GamesBeat: You have the Eltariel ending, which seems to leave the opportunity for further conflict open, but in the other ending there’s a finality to Talion. His story is told, and he disappears. Is there any contradiction between those endings? Some people have assumed you’re making a trilogy and leaving room open for one more game. But it seems like that game wouldn’t have Talion in it.
de Plater: Mm-hm. [Laughs] We’re back to my earlier position where I can’t say too much. The Blade of Galadriel—Eltariel is playable in her own story campaign that’s going to be coming out soon. We’re aware of all those different story threads and we’re excited to pull on some of them.
GamesBeat: You have extensions to the story coming with the DLC, then?
de Plater: Oh, yes. Eltariel is going to be a playable character in the DLC and that will shed more light on all of that.
GamesBeat: So right now we just don’t know if there’s a finality to this story or not.
de Plater: It’s certainly a story of death and undeath. I don’t think we’re going to do it like they do in comic books and find some weird way to say that his death didn’t happen. But having said that, this isn’t in any way indicating anything we’ve thought about for the future. There could certainly be other protagonists, other heroes. Middle-Earth has all the richness and detail of the real world. There’s no limit to how many stories could be told there.
GamesBeat: With the siege battles, maybe there wasn’t a way to continue the story through those battles? It seemed like that wouldn’t make much sense. But I like the way the Nemesis stories continue to flourish in the siege battles.
de Plater: The other thing I think is a lot of fun in that phase, but from a UI point of view we maybe didn’t do enough to surface or communicate—I like the fact that Talion is a wraith during the shadow war. He has Isildur’s Ring, and Celebrimbor has abandoned him. The other powers, the new features you get around being able to raise the dead and summon the Gondorians and have your captains come back from the dead, those are really interesting and fun new features to play with through that. They have a nice narrative edge to them in terms of being part of Talion’s fall.
GamesBeat: I always thought you would set up a conflict between the orc army Talion raised and the Gondorians. Did you ever consider that?
de Plater: Yeah, definitely. The other one—again, this is clearly just a case where our story, even though it does fuse with the books and films in an interesting way—Celebrimbor getting reunited in the flaming eye with Sauron, and that sense of Talion versus Celebrimbor. That’s definitely something Talion would have a lot of hunger for at that point – revenge against Celebrimbor. His sense of being betrayed is very strong.
GamesBeat: It seems like there’s plenty of room for alternative plots to continue here. Did you ever think about having multiple endings?
de Plater: We did, at various points. We had to prioritize, though. We wanted to make sure we told Talion and Celebrimbor’s story as well as we possibly could. We put so much emphasis on the individual and personal player stories in the nemesis system—we just put a lot of our focus there.
GamesBeat: The conspiracy theory is out there that you want people to grind through the siege battles as a way of getting them to buy loot crates. You can definitely get there just by playing, but the argument is that people could short-circuit that with in-game purchases. That doesn’t work, right?
de Plater: I think by now people can go and look anywhere they like and see how other people have actually played it, actually experienced it. They can see that that’s not true. They can see that what we wanted to do, unlike in Shadow of Mordor, is give people a really fun way to keep playing with the nemesis system after the end of the main story. Grinding is a word you can apply to any RPG, but it can also be a lot of fun. I think anyone will see that we’re pretty generous with the loot and with the orcs. They just keep flowing. We just tried to make the game as much fun as we can.
GamesBeat: The story seems to go through about two-thirds of the content, but there’s that other third of things you can do beyond the whole story. It seems like that’s there just to let people spend even more time in it.
de Plater: Absolutely. We can certainly see that people are playing more and longer. There’s so much more game there than there was in Shadow of Mordor. It’s a lot bigger and a lot deeper. I’m surprised how many people have already finished, given that we’ve only been out for four days. The great thing is, they can start again, play a second time, and their personal stories and their orcs are going to be so different. Or they can play on higher difficulty and get different stories. It’s much more replayable than Shadow of Mordor was.
GamesBeat: Did you ever consider adding more fortresses to the whole thing, where the Black Gate becomes playable, something like that? There were so many more locations than what you could fight in.
de Plater: Absolutely. We had a lot of discussions about that, and we worked very hard to make as much content as we possibly could in the time we had available. We wanted to prioritize having as much new content and new places as we could.
GamesBeat: Are you able to unlock more fortresses if you have DLC coming?
de Plater: I’m not sure if we’ve officially announced that yet. But the short answer is yes.