Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War Lets You Pay Real Money For Better Gear

Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War Lets You Pay Real Money For Better Gear

Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the sequel to surprise 2014 hit Shadow of Mordor, will come stuffed with loot boxes and microtransactions, not just for cosmetics but for gear that improves your main character. This news, announced over the weekend, has thrilled fans across the world. (One top Reddit post: “That’s a great way to get me to not buy this game.”)

Shadow of War will be out for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 11. Over the weekend, the developers at Monolith laid out their plans for the game’s “Market”, and it’s full of the type of buzzwords that you can only find in AAA gaming. “Through the Market, players can purchase Loot Chests, War Chests, XP Boosts and Bundles (accessed only with an internet connection),” they wrote.

Allow Monolith to explain exactly what that means:

  • Loot Chests contain Gear (weapons and armour) of varying rarity. Equipping and upgrading these weapons and armour enhance Talion’s character abilities. Loot Chests can also contain XP Boosts that help level up Talion faster.
  • War Chests provide Orc followers of varying rarity to help forge a strong army. They can also contain Training Orders to level up and customise Orc followers.
  • XP Boosts are consumables that help level up Talion faster.
  • Bundles package up Loot Chests, War Chests and Boosts together at a great value.

To buy all of these packages, Shadow of War players will need to use two types of currency, Mirian and Gold. As is usually the case when a video game has two types of currency, one of those will cost you real money. “Gold is a form of in-game currency awarded in small amounts at specific milestones and for participating in community challenges,” Monolith wrote. “It can also be purchased for real money through the PlayStation Store, Xbox Store and by adding funds to your Steam Wallet.”

The company says it will reveal the pricing for Gold at some point in the future.

In a Q&A, Monolith continued:

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. No Gold purchases are necessary to enjoy the complete game experience.

What do you mean when you say Gold can save time?

By simply engaging with the world and playing through Middle-earth: Shadow of War, you earn items like Gear for Talion and unique Orcs for your army. These are the same items that are found in the Market within Loot Chests and War Chests. Gold merely allows you to get your hands on them immediately, cutting down some of the additional time that would have been spent winning more battles, tracking nemeses, completing quests and assaulting fortresses.

It’s one thing when a $100 game offers microtransactions for cosmetics. It’s quite another when the game wants you to pay to cut down on “some of the additional time that would have been spent winning more battles, tracking nemeses, completing quests and assaulting fortresses”. It will be impossible to play Shadow of War without getting that nagging feeling that the game is full of padding that you should be paying to avoid.

Between this and releasing the game smack in the middle of October, surrounded by the likes of Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Super Mario Odyssey, it seems that Warner Bros. is dooming Shadow of War to a fate worse than Boromir’s.


    • $10 for me, this is inexcusable especially for a single player game.
      This would not be profitable to have at all in a game like this. hell i actually heard that you need constant internet to play. Why is internet the new default for single player?

      • … At least make it vise versa, i like to earn some money that i can take out of the game in real life.
        Just joking of course lol

      • The always online thing was a misunderstanding apparently. The dev quote was answering whether you need to be online to buy loot boxes, not to play the game.

    • Nah! Free to play elements mean it’s free to play! You get it for free right? Lol Premium games should never have pay to win, Overwatch fans be like ” It’s only COSMETIC!!” nonsense .

      • That’s a poor comparison? I don’t play Overwatch, but my kid does. He’s put a little money into the game for crates, from what I’ve observed with everything he’s received, it’s all purely cosmetic and hasn’t shifted the balance of the game at all?

        The primary thing here I’m not worried about with Overwatch for example, which you’ve utterly failed to recognise, is the extra content has been free in the game, with development funded by: the cosmetic dlc Overwatch has offered. None of this dlc has affected the game and it’s all the purest form of optional dlc there is. It doesn’t alter any stats and it’s all only visual at this point (if it changes, that’ll surely suck). But their new characters and maps? They’ve been free and it at this point, hasn’t become a PTW game. Unlike what Shadow of War has become even prior to release. Shadow of War is clearly a pay to win game, even before release, which is unfortunate. So this is pretty much the biggest example of apples and oranges we’ve got at the moment.

