Middle-earth: Shadow of War details microtransactions

As exciting as an expanded Nemesis system and an itsy busty spider might sound for Middle-earth: Shadow of War [official site], Warner Bros. had been sitting on a hot, juicy, and thrilling marketing blast. Now they have finally let rip: heck yes Shadow of War will have optional microtransactions to hasten powering-up in this singleplayer game. Come on gang, give me a “Hell yeah!”

I said give me a “Hell yeah!”

No? I thought one of you Willennials would at least do it ‘ironically’.

Shadow of War players will have the option to purchase Loot Chests containing random items, War Chests with random followers, and XP boosts, developers Monolith Productions explained in Friday’s announcement. These will be sold for ‘Mirian’, the regular imaginary in-game currency earned by playing, as well as for ‘Gold’, a microtransaction currency which is awarded “in small amounts” at certain milestones through the game but can also be bought with real cash money.

Which is a bit bum in a £45 singleplayer game. Yes, all of these orcs and items can be earned by playing and without spending an extra penny but:

1) Their mere presence is unpleasant;
2) In games with optional microtransaction, the loot balancing is often titled to nudge people into wanting to skip ahead;
3) If these progression systems are bothersome enough that enough people might want to pay real money to skip them, why are they in the game?

I don’t know if point 2 is true for Shadow of War but I don’t find this encouraging. While I don’t mind paid cosmetic loot crates in multiplayer games (and have bought a few myself), in a £45 singleplayer game I do not want to feel prodded into paying extra for progression.

Monolith suggest it’s for people who, er, want to skip the sandbox bits that made Shadow of Mordor fun.

“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.”

Ugh, who would want to do any of that? I’m only in this to meet the sexy spider.

This sort of microtransaction monetisation feels so 2012.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War is due on October 10th. Oh hey, and Warner Bros have also just announced that it’ll have Metal Gear Solid V-ih base invasions.

121 Comments

  1. Cyda says:

    I’ll give that a miss then, I liked the previous game but I’m not willing to support devs who add microtransactions to full priced single player games.

    • Askis says:

      Yeah, I was actually considering buying this for full price (after reviews confirm that it’s not a buggy mess of course) but this puts it squarely into “When it’s on sale for under a tenner” category…

      • JaseyMitch says:

        Loved the first one, but I feel the same. Even a hint of balancing being skewed to encourage me to pay extra money, and I’m out (in single player, full price games, it’s intolerable). Also, why would the devs expect that some people might want to skip their content unless it’s not much fun to play? Steam sale fodder.

      • Fade2Gray says:

        Yep. This is now going on my “Wait for the Gold edition, and then wait for that to go on sale” list…

    • Synesthesia says:

      Ditto. Fuck that bullshit.

    • shinkshank says:

      I’m also very unhappy with the news, but just to clear something up here.

      This is developed my Monolith. Monolith as a developer has been putting out amazing games since 2000 (including frikkin’ NOLF), and has a track record of bein’ cool. On the other hand, the PUBLISHER is Warner Bros, who have been sleazy and grubby with their games for a while now.

      I’m totally in favor of loudly complaining about bad trends in video games, but let’s make sure we don’t shoot the game developing messenger, here.

    • Axolotl says:

      Replying to add my +1. Screw those disgusting publishers. Not that I’m delusional enough to believe that game won’t sell like hotcakes, but still.

      • Minglefingler says:

        If you want to include cheats then make them free like companies used to do before the internet made bullshit like this possible. Make the code a secret that people will need to discover or look up online. If you want people to pay extra for a full price game then make interesting dlc that is value for money.
        This nonsense is cynical horseshit of the highest order and has guaranteed that I won’t be buying this game,despite loving the first one. Honestly, microtransactions in a full price game with the justification that you’re opffering choice. Up yours Warners, cheats should be free in a singleplayer game.

    • Vilos Cohaagen says:

      Warner Brothers have now taken to deleting any posts on the Steam Discussions page which even mention microtransactions, not just those that involve inappropriate language. I can understand deleting abusive posts but this feels far more shady.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      As much as I hate F2P logic based grind, if they genuinely are only putting this in for the entitled, the easily bored, or those without a lot of time / with a lot of ego, then I am all okay with it.
      Just make a normal game, have everything be nonpaid normal, THEN add some kind of cheat code that only an idiot would pay for.
      Then I am okay with that. And apparently, they say that’s what they did. So, hey, if stupid people want cheats that cost money, let them go for it.
      We’ll just play the game. And if they make more money this way for a third part, I am all for it. Long as it isn’t artificially encouraged.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Yeah I’m not really fond of Pay-to-win, and it makes even less sense in purely single-player games. Why not just have cheat codes like it’s 20 years ago?

    Of course the ‘why’ is that they sure would like some more money.

    But anyway. Maybe the game will be good, the first one was. But microtransactions like this sort of put a pall over the entire thing, if you ask me.

    • KevinLew says:

      To me, it’s unfathomable that there’s DLC that gives you XP boosts. In effect, customers are now paying more money so they can play the game less. I always thought that if a game feels grindy and leveling up isn’t fun, then the game is not well designed and it shouldn’t be fixed by buying DLC.

  3. Cross says:

    Warner Bother once again proving themselves as massive mingebags as EA or Ubisoft. Fuck ’em for forcing Monolith into this shillery.

    • AutonomyLost says:

      Your post marks the first instance of me encountering the word “mingebag”, and I was compelled to tell you it brightened my day a bit. Thanks for that ;)

  4. wombat191 says:

    I liked the previous game. I actually reinstalled it to check out what uruks would carry over and I was ready to go when it was released but this news and freaking sexy Shelob really turned me off.

    I might pick up a complete edition some day but it will be very, very cheap before I do

  5. ByrdWhyrm says:

    This by itself is not enough to put me off the game, but I am curious to see how it is implemented. It seems like the chance of getting new orcs in loot crates would circumvent the most interesting part of the last game, finding and interacting with all of the randomly generated orcs. If you want to pay to skip that, maybe this game isn’t right for you.

  6. Gothnak says:

    So, this is primarily a single player game, and there are microtransactions to help you skip through content if you are time poor.

    If all of those chests were free and you could open as many of them as you like, would you?

    I must be the only person in the world who plays Fifa Ultimate team just against the AI and enjoys it at its best when i have barely any players and am trying to cobble a team together.

    This game sounds great to me, i won’t spend a penny, and i won’t care if others do in their game.

    This feature is for people who want to rush through the game, if it didn’t exist in the game, those of you who hate it, wouldn’t even notice, so just don’t use it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      But I enjoy getting irrationally angry over things that don’t really matter.

      • Someoldguy says:

        But they do matter. This is becoming more and more standard as a way of extracting maximum dollars for the minimum effort. When you can have your content creators banging out weekly loot/costume deals they’re not available to make quality DLC that adds more campaign. So even if it’s done relatively well and the game itself is not changed to increase the grind to strongly encourage loot crate purchase, there’s a cost. When it’s done badly, it kills the game. Sales flop and there’s no market for DLC or sequels.

        Take Runescape, for example. I know it’s old, but that provides a long case history. When it was in its early stage, every update was about introducing more fun stuff for people to play with for their monthly subscription fee (and some for the free version). When it was wildly successful, they were able to use their substantial team to redevelop the game engine in parallel with producing more content. New quests, new monsters, new minigames, new territory, new loot, patch fixes, gameplay tweaks on a regular schedule. The number of players rivalled anyone except WoW.

        Later the Gower brothers sold a lot of their stake to a capital investment firm, eventually all of it. Microtransactions came in almost immediately. Over that time it’s shifted from three weekly updates in a month being content and one being stuff that encourages you to spend extra to almost the complete opposite. The investors want to maximise the revenue of their cash cow.

        I’ve no beef with the occasional bit of bonus DLC that’s pure fun stuff, like additional outfits or Sims ‘stuff’ packs. Buy or don’t buy, that’s your choice. What worries me a lot is the trend toward big game publishers starting to expect all games they work with to have added monetisation targets and be considered a failure if they don’t hit that extra level of revenue.

        • Gothnak says:

          That’s the first sensible argument, but it is against ‘post release microtransactions’ which at the moment haven’t been announced.

          The irony is that every time i see a DLC announced, i see vitriol from the general public saying ‘well, they just cut this from the game and now want me to pay for it, boycott them!’ so if you got your way, people would be complaining on here anyway :).

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Your argument fails to note the differences. Not everyone has to receive [dirt] in their sandwich, for them to complain that it’s bad practice when a company suggests it is adding [dirt] to their ingredients.

            These mechanisms, XP boosts especially, are pure custom gouging. It is the equivalent to charging extra for a fast forward button on a DVD *and* charging per use of the button.

            No one complains about having a fast forward button, or not using it, but the fact they charge for it. So your complaint about the complaint, misses the point.

          • Gothnak says:

            Slightly incorrect analogy, it it more akin to:

            Here is a sandwich.

            Here is another sandwich which we may or may not have spiced differently, but could taste exactly the same as the original sandwich.

            Here is a knife which you can buy to cut the crusts off the second sandwich to help you eat it faster.

            ‘But i like the crusts and i enjoy the experience of eating the sandwich.’

            ‘Then don’t buy the bloody knife.’

            ‘But because there is a knife, it means the sandwich will now be worse without it!.’

            ‘No it doesn’t.’

          • Gothnak says:

            The point about ‘charging for it is bad’. If they didn’t charge for it, everyone would use it and then say the game was unbalanced and shite. I remember when that hack for Dead Space came out, and everyone gave themselves loads of weapons, and then enjoyed the game less. At least the cash payment means only those who actually ‘want’ to hurry, hurry.

