Metabombed: Shadow Of War ‘Should Be Quarantined And Destroyed’

Don’t even pretend you didn’t see this coming a mile away.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War has become more famous for its boundary-pushing loot box system than anything else – and that’s a good thing, because any game designed to fleece its customers and exploit those with addictive personalities deserves to be known for nothing else.

While most professional critics glossed over the microtransactions – which, for all their defenders, really have had a dire impact on the game’s entire structure – many others have voiced extreme displeasure at this gacha simulator passing itself off as a “AAA” game.

And you know what means… it’s time for a METABOMB.

The PS4 version got off lightest, with an average user review score of 3.5. The Xbox One version has an average of 2.8 while the PC alternative brings up the rear with 2.6. Check ’em out for yourself if you’re brave.

Common criticisms are exactly what one might expect – the microtransactions and other DLC shenanigans are well documented, while others complain about the (quite related) grind enforced upon players.

As always, I’ve scoured the wastes of Mordor to bring you the funniest, strangest, brightest and bestest user reviews Metacritic has to offer.

ConnorMak kicks things off, but is adamant their score isn’t about the microtransactions (though personally I’d say that the grind is inherently tied to them).

No, the low score is not because of the infamous micro transactions. It’s because the game is a frustrating and boring grind. Wait until after Xmas and pick it up for under $20. $10 if you wait longer. (4/10)

Some reviews are… unique… in their critical approach. Here’s Valtazarkane with a sizzlingly hot take.

A strong middle-aged man. A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man.A strong middle-aged man. (5/10)

IonStorm delivers some simple truth.

The game would have been great if it wasn’t made intentionally grindy so that I pay real money for what is essentially cheat codes also known as loot boxes. These people have no shame. (0/10)

Meanwhile, ryxerg is an adamant defender of the game’s economy, sadly parroting the propaganda utilized to make microtransactions sound okay.

All the microtransactions are LIES! you can purchase every item in the game via daily mission, and the grinding system are Middle-Earth WAY, if you don’t like it just don’t buy the game!
The story are a little bit linear but its good anyway, the main reason you want to buy this game is about the gameplay not the story.
The gameplay looks nice, but the control of the main char are not too good, i play it on my ps4 slim and the main char sometimes do something that i don’t want him to do.
Overall the game is good but need some improvement at graphic and controlling (7/10)

Sure, the game’s grind and repetitiveness can fuck off, but Ubisoft comparisons are a bit harsh, axel64701. Actually no, they’re very apt. Carry on, even if your review reads like a “presidential” tweet.

Wow , this is like a ubisoft game, it’s so boring,so repetitive ,so grindy..and ACT 4 is a disgrace to us all, just to take some bucks from microtransactions… very very low game, we have to discourage this type of games. (0/10)

See, xavla91 gets it.

“You don’t need lootboxes and can play through the whole game without a problem” that is if you are willing to grind your ass off with repetitive battles to slowly raise your level… The beginning is fun and progressing as expected, but after leaving Minas Tirith you are suddenly stuck with endless grinding and meaningless story missions on the side….

Thanks to the proper early phase it does not get ZERO points as it deserves for being a greedy **** (3/10)

I’m going to truncate hollday_hawk’s giant unbroken block of text, but I need to post highlights because this attitude is a major problem. Here, the reviewer claims microtransactions have NO impact on the game, but then complains about all the ways the game’s design – which has been built entirely to make microtransactions enticing – has impacted their experience.

The disconnect people have between these two things is an issue that needs rectifying.

