Middle-earth: Shadow of War players will have two ways to invade other people's Mordors when the game launches this year. The first of these is a new mission type called Social Conquest; the other sees the return of Vendettas from Shadow of Mordor with one or two tweaks.
In Social Conquest players can set up a captured fortress however they choose, installing an overlord and a series of captains from their existing follower base. They will also be able to purchase upgrades for their defending army before sharing that fortress online. After that other players will be free to assault the fortress using their own army, loading into the defending player's instance of Mordor and launching an attack.
During the assault, the attacking player will be free to kill or brand the defending player's forces, though it's worth noting that any branded troops (including captains) will not be carried over when the attacking player returns to their instance of Mordor.
There are two different ways to take on a fortress in Social Conquest: Friendly conquests allow players to mount an assault without risk to their followers. In ranked mode, players will earn a better assault rating with each successful conquest, with that rating dropping in the event of a failed attempt. Vitally, ranked mode is also different in that the attacking player's followers are at risk - if a captain dies during an assault, it's dead for real. Think of it like dying in the matrix, only for orcs.
Happily, the rewards for successfully attacking a base are plentiful. Capturing a fortress will reward the player with a conquest loot chest and some spoils of war - points that are accumulated in order to earn spoils of war chests. These chests contain followers and other goodies, allowing players to get stronger before returning to the Mordor from whence they came.
On top of Social Conquest, Vendettas make a return for Shadow of war. If you played Shadow of Mordor, you may remember these were opportunities to avenge the death of one of your friends by summoning the orc that killed them and fighting to the death. The scale of these missions has increased for Shadow of War, making them very similar to the war chief confrontation missions from Shadow of Mordor. Whereas before a Vendetta was simply a matter of finding the target and killing them, players must now draw out their quarry by completing an objective; one usually involving mass murder and / or explosions.
Successfully completing a Vendetta mission not only earns you a Vendetta loot chest; the player you avenged gets a notification and some spoils of war, allowing them to profit from the endeavour. As with Social Conquests, players will need to travel to a different instance of Mordor in order to attempt the mission, although Vendettas differ in that you won't get to try again should you die.
You can see a Social Conquest in action and hear some of the finer details in the video above, should that take your fancy.
This article is based on a press trip to Monolith in Seattle. Warner Bros paid for travel and accommodation.