Yes, yes it is.
When Shadow of War, the open-world action-adventure game set in Mordor, was announced, there was pretty significant hype surrounding the game. It had been 3 years since the release of its predecessor, Shadow of Mordor, which introduced players to a mature and gritty adventure that was a stark contrast from the Lord of The Rings novels and books. In short, it was a fantastic first outing that surprised many as most tie-ins are either mediocre or awful. Shadow of Mordor was especially praised for its Nemesis system, which created an organic structure in regards to its boss fights. Players could target Captains, known as Uruks, and doing so would create tension in the ranks of Middle Earth’s orcs. If the player happens to die, to any orc, that particular enemy would be promoted and could potentially become a new obstacle to overcome. It was a unique experience coupled with solid gameplay that allowed Shadow of Mordor to be considered for Game of the Year in 2014.
All Shadow of War had to do was expand on the formula and call it a day. For the most part, it did. Shadow of War continues the story of Talion and Celebrimbor, a ranger and a wraith, as they look to purge Sauron and his armies from Middle-Earth. The Nemesis system was tweaked and expanded as players can raise their own orc armies to assault the various strongholds. Players can then assign a Captain to be in charge of the conquered stronghold. If the player chooses, you could also assign a Captain to eliminate a rival. You could also be betrayed. It was far more compelling than its predecessor and the amount of sub-plots that could be created is staggering. RPG elements were expanded as Talion was given more abilities and equipment to help during gameplay.
So why am I talking about Shadow of War now?
Upon its release in October 2017, it was announced that Shadow of War would include microtransactions. This included the ability to get new orcs to fight in your army and would also help reveal the final mission of the game. I have been vehemently opposed to microtransactions in full priced titles. While there is a multiplayer component in Shadow of War, there was absolutely no reason to include these transactions in this title. It was pay to win and was aggressively campaigned every time you paused the game. I steered clear away from the title because of this as it would cheapen the overall experience of the game. Fans of the first game tore into publisher Warner Bros, demanding that they remove the marketplace and make significant tweaks to the system. It was discussed that the marketplace would eventually be removed in a patch and on July 17 it was finally removed.
In addition to the removal of the marketplace, those orcs that could be bought via microtransactions would be found in game and purchased with the in-game currency. The level cap was raised to 80 and the path was easier to the final mission. This was how Shadow of War should have been released in the first place. This was more than enough to finally give the title a try. That and the fact on the PS Store it was 20 dollars. Sometimes these things just work out that way. Regardless, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Shadow of War, the action is frantic, the additions to the Nemesis system are excellent and it’s an overall improvement to its predecessor. If Warner Bros and Monolith never took to the microtransaction route they could have avoided all of these headaches they had to endure. It’s a quality title that got overlooked because of its pay-to-win nature.
Microtransactions have become a point of contention and alongside Battlefront 2, Shadow of War should serve as an example of what not to do. These are titles that players can invest their time in, they aren’t created for one sitting they’re there for multiple sittings in mind. It took a year and a massive price drop to even consider purchasing this title. I’m glad I did, the story of Talion is one that deserved to be finished and Shadow of War is a title that should be experience by fans of the first game and those who enjoy strong open-world titles. Just stop shooting yourself in foot game developers, you’re embarrassing yourself.