Middle Earth: Shadow of War Loot Chests are Unsettling

I have mixed thoughts on loot chests, crates or whatever the different games call them at this point. On one side of things I see why they're in games and on the other I can see why they might be not be a good thing. It's an odd balance, I'm personally fine with them as cosmetic options though with the creeping of certain powerful weapons or items being included I'm getting less fond of them. I don't buy them as it's essentially gambling and I like to pay directly for things as in knowing what I'm getting when I spend money.

Moving onto Middle Earth: Shadow of War, it's got one of the strangest inclusions of loot chests I've ever seen. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, but I find it rather unsettling. It's a game with a focus on narrative and single player open world exploration. I find it bizarre that loot chests are even needed in this type of experience and it seems like some aspects have been adjusted for its inclusion. It makes me really wonder if other single player games are also going to adjust things to incorporate this system. They're definitely something that's going to stay in gaming since they're all the rage currently, but I never expected it to blend into a standard single player game.

Middle Earth: Shadow of War Loot Chests are Unsettling
In the game you're able to grab chests at any point using in-game earned or purchased currency. You can also buy experience boosts or special training things for your troops. I suppose these work into the online portions where you can do sieges against others. For the most part you use these chests to get units to be used within your castles and in your progression to tackle the various forts of Mordor. You can also choose to get special items such as gear or weapons as well in a different pack. It's rather limited with the base in-game coins but honestly it's fine for the most part. I don't see it impact things too much and you get steady points while playing. I do however find it just weird to be collecting microtransaction currency after killing enemies or completing objectives. It's strange to have these items be present and that challenges are promoted with these being a prize.

What I find rather unsettling is the setup that seeing this system become a part of a single player game. Am I to expect this sort of thing in future solo titles or will potentially great stories be altered to incorporate this? Could difficulty in some games be adjusted so that players need to grind or purchase loot chests to get items or bonuses to continue? I feel these are some valid questions, if you look at some games offering advantages through crates and without a sense of competition in single player there might be some sort of push to get players to purchase them. Going to the other side of things, they could very well just be something the developer thought might help flesh out the multiplayer components. I don't feel that it's fair to really blame developers in this situation as they could have good intentions or it might be out of their control. Whatever the case is, it should be interesting to see if other publishers do a similar thing in their traditionally single player titles.

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Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner