Middle Earth: Shadow of War has been getting negative headlines since it was discovered that the game would feature microtransactions. Despite the developers trying to assure fans that the game was balanced to allow for enjoyment despite their inclusion, as early reviews have arrived for Shadow of War it appears that to reach the game’s “True Ending” you’ll be forced to either enter into a lengthy grinding process or purchase loot boxes to expedite the process.
A couple of reviews for the game echo the notion that the end of the game is a grind of fortress defense missions where collecting legendary orcs is the primary objective. “Finding powerful orcs becomes the be-all, end-all focus of the game, and the easiest way to find powerful orcs is, cynically, to purchase them,” reads Polygon’s review.
“When you run out of in-game money, you have two choices: Make a huge time investment by hunting down orcs in your game world and earning chests via vendetta missions, or spend some real money to get the more powerful orcs you need now,” they continue.
Over on Gamespot’s Review, they call this fourth act anticlimactic and tedious. “What should be an exciting climax instead descends into a tedious slog for a cutscene that doesn’t quite feel worth the time and effort. In the game’s actual final act, you cycle through the four fortresses you explored previously for a total of 20 more defending siege battles.”
To be fair, Gamespot does say that the “storefront feels less predatory and more like an unnecessary addition.” From the early impressions it sounds like it’s all going to come down to how you’ve played the game up to that point and whether you’re lucky with the items that you get out of the loot boxes that you spend in-game currency on.
The back half of 2017 is certainly shaping up to be the year of egregious business practices when it comes to loot boxes, virtual currency, and microtransactions. Thus far we’ve seen controversies in Forza Motorsport 7, NBA 2K18, Shadow of War, and there’s already another loot box fiasco brewing over at EA as players got to go hands on with Star Wars Battlefront 2 and saw what appears to be a fully realized pay-to-win multiplayer experience.
It’s worth noting that Shadow of War will also have an online component where players will be able to utilize the in-game store to purchase orcs as well. While this hasn’t been talked about in any of the reviews, it also sounds like it’s shaping up to have pay-to-win elements.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War is due out on October 10th, 2017 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Despite these criticisms of the game, it currently holds a generally favorable rating on Metacritic across all three platforms.