Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor
Shadow of Mordor is a surprisingly violent take on JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Warner Bros

A new female playable character and a tougher difficulty setting have been added to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor in a free piece of DLC out now.

Monolith released the DLC, called The Power of Defiance on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, but not PS3 and Xbox 360.

Lithariel is the name of the new character. She is commander of the Tribesmen of Nurn and the daughter of Lady Marwen... whatever that means. She looks perfectly capable of dishing out the game's plentiful violence though and that's all that really matters.

The add-on also introduces the Test of Defiance challenge mode which makes life harder while fighting Sauron's warchiefs by restricting the player's magical wraith abilities.

If you'd rather make things a little easier there is also a new Epic Rune which gives players an extra "Last Chance" – a quick-time event activated in-game when the player is close to death.

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor has been one of the year's biggest unexpected success stories. Initial impressions following the game's announcement was that it was merely a riff on the established formulae of other third person action titles Assassin's Creed and Batman: Arkham, but it turned out to be a lot more.

The key to this was the nemesis system, one of the year's best gameplay innovations – which adds depth to the hordes of orcs you will encounter by creating a military hierarchy they adhere to that you can bring down or exploit. Named orcs that kill you will also gain power and climb the ranks – creating rivalries and stories unique to each player.

For more on Shadow of Mordor, be sure to check out our Best of 2014 features in the coming weeks.