When it was first announced that Middle-earth: Shadow of War would have microtransactions, it was met with a wave of backlash. After sitting on the market for almost one full year and promising that the marketplace would be removed, developer Monolith Productions announced a few months ago that a new update is coming to the action-RPG, one that will finally remove microtransactions once and for all. The update is finally here, and it does a few other things as well.
In addition to finally making it so you can earn things fairly in-game, the latest update rebalances Shadow Wars (now formally called the Epilogue and features narration from Shelob, the Witch-king, and Dark Talion), new Nazgûl gear and an increased level cap, new skins, improvements to the excellent Nemesis system, and more.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Update Patch Notes
- The Market is removed from the game, replaced with an updated Garrison menu that allows access to your Garrison Orcs, Chests, Training Orders and Boosts.
- The Spoils of War Rewards and Community Challenge Reward Chests no longer contain Orcs. Instead, they now focus on Training Orders.
- You can now purchase Training Orders directly with Mirian.
- Captains recruited during Online Vendettas and Ranked Conquests can now be found in your Garrison when you return to your world.
- Captains killed during Online Vendettas and Ranked Conquests now drop gear, the same as Captains killed in your world. You still receive a Gear Chest at the end of the mission, in addition to any gear dropped by Orcs.
- With the removal of the Market, any unspent Gold currency has been converted into Gold Loot Chests.
Improvements to Epilogue (Shadow Wars):
- Reduced the number of stages and missions required for 100% completion of the Shadow Wars.
- Completing the Shadow Wars now earns you the pieces of gear listed below. Players who have already completed Shadow Wars will receive this gear when they begin playing.
- Servant’s Blackened Armor: Allied grunt Orcs have a chance to resurrect when they die. This includes allied Undead grunts.
- Mask of the General: Consume and Drain kills create a Curse explosion.
- Mask of the Undying: Waters of Lórien and Spectral Dash cost no Focus. Melee and Stealth damage increase for five seconds after use.
- Mask of the Fell Rider: Graug Call summons an Elemental Graug.
- Mask of the High King: Raise Dead summons Gondorian Wights.
- Mask of an Empress: Wraith Execution, Wraith Chain, and Chain of Shadows each deal more damage with each successive Wraith.
- Additional narrative elements:
- Additional dialogue from Orcs, Shelob, Dark Talion, and the Witch-king.
- You can now reach level 80. Continuing to earn XP after reaching level 80 earns you additional skill points.
- Enemy Orcs can now reach level 85.
- New Prestige Skills, accessible after Act III, allow you to customize your character build. Each Prestige Skill can be purchased multiple times.
- You can now spend Mirian to raise the level of a piece of gear to match Talion’s current level. You must complete any upgrade challenges on the gear before you can raise its level.
- You can now spend perfect gems to re-roll secondary traits on gear. You must complete any upgrade challenges on the gear before you can re-roll.
New Player Skins:
- You can now choose to appear as Celebrimbor and Dark Eltariel.
- Fixed an issue where defeated Captains could leave an empty slot in the Army menu which could fail to refill with new enemies.
- Fixed an issue where deploying a Captain from the Garrison into any empty slot could result in lost Orcs.
- Fixed an issue where the Wages of War mission could become blocked if the player is killed while fighting the two Captains.
- Fixed an issue where Shadow Dominating in the Damaged mission could sometimes block progression.
- Fixed an issue where the The Conquest of Shindrâm mission could become blocked if the player entered the throne room after triggering the Adrenaline augment.
- Fixed an issue where unplugging the controller during Captain deployment could block progress until the game is rebooted.
- Fixed an issue where an Overlord’s Unfinished Business mission could disappear when trying to infiltrate him with a spy.
- Fixed an issue where deploying a Captain could replace an enemy who is holding a Follower as a hostage, which would result in the hostage disappearing from the Army menu.
- Fixed an issue where a Follower could sometimes appear dead in the Army menu after being rescued.
- Fixed an issue where new unknown Captains could take Warchief slots in Minas Morgul.
- Fixed an issue where the Rune of Vengeance challenge would sometimes fail to unlock.
- Fixed an issue where using the fire breath attack on a mounted drake would sometimes not inflict damage against opposing drakes.
- Fixed an issue where using Waters of Lorien or Spectral Dash would recover Focus instead of consuming it.
- Fixed an issue where the Cloak of Beasts would not be visible when equipped with the Baranor skin.
- Armor affixes Might Gain Per Kill and Wrath Gain Per Kill now accept any enemy kill.
- Fixed an issue where using Raise Dead could result in having infinite Might.
- Fixed an issue where Ologs without the Seismic Strike trait could still perform the attack.
- Fixed an issue where the Battle Weary trait would sometimes fail to trigger when it’s supposed to.
- Fixed an issue where Decoys who become Captains could sometimes render invisible.
- Fixed an issue where striking an enraged Olog Captain could cause the Olog’s elemental weapon effect to apply to the player.
- Fixed an issue where Shadow Mounting an enemy beast would fail to restore health.
- Fixed an issue where resurrecting dead War Banner carriers could result in them planting hostile banners.
- Fixed an issue where replaying the Best Defense mission could sometimes spawn the player at the incorrect location.
- Fixed an issue where the player’s Bodyguard could end up trapped and bleeding outside the throne room while the player went inside to confront the Overlord. Bodyguards will now exit bleed-out if left outside.
