A few months ago, Monolith Productions announced that it would be removing microtransactions from Middle-earth: Shadow of War in a future update. That update has arrived, doing away with the option for players to simply buy their Orc captains instead of earning them through gameplay, as well as making some other significant changes to the endgame and level cap.
2017 was the year of loot box outrage, and the backlash surrounding Shadow of War's perceived anti-consumerism was second only to that of Star Wars: Battlefront 2. The overwhelmingly negative community feedback surrounding these games has undoubtedly changed EA and Warner Bros. monetization models moving forward, and perhaps even sealed the fate of loot boxes in full-priced titles for the foreseeable future.
The main criticism about Shadow of War's loot boxes were that they, as Monolith later acknowledged itself in a blog post, undermined the Nemesis System by allowing users to pay for Orcs instead of recruiting them through memorable and organic encounters. It was also widely held that these microtransactions were made deliberately unavoidable by regularly forcing the player to enter the marketplace to access their non-paid content.
As well as completely removing this marketplace and any trace of microtransactions, the update completely revamps The Shadow Wars, the game's post-campaign experience. Another big part of the criticism aimed at Shadow of War was its incredibly grind-heavy endgame (which could, of course, be sped up by investing in the aforementioned microtransactions) but this issue now seems to be resolved by more varied tasks and a fully-voiced narrative to accompany it.
Another important part of the update is the addition of new Nazgul gear and an increased level cap of 80. This, like the Shadow Wars changes, is aimed at providing more to do for experienced players, as well as a reason for those with maxed characters to come back to the game to experience the new changes. There are also new combat skills to unlock, as well as cosmetic skins such as Dark Eltariel.
While the removal of microtransactions is a welcome change, players may wonder why it is happening now instead of almost a year ago when criticism had already began before the game had released. On the other hand, the changes to Shadow of War's gameplay make now the best time to buy the game, so the update may prove enough to attract those who were initially put off by the loot box controversy at launch.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Source: PlayStation Blog