          • Premium User Badge

            Tam-Lin says:

            “The point about ‘charging for it is bad’. If they didn’t charge for it, everyone would use it and then say the game was unbalanced and shite. I remember when that hack for Dead Space came out, and everyone gave themselves loads of weapons, and then enjoyed the game less. At least the cash payment means only those who actually ‘want’ to hurry, hurry.”

            Sorry, but nonsense. The developer for Defender’s Quest did this right: there are sliders in the basic game that control how much experience the characters get, and how much in-game currency the party gets. If you’re concerned about how fast/slow people progress versus how fast/slow they want to progress, why not just give them the option? Then it scales, inherently, based on people’s skill and free time. If a developer has a view of how things should work, and don’t want to include such sliders, fine, but don’t charge for them, not in a game you’ve already charged for. You’re just incentivizing yourself to make a paid-for Farmville.

          • April March says:

            Gothnak: If you sell sandwiches, and sell knives separatedly from sandwiches, it is in your financial interest to make the sandwich as crusty as possible, and the crust so foul that even people who like crust won’t enjoy it. After all, for each sandwich your customer eats with the crust, it’s a knife sale you lost.

    • doodler says:

      The issue is exactly like he mentioned in the article, they design the balance around this so now non-payers probably have to grind even more than they would have if their objective was the make the tightest and most consistent play experience.

      • Gothnak says:

        That grind was the game in Shadow of Mordor, so that section says to me ‘These chests help people skip the fun middle part of the game’.

        It doesn’t say it makes it longer for everyone else, just shorter for people who pay.

        • Orageon says:

          I disagree somewhat. The first game was repetitive along its main quest, but I personally never grinded, or felt compelled to, for better gear/weapon/armors.
          But even wit hthis argument, this repetition was one of the criticized points of the game. So why celebrate more of this (+ the shortcut if you want to pay).
          Like one commenter said, this is about making the customer pay for “adjustment sliders” (but with a random factor) on a solo game.

          This practice (with this kind of model at least), can’t be defended at all, sorry.

          Now cosmetics, that’s different. XP boosts and random gold loot chests etc, is utter nonsense and impacts the way the original design and balance of the game is made :-(

    • ArbitorFallen says:

      Beaten to it, but yeah like in the article, microtransactions such as these represent an perverse incentive to the developer. By providing a way to skip progression in the game via real money, the developer is incentivized to make the progress at least somewhat burdensome. They might not, it is just an incentive. But when the dollar signs are there the pressure can be great.

      Examples are abound in free to play MMOs. As I also recall, the real money auction house back in the early days of Diablo 3 seemed to have encouraged some truly abysmal loot drops in the wild.

      So, it isn’t just that you can ignore the system, it is that the very existence of the system represents a conflict of interests to the developer that could weaken the game. Only time/reviews will tell.

      • Gothnak says:

        I disagree. If it is a game you enjoy, then the grind is just part of it. You could go and monetise FTL and it wouldn’t make it a worse game, it would just allow you to skip stuff.

        Of course, the devs ‘might’ make it take longer, but they could have added it to Shadow of Mordor just fine and people would have complained even if they left the balance as the same.

        • ArbitorFallen says:

          And I agree with your disagreement :) But only in that you don’t seem to be disagreeing with the argument I made.

          If such a system exists and you still enjoy the game, then the developer did a good job. They did not take the incentive and make the game overly onerous (or, and no judgement, you just have an abnormally high tolerance). So I agree, fun games are fun to play and should be played as such.

          If on the other hand, the developer does make progression more onerous in order to drive sales of the microtransactions than they have given into the perverse incentive and the game suffers for it.

          So it isn’t that this news indicates that the game play will suffer and as such we should riot. It is just that we now know of a conflict of interest that could weaken the game. Hopefully the developer will not go this route. Time will tell.

          • Gothnak says:

            I agree.. :).

            But as i said in another comment, i enjoy playing Fifa with a crap team and gradually getting better rather than booting it up, paying £20 and ending up with something akin to Real Madrid.

            I come from an era in the 80’s and 90’s when you did gradually improve and that is enjoyable, however that shouldn’t stop other people who want to BE UBERPOWERFUL from the first second they boot up the game from doing it to, i mean it’s their game. The problem occurs if it is free to do that and then everyone feels obliged to.

        • Baines says:

          The big issue there is that with monetization, there is incentive to make the grind more grindy.

          Diablo 3 is a good example because of how the inclusion of the Real Money Auction House affected loot drop rates. The devs wanted/expected to buy/complete their kits through the RMAH, which led to drop rates being intentionally set low enough to make it impractical for players to get those goods on their own. The console ports had no RMAH, and the loot drop rates were visibly improved due to its absence.

          You see related effects in other games. Capcom made the unlock requires for alternate colors in Street Fighter 5 such an intentionally mind-numbingly arduous task that players started begging Capcom to just let them buy the alternate colors (which Capcom later did offer.) There are also the cases where items that would have been free in a pre-microtransactions world now become microtransaction purchases (or macrotransactions, at times).

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      Yes, Deus Ex Mankind Divided had something similar.
      You could buy Praxis Kits (level up, basically) for those who didn’t want to/have the time to work through side quests.

      I’m perfectly fine with this.
      The game never implied you should buy kits and the game gave more than enough kits to those who invested in exploring the (excellent, in my opinion) game.

      I’m guessing we’ll se more of this sort of thing in the coming years.
      Probably here to stay, in big AAA blockbuster games at least.
      -You know, the ones with bajillion dollar budgets desperate to cover their costs, who can’t alienate those who don’t know if they have the time to complete hundred hour epics.

      • Cyda says:

        But by adding these MTs they make a lot of users switch from “I’ll buy this for full price at release” to “I’ll wait until the game becomes very cheap in the sale”. I’d be interested to see if the money made from MTs outweighs the loss in day one purchases.

        • Premium User Badge

          Earl-Grey says:

          As always I will assume the screaming, outraged masses on the Internet are in fact an insignificant number of people.
          But time might prove me wrong.

        • Gothnak says:

          Having worked in the games industry for many years (20+ to be exact), anything that can get the original console purchaser of a game to spend an extra £2 outweighs delaying someone buying it in a steam sale.

          If you were releasing a game primarily on PC, then i agree.

          The 2nd hand market on console is the sole reason any of this exists, until everything becomes download only, expect it to go more in this direction for console games.

        • Baines says:

          Since publishers increasingly move towards these kinds of microtransactions, then it is pretty obvious that publishers at least believe the profits created exceed what they might lose from the game itself.

          Mind, if a game *doesn’t* sell enough, they are more likely to just decide that the game itself is the problem, not the microtransactions. They’ve likely already decided that microtransactions are a necessity in their quest to get “all the money”.

      • zhivik says:

        It is a possible explanation, though we essentially have two explanations:

        a) micro transactions are included for those who want to play through the main story only and not bother with side tasks. Given how the first game was designed, difficulty level would increase considerably if the only thing you did was main story quests;

        b) progression is slowed enough so that purchasing XP, followers and gear would bring you back to the progression level of the first game.

        I honestly don’t know which of the two is true, I guess we will find out when the game is out. However, option a) used to be resolved by simply adding several difficulty levels, which I believe is much more honest to people who have bought the game. I don’t mind people not willing to spend too much time on a game to have it easier. I only mind that it is being monetised.

        I am concerned that it will happen the same way as with DLCs – at first, many people protested that DLC content should have been in the game (and there are occasions when it was objectively true). However, people ended up buying DLCs anyway (myself included), so now it is a normal business model. In fact, there are developers who are really doing great stuff with DLCs, so things are improving. After all, it is fair to pay more for more content.

        However, monetising progression in single-player games could affect game design to its very core, which I definitely do not support and I believe response should be clear. I don’t want to end up one day when games are designed in a way to deliberately slow down your progression so you have no choice but purchase items that would make it easier.

    • upupup says:

      For someone who doesn’t care you’re certainly defending this practice an awful lot.

      I do care, very much so as you can see from my posts below, so I apologise if I’m wrongly taking your posts in bad faith, but there’s nothing innocent about what they’re trying to do, to the point that I’d say it’s actively malicious, and it’s certainly not in the interest of consumers. Even if it won’t affect you, I see no reason to defend it or the people pushing for it, especially when the non-commercial alternative worked perfectly well for decades.

    • Jord68 says:

      Remember when they use to have that option in games and it was free? I believe they called them Cheat Codes.

  7. WMain00 says:

    Killed off any interest I had in this game in one fell swoop. Good work there Warner Bros.

  8. doodler says:

    Welp, This just went from probably a week 1 purchase to a sale purchase next year when its under $10 for the ultimate edition just like the first. Too bad I won’t get to experience the base invasions with a high population of players but screw the grind that this is likely enabling.

  9. Chromatose says:

    Maybe the heirs of Tolkien’s estate were right to be really litigious after all. It’s a shame they can’t really do anything about this trashpile.

  10. Spuzzell says:

    Gosh. It’s like they got annoyed that I liked the previous game and focus grouped how best to prevent me liking the next.

    Making the game nice and grindy to incentivize paying not to have to play it? MMMMMM, yes please.

    And I assume my single player power fantasy can be destroyed by allowing other players to invade and ruin my stuff?

    Cracking. Cracking.

    • ancipital says:

      Oh dear. Without wishing to be predictable, I feel exactly the same.

      I bought the previous one as some sort of Big Giant Edition in the Steam sale for a song, and played it death, I loved it. I was all set to pony up for this on day one (assuming the reviews weren’t a horror show), and probably pay for the inevitable DLC too.

      However, this sort of stunt shows that the publisher, WB, should now be in the big league of douchebaggery along with EA and Ubisoft. I tried compiling a list of direction in which they can fsck, but so far, only came up with “off”.

      I fear that this is a publisher dickmove, rather than a dev decision. I always feel for devs who have sweated blood to make a title what they feel it should be against a tough schedule, only to have publishers come in and hose it up with mandated toxic MTX or intrusive and broken DRM that stirs up nerd rage and harms sales.