I’d like to start by saying that micro-transactions have almost no affect on the game. I’m one trophy away from beating the game while platinuming it on PS4 and have not spent a cent on the game. If today’s gaming community is foolish enough to buy them then I can’t blame the developers for putting them in. With that said, Shadow of War is one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had in a while…

… There are far too many collectables, far too many missions for each faction, and the end-game fortress capture is horrible. I can’t believe that when this game was playtested (and it’s polished enough that I know it was well playtested) no one said “doing the same type of mission four times isn’t fun, how about making fewer, but more memorable missions.”…

… I’ll just say that the final chapter of the game requires to defend your forts over and over again, each fort multiple times. This mechanic goes from amazing to beyond annoying so quickly. I found myself tired of it before the final act…

… The developers should have left it a short, fun romp leaving you wanting more instead of a long, drawn out process leaving you wishing it was over. (6/10)

Others, like nLcouou, see the grind for what it really is.

An otherwise good game ruined by loot-boxes, micro-transactions, pre-order bonuses and different editions. I advise anyone to boycott this game and all other games with these anti-consumer business strategies. Even just buying the game but not the scummy stuff still shows the publisher that you’re okay paying for a game where it is in it, regardless of if you use it or not. They will intentionally make the game more tedious and/or difficult if you don’t buy their greddy sh!!t to encourage you to buy it. Want an example? Just look at GTA V Online. While it might not seem too devastating now, If we allow this stuff to happen, it will only get worse over time. If you pay for a AAA priced game you should get the full experience, no excuses (real expansions made afterwards is an exception, of course).  (0/10)

Oh my God… did this person just say that people who dislike Shadow of War are fucking TERRORISTS? Uh, samadhi2016, my friend, what drugs do you have and can I have some of your drugs?

I consider that metacritic should take urgent action against people who put zero (0) to a game causing great damage, many will be haters and other terrorist companies, a game is a play and however bad it may be may lead a 4 or 5 of note, but zero ?, I hope metacritic take this orientation pages as 3d games and are taking with the people hater, this game is a good game, in history, playability and fulfills its mission (9/10)

GoddamnVIctor almost gets it, but again their disconnect suggests maybe I need to do a video about how microtransactions actually change the way games work.

A sad thing about this game is that the lootbox controversy is completely taking attention away from how much this game is lacking in creativity as a sequel, the story is great for Tolkien fans but there is just SO MUCH GRIND to go thru, and there are so little improvements to core gameplay, graphics look the same, menus are still ugly as hell (I think they are the same of the past game even).

The game deserves a hall of fame place on how little improvement they have made, it is the laziest sequel I have played ever and would really like my TIME back (0/10)

Basicbic is being hyperbolic with much of this, but the word “predatory” is one that can’t get used enough. That’s exactly what any system based on making money from “whales” is. It’s pure predation, plain n’ simple.

Full of predatory forced in-game purchases. This game developer lacks the integrity required to get your business. Avoid this game and any other game released by Warner Bros. at all costs. (0/10)

DeadlyLemming brings up something I don’t see mentioned enough. As bad as it is that the loot boxes are in the game, the process of using them is terribly implemented and a total drag.

Amazing underlying gameplay which makes it all the more heartbreaking that they leave a large amount of fun items and orcs exclusively for people who pay extra real money. Its like they tried to make the normal game as underwhelming as possible (for a game with such potential) so that you would have to buy golden/mithril chests just to have unique loot with any amount of flair. Sadly the loot/market system itself is also so cumbersome it is undoubted the game would be better off without it. (4/10)

I can’t find much wrong with Asallah’s interpretation. The skills part is relatable the more I play – I’m at a point in the game now where I keep gaining skill points but can’t even be bothered to spend them – there’s nothing I want anymore.

Huge fan of the first one, I bought this one day one.

It was a huge mistake:
-It’s exactly the same game
-It’s full of bugs (character stuck, bugged quests,…)
-It’s super repetitive
-90% of skills are useless
-Can’t skip Orcs’ speech (trust me after several hours you CAN’T stand it anymore)
-Graphics are very meh
-I’m ok with lore “twists” but here the story is super basic and poorly written
-And the cherry on the cake: microtransactions, it’s totally UNACCEPTABLE
-Secondary characters are super cliche

If you don’t pay, either use a cheat engine to finish it or stop midway and watch the real end on youtube. It’s litteraly dozens of hours of grinding. (4/10)

As always, some of the 10/10 reviews act as aggressive marketing. Here’s Veronus chatting utter bullshit about the game. Trust you? I think not, friend.

