Loot boxes in Middle-earth: Shadow of War are indisputably the game’s least popular feature among fans, so Eurogamer recently sat down with Shadow of War‘s design director to determine what purpose they serve in the upcoming action-adventure game.
The biggest concern among fans is that microtransactions will undermine the game’s challenge by allowing players to get better gear by spending real money. This was the theme of Eurogamer’s first question for design director Bob Roberts while speaking with him at this year’s EGX. Roberts explained that there is no reason for players to fear the game’s loot boxes, assuring fans that the game is fully balanced without loot boxes in mind.
“We’re working our tails off to make this massive game and as a designer—the design director—I focus on balancing it.” Roberts said. “We do a ton of playtesting and make sure it is tuned to a setting where people can enjoy it. We kept all of the loot boxes and the economy of real world money turned off in playtesting so we know we are balancing around an experience which is rewarding without any of that stuff.”
Eurogamer followed this up with a concern about the possibility of the studio twisting players’ arms into buying loot boxes to overcome challenges. Roberts vehemently denied this, claiming that players will never be goaded into purchases for the sake of progressing. He additionally reminded fans that, while the use of the game’s Marketplace will require online, playing the game will not.
Since they apparently don’t impact the progression of the game, Eurogamer inquired why the developer bothered to include loot boxes at all, as they only seem to add obstacles to the progression balancing. Roberts attributes the system’s purpose to offering more player choice in how much time said players want to commit.
“Yeah, in the game you earn resources at a regular pace and the systems are tuned to that so you don’t need another option.” Roberts explained. “At the same time, it’s there as a player choice. It’s there, from my perspective, for people who are protective of their spare time and scared when a massive game comes along that they’re not getting to see the full experience.”
He continued by comparing the system to the game’s support of various difficulty modes. Certain difficulties resonate with different players, as will the loot box system’s affect on the amount of time one must put in.
EGM recently got hands-on with Shadow of War at a Microsoft event, during which we got to take part in one the game’s popular fortress sieges. Fans can check out our exclusive siege gameplay here.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is slated to launch October 10th on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Fans can learn more about tribes and everything else Middle-earth: Shadow of War offers from EGM’s full guide to the game.