The Shadow of War Microtransaction Controversy is a Non-Issue

The latest “scandal” to rock the gaming world concerns Shadow of War’s loot box system. According to the rumor mill, to get the real ending to the game you have to go through a long grind that can only be alleviated by the game’s microtransactions. Supposedly, you need epic and legendary orcs from premium currency loot chests to beat the enemy in this last Act of the game.

Well, I beat the game, and I can say that none of this is true, and what’s being said doesn’t make any sense at all.

Also: Loot Boxes are Here to Stay, But Ground Rules Need to be Set

(Spoilers for Middle-earth: Shadow of War below.)

Middle-earth: Shadow of War: There is no “true ending.”

The claims being made on various social media outlets are saying there’s some colossal bar you have to reach to get the game’s true ending. What they’re referencing is Act IV: The Shadow War, except the game hasn’t ended at that point. There is no true ending because the game doesn’t end until after you complete Act IV. I’m not sure how anyone interpreted the events at the conclusion of Act III to be any sort of ending seeing as the plot continues into Act IV unabated.

The issue with this whole rumor is that it tries to imply that there’s some sort of bad ending and that the developers have locked away content players deserve behind a paywall. That’s not the case at all.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Epic and legendary orcs are only a little less frequent than regular ones.

Shadow of War Mogg Thunder-Bowels
Mogg Thunder-Bowels here is one of my favorite orcs and he’s not a legendary.

Another facet to this controversy is the assumption that Epic and Legendary Orcs are incredibly rare. They’re not. In each area that contains a fortress, you’ll end up facing off against multiple Epic and Legendary enemies in your attempt to overthrow the enemy overlord. There’s no unique process to capturing them, and you’ll add plenty to your army.

Additionally, during the sieges against your forts in Act IV, the enemy will be throwing these high-end orcs at you. If for some reason you die and lose your fortress, you get the opportunity to dominate the force that took it before your attempt to recapture it.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Epic and legendary orcs aren’t necessarily that great.

The higher-end orcs do have a chance to have some traits that make them stand out from the run-of-the-mill captains. However, they’re just as likely to have weak characteristics. If your legendary captain has a cursed weapon and the Curse Mastery Epic Trait, it’s not worth much if he’s got the Sickly trait (which makes orcs weak to poison) and he’s going up against a force that uses poison weaponry.

While epic and legendary captains can be — and often are — a little stronger than regular orcs, it’s rarely enough of a difference to win or lose a battle.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Act IV shouldn’t feel like a grind as long as you’ve paid attention to your orcs.

Shadow of War Epic Orc

The whole point of Shadow of War is that you’re building an army to lead against Sauron. Unless you’ve done the bare minimum, you should have a large contingent of orcs in each fortress when the fourth act starts. The only orcs that play a massive role in defense of your fortifications are your warchiefs and overlord, so even if the attacking enemy force is a higher level, you can just level your essential orcs up in pit fights to match them.

None of this requires an infusion of orcs from the market, and I never felt at a considerable disadvantage during any defense. Once you’ve beaten back the attacks from each fortress, your setup should be good enough to repel further assaults because the difficulty doesn’t raise by a large amount each time. Taking the small amount of time to get your orcs leveled for the defense isn’t a handicap to make you spend money on Gold, it’s just part of how the game is meant to be played.

Microtransactions aren’t ideal, but they’re part of gaming now. If a developer is going to implement them, I’d prefer they go the route that Shadow of War took because I don’t believe that spending money on premium currency would have made the game any better for me.

The issue with this kind of rumor and uninformed raging against a product, is that when a game really does have microtransactions that should be protested, it’s going to sound like people are just crying wolf again. If a game has a paywall, it’s definitely something I hope to know before going into it. With Shadow of War though, the truth behind the microtransactions has been inflated to stupendous levels, and hopefully, this helps set the record straight.

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