Basically the game has an army-building component for which there is "loot" that lets you use certain orcs or grant them abilities or whatever. You can find this stuff in the game world, but you can ALSO, conveniently, pay actual real US dollars (or your local currency) to get it faster from a marketplace through the wonders of loot boxes. Who doesn't love spending real money on loot boxes?. The normal BS about how you can buy some (lesser) stuff with in game currency and find some of the real money currency in game seems to apply.
This is a real bummer for me. Even though I was a little lukewarm on the first game I was looking forward to this, especially because most of the other big fall releases this year don't appeal to me. I know it depends on how it's balanced and there's a chance this will end up being not a big deal, with plenty of in game loot through normal progression, but I hate microtransactions and I hate them even more in single player games, which don't even have the excuse of needing the money for ongoing support.
Just knowing that the game wants MORE money from me is a huge bummer, and often it throws off the balance of the game, artificially extending the grind from what it would have been in order to entice players to throw down more money. I would much rather just pay more up front than have a game constantly badgering me, in ways subtle and not, to give it more cash.
This game has gone from a probably day one purchase to a wait and see/bargain bin for me, and that's a bummer because I was looking forward to it.
Even more than just this game I really lament the continued blossoming of microtransactions in "full price" games, which seems to really have been ramping up lately. I would seem to be a good target for these things since I definitely have more money than time these days, but I never use them because there's nothing more unsatisfying than just buying virtual junk in a game. It feels awful. You want to sell me a cool additional experience like the Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels Expansion and I'm happy to pay, but I want to EARN my loot in game.
I'm sure there will be more to say on this as more information comes out and especially as people get the game and see how it's all balanced and whether it's just a minor irritation or a serious impediment to having fun with the game, but I'm just disappointed and deflated. Oh well. It took Nintendo 8 years or so to get on the DLC bandwagon so maybe it'll be 2025 before we get "Hey, listen...did you know you can unlock the Master Sword right now for only $7.99?" and "It's a-me, Mario. And if you want to do-a a double jump you better find that ability in the Mario loot crates! Now available for only $4.99 each!"
UPDATE: It appears that there's an asynchronous multi-player mode where players "invade" each others strongholds and, oh happy day, the microtransactions apply there too. So for people who were upset that there was no pay-to-win element they could utilize with other players, worry no more!