After revealing Middle-Earth: Shadow of War would have lootboxes purchasable with real world money, an announcement that brought the game heat from fans, developer Monolith Productions has gone on record to say you can progress through the game organically if you'd like, free of the need to buy extra options.
In Shadow of War, players have the option to buy chests granting experience boosts, better gear, weapons and armor. The game also has a separate option called "War Chests," which give players orc followers, allowing players to quickly build up their in-game army. That said, none of them are necessary to progress in the game, and everything in the loot boxes can be achieved in the game for free.
"[It's] there as a player choice," design director Bob Roberts told Eurogamer. "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."
Roberts added when playtesting Shadow of War, Monolith would keep loot boxes and anything purchasable with real-world money turned off in order to ensure the game was balanced without these systems.
"You put your 60 bucks in for a big game like ours upfront and our focus is that its initial purchase price is more than worth it. You want people to be pleasantly surprised by how much stuff is in it," Roberts said.
In the interview, he stresses more than once that the decision to have purchasable lootboxes comes from a desire to allow players to experience the game how they want. But, no matter what they choose, to pay or not, the game will play out the same way. Roberts compares it to the inclusion of multiple difficulty settings, saying, "It's putting more control in people's hands – saying, you know how you play best, you make that choice."
Shadow of War is the sequel to 2014's Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. It's expected to be released for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on October 10th.