelob, and not Galadriel, is the more honest character.

“We were also thinking really in a lot of ways that, not intentionally, but it felt like Gandalf and Galadriel kind of lied to them [the Fellowship] a little bit about their chances,” he explained. “And what differentiates Shelob is that she’s completely honest… So she’s evil, or perceived as evil, but she has this honesty to her, and so as we started thinking through that and thinking of her as this dark mirror to Galadriel and filling that role in our story of that narrator and what that would look like.”

This transformation is couched in JRR Tolkien’s fiction, although Tolkien, of course, never went so far as to portray Shelob as a woman. But de Plater argues that Shelob’s lineage allows her to shapeshift: her mother, Ungoliant, is described by Tolkien in The Silmarillion as a primordial spirit with the ability to change her form.

De Plater’s explanation sounds like not much more than elaborate head canon to me, but considering the breadth of the universe that Tolkien detailed, it’s not too much of a stretch. In any case, Shadow of War’s predecessor, Shadow of Mordor, already took many creative liberties with the fiction, such as making the Ring-maker Celebrimbor one of the main characters.

Shadow of War launches on October 10 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Warner Bros. recently detailed the game’s online multiplayer functionality, which you can learn about here. In addition, you can read more about Shadow of War’s loot box and microtransaction systems.

Read more

Fire Emblem Echoes dev team on revisiting abandoned ideas, creating the main theme, and more

The following comes from a Nintendo Dream interview with Producer Hitoshi Yamagami, Director Kenta Nakanishi, Director Toshiyuki Kusakihara and Producer Masahiro Higuchi…

On things abandoned for Awakening/Fates, but could implement into Echoes

Yamagami: Basically, if you repeatedly make games for the same hardware, methodologies and technology progress and you are able to do things that you weren’t able to before. So, things we had to abandon for Awakening were able to make it into Fates. So, as technology advanced during Fates‘ development, there were things we wanted to implement but couldn’t fit by the time we got near the last stages of making the game. As such, it came down to “There’s still something we want to make.”

Kusakihara: Things like dungeons. You could walk around “My Castle” in Fates in full 3D, for instance, but it was very rough and difficult to implement at the time. Things like that eventually led to being able to walk around the dungeons in this game.

Nakanishi: The truth is all the fields were made to be walked around in. When you enter a battle, the camera simply zooms in on where the character is.

Kusakihara: Other than that, we were able to make character proportions look slightly more natural this time around, thanks to the Motion Design crew. With the experience and “know-how” gained from Awakening and Fates, we attempted to make [the people] in both this game and the next one on Switch closer to realistic proportions and movements.

On why Alm is left-handed

Kusakihara: There are various reasons. One reason is that there were little variations in poses characters could have. That’s when we got a proposal from the motion team that we can make plenty of new poses and patterns if the character was simply left handed. Another reason was to make Alm better resemble a hero with the strength to overcome any enemy. Alexander the Great was said to be left handed, so we wanted an image along those lines.

Nakanishi: Alm being left-handed also helped give better contrast to Celica’s brand, so it worked out nicely.

On the main theme

Composing the main theme

Q: So Janis Crunch sings the ending theme?

Nakanishi: The truth is, I only learned about this song when it was prepared to be inserted into the game (laughs). But when I heard it, it was a really nice piece. It was put it in because the staff heard me thinking “It’d be nice if we had another ballad like Fates did.”

Q: A part of it is also used for the title screen. Tell us what the main theme behind “Heritors of Arcadia” is.

Kusakihara: Mila’s death and rebirth. It is the theme of Echoes as a whole, the Age of Gods is coming to an end by man’s own hand, and they shall be the ones to inherit the world from the gods. The lyrics express that kind of sentiment.

Higuchi: It is meant to feel like Mila singing to the humans who shall inherit Valentia from her with references to stars like orbs across the sky.

This is a small snippet of the full interview, which has all sorts of interesting info. Check it out here (thanks Lightchao42!)

Read more

Japanese software/hardware sales – Aug. 7th to 13th, 2017

01./01. [3DS] Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age # (Square Enix) {2017.07.29} (¥5.980) – 116.615 / 1.573.216 (-62%)

02./00. [3DS] The Snack World: TreJarers (Level 5) {2017.08.10} (¥4.800) – 97.534 / NEW

03./02. [PS4] Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age # (Square Enix) {2017.07.29} (¥8.980) – 91.147 / 1.242.260 (-55%)

04./03. [NSW] Splatoon 2 # (Nintendo) {2017.07.21} (¥5.980) – 87.983 / 915.628 (+19)

05./06. [NSW] Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo) {2017.04.28} (¥5.980) – 17.262 / 632.894 (+25%)

06./00. [PS4] Hitman: The Complete First Season (Square Enix) {2017.08.10} (¥7.800) – 17.252 / NEW

07./04. [3DS] Great Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 2 – Naruhodou Ryuunosuke no Kakugo (Capcom) {2017.08.03} (¥5.800) – 10.770 / 80.618 (-85%)

08./00. [PS4] Mega Man Legacy Collection 2 (Capcom) {2017.08.10} (¥2.990) – 8.537 / NEW

09./10. [NSW] Arms (Nintendo) {2017.06.16} (¥5.980) – 7.866 / 197.284 (+44%)

10./05. [PS4] Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (Sony Interactive Entertainment) {2017.08.03} (¥4.900) – 7.263 / 37.647 (-76%)

11./07. [3DS] Layton’s Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire’s Conspiracy (Level 5) {2017.07.20} (¥4.444) – 7.131 / 115.188 (-44%)

12./09. [3DS] Hey! Pikmin (Nintendo) {2017.07.13} (¥4.980) – 6.863 / 114.750 (-19%)

13./11. [NSW] The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild # (Nintendo) {2017.03.03} (¥6.980) – 6.642 / 560.764 (+25%)

14./12. [3DS] Sumikko Gurashi: Koko, Dokonan Desu? (Nippon Columbia) {2017.07.20} (¥4.800) – 6.246 / 40.354 (+20%)

15./14. [3DS] Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Welcome amiibo (Nintendo) {2016.11.23} (¥2.700) – 5.380 / 218.378 (+25%)

16./16. [PS4] Gundam Versus # (Bandai Namco Games) {2017.07.06} (¥8.200) – 4.873 / 157.958 (+23%)

17./13. [3DS] Pokemon Sun / Moon (Pokemon Co.) {2016.11.18} (¥4.980) – 4.865 / 3.309.571 (+13%)

18./17. [PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition # (Sony Computer Entertainment) {2015.03.19} (¥2.400) – 4.181 / 1.191.628 (+27%)

19./21. [NSW] 1-2-Switch (Nintendo) {2017.03.03} (¥4.980) – 3.570 / 242.742

20./19. [3DS] Mario Kart 7 (Nintendo) {2011.12.01} (¥4.571) – 3.353 / 2.802.588 (+19%)

Read more