With Monolith's Lord of the Rings: Shadow of War now available for purchase, reviews have been released and the general consensus is that it's good, but throws out much of the classic Lord of the Rings lore in favor of sexy spiders and an endless parade of orc death. Another aspect that reviewers seem to agree on though, is that the loot boxes aren't necessary to play or enjoy even the end of the game where their weapons and extras could come in handy.
When loot chests were first announced for the exclusively single-player game, fans weren't particularly happy about it. The concern was that the game would feature some extra grind at a point in its play that would encourage you to buy chests with real money, which takes away from immersion and milks the player base (especially those easily addicted to gambling mechanics).
It turns out though that they aren't really needed for play. PCGamesN suggests that loot boxes need not even be on your radar during the main game's story mode. You'll be able to take Talion from the start right through to the climactic conclusion without opening a single loot chest if you prefer. While there is some suggestion that you'll benefit from opening the odd one using in-game currency once you reach the end-game where you need a lot of orcs to succeed, you can still find more orcs in game to top up your numbers -- by, you know, playing the game -- although some may prefer to speed things up with the odd premium loot chest. It depends how invested you are at that point and whether whipping out your credit card after 30+ hours of play ruins the experience for you or not.
Kotaku found things much the same, claiming that at no point during the game was there pressure to get into the loot chest system. The reviewer did seem to take some enjoyment from daily grind quests, but at least in those instances she was actually playing the game to earn the currency.
Indeed if anything, the loot boxes highlight that the main Shadow of War, and by extension, Shadow of Mordor gameplay, could be a bit grindy anyway. Kill some orcs, subjugate a warchief, repeat. It's fun while it lasts, but don't expect anything entirely revolutionary in Shadow of War. Neither though, do you need to worry that loot chests ruin the experience.
image source: Entertainment Buddha