Haven’t spent a penny on micro-transactions. This game rules them all and it’s easily a 10. Such a great job making this game EPIC and addictive. Unfortunately too many people have seen that you can buy orcs and items (if you choose) and assume that it’s a pay to win. Simply put that is dead wrong. Nothing is going to make this game EASIER, and while it might be nice to have some extra gear or orcs around they are not required, simple jump off the tower go recruit and don’t spend $$. A great job of giving players a choice has blown back in Monolith’s face because of a fickle demographic. Don’t miss out on this game because of cosmetics. Trust Me. (10/10)

theplayer23 keeps it concise.

Although the game looks very good – MT MT MT – oh and MT MT and than some more MT –
i am blessed that waited till my friend buy this game. now I know I will never buy it. (4/10)

I’m adding Abdul701’s review because they’re the first person outside of me to suggest Warner Bros. Interactive is as bad as the rest of ’em.

I don’t normally write reviews, but I think this has to be said: don’t buy this game. If you buy this game, you are supporting one of the largest anti-consumer companies I’ve ever seen. I’d say that at this point, WB Games is even worse than EA.

The only reward for the grind is more grind, lootboxes are unnescessary. Also microtranactions for loot things really? (0/10)

Exactly, Chronos1. Exactly.

Not acceptable to make a awesome game and then load it up with greedy MT and lootcrates.. sure you don’t have to buy them but it was clear they made the game extremely grindy towards the end in order to try to get lazy people to pay $$ for lootcrates.. this is why your game fails and guess what?? BF II will fail also because you **** never learn. (0/10)

CuteHat’s plan to “quarantine and destroy” games like Shadow of War absolutely delights me.

I shouldn’t have to pay full-price for a game with microtransactions, especially one with some awful lootbox casino. These games need to be destroyed, they should never exist. OpenCritic has the right of it, making a separate category for games with lootbox gambling, because they are indeed not games, they don’t exist to entertain, they’re worthless and stupid and need to be quarantined and destroyed, and the freaks who made this game need to be punished and ruined for it. (0/10)

I have no fucking idea what game easterfields played.

Anything less than a 9 for this masterpiece is a crime against gaming! This whole package is a masterpiece. People whining and wetting themselves over the loot feature havent even played the fantastic story mode. Buy this game and appreciate it for what it is, one of the most fun adventures (and best looking) around. Warning though! The AI, aka Nemesis System, is scary good. (10/10)

Sadly, GuerillaTaktics, this is where the “it’s just cosmetic” argument led us. As I’ve said a dozen times, you give publishers an inch and they take everything.

Can we stop with the microtransactions already? This is a single player only game and they still managed to throw in a loot box mechanic, the only games where microtransactions are a good thing is when they are purely cosmetic. (0/10)

That nun from Game of Thrones reviews games? And calls herself PsychedelicRA? Mindblowing!

Shame Shame Shame ! I’m very disappointed. Down with the micro-transactions !!! This is a real shame. I wait so long to get this money starving machine. (0/10)

When you’re done reading Dimitris29’s review, why not book yourself a trip to a beautiful little town called Stepford?

All the people are hating just cause of the microtransactions… They AREN’T required to complete the game. Stop b****ing and just enjoy the game. I’ve played for 5 hours so far and enjoyed every second. Story is good, gameplay is great, Nemesis system is fantastic. You complaining about the microtransactions isn’t gonna change anything. Just play the game without them. Everything about SoW is great! (10/10)

Well, I’ll give Wallasuko some points for effort. Delivery could’ve been better.

“I’m starvin. We aint had nothin’ but maggoty fans for three stinking years!”
“Mmmyeah! why cant we haves some money!… what about microtransactions? they’re fresh!”
“What about loot boxes? they need those! Aww they look tasty!”


