The nemesis system is one of the best mechanics of the last generation of consoles, but it has been underused since its inception.
Monolith Productions has a long history of creating great games. From AFRAIDa The Matrix onlinea Convicted: Criminal Originsthe studio is clearly extremely talented. However, the recent Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of War It really helped the studio stand out, as the games feature one of the best mechanics derived from games on the latest generation of consoles – the Nemesis system. Essentially, the system takes random enemies that the player defeats and some return to attempt revenge multiple times until one enemy becomes an unscripted recurring villain throughout the game.
The system raises both Lord of the Rings titles to a new level of awesomeness as it makes the player’s journey through the game feel unique to them. However, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has a patent on the system, which means that it cannot be used by other studios that are unwilling to pay for a license. It has been speculated that the recently announced Wonder Woman The Monolith game will feature the nemesis system, but that may not be enough to capitalize on how cool an idea is.
The Nemesis system and emergent storytelling
Pop-up storytelling has become increasingly popular as a gaming buzzword in recent years, as games have gotten bigger in terms of scope. The phrase means that the player’s experience exploring a world will be unique to them if a game has enough systems to create meaningful semi-random encounters.
Unfortunately, the idea of pop-up storytelling doesn’t mean much when it comes to most games. While certain items can be random, the overall experience of the game is the same from player to player. The nemesis system is an excellent example of what pop-up storytelling can be, as its truly random nature with Shadow of MordorNPCs bring a certain life to games that many other titles cannot capture.
It’s a shame, then, that Warner Bros. has control over the system and hasn’t used it much. Certain open world games have attempted to create systems similar to the nemesis system, such as the most recent one. Assassin’s Creed titles, but due to patent restrictions, they all lack the mechanic’s charm and personal relationships. Studios definitely have the option to buy a license to use it, but it’s expensive. Given the ever-changing nature of game design, it could be a costly mistake if purchased but ends up on the cutting room floor for one reason or another.
The solution to the problem depends solely on Warner Bros., as the company could further capitalize on the mechanics, but has not decided to do so. If you want to be the sole owner of the idea, you should be working on some games that use it. Wonder Woman It could, but not much information about the game has been released yet, so that remains to be seen. If it wanted to, Warner Bros. could probably publish a title using a completely new IP that solely focuses on the nemesis system as a mechanic and would probably do well given how popular the system was with game fans when they both Middle Earth Titles were released.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment will keep the patent until 2035, which means the system could disappear if the publisher isn’t careful. Hopefully all Monolith titles at least feature the system, as it’s just too much fun to sit on an unused shelf for the next 10 years or so.
Wonder Woman is in development.