- Fixed an issue where Bodyguards of Assault Leaders could get duplicated when summoned inside the throne room.
- Fixed an issue where Captains could stop fighting appropriately and get stuck in a loop of taunting instead.
- Various movement and out-of-environment fixes.
- Fixed various memory crashes.
- Blade of Galadriel
- Fixed an issue where the first affix of the Fire Chaser’s Bow would not work against Talion.
- Fixed an issue where the first set bonus for the Light Bringer armor did not take effect against Talion.
- Fixed an issue where the game could become blocked during the Last Chance mini-game versus a mounted enemy.
- Fixed an issue where triggering the Beast Hunter’s Cloak second affix could instantly kill the targeted enemy, regardless of how much health was remaining.
- Fixed an issue where traps could disappear when Eltariel jumps near one.
- Fixed an issue where damage-over-time effects were not applying correctly to blinded enemies.
User Interface (UI):
- Enraged By banners will now display in the HUD when watching Pit Fights.
- Added mission start points in Minas Morgul (The Blade of Galadriel) and Lithlad (The Desolation of Mordor) that facilitate switching between Shadow of War campaigns.
- Dynamic Resolution Scaling is now turned off by default.
- Fixed an issue where Photo Mode would not properly pause the game animation if you were decapitating a drake.
- Fixed an issue where rewards were displayed as earned when failing a Pit Fight.
- Photo Mode: Fixed an issue where the Flat backdrop option would change the color of Orc blood to the selected hue.
- Fixed an issue where Ithildin Door Puzzle words would sometimes not change correctly when moving in the poem.
- Fixed an issue where quitting an Online Pit Fight could result in Online Vendetta information being inappropriately present in other mission resolution messaging.
- Fixed an edge case where the player would not be warned if deploying a Captain would result in a duel with another Follower.
- Desolation of Mordor: Fixed an issue where the number of turns remaining on an unprotected Outpost’s timer could be incorrect.
- You can now apply a Training Order to a Follower, even if they are currently on a mission. Prisoners are still ineligible.
- Necromancers may now occasionally raise themselves from the dead before your eyes.
- Added a toggle in the Options menu to disable Saviors.
- The Slaughter and Outlaw Invasion missions will now unlock sequentially, instead of all at once.
- Your Followers can now surprise you and deliver a gift Worm to i
- Increased the overall spawn rates for Legendary Orcs.
- Rebalanced XP rewards and costs above level 30.
- Nemesis Missions and Captain kills now give much more XP.
- Online Fort Assault missions now award XP.
- Reduced XP reward on missions much higher level than the player, reducing the likelihood that a high-level fortress siege/defense will grant more than three levels of experience.
- Shortened the duration of rage if the Enrage Allies ability is used without Wrath.
- Slightly increased chance for Orcs to cheat death in late game.
- Improved gang-fighting behavior in Fight Pits. Gangs should now be more useful to their masters.
- Updated a variety of Orc attacks to charge through Defender shields. This helps balance Defenders better against Warriors, Savages, and Ologs.
- Added a tighter cooldown to the Berserker’s whirlwind attack.
- Added a brief delay at the beginning of an Orc’s Quick Shot attack, so the player has more time to react.
- Reduced the frequency of the Beast Slayer trait in late game.
- Slightly reduced the frequency of the Highly Adaptable trait.
- Greatly increased attack and defense values of Beasts (Caragors, Graugs, Drakes) against high-level Captains.
- Added Caragor stealth attacks as an acceptable unlock criteria for the Dagger of Vengeance.
- Increased attack and defense power of Caragors when mounted by Orc Captains.
- Reduced weakness of Orc traits Vulnerable to Fire and Vulnerable to Poison on Normal and Nemesis difficulties.
- Shaming an Orc once will not immediately reduce their traits. However, multiple shamings will still cause this to occur.
- Resurrecting dead Followers as Revenants will no longer cause them to lose any levels. They are still barred from ever leveling up again.
- Increased the chance that an Orc will ambush when his Blood Brother is under attack.
- Decreased the chance of a Blood Brother betrayal if the player accidentally hits their own Follower.
- Increased the time between an Orc’s death and his Blood Brother’s vengeful ambush.
- When playing siege/defense missions after completing Shadow Wars:
- Assault waves should now include bodyguards (two per Assault Leader).
- Legendary Orcs are now guaranteed to appear.
- Blade of Galadriel: Enraged Captains are Blinded for a shorter period.
If you’ve been avoiding Middle-earth: Shadow of War because of the microtransactions and Shadow Wars, de Plater notes that “a new demo [will be] releasing tomorrow in conjunction with the update [so you can] experience the dynamic personal stories of the Nemesis System as you conquer your first fortress.”
Microtransactions Removed in Middle-earth: Shadow of War New Update
In our review of the game, we gave it a 9.5/10, saying, “An expanded Nemesis System creates fascinatingly interesting player stories, and the amount of freedom afforded to the player is staggering for a game of this scope. Microtransactions never get in the way of the game itself, so any objection to them is based purely on personal principles. Lore purists may find fault with Middle-earth: Shadow of War, but those willing to suspend their disbelief and enjoy the game Monolith built around Tolkien’s world will find the best Lord of the Rings game to date. With the immortal words of Samwise Gamgee at my lips, I smile and walk into Mordor, returning to the Gondorian boots of the Gravewalker: ‘Well, I’m back.’ ”
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.