        • I failed to understand nothing, I get that Overwatch’s micro transactions are cosmetic, You say they’re optional, If your playing a racing game & don’t like the paintjob/ Look of the car, You’re not going to enjoy the game as much, If you see your friend’s car & you like the look of it… See where i’m going with this? The meta game in Overwatch is built so you wanna buy skins etc. Yeah it has no effect on stats or attributes of your player character but it doesn’t need too because the urge to buy more is there in it’s aesthetics, Is it a bad comparison to pay to win? Sure but it’s still micro transactions in a premium game. Yeah it’s not as bad as a slot machine but it’s still gross.

          • I dont see where youre going. Everything you said indicates optional because none of it alters the core gameplay. I just think your argument is weak.

      • Free to play is an absolute cancer on the gaming sector. That is one thing that mobile gaming really should not have brought to life.
        I just hope this mechanic is not a requirement merely an addition for people whom have no problem shelling out $100’s $1000s to win the game.
        All and all it’s a pretty Dick move they should make the game free to play or premium price not both, greedy assholes.

        • To be devils advocate for a second mmos did f2p first…. and you can technically argue its WoWs fault for eating up so much of the market share that the original subscription model became untenable…

          That being said microtransactions outside of cosmetics or actual proper expansions for single player paid games is just crap plain and simple

  • Yeah, I’ll just wait a year to play the GoTY version. You simply cannot escape the fact that the game will be programmed in a way to make microtransaction seem like a worthwhile pursuit. Way to ruin a potentially good game.

    • I’m undecided. I may still play it, but if it feels like a grind I’ll just cheat in some extra currency. It’s a single player game, it’s not like it affects anyone else.

    • Remeber when difficulty curves were programmed to challenge the player by their own valition and then later on difficulty became about the achievements… now the difficulty is set by a business case to make you spend more money 🙁

  • Isn’t this exactly the same as, say, many if the Assassins’ Creed games? I mean, that hardly thrilled me either, but I didn’t buy the extras and still enjoyed much of the gameplay.

    • The issue with using Assassin Creed as an example, Unitys microtransactions were universally panned as being excessive (and sneaky) and was one of the reasons it was panned. So many great titles have been cursed by crappy microtransactions… and the jury is still out on AC Eygpt or next Star Wars battlefield after E3.

      Its this issue were a publusher will go too far with microtransactions on one game (and minimal on the next) its like they dont know their audience and want to push the milking machine to max where it can… and then blames the game for poor sales not the fact that they either alienate the players, created an uneven game (between player or between difficulty spikes), or divided a limited player base into the haves and have nots. (Like that monster hunting 4v1 game).

      Even now the debate over some games pushing microtransactions that seem too grindy with hours of pointless gaming or impossible to get that its just out of reach… or click this shiney button for $5 and get it instantly.

      If this game was for free I wouldnt see an issue… but geezes this is a full price AAA.

    • Or Dead Space 3… or the last Deus Ex… It’s been in a few single-player games in the past few years, and I can understand why it keeps popping up – when you’re marketing to a demographic that has more money than time, it makes perfect sense from a business perspective. The main reason people get concerned about this type of business model is because Free-to-play games regularly cripple the pacing of the game to incentivise IAPs.

      Although, the more compelling point of argument is that they’re charging extra for what are essentially cheat codes for a single player game, which used to be free.

  • “cutting down some of the additional time that would have been spent winning more battles, tracking nemeses, completing quests and assaulting fortresses.”But, isn’t that the bulk of the game? If it’s good, why would I want less of it? If it’s bad why would I spend more money to speed through it? This sounds very much like a ‘contribution’ from a publisher.

    • Also, if there’s (unnecessary) additional time that needs to be spent on those activities, didn’t the CREATORS put it there? Don’t they have the ability to simply REMOVE anything unnecessary without resorting to MTs to bypass it?

      • It’s not at all uncommon for publishers to acquire some level of creative control over a game when they invest in it. It’s certainly possible (likely even) that the developer didn’t want to put microtransactions in the game in the first place, and that they might not have any way to remove them. So no, not necessarily. It’s impossible to say for sure one way or the other but I would be surprised if the developer was behind this change.

