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Middle-earth: Shadow of War guide: The Market and microtransactions

What should you buy? And should you spend real-world money?

Middle-earth: Shadow of War adds a lot that its predecessor didn’t have. There’s a much more elaborate skill tree, a new loot system and an entirely new game mode with Shadow War. There’s also a new Market where you can spend in-game currency and real-world money with microtransactions. But just like basically everything else in the game, you don’t get a lot of (or any) explanation.

But we’re here to help. Let’s talk about the things you can buy in the Middle-earth: Shadow of War Market and why you want to part with your hard-earned Mirian, let along your hard(er)-earned real-world cash.

Market

The first and most important thing to know about the Market is that almost none of it will be of any use until many, many hours into the game — the end of Act 2: Rise to Power after you capture the fortress in Nurnen, which was more than 25 hours in for us.

The Market orc doesn’t have a name, but he really should.
Monolith Productions/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

The Market has six categories. Five of them are things you can buy, and one of them is a kind of inventory for stuff you got from the Market. We’ll break them down below, but first, let’s talk about the things you can buy.

There are two things you can buy in the Market: chests and boosts. Chests come in three tiers, silver, gold and mithril. You can get silver chests with in-game currency. Gold and mithril will cost you gold, which you can buy with real-world money.

Chests are, well, chests that contain followers, gear, training orders or boosts.

  • Followers are orc recruits you can add to the armies manning (orcing?) your fortresses.
  • Gear is stuff for your inventory — swords, daggers, bows, armor, cloaks and ringcraft. They’ll usually be in the neighborhood of the gear you’ve currently got, but better chests mean better loot.
  • Training orders are consumable upgrades that you can apply to your followers. Training orders do things like add a gang of archers that follow your orc around (Archer Gang) or just increase their level by five (War Training).
  • Boosts are consumable items that increase the rate at which you earn XP or Spoils of War (a different kind of XP for online play).

Garrison

The Garrison is the inventory for Market stuff. You’ll find followers, unopened chests and boosts here. Followers shows you your undeployed followers, unopened chests are, like you’d expect, chests that you’ve bought or earned that you haven’t opened yet and boosts are just where your unconsumed boosts are kept.

Featured

The Featured category displays the current Market deals. They’re always gold or better chests, so they’ll cost you real-world money. These are periodically refreshed and replaced with new ones.

Bundles

The bundles available in the store are deals on chests that will give you a head start on sections of the game. These are going to cost you real-world money, too, and also refresh every few days.

War chests

War Chests give you followers or training orders for your followers, so they’re not going to be any use to you until late in Act 2.

Loot chests

Loot Chests give you gear of various quality and boosts. Silver chests give you common and rare gear, gold chests get you epic and legendary, and mithril chests give you all legendary gear.

Boosts

The boosts section is just a place to buy more boosts.

What to buy and what to skip

There’s nothing you can buy for real money that you can’t also get in the game with enough time and patience. And that’s the way to think about the Market: It’s a shortcut. You don’t have to buy anything in the Market to play the game or even to succeed.

Here’s the thing: Chests are a shortcut to better gear, not a shortcut through the game.

There’s been no point in our 30-plus hours with Middle-earth: Shadow of War where we were mindlessly grinding for better loot. In fact, we’ve been picking up some pretty impressive loot just by playing the campaign and doing side missions (like the Ithildin collectibles, which give you legendary gear in each area you visit).

That 30 hours number is important here. Real-world money chests are a shortcut to better gear, but you’re still going to (have to) play the game for just as long. So, spend your money if you want to — and there’s no reason not to — there’s just also no reason to do it. You’d be driving your Bugatti in a school zone.

Silver chests

Silver war and loot chests also cost mirian. That makes them a lot easier to recommend. You’ll earn mirian pretty quickly as you play Shadow of War.

That’s mostly because, at least early on, there’s not much to spend it on. But then, at the end of Act 2 when you unlock fortresses, there’s a whole lot of upgrades to spend mirian on, and it’ll eat through your bankroll quickly.

That said, if you’ve got some extra mirian or are OK with grinding for a while to rebuild your bank account, there’s no reason not to get the occasional silver chest. Occasional, mind you, because, frankly, they’re not great. They only have epic (at best) loot or followers, so you’re never going to be blown away by what you get. Later in the game, when you’ve got all epic or legendary gear and all of your followers are super strong, you’re probably not going to get much useful out of a silver chest.

Gold and mithril chests

Look, we’re here to tell you how to spend your in-game money, not your real-world money. If you want to buy some gold and spend it on gold and mithril chests, go for it. You’ll get better gear and followers the more money you spend.