      The point really is that adding MTX like this, to skip content, produces a perverse incentive to tune things to be egregiously grindy- i.e. deliberately make the game worse for money. That, best beloved, is not fucking cool.

      I am, like many people, quite good at stubborn boycotts. My FemShep never did get to finish her story after EA decided ME3 onwards wouldn’t be on Steam. I was a preorder purchaser of ME2, having loved the original. There is more high-quality gaming than there are sensible gaming hours in a week. If we don’t tolerate this crap, publishers would stop foisting it upon us.

      • Gothnak says:

        The game IS GRINDY by design, i played the previous one, and apart from 5-10 missions all i did was grind, it was fun. Why is having the sequel be grindy suddenly not fun?

        There will be people in the world who don’t like grinding, and these payments will allow them to skip it, i don’t know why you’d want to when it’s 90% of the original game which you enjoyed?

        • Spuzzell says:

          You are absolutely crazy if you believe for one second that adding in a method to gain money from players to avoid being bored playing a game doesn’t incentivize HUGELY against designing a game being enjoyable to play in and of itself.

          Underpants on the head Donald Trump voting crazy.

    • Fade2Gray says:

      I’m also becoming suspicious that there was a focus group somewhere that went something like this:

      Focus group results shows X% of players are deathly afraid of spiders; however, Shelob has a very high name recognition rate.

      Focus group results also shows the X% of players either “Agree” or “Strongly Agree” that sexy ladies make games more fun.

      I think we can leverage this information to maximize customer interest and increase projected revenue!

  11. Mr Bismarck says:

    Dear Warner Brothers: No.

  12. noodlecake says:

    I don’t agree with this, but this is innevitable as giant video game publishing corporations try to increase their profit margins.

    I’m not masochistic enough to miss out on what will most likely be a very fun game as some kind of protest that will barely affect their sales or profit margins. I don’t really care enough. This isn’t going to encourage small devs who make interesting artsy games like What Remains of Edith Finch from carrying on doing their thing, and most AAA games are generic garbage anyway so I don’t really care what approach they take to business for the most part.

    Besides, on a scale of evil this is pretty trivial. It’s not like they are ending the lives of millions of animals so we can have the luxury of fast food like KFC and McDonalds do.

    This franchise is one of the few exceptions where an AAA franchise is actually interesting and fun, so it’s a certain buy from me.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      Yeah, it’ll be fun and yeah we’ll miss out on it. But my games queue is large and nowadays I have to choose one game to play and a number to miss.

      (I might buy it, trash it’s review and return it though)

  13. Gothnak says:

    The only sentence that worries me is:

    ‘Does Gold give me an advantage in the game?
    No, Gold does not give you any advantage over other players. A player who invests enough time can progress the same amount and have access to the same content as a player who purchases Gold. Gold is not required to progress or advance in the game at all.’

    It’s a single player game, why would i care if i have an advantage over someone else in their single player game. Make this always on multiplayer or something, and i’m out.

    Chests/Gold, don’t care, just like opening a chest in game for me tbh.

    • Vinraith says:

      Read the article about invasions – it IS always on multiplayer.

      I adored the first one and was prepared to buy this week 1, but between the microtransactions and the invasions they’ve managed to talk me out of it. Hell, at that rate I’m not sure I’ll even bother to pick it up on sale.

      • Premium User Badge

        DuncUK says:

        There’s nothing to say that the multiplayer is forced on… all other games I have played with this sort of SP invasion have had it optional and easily turned off and ignored. As it happens, I toyed with both Watch Dogs 2 and MGSV and enjoyed both of them, especially the former.

      • Gothnak says:

        Yeah the MP component is shit, the microtransactions i can deal with, i hope it is opt out…

        link to eurogamer.net

    • Dinger says:

      I love that. “Does A give me an advantage over not-A?”
      “No, A does not give you an advantage over someone who has done B and not-A. Similarly, A + B does not give you an advantage over someone who has done B+C and not-A.”

      Okay, so, here’s another question for you: how many hours does one need to play so that also paying money brings no advantage?

      In any case, it’s answering the question “Is this Pay-to-Win?” By saying “No, if you spend a lot of time, you might also have a hope of winning.” Just like, “Do I need to be a coddled Etonian to be financially successful?” No, of course not. I’ve met some working-class Brits at our chalet parties in Val d’Isère.

      • noodlecake says:

        I think this is the first commentI’ve observed on a games article where I have to re-read it 3 times before I finally understand it and then laugh.

  14. HighlordKiwi says:

    I guess the only bright side is the balance in the first game was terrible (the game became easier as you advanced) so slowing progression may actually help maintain a challenge a little longer.

    I guess we’ll see what the reviews say.

