I was always going to play this sequel after enjoying Shadow of Mordor a lot. So this outrage was not something that dampened my excitement for Shadow of War at all, with me even going out of my way to avoid trailers and any news on it leading up to the release. Terrible if you like to keep people up to date with upcoming big releases, let me tell you. While I do see while people got annoyed at things like this, I do think the gaming community can sometimes get a little bit mad at something before actually getting to see it all for themselves. With the big press sites more than willing to feed into that worry by doing posts that urge you to give them that site visit they need to stay afloat. During this review I've not spent a single extra penny on the game, with the loot box system only really needing to be a thing if for some odd reason you buy a game you don't intend to play, with the online side of the game not being something I plan to invest much time into if I'm honest with you. The game has already given me 50+ hours in return for something that can be found under £30.00 right now if looking around. Does that offer good value for money? I'll let you be the judge of that.
As you work through the game you also grow your character by earning new gear, forging gems for your weapons to give it an added bonus, and also just unlocking new skills to play with. New gear can be got in a number of ways, with the easiest being when you take down one of the characters in the Nemesis system, or even by using currency (Mirian) you earn while playing and buying a crate in the market menu You can also spend real money here if you wish, but it's not needed really if you just play the game like normal. the only time you really need to start spending in-game currency is close to the end of the game when you take on a section of the game called Shadow Wars where you find yourself playing through a few siege missions in which you must defend forts, with cash you've earned being used to give you access to stronger followers to help you defend them.
My favourite side quest in all of Shadow of War would have to have been Web of Fate, a side quest which sees you hunting down jigsaw-like pieces, which then require a little adjusting to unlock a second or so cut-scene that follows. Collecting them all. the game then brings them all together and shows you what they all discovered for you to find out. While it wasn't a hard task by any means, I did find myself enjoying these over some of the other side things that the game throws at you such as fight pits (watching your AI controlled follower duke it out with another enemy), with the game giving you a skill point to use for your troubles. All this got dull really fast for me, which is the reason it sits hardly touched on my game now.
The side quest which sees you having to attack or defend a fortress is another one that many might gravitate to as well, with these not only being a good test of your own skill, but also of the followers around that you've added to your ranks either by loot boxes bought with currency you've earned while playing, or dropping some real cash into them for whatever reason. You can also just dominate captains to join you once this unlocks at a certain point in in the game, with the option to level them up or add training orders to them via the army nemesis screen found in the menus.
Overall: If you enjoyed Shadow of Mordor, then there is a very high chance you will enjoy what Shadow of War has to offer you. That said, the story itself and the way it's presented is a little bit odd, and you may find yourself getting bored with it if the game was already something you were on the fence about. If you do stick with it though, it is something that will give value for money back, but the online portion of the game that was made such a big deal of never did really sink its claws into me. Playing the main game and side quests were enjoyable, however.
Decent amount of things to do and value for money in the game
Photo mode can be super addictive if you enjoy that sort of thing
The story and menu system that tells you it isn't the best
The missions themselves don't really differ from the last unless a boss is involved