We’re almost one year into the current generation of home consoles yet companion apps seem to be few and far between. Launch window hits such as Call of Duy: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV, and Battlefield 4 dabbled with the tablet-syncing tech but, since then, only a handful of studios have made use of it.
Powered by Wikia, Shadow of Mordor’s “Palantir” companion feels more like a hybrid. On one side you have neat features such as data-tracking and interactive maps while also featuring an extensive Middle-Earth archive created and maintained by Wikia users. At just under 45MB its a small app though does require an internet connection. Furthermore, if you want to enhance your in-game experience with Shadow of Mordor you will first need to create a WBID account and link the app to your game.
It’s a simple process and, once done, will begin to sync your in-game stats and movements to your mobile device. As with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, its primary use will be to monitor where you are in Mordor as well as which missions and collectibles are in the nearby vicinity. The map itself is easy to use and can also be customised using a variety of filters to hone your focus but, at the same time, this seems a bit unnecessary. Shadow of Mordor already does a grand job of giving players a functional, fluid in-game map. On top of that, this map carries all the relevant info needed to hunt down collectibles and find side missions.
One thing you aren’t likely to spot in-game, however, is stat-tracking. As soon as you sign into the Palantir, gauges and bars start to fill as your data crosses over from the game. Aside from completion percentage, these stats also include total kills and deaths as well as how many runes, intel, and abilities you have acquired. This data is then broken down even further, marking how many kills you’ve scored using each weapon, as well as how many of a particular type of NPC you have slain.
Even if you’re at the tail-end of the game it’s still interesting to see your progress laid out before you, especially when the Palantir also displays community averages. Next to almost every statistic in the app is a comparison against the game’s online community, whether that be how many times you’ve mauled by Caragors or simply how many enemies you have decapitated.
On the Wiki side of things, the app holds up well. Pages from the game’s database are easily accessed via the app, each one crammed with user-submitted info covering everything from key characters and locations to Mordor’s inhabitants and Talion’s abilities. The only issue here is that many players won’t feel compelled to tear themselves away from the on-screen action just to cop a look at a Wikia entry, however informative the content is.
Overall, the Palantir is helpful companion albeit one that doesn’t introduce anything new. The one thing that really sold Black Flag’s official app (and arguably Mass Effect 3’s) back at launch was the inclusion of a mini-game or some form of activity that could be done via the app whilst not playing the actual game.