Middle-Earth: Shadow of War has RNG Loot Crate Microtransactions in a Single-Player Game

Written by Stuart Thomas on Mon, Aug 7, 2017 2:04 PM
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Monolith and publisher Warner Bros have announced the ‘Market’ for Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, an in-game store where players can buy randomised Loot Chests, War Chests, XP Boosts and Bundles for real cash monies in their single-player game. Inside these chests, players can unlock rare weapons and armour, new Orc followers to help build an army, and Training Orders to level up and customise Orc followers.

Before we go anywhere with this: gross. Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s drill down to how it all works. As explained earlier, there are four different items that can be purchased as microtransactions:

Loot Chests - Contain weapons and armour with randomised rarity. May also contain XP boosts that can be used to help Talion level faster.

War Chests - Provides new Orc followers of randomised rarity. Can be used to build Talion’s army. May also contain Training orders to customise and level up Orc followers.

XP Boosts - Experience boosts that can be used to help Talion level faster.

Bundles - These are varying bundles that included Loot Chests, War Chests and Boosts, all packaged together.

In order to buy any of these packages, you’ll need to spend Gold or Mirian, both in-game currencies. Mirian can be acquired by defeating treasure orcs, destroying gear, destroying orc followers, and finding Mirian stashes. Mirian will get you base-level gear, while Gold will be needed to acquire higher level loot. Gold can be purchased from the Steam store, PlayStation Store or Xbox Store. It can also be awarded in “small amounts” for specific milestones and for participating in community challenges. Monolith says “Please note: No content in the game is gated by Gold. All content can be acquired naturally through normal gameplay.” In translation - you can either grind out the unlocks for hours and logging in every day for community challenges, or you can just lay down some cash and roll for a chance at unlocking them.

“Everything a player can buy with Gold can also be earned in the game over time for free, but Gold gives players the option to acquire these items faster.” Just how much faster, is the golden question. These systems tend to artificially slow down progression in order to direct players toward the faster unlocks. If it operated like a normal game and had plenty of unlocks and gear, not many people would be inclined to pay to get additional gear. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out, but this certainly a game I’d now take a wait and see approach on rather than pre-ordering.

At this stage, I’m fairly convinced Warner Bros is going out of its way to make picking up Middle-Earth: Shadow of War as unappealing as possible. As someone who bought the original Shadow of Mordor, and thought it was decent but nothing special, everything they’ve shown has done nothing to convince me Shadow of War is going to be worth my time. The infestation of microtransactions in a wholly single-player game is just the final nail in the coffin. I can only presume Monolith has been strong-armed into this by publisher forces, as no one wants to have their game tarnished by layers of unlocks, gambling-focused loot crates and game design geared towards players paying more, not playing more.

As you’d expect, Shadow of War also has a season pass. The exact pricing has yet to be announced, but the base game is £55 over on the PlayStation Store, and the game plus the season pass, plus a single Gold loot box, is £90. My hazy maths skills estimate Shadow of War’s season pass alone is at least £35. Gulp.

What’s your take on randomised loot boxes in a totally single-player game? Will this affect whether you’ll be picking up Middle-Earth: Shadow of War at launch?

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19:40 Aug-08-2017

Nope. Just nope. What's wrong with publisher these days? First Square Enix destroyed Deus Ex with microtransaction (and the ridiculous one-time use DLC) now WB game did this. Definitely gonna pass on this one.

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18:06 Aug-08-2017

Great. We simply can't trust them, that the game won't be balanced around those MT, so you are incentivized to buy them.

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10:24 Aug-08-2017

WB you could have sold millions of copies and released the third game, but noooo... This is why we can't have nice things :(

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14:37 Aug-08-2017

We can have nice things, if we can appreciate what we have.

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10:01 Aug-08-2017

I was considering buying this day 1, not considering it anymore.
Maybe on a deep sale down the line.

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09:17 Aug-08-2017

They are really milking the sequel for the reputation and popularity the previous game obtained. WB, shame on you.

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02:33 Aug-08-2017

But it will have Microtransactions for people 'who don't want to spends time building their armies'. Seriously? Why play the damn game then?

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06:50 Aug-08-2017

Good question.

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22:30 Aug-07-2017

well... not getting this one... at this rate we have another gaming crash

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22:08 Aug-07-2017

Thanks for sharing, I will pass on this game then... I am totally not buying full priced single player game with mobile free to play like microtransactions... I will either wait for inevitable price drop to less than 10EUR or just pirate it.

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20:47 Aug-07-2017

I hate to sound like a broken record here, but as long as there are people that find this acceptable (and can afford to pay it), there will be devs (the publishers are more to blame 4 this one) who do what they can to make a living.

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20:15 Aug-07-2017

Warner Bros., what the actual hell are you doing?
Is this what gaming is now?
One more year and we'll have 10 different currencies and locked levels behind that, mobile style.

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20:25 Aug-07-2017

I'd find it more acceptable it if it was free, but in a game you have to buy? HELL NO.


I only find cosmetics microtransactions acceptable (and by extension exotic and unique pets), but I am AGGRESSIVELY anti-loot crate.

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20:44 Aug-07-2017

Hear hear.
Thank you for you passion in protecting the games that are yet to be made.

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20:48 Aug-07-2017

I can't tell if that was meant to be sarcasm or for real but I will take it as a compliment anyway.


I am a highly outspoken opponent of loot crates and always online requirements in single player games you have to buy. If they were free, I doubt I would care nearly as much.

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01:13 Aug-08-2017

I'm 100% with you there.
If the game already costs 60$, microtransactions in it are absolute horse****.
If they're just cosmetic items I don't really mind that much, but I'm still not fun of the fact that there is something you have to pay for in a full priced game.

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20:11 Aug-07-2017

i really dont like in which direction games going. Companies are becoming more and more greedy every year. Is this where we are going?

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20:10 Aug-07-2017

I refuse to support this crap. Scratch this game off my list!

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20:02 Aug-07-2017

Greedy publishers really hurting themselves. I can imagine this is gonna drive official sales down and when the game is inevitably cracked and pirated it'll be a landslide. A shame really, Shadow of mordor was good to have this tarnish it.

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19:14 Aug-07-2017

Well... I was going to get this on release. Nevermind. :|

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19:28 Aug-07-2017

Agreed. :(

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18:40 Aug-07-2017

OK, first Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and now this??? What the hell developers? This kinda stuff ruins a game PERIOD and I don't care if it's a single player game and optional use, it still ruins the game for EVERYONE!


Also this game is always online? Really?? No thanks. There is literally no excuse for this.

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09:19 Aug-08-2017

Well,the sad reality is that as long as people buy the games,they will keep doing sh*t like this.

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14:39 Aug-08-2017

I feel the same as you. :(

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18:13 Aug-07-2017

why??? u had a great start why ruining it like this smh

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17:47 Aug-07-2017

Wishlist: shadow of war..... remove

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17:19 Aug-07-2017

Welp, I'd considered getting this soon after its release, but I'm definitely got to wait a while now... Loot crates in a single player game... What is happening?

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17:09 Aug-07-2017

Sigh... I'll still get the game if the reviews hold up, but I'm sick of these loot crates and stuff. I think overwatch is maybe the only game that can get away with it successfully.

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17:07 Aug-07-2017

And we also have to stay online to play game

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