As you may have heard, Shadow of War features microtransactions and loot boxes. If you are upset or angry about their inclusion, we completely understand: no-one wants to spend more money than they have to. The good news, though, is that you won’t need to spend anything to get the most out of Shadow of War. Those loot boxes are unnecessary and easily avoided.
Is the game any good? Find out in our Shadow of War review.
Shadow of War offers two types of loot boxes in its marketplace: war chests and loot chests. The former contains orcs for your army while the latter spits out weapons and armour for Talion. First things first: you do not need to buy these chests to play Shadow of War’s campaign. You can finish the entire story without so much as even opening the store page, and you will have so many orcs and weapons thrown your way that you will never even consider paying for more.
It is when you hit the endgame that loot boxes become a slightly more prominent feature. After the story concludes, you will begin the endgame: the attack-and-defend focused Shadow Wars. This mode requires you to have an army of orcs in order to defend you own fortresses and bring down the forces of darkness.
You should have a pretty decent orc force at the end of the campaign, but as the more challenging sieges of the endgame progress, you will need more meat for the grinder. You can get more orcs by simply playing the game; head into the open world (you are still free to explore after the story ends), find orc captains, and turn them to your side. The Nemesis system will generate new missions, too, so there are always more orcs to hunt down and enslave. If you enjoy the way procedurally generated orcs are constantly thrown at you to slice up then you’ll probably be happy doing this.
Should you not wish to spend time in the open world and would prefer to get on with the sieges, then you will need to acquire orcs another way. This is where loot boxes come in. Either, you can buy basic ones with the in-game currency, or you can use real-world cash to buy higher quality ones.
Silver chests are available for 1500 Mirian (the in-game currency), and each contains two orcs, one of which is guaranteed to be of the epic tier. Gold and Mithril chests are 200 and 600 gold respectively (prices for gold depends on your region, but in the UK 500 gold is £3.99, with more expensive bundles providing a better exchange rate) and contain more orcs of a higher tier than the silver chests. Open a gold chest and you will get three orcs with at least one being legendary, while the remainder will be epic tier. Mithril chests contain four orcs that are all guaranteed to be legendary.
So, does the game try to force you to buy chests? Not in our experience. We went straight into the Shadow Wars with only the orcs we had from the campaign and managed to hold Sauron’s forces at bay. Our fort was mostly defended by standard-grade orcs, too. While the assault was notably harder than the campaign sieges, it was still perfectly achievable, and our army is fighting fit to take on several more battles.
Inevitably, orcs will die, but it depends on your attitude towards the game whether you will want to replace them or not. If you feel that going into the open world, interrogating worm orcs, and tracking down captains to enslave is grinding, then you probably won't enjoy the Shadow Wars, and thus your feelings on the loot boxes will probably be very negative. This system is a massive part of the game, though, and is a major component of the campaign. So if you don’t enjoy it then the chances are high that you won’t make it to the endgame anyway.
If you do enjoy playing the randomly-generated Nemesis missions then you’ll see gathering orcs as a key part of the game, and will likely have no wish to buy new orcs through loot boxes.
For more, please watch our video where we discuss the impact of loot chests on Shadow of War, and demonstrate what you’ll have to work with at the end of the campaign.