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Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Will Have Loot Crates And Microtransactions

When you were playing 2014’s sleeper hit Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, did you think to yourself “I sure wish there was a way I could just pay to win this game.” Well if for some reason you did, boy do I have some exciting news for you!

In a recent post on the WB Community forum, Monolith introduced and described the Market coming to their upcoming title, Middle Earth: Shadow of War. In the Market, players will be able to purchase Loot Chests, War Chests, XP Boosts, and Bundles to strengthen and bolster their Orc army for unannounced amounts of real money.

Monolith breaks down the various items as follows:

  • Loot Chests contain Gear (weapons and armor) of varying rarity. Equipping and upgrading these weapons and armor 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 customize 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.
Shadow of War
You’ll most likely get very familiar with this screen.

To purchase these items, players can use Gold and/or Mirian, the two currencies available for players to spend. While both are supposedly earned during standard gameplay, Mirian represents the lower tier, common currency and Gold is the higher tier, rare currency (purchasable through the Playstation, Xbox, and Steam stores).

While Gold clearly stands to be more the valuable of the currencies, Monolith stated that there would be no content in the game gated by Gold. All gear, progressions, skills, etc. will supposedly still be available through standard gameplay:

“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.”

While offering microtransactions in AAA games is not exactly new, but seeing them in a single-player game is pretty worrying. All of this leads to some potential concerns with the balancing of the game’s gear, loot, and experience loops. In many games with microtransactions tied to loot and experience, it can sometimes feel as though the Market’s presence is influencing the balancing of the game, subtly trying to influence the player to spend just a little bit of real money to get that next piece of legendary gear. Monolith’s description of their purpose doesn’t necessarily help to address that fear as what they are describing the Gold is for skipping (winning battles, tracking nemeses, completing quests and assaulting fortresses) is essentially what the game is… right? So… we’re paying extra for Gold so we can skip playing the game?

Monolith did add some attempted clarifications in the comments section below their post, stating the following:

“Gold exists for users who want to speed up their army building process. There are people who appreciate having the option. We don’t want to restrict any players from playing our game. So, we have that for those who want a speedy option, and those that choose to avoid it can do so without any negative impact on their game.

The game is balanced so you can play the game without using the Market. As you play the game you’ll have excess Mirian, this gives you an option to use that excess Mirian if you like. Or you can let that Mirian build up as high as you want. Epic and Rare weapons drop with relative frequency, and DON’T need an epic orc to drop. Legendary orcs are rarer. However, the number of legendary orcs you meet increases as you play through the game.

The drop rate of common/epic/legendary orcs has nothing to do with the market. We balanced SoW first, so the drop rates there is set for what our designers and research has shown to be the most interesting. So, if you just do the normal game, the game will be balanced for that.”

This does sound a bit more hopeful, but how this new Market will affect the overall game will remain to be seen when Middle-Earth: Shadow of War releases for Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC on October 10th.

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