When I see reviews like ArchibaldDuke’s, I like to think The Jimquisition is rubbing off on people. No wonder GameStop’s sick of me.

Micro-transactions in $60 single player games. $60 single player games with premium editions. With gold editions. With.. well, you understand. The greed obviously knows no limits. (0/10)

Jesus Leenat40, I agree they’re bad, but you make even me look reserved about it.

Cancer cancer cancer cancer! Loot boxes are cancer and this game is cancer. Please do not buy it, if you don’t want to support trash like this. We need to put a foot down and say: NO. (0/10)

The nun’s back, and she’s changed her name to Celestinos.

they finished the game doing these microtransactions to be able to continue in the history, this is a shame! the gamer community has to come together for this kind of thing not to invade the consoles.
shame, shame, shame! (0/10)

CccyrussS’ contribution just makes me giggle a lot.

I don’t dislike this game because of microtransactions. I hate this game because I hate the stupid Orcs jabbering at you for 5 minutes before and after you get killed by them. I just can’t stand it. Also the fighting is ridiculous dumb compared to something like Dark Souls. I just got the game yesterday and I’m bored to Tears by it and I almost threw my controller at my TV to try to get the Orcs to shut up and that’s not a good sign. (1/10)

That’s what I’ve been trying to tell them, Lgit!

This microtransaction crap has to stop. For God’s sake. It’s a 60$ singleplayer game. We already paid for the game. If you buy this, you encourage the companies to put more of this crap into next games. And don’t tell me this **** “you don’t have to pay for microtransactions” Are you really so naive thinking that the game won’t be designed in a specific way to make you pay for it sooner or later? Endless grind and other ****? No, thanks. DON”T BUY THIS. (0/10)

epistm87 even brought up the Shexy Shelob, though I’m not sure “wea2boos” would be the target demographic here, whatever they are.

making a giant spider a sex figure for wea2boos.
Microtransactions in single game.
this is not cheapy mobile game.
dont buy this game in full price . (0/10)

Typh is doing the “sarcastic review” thing, not realizing that a score of 0 is still a score of 0, regardless of intent. Not that user reviews matter. Not that anything matters.

Absolutely brilliant gameplay! So addictive, and I’m probably shooting myself in the foot for saying this, but best game I’ve played since I could remember. They’ve made improvements to literally everything that made Shadow of Mordor shine, which I thought would be impossible. This will surely resonate in me for future nostalgia. Rating it a 0 however, because it has microtransactions…still not sure what they are, but apparently they make a game unplayable I’ve heard. (0/10)

I’m gonna leave us with Midirataj who… in a MASSIVE TWIST… is the nun from Game of Thrones!

I don’t write reviews. A lot of people do that for living and passion. I am more of a introvert.
I always took refugee in games. I found acceptance and friends there. It allowed me to feel able and free, unlike in real world. Once you are in the game you are not ugly, stupid or poor, or pretty, smart and rich. We are all adventurers. We are all EQUAL. We are all what we want to be, commit our time and effort to excel in what we believe in. We had to earn everything with our bare mouse and keyboard and gamepad.
Microtransactions is killing the heart and soul of gaming.
Wanna be more powerful? Pay up!
Wanna look cool? Pay up!
Don’t worry we made your beloved game a piece of grindy mobile dumpster.
And Publishers say it is for your own freedom of choice.
A testament to greed and falsehood.


Jim, Please do an in-depth analysis of the psychology behind the loot boxes and gambling in games and the effects on vulnerable people. How children are being targeted through games by the same technique which would be illegal in other industries or atleast heavily legislated against. I feel that suddenly mainstream games are full of pay to win microtransactions and gambling via loot boxes when no one asked for it. It’s making me personally miserable as video games are my hobby (life lol). But we also need to while attacking and criticising these complex issues , to find alternative ideas… Read more »


I recall getting into a discussion with someone near the end of last year regarding how certain features of games meant an automatic disqualification from being eligible for annual awards from Jim. The person I was discussing it with felt it was unfair a developer should be disqualified due to what will have been a publisher decision. But with something like Shadow of Mordor how can they not have been complicit?