    • phuzz says:

      But isn’t that fun bit? At the start of the game attacking a single orc is a gamble, if his mates come running you’re probably in trouble.
      By the end of the game you can throw yourself into a mob of twenty and within a minute you’ve killed two thirds of them, and converted the rest.
      Personally I love the power fantasy :)

      • noodlecake says:

        It wasn’t the fun bit for me. I found the beginning really fun, and the more powers I unlocked the easier and more boring it got. I would prefer it if they used some clever game design to make the late game harder than the beginning even when you have unlocked every ability.

        I didn’t finish it for this very reason.

        • KenTWOu says:

          I don’t get it, I’m playing the first game right now, in fact, I’m almost finished with it, and I’ve got lots of captains and/or warchiefs with ridiculous skills combinations allowing them to ambush me out of thin air while I’m doing something else, killing me with a couple of hits inflicting deep wounds or a very fast series of range attacks without giving me any last chance. So all these talks about the game becomes way too easy in its second half, so people are not even dying are completely baffling to me. I don’t know, may be I’m a bit lucky or beat’em up genre is not my cup of tea, but to me the game difficulty is almost perfect.

          • noodlecake says:

            I did play an awful lot of assassin’s creed and melee based games are my forte, so maybe I am a little biased. you are making me wonder whether I wasn’t as close to the end as I thought. I got past the second lush green area into the third area and managed to get rid of the war chiefs in the third area. It felt like I was near the end by the tone of the story.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Put me in the pile that went from insta-buy to maybe-buy-a-year-later-for-3-quid-inna-Steam-sale.

    Ugh.

  16. Orchids says:

    Orcs in crates? The poor things must get terribly cramped.

    And yeah, that’s gone from must-buy to sale-buy for me.

  17. upupup says:

    Fuck that trash. These type of systems have nothing to do with adding fun to the game, but are designed to weed out the people susceptible to the reward mechanics they’re hyper focused on mimicking (addictive personalities) and then exploiting the absolute fuck out of them for as long as possible – crank that lever until it snaps off. Then they move on to the next victim.

    Gambling is some vile, vile shit that makes its profit from psychologically destroying people until they have nothing left to give. And these companies know what they’re doing, you don’t stumble across this by accident and then keep going. It’s well known that gaming studios hired people specialised in gambling to perfect these systems.

    Trying to normalize gambling like this by sneaking it into what people think is a fun, harmless way to spend their time so that they drop their guard and get addicted is fucking disgusting, and anyone defending it human filth.

    • pepperfez says:

      At least traditional gambling holds out the possibility you may win something real. This is gambling where your chance of success is 0.

      • upupup says:

        That’s the thing with gambling; the value of what you’re winning matters to a non-addicted player, who stops once they get what they want or when they lose too much and get frustrated. The basic reward mechanism behind it it is appealing enough to them to get them started, but not to sustain their interest.

        This is not the case with people who are susceptible to becoming addicted to gambling. For them the process itself is what’s bringing them back because it is overly stimulating to them, with what they might be winning as an excuse to keep playing. This is why no matter how much they win, a gambling addict is never going to stop playing because both winning and losing only serve as a reason to play more. This is also why you can apply these underlying systems to the most innocuous, bland stuff you can imagine as the price itself doesn’t really matter.

        This is why it’s an addiction, as people become dependent on the process to feel happy, due to it being so stimulating to them that that it desensitizes them to lesser stimuli. It sucks them dry until they have nothing left to give. Companies putting systems that try and mimic this effect in their games should not be tolerated.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Could not agree more. I was looking forward to this game…until now. It’s squarely off my list now.

      Don’t get me wrong; I play Hearthstone and I know randomized packs are gambling. But I also knew the business model going in, set a budget, stick to it and genuinely find fun in playing the game, not just acquiring packs.

      This, on the other hand…no. I won’t tolerate having grind extended to Weedle cash from people to skip the deliberately increased grind. Especially not in single player games.

      And seriously…enough with dark souls style invasions. That was old and tired 5 years ago.

      • upupup says:

        Thanks :), I liked the first game as well and was looking forward to buying the sequel for some stupid fun, but I changed my mind now that I read this. Naked greed like this and the people who act like it’s not a problem because they don’t feel it affects them really tick me off. It’s not even the concept itself of paying for content that’s necessarily the problem, but how companies have latched onto finding as many ways as they can find to make it as intrusive and exploitative as possible.

        I just want to play a game that I already fucking paid for, without feeling like it’s trying to squeeze more money out of me at every opportune moment. Is that really so much to ask?

    • Psihomodo says:

      I’m just waiting for Germany to ban this kind of behavior in games, especially since kids play more than adults. Maybe that will help fight the greed in this artform.

      • upupup says:

        Yes, kids being involved is going to cause a shitstorm at some point down the line. “Are games getting our children addicted to gambling?” is not going to go over well, when the answer is a ‘yes’ and a ‘it’s part of the company policy’.

  18. rabidwombat says:

    Itsy busty spider. Alice, you’re my favorite.

  19. stringerdell says:

    Pure greed. Maybe I’ll pirate the game out of spite!

  20. kitten says:

    My expectations have been thoroughly cooled.

