Shadow of War

Can you carry the torch of Middle-earth?

For nearly a century, iconic heroes and epic battles have drawn fantasy fans into Middle-earth. From books to movies to video games, the franchise has evolved over time, adapting to appeal to new generations. We partnered with Warner Brothers to usher in the next chapter of the Middle-earth universe, their triple-A videogame Shadow of War.

The second installment in the Shadow franchise offers more in every way; a larger world to explore, more quests to complete, and thousands of new enemies to battle. Warner Brothers came to us to design a system that reflected the increased scope and scale of the game in a way that could challenge new fans without alienating old ones.

For a new generation of gamers that don’t remember a time before the Lord of the Rings movies, we needed to refresh the brand to fit into today's world. We looked outside of the gaming category, pulling design influence from across the entertainment industry to create a system that would feel familiar to a modern audience.

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Visual System

Modern Middle-earth.

To be relevant to both lifelong fans and Middle-earth newcomers, we crafted a design system that made the fantasy universe and its characters look like they belonged in our world. Human expressions acted as our building blocks to make our imaginary creatures feel as real as possible.

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Key Art

Cast of characters.

To reach both old fans and newcomers while reflecting the increased scale of the game, we mixed familiar Middle-earth elements—Gollum, the two towers—alongside the game’s unique additions like a second ring of power and new heroes. Instead of using Mordor as the backdrop to our key art, we took a more stylized approach using a flat, dark background to make characters the focal point.

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For our biggest fans.

With a wider and more diverse range of fans, tailoring assets to a specific audience was essential. For hardcore fans, we incorporated more fantasy, lore and insider references across the spectrum of gaming magazine covers, putting their favorite parts of Middle-earth where we knew they'd see them.

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Up close and personal.

To highlight the game’s continuation of its revolutionary nemesis system, we made it the center of our campaign strategy, putting characters right in your face to call you out or have your back. Isolating individual friends and foes brought their personalities into focus and helped players build relationships with friends and enemies before even playing the game.

“We didn’t want the orcs to be mindless, screaming shapes. Not only did we give them personality, but we made your relationship with them the center of our campaign.”

— Scott Cook / Creative Director – Brand

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Mordor in motion.

Perhaps the biggest way we brought our brand system to life was through the end bumper following the cinematic trailer. We knew if our audience made it through the trailer, they were probably franchise fans, so we tailored the pre-order bumper to them. We leaned into a staple of the fantasy genre—a close-up montage of characters suiting up—against our system’s black-backdrop.

Taking our cues from across the entertainment spectrum—and stepping away from video game and fantasy clichés—we crafted a system that infused a beloved genre with modern design sensibilities, opening a franchise to an entirely new generation.

For Tolkien fans like us, contributing to the Middle-earth universe was a dream come true. Even more gratifying was discovering a fresh way to invite new gamers to a legendary franchise. We're excited to see fans battle through Shadow of War as we continue to support Warner Brothers throughout the game's launch.

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