Not that I’m saying SOW would be up for an award from Jim.


When people say “it’s just cosmetic, it doesn’t affect the game” I always like to ask them if they’d feel the same way if HD textures were locked behind MTs and loot boxes. What if Uncharted was released as SD and the only way to get HD was to buy a $19.99 upgrade? What if every Overwatch character’s default skin was the same green and gold jumpsuit? Would people complain that it’s ‘just cosmetic’? The characters would all play exactly the same so the game play would not be affected at all, but isn’t a big part of the charm… Read more »


“I consider that metacritic should take urgent action against people who put zero (0) to a game causing great damage, many will be haters and other terrorist companies, a game is a play and however bad it may be may lead a 4 or 5 of note, but zero ?, I hope metacritic take this orientation pages as 3d games and are taking with the people hater, this game is a good game, in history, playability and fulfills its mission” Jesus, this feels like it’s on par with the letter you got from DigPex Games (the Skate Man Intense Rescue… Read more »


One thing that gets missed in all this mictotransactions controversy is this: Many ill-informed users seem to feel that saying “If you don’t like the microtransactions, don’t buy them! You can still enjoy the rest of the game!” is perfectly acceptable. It’s not. It’s gone from “They’re just cosmetic items, they don’t affect gameplay” which was, at the time, innocuous. You couldn’t really argue about it; they’re right. They’re only optional and didn’t affect play. Fair enough. To now, and look what a fucking mess we’re in. I was saying, back then, “hell no” to microtransactions and I’ve actively avoided… Read more »


No “slap in the face”? No “this game is a joke”? Metacritic what has happened to you?


One interesting point: unless you actively go searching rating on PC, the only rating that will ever matter to you is Steam’s positive percentage, and for this game it is 79% which is not representative of how scummy the publisher’s practices are.

This is kinda interesting since not a lot of people will buy the game just to tell others how bad it really is, and this in turn will raise the rating according to the amount of people willing to tolerate industry bullshit above what it should really be.

Sapphire Crook

Oh wow, a game that kinda deserves it? Neat.

Martina Veselá

While I think metabombing games because they’re on a system you don’t like is dumb, this at least makes sense. In the end no one really gives a shit about Metacritic scores, but it’s still a good cause.


That last review brings up something I hadn’t considered before: games used to offer a place where you can be the most awesome person in the world, regardless of what is going on in your real life. With microtransactions, the game world is no longer separate from the real world, and how awesome you are depends on how much you spend.


Wait. Not liking the game is… like terrorism?

Fuck, man. If someone disagrees with you about what ice cream they prefer, is that the same thing as a mass shooting? When your mom buys you the wrong hot pockets, is that basically the civil war all over again? If your milk goes bad is it a radical corporatist plot by the Illuminati to ruin your balanced breakfast?


This is probably the most coherent metabombed selection we’ve had so far.


Dimitris29 review for 10/10 after 5 hours of gameplay is actually pretty accurate. I had a ton of fun the first few hours with the PC version, other than some wanky controls and camera angles. I thought the game was an absolute blast, until I was given the ability to dominate. 15 hours later I took down the first fortress, and realized there was 5 more. Then I read about the Shadow Wars 4th act, wtf. Now I’ve read they are patching the game to allow for the Shadow Wars to never end. I beat the first game in about… Read more »

T slog
T slog

Metabombed is one of the best features in games media. It’s voice of the people regarding reviews more than anything else out there done by “games Media” – Who if you think about it are really the original “influencers”, and still are at it. ( I can’t believe more people aren’t hammering IGN for their own IGN loot boxes.) PS I haven’t bought a new game in over 5 years from any big publisher. I always wait for Metacritic public reviews ( not the biased critic reviews) , because for even with some of the absurd high and low scores… Read more »

Kirk Hammer
Kirk Hammer

I always used to scorn those lel meme review “Worst Game Ever 9/10” reviews on Steam, but a lot of this game’s defenders quoted here quite unironically do say stuff like “one of the most frustrating gaming experiences I’ve had in awhile (6/10)” and “The story’s linear, some of the graphics are bad and the controls are sometimes unresponsive (7/10)”.

