Bold keyboard warriors have proclaimed the true ending is held hostage by loot boxes, but is that really the case?

Shadow Of War True Ending Guide…Is It Really Locked Behind A Paywall?

Bold keyboard warriors have proclaimed the true ending is held hostage by loot boxes, but is that really the case?
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After the lackluster ending from the first game, Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War decided to bring about a more definitive conclusion to Talion’s saga — but it’s only there for those willing to put in some extra time to get a secret true ending.

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While there are multiple endings depending on how long you want to play, the “true” part is a bit of a misnomer, as you do get an ending of sorts with Act III. The “true” ending is quasi-optional, and only arrives if you spend a good long time in a huge war of defensive attrition. 

This lengthy post-game experience called the Shadow Wars is essentially the developer’s response to the lack of meaningful post-game content from Shadow Of Mordor. Now you’ve got plenty to do — probably for a good 10 or 15 hours, depending how much you leveled your orcs prior to hitting Act IV.

Talion will have to constantly defend his strongholds against ever more powerful invading armies sent by Sauron. There are a whopping 10 different stages of this invasion, and its quite a slog if you weren’t prepared.

Loot Or Grind?

The big question, and what everyone from Reddit on down accused the game of before they’d even played it, was: do you need to buy loot boxes to win this section?

The answer is a pretty straightforward “No.” Here’s the thing with those loot boxes containing Epic and Legendary orcs: they are randomized, and they aren’t always high level.

While you could in theory spend a bunch of mirian or gold to get a killer army without doing any work, in practice its frankly better to build your own army so you can focus on what you need at the time.

You might get an orc from those loot boxes terrified of fire or who immediately dies from poison… and then the next invading army will be armed with fire or poison. Simply finding better Epic/Legendary orcs out on the world map or during a siege is often a better option all around.

If you’ve got the spare cash though (and if you are killing orcs with any frequency or completing the community quests… you absolutely will be loaded down with mirian and gold) there’s no reason not to try a few boxes and hope for a good haul.

 The loot boxes are mostly unnecessary — you could play the whole game without ever buying one

Completing The Shadow Wars

Here’s the thing many are missing about Act IV — unless you need to upgrade Talion’s gear, don’t kill Legendary quality orcs who are assaulting your fortresses! Recruit them instead.

Do it during the battle if you can, and if you lose the fortress, then make double sure to recruit them when you re-take it later. In fact, in some cases it’s better to let a stronghold be taken, then go through the various stealth and combat missions to re-take it and build up an army of higher level orcs along the way.

For the most part, having stronger orcs to defend your fortress is a better choice than having Talion outfitted with the best equipment. The only exception there is the Wealth rune that gives recruited orcs a bonus to level, as that can be a huge asset during the Shadow Wars.

        Why kill ’em when you can recruit ’em?

The best way to end the Shadow Wars segment quickly and get to the secret ending is to be prepared. Don’t rush your way through the main story segments of the first three Acts without building up your orc army.

If you take some time during the main segment of the game to level your orcs and get ready for the sieges, you’ll be in a much better position than if you buy a bunch of loot boxes. Sometimes getting better orcs means letting them kill you so they level and gain bonus traits before you dominate them.

From there, just think in terms of tactics and upgrades. The Machine tribe is often resistant or immune to fire, so why would you put fire upgrades on a fortress always being assaulted by that tribe? Make sure to put gems on your orcs to boost their level as well.

Shadow Of War True Ending

Finally hitting Stage 10 of the siege battles unlocks the Peace In Death achievement and gives you the optional true Shadow Of War ending.

The Shadow Wars segment feels like such a slog because it’s supposed to represent decades of warfare as Sauron grinds Talion down, bringing the game’s timeline in conjunction with the Return Of The King’s film version.

If going through years of battles doesn’t strike your fancy — whether you bother with loot boxes or not — you could always just take the easy way out and watch the true ending below.

Having trouble getting through the first three Acts before hitting the Shadow Wars segment? Be sure to check out our full list of Shadow Of War guides for more tips and tricks to help you through so you can get this hidden ending!

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Ty Arthur
Ty splits his time between writing horror fiction and writing about video games. After 25 years of gaming, Ty can firmly say that gaming peaked with Planescape Torment, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a soft spot for games like Baldur's Gate, Fallout: New Vegas, Bioshock Infinite, and Horizon: Zero Dawn. He has previously written for GamerU and MetalUnderground. He also writes for PortalMonkey covering gaming laptops and peripherals.