One of the big gaming news pieces from last month is that there would be Middle-earth: Shadow of War loot boxes, meaning that players would be able to simply buy orc captains and gear by paying microtransactions. Now, Monolith has gone on record to explain the logic behind the decision.
The backlash for the loot boxes was fairly large, to say the last, mainly because the company’s first Lord of the Rings game, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, didn’t have anything of the sort. While it did have a number of downloadable content packs, these still added in new content to the game like various orc warbands, costumes, and the Bright Lord campaign, which showed Celebrimbor’s struggle against Sauron before his death at the Dark Lord’s hands.
Monolith executive Bob Roberts has said that they’re making absolutely sure that the drops are balanced, and that the game isn’t going to be shoving the Shadow of War loot boxes in your face. You also don’t have to buy the microtransactions, but that leads to the question of why were they put in at all? Aside from money reasons, that is (even though Shadow of Mordor was very successful).
According to Roberts, the reason behind that is to prevent players from feeling bottlenecked or stonewalled by a particularly difficult area. One of the main challenges in Shadow of Mordor was that captains could sometimes be very powerful, requiring all a player’s skill and creativity to kill. Shadow of War’s Nemesis system will be increasing the challenge by giving the captains more skills and qualities, so the microtransactions can help players to get a leg up.
So, while you don’t have to buy the Middle-earth: Shadow of War loot boxes when the game comes out, and you can complete the entire game without ever needing them, just be reminded that they’re always there if you need them.