clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The first skills you should unlock in Shadow of War fix a video game no-no

Reboot the loot

Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

You have purchased Middle-earth: Shadow of War. You’ve heard it’s even richer and more complicated than its predecessor, and you can’t wait to dive into the upgrade tree like an Olympian springing off the high board. Stop!

Hold your horses, because there’s something you should know before the game begins. It’s simple, and it’s a little irritating that you even have to bother: Unlock the Treasure Hunter ability.

Fans of Far Cry 3 will be familiar with the infuriating need to manually loot every enemy, triggering slow and repetitive looting animations. I’m sad to report Shadow of War’s looting similarly takes too long, requiring players to individually grab any weapons, armor or gems that fall onto the ground in the heat of battle. Fortunately, the game includes an ability that auto-collects items when your character steps on them.

However, that ability is the final unlock in the Wraith branch of the game’s skill tree, so you’ll need to unlock a few other skills to get to it. Luckily, the game is generous with its ability points, so it shouldn’t take too long.

Roller coaster of emotions, I know.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War - Talion with Celebrimbor in background Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

This isn’t the most enjoyable way to begin a new game, focusing on upgrading a character simply so that basic item collecting isn’t a chore. But the alternative is worse. Without the ability, you will eventually find yourself in a fight, trying to grab an item, exposing yourself to a lethal blow from archers or swordsmen. You will miss out on a rare dagger or a precious jewel, and you will wish you had invested your skill points into Treasure Hunter.

How annoying. I appreciate that game developers must create challenges for players to overcome, that they often must incentivize progress with rewards. Shadow of War gets this right in most ways, constantly rewarding the player with magical abilities that transform their character into a fantastical drake-riding super soldier. These abilities build onto combat, taking a strong, fun core idea and enriching it.

But I struggle to see how auto-looting should be a similarly precious reward. It’s not additive to something that already works. Looting is uncomfortable without the ability. The decision is akin to making running or crouching an ability you must unlock. Sure, that might add a challenge early on, but what a joyless challenge!

And so, looting is a small, frustrating roadblock at the start of a very long race. I encourage you to rip it down ASAP.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon