Today Warner Bros. and Monolith Productions announced the inclusion of loot boxes within Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Loot boxes are part of Shadow of War‘s new Marketplace system, an in-game storefront allowing players to acquire weapons, armor, XP Boosts, and even Orc followers for Talion. To purchase loot boxes, players can spend their hard-earned in-game Mirian currency, similar to that which was used in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Shadow of War will also feature a premium currency called Gold that can be used to purchase loot boxes.
According to Warner Bros., the Marketplace is an important facet of Middle-earth: Shadow of War‘s Nemesis System, offering players options with regards to how they play the game. Here’s how the publisher describes how the Marketplace fits into Shadow of War:
“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.”
Gold can be purchased with real money through each platform’s storefronts. Gold will also be available in limited quantity through gameplay unlocks. According to Warner Bros., small amounts of gold will be given out at “specific milestones,” perhaps Shadow of War story progression, and also for “participating in community challenges.” Further detail on earning in-game Gold without spending real money will likely be scant until the game’s final launch.
Two different loot boxes will be available at launch, XP Boosts can be purchased directly, and then discounted bundles, which include mixes of loot boxes and boosts. Here’s what Warner Bros. says will be available in the Marketplace:
- Loot Chests – Weapons, Armor, XP Boosts
- War Chests – Orc Followers, Training Orders (Level-Up/Customize Orc Followers)
- XP Boosts
- Bundles – Loot Chests, War Chests, Boosts
All weapons, armor, and Orc followers will have an associated rarity, likely implying different values of loot boxes available guaranteeing different rarities of loot.
One final detail Warner Bros. makes sure to include in the announcement is that all items discussed here will be available through normal gameplay and that Gold “merely” allows players to get them faster. Note that Warner Bros.’ ambiguous language here heavily implies that there will be additional premium content available beyond loot boxes that will not otherwise be available in-game.
The decision to include loot boxes within a full-priced single-player game is likely to result in some controversy, especially when the loot boxes contain content that directly alters power levels and progress like gear and XP do. Yet just how much controversy is likely to follow is anyone’s guess. The modern game player is well used to increasingly invasive microtransactions in their games, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is very popular. Controversy is a finicky thing, after all.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War releases October 10, 2017 for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.