Monolith Studios has released a huge update for Middle-earth: Shadow of War, set to remove microtransactions and streamline the endgame. Today’s update looks to fix many of the criticisms the game has suffered since launch. Back in April, Gamers Classified wrote on the changes coming in mid-July, and now Warner Bros. have added some additional content. The first addition made is the increasing of the level cap to 80, with greater XP rewards for Nemesis missions, defeating Captains and online fort assaults. There are also new Nazgul masks, which grant exclusive abilities, as well as Prestige skills available after Act III. All players will receive the Celebrimbor skin, letting them relive the first War for Mordor or as Dark Eltariel. Monolith also claim to have “introduced hundreds of fixes and improvements.”
The most significant change is to the Nemesis System and microtransactions. Monolith have converted all in-game gold to in-game items and permanently removed Gold, War Chests and the Market. As a result, they now have the Garrison where Orcs you recruit through Online Vendettas and Ranked Conquests will be stored, and you can now spend in-game Mirian to train, upgrade and customize your personal Orc army. There is a new saviour feature in the Nemesis system, which rewards players with gifts from their orcs. All of this is to improve the Shadow Wars segment of the game, which was brought to a grinding halt by microtransactions. Monolith state they have “massively streamlined and polished” the endgame epilogue, including new narration from rom Shelob, the Witch-king and Dark Talion. Players are now also able to upgrade and defend fortresses well beyond the credits’ roll.
Long overdue changes
While the game was released in October, these changes couldn’t have come quicker. Most critics wrote that the game’s biggest issue was the endgame and microtransactions. The campaign plays out like any normal game, until players reach the Shadow Wars. After completing the Bright Lord mission, players need to defend their fortresses from Sauron’s forces. The controversy lies in the sudden difficulty spike in the endgame. Players are highly unlikely to finish the campaign with gear and orcs high enough level to complete this section. As a result, the player is forced to grind away for the games’ real ending. Kotaku compared it to “the equivalent of doing the bare minimum in a JRPG and then being surprised that the final boss kicks your arse.”
However, the game offers all this loot through microtransactions, allowing players to skip the grind. The problem lies in the game coming to a grinding halt in order to coerce players into paying extra. The backlash was significant enough for Monolith Studios to take notice, as they state “we’ve had the Flaming Eye pointed directly at our fantastic community, and we’ve been continually watching, reading and listening to your comments, criticisms and recommendations.” As a wildly controversial issue at launch, removing microtransactions and streamlining the endgame grind fixes the biggest issue in the game. The Shadow of War experience is now complete, with the endgame streamlines so that it is realistically beatable.
Now is the perfect time to jump into Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, with the July update live on PC, Xbox One and PS4.