Middle-earth: Shadow of War developer memorialized in game as fabled Orc-slayer

Tolkien's world of Middle-earth has many recognizable characters. Fans of the series may even recognize many lesser characters that have made their way into Middle-earth games. But one character that won't be found in any Lord of the Rings lore is Forthog Orc-slayer. He will be found in the upcoming Middle-earth: Shadow of War as a tribute to executive producer Michael Forgey, who passed away from cancer earlier in the game's development.

Developer Monolith and publisher Warner Bros. Interactive were hit hard by Forgey's death, and the two teams wanted to do something to remember him. "Mike was larger than life," Monolith boss Kevin Stephens said. "Mike was an incredible inspiration to our team. He was our front man in many respects. Everybody loved Mike."

As a bit of background, Forgey was part of an in-house Monolith band called Orc Slayer. The video showcasing Forthog includes music written and played by Forgey. You'll notice the odd weapon that Forthog wields is an axe with a guitar shape.

Forthog will appear as a "mysterious savior" in game, likely to appear when heroes are in trouble. The quote seen in the video after Forthog saved the ranger Talion is reminiscent of Aragorn's speech to the troops in Return of the King before they were to assault the Black Gate: "Your day will come, Ranger, but not today." It's rather poignant given Forthog's origin. And at the end, we see Forthog charging into a group of orcs, and then the scene is obscured by a blizzard. "He's going to the Undying Lands," art director Phil Straub said. "He's embracing that."

"We lost Mike to cancer during the development of Shadow of War, and we want to remember and honor him with a little bit of immortality in Mordor," the dev team said in a post on the DLC's Steam page. "The legendary Forthog Orcslayer is our way to continue having Mike leap into battle and save us when we're down."

The DLC will be available on October 10, the same day Middle-earth: Shadow of War releases on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It will cost $4.99, but Warner Bros. said it will donate $3.50 of each purchase through December 31 to Forgey's wife and three children. The DLC is already available for pre-order on Steam.

The team also made a tribute video discussing how it came up with the idea for Forthog and then implemented it in the game.

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