It’s come back with a vengeance. Yes, Shadow of Mordor’s brilliant Nemesis system has languished for half a decade. But one enterprising modder recently resurrected the tech (kinda) by adding it to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Bethesda’s decade-old fantasy RPG.
The Nemesis system is a set of AI behavioral guidelines first introduced in Monolith’s 2014 open-world action game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its 2017 follow-up, Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Both games are set in Lord of the Rings canon, casting you as a ranger named Talion. Dwelling in Mordor, you fight against Sauron’s army of procedurally generated orcs. Any who killed you would remember you, gain enhanced abilities, and openly taunt you the next time you crossed paths.
It absolutely ruled, the sort of genius feature that should’ve been implemented into every similar game. But there’s a reason such a feature hasn’t shown up elsewhere: Last year, following years of efforts, publisher WB Games successfully secured a patent for the Nemesis system.
In hindsight, Skyrim seems an obvious fit. The mod, aptly titled “Shadow of Skyrim,” is developed by Syclonix, an Elder Scrolls modder. Syclonix is quick to note that it’s a “nod” to Shadow of Mordor, however, and differs from WB’s patent in key ways. There’s no dialogue, for instance, and it doesn’t add any power levels or NPC hierarchies. But there are some notable similarities.
If an enemy kills you, they’ll get a unique name and also take your stuff. Meanwhile, you’ll get a quest giving directions as to where they’re located; defeating the enemy will give you your stuff back. That said, if you’re defeated by one of Skyrim’s random encounters—cannon fodder who spawns out of the blue and disappears from the game after beating you—you’ll lose all of your stuff, and have no enemy to seek out and defeat to recover it. (Until the issue is addressed, Syclonix recommends deactivating the “Nemesis use and take items” aspect of the mod.) You’ll also be saddled with a random debuff, which can only be removed upon defeating the enemy who killed you. You can have up to five nemeses at a time. By default, none of them can be over level 25, to ensure you don’t have to go up against foes you can’t beat.
It’s terrific to see the Nemesis system get a second wind via modding, but it will rise again, eventually and officially. WB plans on implementing it in a forthcoming Wonder Woman game.