Warner Bros. and Monolith Productions have done a good job of getting people excited for Middle-Earth: Shadow of War so far, but this weekend, the developer and publisher duo made a pretty big misstep. On Friday, Monolith introduced a loot box system for Shadow of War, and over the weekend, fans have taken to various social media platforms to register their discontent.
Of course, this issue many players have with this loot box system is that it serves as a way to inject microtransactions into the game. A lot of people take issue with that because they’ll be paying full retail price for the game and (presumably) paying extra for DLC, so microtransactions just serve to make Shadow of War more expensive. Beyond that, Shadow of War is a single-player game, and while loot box systems like this might make a little more sense in multiplayer titles, it’s hard to justify them in a single-player one.
To hear Monolith describe these loot boxes in a post to its forums, it sounds like any other free-to-play chest system you’d find in a mobile game or an MMO. There are three types of extras in all: Loot Chests, War Chests, XP Boosts, and bundles that package all three together.
Loot Chests will contain gear that make Talion stronger, while War Chests will grant players new orc warriors to bolster their armies. XP Boosts will unsurprisingly give players extra experience points for a certain amount of time, and in addition to being available as a standalone product, they can also be found in Loot Boxes.
Players will spend two different types of in-game currency to unlock these boxes. The first is called Mirian, and it sounds like this one is only obtainable through gameplay. The second, naturally, is gold, and though you’ll be able to collect gold “in small quantities” by hitting milestones or participating in community challenges, it’ll also be available for purchase from the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live, or Steam.
Monolith notes that players will be able to unlock everything in the game without ever purchasing gold, but by using gold to buy chests, players can speed up the process of obtaining better equipment or stronger orcs for their armies. In other words, microtransactions here achieve mostly the same thing they do in other games: They save players from a grind.
The reaction to this has been predictably one sided. Though there are a few comments arguing for such a system on Monolith’s own announcement post, the reaction from a Reddit thread created yesterday has been less understanding. We’ll see if the reaction is enough to get Warner Bros. and Monolith to change their tune, but it’s probably best not to hold out much hope on that front.