  21. ElementalAlchemist says:

    If these progression systems are bothersome enough that enough people might want to pay real money to skip them, why are they in the game?

    I’m pretty sure you just answered your own question….

  22. Vilos Cohaagen says:

    This went from a “Ooh possibly” to a definite “No.”

    Marked as “Not Interested” on Steam. Sorry Monolith, you made some great games back in the day but I’m too old for this shit :)

  23. vorador says:

    I think there will be a point in the near future when the videogame industry will get a earful for promoting gambling, only with fake money.

    • Blackcompany says:

      That shoe WILL drop. It’s a matter of if, not when.

      And the ramifications will be enormous: Pokemon and MTG packs at Walmart? Gambling at a big box retailer. Loot crates and paid keys for random items? Gambling, on Steam.

      It’s gonna happen.

      • vorador says:

        Not too long ago Valve had to close it’s API to avoid third party sites using CS:GO drops to gamble.

        The problem is, you can’t add gambling on a game designed for teens. There’s laws for it.

        So, they’re carefully skirting it by not using real money anywhere and allowing to gain the fake currency in game. But sooner or later someone will get too greedy and mess up, and the goverment will get involved to regulate these “pseudo gambling” game mechanics.

  24. Freud says:

    I’m so jaded I almost expect some sort of built in method to milk me. I liked the first one and will pick up the eventual GOTY version of this when it’s on sale.

    I wouldn’t buy a full price single player game with pay to win microtransactions.

  25. csbear says:

    *Sigh* LotR is big $/€/£ for the rights holder. Unfortunately, it had to be Warner (ugh). I would love to see a Divinity: Original Sin-esque version with LotR lore…

    My love for the universe has me interested in purchasing, but I also feel everyone’s pain.

  26. jeremyalexander says:

    I couldn’t care less. As long as a game isn’t pay to win, or needlessly grind to win, I can just ignore the MT’s. If the company can raise extra revenue from lazy people that don’t want to just play the game then good for them, that’s on the players that want to cheat. I have no problem with these at all. As long as I can ignore them, why not?

    • Blackcompany says:

      Because it WILL BE needlessly grind. Because you’re endorsement of these behaviors by publishers matters.

  27. faltenin says:

    Great idea: add a macro-transition where for an additional 45 quid, you can directly unlock the ending video and not have to go through any of the game AT ALL? Pure Genius!

  28. aircool says:

    Blugh! I don’t mind microtransactions (although there’s nothing fucking micro about them anymore) for cosmetic items, but what’s the point of cosmetic items in a single player game?

    I’ll still buy the game if it’s good because I liked the original and this one sounds even better.

    Sure, I could boycott getting the game ‘cos I’m not a fan of paying extra for loot, but I then might miss out on a good game. Surely you can just buy the game and boycott the microtransactions which you weren’t going to use anyway?

    I’m still smarting from No Man’s Sky, and will be for the rest of eternity.

    Now I’m off to start painting a floating tank dark blue with a big red fist upon it.

    • Marclev says:

      Sure, I could boycott getting the game ‘cos I’m not a fan of paying extra for loot, but I then might miss out on a good game. Surely you can just buy the game and boycott the microtransactions which you weren’t going to use anyway?

      Ever heard of Caveat Emptor?

  29. Sinnorfin says:

    Allyourbasearebelongtous
    idfa
    insertcoinforcheats

  30. foszae says:

    No need to add to the obvious sentiment, but what i would pay for is microtransactions that made the game difficult. Once you learn the basic button presses, you pretty much can kill anyone with no effort. After earning a couple new powers, even the nemesis system is just a neat idea that goes nowhere because it is nearly impossible to die. The highlight of the second act was fighting the legendary graug with a bunch of quicktime events i had to learn because it meant i actually died at one point.

  31. Papageno says:

    “No wonder the e-tailers are offering so many pre-order discounts,” was my first thought.
    I greatly enjoyed the first game and will buy the second at some point, but maybe at a lower price than I would have (done*) before.

    *for the U.K. audience: we Yanks leave that bit out.

  32. Shinard says:

    Well, screw that then. If the loot system is balanced so that I can enjoy myself without paying, great, I’ll pick it up in a sale. So I’ve got time to make damn sure that’s the case. If not, well, that’s a shame, I was looking forward to this.

    Also, the press release advertises “winning battles, tracking nemeses, completing quests and assaulting fortresses” as boring activities you might want to skip? I’m just crossing my fingers this is WB’s inability to do good marketing flaring up again, like when they paid off reviewers to say good things about a game they probably would have praised anyway (Shadow of Mordor).

    And the online aspect better be optional. MGSV was brilliant, but my God was that part annoying. Especially the way it never shut up about it.

    Seriously, was it that hard just to make Shadow of Mordor 2? I mean…

    Sorry, I’ll stop ranting.

  33. Jord68 says:

    Skipping this one until it’s under $10 GOTY edition. Was considering buying day one, but MT’s in a full priced single player game is dirty no matter what these stupid defenders say. The only people I could see standing up for this must be greedy little bastards themselves.

