When Middle-earth: Shadow of War launched last year, publisher Warner Bros. drew harsh criticism for including a marketplace and microtransaction options for acquiring more followers and better weapons. Though it didn’t ruin the balance and it was totally possible to get to the final credits without spending extra money, the move felt greedy in a single-player game. Start up Shadow of War today, however, and you’ll find that all microtransactions have gotten the ax.
Instead of spending real currency to unlock powerful loot boxes in Shadow of War, the only way to earn better orcs and gear is by actually playing the game — a novel concept, we know. The Garrison will house any orcs you acquire through ranked conquests and online vendettas, and you can use in-game currency to improve and customize your followers.
Warner Bros. first revealed its plans to remove microtransactions earlier this year. At the time, the company admitted that the mere presence of microtransactions could tarnish the experience and lessen immersion, even if players didn’t choose to spend any of their money.
The update also adds a number of new features that should make the experience more rewarding and less frustrating. You’ll now find more Legendary-level orcs to add to your army, and your followers can even give you gifts. The level cap has also been increased to 80, experience will be given out at an increased rate, and you can spend in-game currency to upgrade your gear to your current level.
The “Shadow Wars” epilogue was a bit of a slog at launch, but the latest Shadow of War update makes it more rewarding. You’ll unlock the special “masks of Nazgûl” once you’ve reached the end, and additional narration has been added for characters like Shelob, the Witch-king, and protagonist Talion.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out Middle-earth: Shadow of War — or if you stayed away because of its microtransactions — Warner Bros. is giving you a chance to jump in. Starting July 18, you’ll be able to conquer the first fortress in the game for free.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is available now for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.