I finished Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Apparently, when they removed the cash shop, they also removed the grind from the epilogue. What I expected to be a multi-week slog was instead a few quests, and I could have completed it in a night had I not been pacing myself for a marathon.
The downside of the epilogue content is stacking up the pace-breaking captain messages. Enemy captains announce themselves when they see you, and you get a message every time an allied or enemy captain dies by anyone’s hand. By “message,” I don’t mean a bit of text. I mean stopping the game for 5-20 seconds for an unskippable cut scene. In the fortress assaults and defenses, there might be more than a dozen captains. Nothing breaks your rhythm in a game like pausing every 10-30 seconds for 5-20 seconds during big fight scenes. It is usually not that bad, but once heads start rolling, they keep rolling and keep pausing the game.
The endgame is basically the answer to “I wish I could keep doing this forever.” The fundamental gameplay of the series is good, so if you just want to keep killing orcs and captains, you will never run out of orcs and captains. I have had a great many games where I have kept playing just because I enjoyed playing, and I very well might pop into Shadow of War again. I expect to play a bit further and try the expansion content.
The game as a whole is fun. It is mixed, but it is fun. The pacing is a bit off, although I don’t know how much of that is the original design versus what has been added and removed since release. Removing the cash shop was a big thing, and it let me buy the game. I was not interested in buying a single-player game with lootboxes.
Although really, how often do we play our MMOs as single-player games?