However, Shadow Wars is spoiled by two major issues.
First, it’s not just postgame content. While the main plot of Shadow of War wraps up in relatively tidy fashion before act four begins, Monolith has confirmed that there is a “true ending” hidden behind Shadow Wars. I love the idea of offering dozens of hours of grindy yet fun content for players who really adore this game to sink their teeth into. But that works better as an option rather than a looming obligation for completionists. Having the game’s real finale locked away behind those dozens of hours — hours that, while fun, are devoid of story missions, side quests, cutscenes or other distractions that help mix up the pace — is a disappointment.
When you run out of in-game money, you have two choices: Make a huge time investment by hunting down orcs in your game world and earning chests via vendetta missions, or spend some real money to get the more powerful orcs you need now. Does the game ever force you to spend money? No. I’m sure you can get to the end of Shadow Wars without spending a dime, as long as you’re patient and persistent. But locking progress through this mode (and, again, toward the game’s true ending) behind either spending more money or doing tons of tedious busywork feels at least greedy if not predatory.
Gamesradar article on how you get the legendary orcs without buying Lootboxes
In the game's actual final act, you cycle through the four fortresses you explored previously for a total of 20 more defending siege battles. If you haven't upgraded the Orcs you met early in the game--and up until this point, there was no reason to--you have to replace and upgrade your entire retinue of Orcs to match this more powerful invading force. The enemies you face level up with each encounter, so you're also forced into upgrading each castle over and over again, either by building up your current Orc army or finding new fighters and replacing the old. This Sisyphean quest has no corresponding significant characters to keep you company or explain why it's important to tackle the defense missions in the order you do. It's not even clear, exactly, why you want to do them at all.
More than once I felt like giving up on this quest thinking I'd stumbled onto some optional side content that was clearly only made for obsessed completionists. But enduring on, I found that finishing every stage unlocks the final cutscene and credits. It did not feel worth it.
Now all you have to do is die. That sounds easier than it actually is because your objective is to be killed by a particular kind of Orc. You rarely encounter lone Orcs, so it's easy to accidentally have the wrong one make the killing blow. You can always try over though, so don't get discouraged if you end up with a dud.
Once the Orc of your choice kills you, it's in the hands of the Random Numbers Generator. First, there's a good chance the Orc that took you out will spawn as just a regular old Orc Captain. Secondly, if the Orc in promoted in a region with no empty spots for new Orcs, they'll duel someone for their place. This can either end up in your brand-new dream Orc being killed, or one of your other favorite Orcs in the region being murdered.
However, if everything goes right, and you've cleared out a spot in advance for your new Orc, you can get an Epic or Legendary Orc Captain to spawn precisely how you want them to be. This method is incredibly frustrating, but it's the only way to exert any influence over what kind of Orcs spawn.
Does the game ever force you to spend money? No. I'm sure you can get to the end of Shadow Wars without spending a dime, as long as you're patient and persistent. But locking progress through this mode (and, again, toward the game's true ending) behind either spending more money or doing tons of tedious busywork feels at least greedy if not predatory."
Eurogamer comment by someone who apparently played it, so take that with a grain of salt:
As I may have played more of this than Johnny, a word of warning about the microtransactions: if you want to complete the endgame and see the *true* ending, be prepared to buy the XP boosts from the store while you're playing the campaign or face a 40-50 hour grind. I finished the story in about 15 hours (and agree that it's awful), and have been grinding for 8 hours a day for the past four days just to level up enough to finish the "Shadow of War" endgame content, and it is indescribably tedious.