I’d disregard IonStorm’s review, though – I wouldn’t trust the maker of Daikatana to know a good game if they preordered it.


Shadow of War is basically two separate games. There’s the shitty singleplayer $60 game, and the good but massively overpriced version that requires you to pay a “subscription” in the form of loot boxes if you want to play it.

What we need to do is demand publishers give us the “intended purchase rate.” How much do you need to spend per hour to get the intended experience?

Crissa Kentavr

What gets me is that since the loot boxes give you items which are random, it violates the law that bans gambling. We really need to get away from this collectors thing since it is just gambling in disguise by obfuscating a step.


I feel as though this is the future the Xbox One was originally envisioning back during its initial press release. Suddenly Diablo 3’s auction house makes more sense to me. Purposely frustrate a player long enough and they’ll be more than happy to part with some money for the sake of brevity.

Terry-Osaurusus Hex XI

“…and the grinding system are Middle-Earth WAY…”
U wot bruv? No, seriously, that is giving me a migraine trying to understand.
“…if you don’t like it just don’t buy the game!”
WAYYYYYYY ahead of you on that one.
Fuck this game and fuck Warner brothers for pissing all over something once good. Why even add the sexy shelob when the story is so paper-thin shit and half-arsed? Because they have no respect for the source material and are just using it as a manipulative marketing platform. Am not even a Tolkien fan and I’m still astounded by their shamelessness.


Lootboxes don’t effect gameplay…. I always thought they were gameplay. The act of opening a box in the hope of something good is a fundamental part of what makes RPGs fun in some ways. Not only that but having them their effects your enjoyment of the game, just like the environment of a restaurant effects how long you want to stay there.

And don’t get me started on ‘they are only cosmetic’, I love cosmetics in games and while DLC has brought more of them, it has also locked it away behind a paywall or a chance based grind wall.


I fully support this kind of consumer advocacy. However, do you think maybe if you really want to see a change in this industry (and potentially others), you could start advocating for an alternative to the unregulated market? Using your platform to promote a more regulated market that protects children, addictive personalities etc… This “laissez faire” capitalism is a result of the prevailing economic theories of the day, and its kind of hard to get to the root of the problem if its not mentioned at all (no this is not some “excuse” or “justification”, just poining something obvious out).… Read more »

Alex Wheatley

Jim: yes. We could do with a JQ episode breaking down this game (or another that does it, but Shadow of War would obviously be the prime example), detailing the ways in which the loot box system clearly HAS impacted the game’s design.
A messy, still-kicking post-mortem of Shadow of War’s loot box backbone, if you will.


Just stop buying the games people!


Sorry all, but when someone like Jim has done all the hard work– still buying the game and then bitchin’ about it won’t help anything. WB have your money now, they don’t give a rat’s derriere anymore.

You have to nut up and stop buying these games. Sorry… but that’s all they will listen to.

Allan Weallans

I remember in the old days, high-level Quake 3 players would deliberately play the game at the lowest settings just to eke out some extra frames per second and improve performance. That incredibly specific domain is the only time “it’s just cosmetic” is an acceptable argument. If you’re sacrificing cosmetics for a competitive edge, that’s one thing, and it’s probably what’s led to the wannabe-h’ardcore crowd treating cosmetic considerations as not part of the “real” game without actually understanding the reason for the tradeoff, but if the cosmetics are not performance-impacting, but merely locked behind microtransactions, *then* what exactly are… Read more »