  34. Moraven says:

    Probably doing this since Warner Bros puts it on discount even 2-3 months after release to high praise and then started selling a GOTY edition for $30-$40 before its anniversary.

  35. alsoran says:

    Single Player? Microtransactions? Down with this sort of thing!

  36. tomimt says:

    Not that the microtransactions had any effect on my play through on Deus Ex Mankind Divided, but I’d rather have games without silliness like that, especially with single player games.

  37. Premium User Badge

    Nauallis says:

    I’m just mad about “Willennials.”

  38. BewareTheJabberwock says:

    At the risk of being redundant: This was a possible week 1 buy that has now become wait a year for a GOTY edition, and hope for a mod that stomps on the MTX foolishness. And if the on-line/multiplayer bit is not something one can turn off or at least easily ignore, then forget this thing entirely.

  39. Marclev says:

    Because including micro-transactions worked out so well for the latest Deus Ex Game and … oh, wait.

    Seriously, Pay-To-Win is annoying enough on mobile platforms, where you don’t have to pay anything to install the game initially. Paying to buy / install it and then paying-to-win (because if the game were fun to win without paying, they’d detract from the money option that’s obviously more lucrative for them) is insulting.

    Good luck. Instant skip for me sadly.

  40. BadManiac says:

    Man they REALLY don’t want my money! Microtransactions and an online shop in a full price SINGLE PLAYER game AND they’ve turned one of the potentially most interesting and intimidating characters in Middle Earth into generic hot brunette borefest.

    HOW can anyone be this much suck!?

  41. Jmnea says:

    I’ll understand it if they add various hot orc bodies you can kiss in the game, but otherwise I don’t think this is a good idea.

  42. Artist says:

    I quit my dayjob and make much more money with working on the internet only. Do you want to know how? Just buy me some Mordor http://www.lootcrates.shop and I tell you!

  43. Frank says:

    Here’s another joining the chorus of “I might have bought this at or near full price, but now will wait until it’s in the neighborhood of $15.” It’s probably still a fun game even after they skewed everything to optimize microtransaction revenue, but I’m certainly not excited about it now. Fwiw, I am not against microtransactions on principle, nor do I have a low opinion of WB Games. It’s just this particular implementation sounds sketchy.

  44. hostilecrab says:

    Unpopular opinion time: the new gameplay loop being suggested by these war chest loot drops and the (apparently opt-in according to that Eurogamer article) multiplayer invasion mechanic sounds like it could be pretty bloody fascinating, if they do it right. It immediately makes me think of the multiplayer component in Mass Effect 3, an online multiplayer mode in a purely single player game with loot boxes and the ability to spend real money.
    Sounded like a horrible throwaway attempt to milk customers, then turned out to be amazing. I bet people are still playing that. I don’t know if Shadow of War’s multiplayer is going to have nearly the longevity of that game’s, but if it does… woof.

    Also, to the folks worried about the effect the loot boxes will have on the main singleplayer experience… honestly, I’d be more worried about them making it go by TOO quickly. That’s always been my experience with these pay-for-expediency features. You buy one and suddenly you’re too powerful and too advanced for where you are in the story. Of course that’s much preferable to the alternative, since you can just opt not to buy any boxes and simply play the game at the intended rate.

  45. Deviija says:

    Yeah, this is a big nope. It is a single-player game experience. You want people to also pay full price for your game and support single-player gaming experiences to have the continual boundary-pushing microtransactions in them? Putting microtransactions into a single-player self-contained experience is too much greed overreach.

    Between this news and the Sexy Shelob absolute garbage, I’m out.

  46. drewski says:

    I’ll probably still buy it in a Steam sale in 2019.

    But eugh, microtransactions for progression in single player. What a playerbase hostile concept.

  47. Simbosan says:

    “Pre-Purchase Middle-earth™: Shadow of War™ Gold Edition NZ$ 164.95”
    For the chance to buy chests to skip the content you just paid 165 bucks for.

    Nay, shan’t. Eff off

  48. April March says:

    Well, now this game has been dropped to the ‘wait until it’s under a tenner camp’ for me! By which I mean it’s always been there, because that’s where all games begin for me and great effort is needed to bring them up.

    Also, while I agree that this sort of microtransaction is Hell On Earth, I’m surprised there aren’t more people defending them here on RPS, where everyone is some kind of dad.

  49. fish99 says:

    I wasn’t desperately interested anyway since I’m yet to play SoM, but this is enough to consign this to my ‘when it’s £10’ list. Also as a fan of the books I hate the way these games mistreat the lore.

  50. keefybabe says:

    I do agree that this sort of thing shouldn’t be encouraged. However I’m going to just wait for reviews instead.

    Microtransactions shouldn’t be encouraged but making good, well balanced games should be.

    After all, we live in a world where millions preorder the next identikit COD game and millions buy multiplayer only games.

    I’m a big fan of the single player experience and rewarding people for making those games and making them well is a more important cause to me than punishing them for Microtransactions.