  • 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. I don’t understand all the whinging.

        • Battlefield is an MP game, this is a Singleplayer game. there’s a big difference between the two. its like the praxis kits from Deus Ex 2 last year. Also Mirco Transactions in a 60USD AAA game can go die in a fire

          • Yeah, one gives you an advantage over other players, the other is a single player game and as such wont effect other players, and is simply a choice for you to make. So… its actually better than Battlefields…

          • actually its worse than Battlefield because we have access to cheat engine and trainers as well as save game editing for console users. your paying X amount of real cash for an item that you can only use once. its the exact same issue that happened Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with the praxis kits microtransactions. Unneeded and completely stupid as hell and just shows pure greed from the publisher.

            Remember this type of stuff actually takes up development time that can be use for something much more worthwhile

        • Optional sure, but if devs are putting in time gates to content for the sole reason of selling micro transactions then that’s bull shit

          • People like you never consider the fact that consumers are responsible for the state of the industry. We tell publishers what’s OK and what’s not OK through our SPENDING, not our voices.

            If you bitch day-in-day-out about, say, CoD being boring, then line up for your copy at launch, what message would the publisher hear?

            If you support something you don’t like, don’t feign surprise if it becomes standard, and don’t complain.

          • @shurqeh You’re supporting the design decisions they make in an effort to ‘push’ you towards spending on the MTs. They’re slowly approaching the F2P design (Big grind, use cash to avoid) while still charging full price for entry, that’s what you’re supporting, whether you spend on MTs or not.

          • Agreed, if everyone actually stood behind their words and decided on a case-by-case basis what to support, this crap would never have gotten this far.

            Unfortunately there’s just so many idiots out there who believe that some practice is BS, but then support it anyway.

          • Who’s bitching? I’ll be getting it. Let me know how your protest goes, and I’ll let you know if the game is any good.

          • Lol…ive stillkept my boycott of all stuff capcom after mvc3 =P

            Wont do anything in the bigger picture but at least my money can go to other games i like and i wont get the joy of being lied to about the game being supported followed up with a lulz we lied! Heres umvc3! 6 momths later xD

        • Unnecessary padding of the GAME, e.g. parts added to deliberately make you BORED, so you either quit (No loss to WB) or open your wallet to get back to the GOOD parts (WB wins).

          As you can imagine, they have a lot of motivation for adding many of these lulls everywhere they think they can get away with it.

          • Maybe, but in the long term, there’s no future in purposely making a game non-excellent. It’s a very competitive market and only superior products do well.

          • If that was something the suits believed, we wouldn’t see incomplete games being launched early and bug-ridden simply to make a date (Only then for the suits to blame market interest when the game tanks).

        • Its entirely cosmetic in Battlefield 1 if I am not mistaken. I dont mind Loot Boxes for cosmetics. If people have spare cash to throw at that stuff then absolutely fine. If you are going to make me pay to avoid mindlessly grinding the same rehashed missions for countless hours in a full price one player game to get equipment good enough to enjoyably complete the storyline then I will wait until the game is around the $20 mark.

          • No you can pay real money to unlock the level 10 weapons/kits which would normally take quite allot of game time to unlock, I have earnt them legitimately and they are the best weapons IMO

    • A really common tactic in F2P mobile games is to gate everything behind ridiculous timers. For example, this quest you want to complete takes 8 hours, but you can speed it up with premium currency! The game is basically designed to be tedious as fuck to practically force you to pay more to get a passable experience.

      The concern people have is that the same thing will happen here. Yes, you can obtain everything in-game without spending a cent, but if it takes grinding a hundred quests to buy one mundane pack, it would be obvious that the design of the game was compromised (ie. made deliberately unfun) to try to herd people into buying boosts to make it the way it was supposed to be again.

      • This is just the next rung on the ladder, it started out with “Its ok guys its only cosmetic” now its “Its ok guys you can still earn the same loot in game” and next it will be “Its ok guys, if you grind for 8 hours before each mission you will be able to have the same experience as someone who pays extra”

        This is why people should oppose this crap early on.

        • I don’t fully agree with the last part. Companies will certainly try to inch their way over the line, but I don’t believe that means we should oppose them for even so much as twitching a muscle.

          Assuming a company is about to punch us in the face because we saw them twitch a muscle is counterproductive, it just makes for a worse product and a disengaged developer. What we should be doing is understanding the lines we don’t want crossed, and holding fast to those lines when they’re pushed against. Too many people seem willing to fight when the push against their line is hard but will give way if it’s soft. People need to learn to hold their lines regardless.

          For me, purely cosmetic microtransactions are perfectly fine. Microtransactions that give an XP boost are fine. Microtransactions that give a player a gameplay benefit another player doesn’t have is over my line. Gameplay compromised to be sub-par to force players to spend more to get the original intended experience is over my line. This game is dangerously close to crossing both of those lines, and may well cross them both as we learn more about it.

          • The biggest problem I have is that you don’t just purchase the item these days, you have to gamble for a chance at them, that way there is no limit on how much you can spend!

            When the base game costs 60 dollars and comes with about 20 default skins I shouldn’t be able to spend hundreds of dollars to get another 8 skins.

          • I don’t have a problem with that, honestly. Skins aren’t useful or necessary, they’re just nice to have. I think people can exercise judgement on whether they want to try their luck or not, it’s not like their game is being held back because they didn’t get the skin they wanted.

          • For a lot of people cosmetics are part of the enjoyment. It really sucks to have a part of games that you really enjoyed in the past as part of the base game to be locked behind an enormous grind or gambling.

            I don’t know if you ever played need for speed underground back in the day but in that game an enormous amount of the fun was customizing how your car looks and the next need for speed game will likely have all of that behind gambling boxes.

            Its still less content per dollar which I don’t understand why people aren’t unanimously opposed.

          • If it’s content that was going to be in the base game and was removed to put in DLC then it’s less content per dollar and it’s bad. If it’s additional content that was never going to be in the base game in the first place but was created additional, no problem.

      • The issue with ‘the way it was supposed to be’ is that it’s usually crushed under the expectations of how far $0.50 should get you. The game usually becomes about bypassing the gate using currency, either earned in-game or purhcased from the store. They can’t charge you $10 and still let the boss win, so it’s all about skipping the gate instead of interacting with it. In that scenario even if you buy the currency you’re not getting the game.

        It becomes $120 to see the credits roll (or to get to the point where you’re doing what you were doing $120 ago, but with higher numbers and the dance emoticon).

        • Dark Souls is hard but fair. If they added the ability for people to buy their way past bosses, I think it’s silly but I ultimately don’t care, they can waste their money to not play the game if they want, I’ll play normally. But if they ramp up the difficulty so it’s distinctly unfair and the only way to make it fair again is to pay extra, they’ve fucked with my ability to play the game as it was meant to be and I’m out.

          Same thing with mobile games. I don’t mind a quest having a short timer, a few minutes at most. But when the game ends up forcing your quests to take 8+ hours (I’m looking at you, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow) to the point where you literally have to stop playing the game until the timers run out, then that game can go get fucked.

          Basically, I don’t care if people want to pay to skip content, as long as it doesn’t affect me and my experience. When the game’s design is compromised to practically force people to pay extra for a respectable experience, that crosses the line.

          • Don’t you think if they add ways to skip the content then over time they will make the content more difficult/tedious than it would be to encourage users to pay?

            With games like Gran Turismo and Forza you earn less money per race and it requires more time to unlock cars than the previous version

            This is obviously because of in game currency, they do it slowly over time and hope you don’t notice. You not caring about this stuff is going to impact the games you enjoy more and more over time.

          • If they don’t cross the lines I have, I don’t mind what they do. As far as skipping content, cheat codes used to do the same thing back in the day, I don’t care that the cheat codes are in the game and people use them, I choose not to.

            If, and only if, the design of the game is compromised to force people to buy boosts, then it will have crossed a line. Then I’ll make a choice whether to boycott the game. But I’m not going to make that choice before the line is crossed because of what might happen.

          • Ah, the old “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem!” shtick employed in order to blame everyone who doesn’t fight against everything that bothers you.

            How dare people not care about something that doesn’t bother them simply because you dislike it, right? Absurd, as are most of the so-called ‘good’ comments on this article that are laced with nothing but pure guess work.

