Watch how you mentor your henchmen in Middle-earth: Shadow of War

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One of the most satisfying things about Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was meeting some low-level scrub orc, Gutterbum the Wretched, barely good enough to wear rags and carry a stick into battle, then bumping into him ten hours later as Gutterbum the Almighty, encased in the finest armor, wielding a mighty sword, and commanding a throng of minions. That was your handiwork. You forged Gutterbum in the crucible of your making. You raised him up from a nothing to a somebody as you tore around Monolith’s open world brawler. There was an odd sense of pride in seeing that orc again, now made formidable thanks to your own choices. He might kill you, but you made him that good, darn it!

Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the upcoming sequel, brings back the vaunted Nemesis System that made enemies grow with the player, but Monolith has expanded the way it works. Captured and turned bad guys will also evolve depending on the player’s actions. That’s not always going to be a positive thing, however. As the game’s creative director, Michael de Plater explained to PC Gamer, these allies may even grow out of their relationship with you. Their stories will have more meat on them compared to the first game’s rather generic buddies.

“We’ll say what’s a good story: does that begin with burning someone to death, or failing to rescue them in a mission so it makes for a betrayal, or you revive them so they feel loyal? What’s a good story? From that story we can mix and match different elements, whether it’s the writing, or what his fighting style is, or if he’s going to betray you. We’re always trying to make these really emotional, powerful stories.”

Middle-earth: Shadow of War launches on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in August 2017.