Shadow of War's Loot Boxes Aren't as Bad as You Think

While other games are tainted with loot boxes, Shadow of War is a different case.

Now before you jump down my throat, let me say one thing: I despise loot boxes. They are, in a sense, unregulated gambling. Granted, some aren't as bad as others (look at Fallout Shelter's compared to Battlefront 2's). Monolith's Shadow of War is no exception. Shadow of War is a fantastic game that follows up on the story of the undead ranger Talion and his wraith counterpart Celibrimbor as they face the Dark Lord of Mordor. Along the way, you'll meet countless Orc Captains, Warchiefs, and Overlords who you'll slaughter or befriend -- maybe even both!

That being said, this mostly single-player game does have a few online features, such as Overlord Pit Fights, online Fortress Siege, and online Vendetta Missions. These are fun side events that make the game almost endless. Another feature of this game is, of course, the loot box (or loot chest, as it's called here). 

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Now, there are several ways you can acquire these "chests." There are gold and mithril chests that can be bought with gold, and the gold is bought with real cash. There are silver loot chests that can be bought with the in-game currency of mirian. There are even combo chests that use gold and mirian. Now, what's in these chests? Well, most of them will give you two Orc Companions -- the silver guaranteeing an Epic follower, and the gold and mithril chests promising at least one Legendary badass. They'll even throw in an upgrade for your Orcish pals to make them stronger in battle. Now, what if you get someone you don't like? Well, you can "kill" them and acquire new gear. If you like the gear, then you gain from them something you didn't like. If not, then you can sell the acquired gear for mirian. The mirian can be used to upgrade gear, upgrade your fortresses (very important for Act IV), or buy silver chests. There are even gear chests that you can buy if you want a random chance for some better gear. And again, if you don't like any of the gear, you can sell it for mirian that you can use.

middle-earth-shadow-war-ingame-footage-trailer-4f591.jpgNow, there are other chests that you can acquire without the use of micro-transactions. With the online features, you accumulate Spoils of War Chests. In those chests, you're guaranteed a Legendary Orc. With the Pit Fights, you can gain upgrade chests. Each successful fight your Overlord participates in grants you an additional upgrade, maxing at five upgrades per victory.

So what am I getting at here? Why am I defending the scourge of the modern gaming community with this game? Well, simply, it's that you always get something you'll need or want. If you don't like an orc you got, you can change it to a weapon. If you don't like your gear, you can destroy it for in-game currency. That in-game currency can be used to upgrade your fortress, your gear, or buy more chests. You don't have to use actual money for these loot boxes. And it is possible to get through the game without touching them at all; you can enjoy the story without even thinking about the chests.

Published Feb. 22nd 2018

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