            I don’t much care for microtransactions, but running around making assumptions and acting like they’re facts about things one simply cannot know for sure is infinitely worse.

            And let’s be honest… A developer could come out and prove their microtransactions were an afterthought that had been implemented well after the game content was sorted. Yet people would still cry bloody murder and make “OMG padded content!” claims, whether it was actually the case or not.

          • I gave an example of a change over time with Forza. Short of Take2 most companies aren’t going to come right out and say “we did it because we wanted more money”.

            I don’t much care for microtransactions, but running around making assumptions and acting like they’re facts about things one simply cannot know for sure is infinitely worse.

            I used an example of something I have seen in at least one game so surely I haven’t been “Infinitely” worse.

          • You’re still making assumptions of one developer before knowing precisely what they’ve done, based entirely on the actions of others. If Monolith had history of screwing people with this sort of thing you might have a point.

            And if you want to talk about Warner Bros, then let’s talk about the Arkham Knight PC fiasco. A situation that purely because Warner Bros. was publishing led to a tonne of people crying that the Mad Max game to come was going to be a broken mess, only for it to end up being one of the best PC releases in years.

            Until this game is actually out you’re assuming a lot based on very little, and based on even less that has to do with the actual developers.

  • I was worried that I’d have to actually play the game but it’s good to know that I can just spend money and avoid the pesky “gameplay” that gets in the way of all my fun.

  • Mannn, I really loved the first game, and all things Tolkien but this is such a turn-off. Just puts a bad taste in your mouth.

  • Prediction! Whoever has said in the comments that they will not buy it; will all buy it and it will sell better than the first.

    • I don’t think so. But I do think that the people who take the time to comment saying “not buying it now” represent a tiny fraction of the consumer base. A small percentage of players being turned off by this news is nothing compared to the millions of people who don’t even hear this sort of news.

  • Not a whole lot to add to a lot of the already good comments here – I’m definitely in the “I was going to buy it but now I’m not” camp. The game already has multiple versions (One I saw was $160?!) and it seems they just want more and more and more – same publisher that refused to let devs fix Arkham Origins too if i’m not mistaken?

    I’m so tired of hearing the trotted out excuse of “you don’t have to buy the items, you can earn them in game” too… It (nearly – and i only say that because I obviously haven’t played every game) always bloats/pads the game out as you hit difficulty spikes that would disappear if you could just get that ‘sword of awesome’ that will take either 12 hours of grinding/repetitive missions or $2.99 of your hard earned. Of course this also appeals to the ‘how long does the game last cos longer = better’ crowd too, a school of thought I also despise – sometimes, less is more

    Just sick of this rubbish in general. Imagine if From approached the souls games this way and you could buy titanite etc with the net result that the drops in game would be rarer than a talking gold ‘roo? This sort of approach is becoming more common place, and if we’re not careful it will become the norm. I can’t be bothered with crusades, calling for boycotts or telling people what they should/shouldn’t buy – it just pains me to my very insides that some people will just willingly roll over for this stuff. At least a lot of the comments on this page are quite heartening, luckily seems a lot of the Kotaku readership are on the same wavelength.

    There’s plenty of other games out there luckily, so this one can jog on.

  • I had no idea so many people who already had the game visited Kotaku… So many people here today acting like they have first hand knowledge of all the padding the developers are apparently adding to force people to use these micro-transactions.

    Meanwhile… If it plays ANYTHING like the first game, and all signs point to the fact that it plays almost exactly like it, then you could be carrying nothing but a dream with a sharp stick and still kill the world single handed.

  • My Steam “Wishlist” just shrank by one title
    I’ll see how I feel about it during the 2018 summer sales if the GOTY pops up

  • Meh. More bland shitty games from bland shitty companies. Anyone with discerning tastes knows these AAA games are just advertisements for micro transactions

  • So, I think it would have been a good idea for people to watch the stream where they show it off. They explain how it works, and how it effects the game. But the biggest point I think they made, was that only difference between the payed and the free boxes (by free I mean the ones you get using the in game currency, not the payed currency) is the amount of stuff you get. The Gold ones give 5, where as the Mithrel ones only give 3.

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