Middle-earth: Shadow of War skills guide - your first look at Talion’s abilities

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a tale of revenge, a dish best served inventively with a wide range of skills at your disposal. Now the nefarious Black Hand have been dispensed with and a new Ring of Power forged, in Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the newly returned Sauron and Nazgul forces need a good kicking. Thankfully for Talion and the ghostly Celebrimbor, then, you’ve still got plenty of upgradeable powers to play with. Some, like Brutalize and Elven Swiftness you'll recall from your last outing in Middle-earth, but there's still plenty of new abilities to send orcs retreating in your wake again.

Desperate for more Tolkien goodness? Here’s everything we know about Middle-earth Shadow of War.

Here we have your first look at the skills you’ll have available when you roam Middle-earth once again on October 10. There are six different skill categories to foster each of the distinctly different playstyles. 

Unlike Shadow of Mordor, where you could unlock every skill in the game and use them all at once, in Shadow of War your skills are broken up into major skills and upgrades. Each major skill can only have one of its upgrades active at a time, forcing you to decide how you want to play your Talion - do you pick the upgrade that lets you heal the uruk following you into battle,  or the one that lets you explode their heads to terrify your enemies?

Combat skills

Combat upgrades focus on your more traditional melee combat skills.

Middle Earth Shadow of War skills

Execution 

  • When your Might is full, aim at an enemy and execute them.
  • Upgrade: Secret Might - Gain Might for each kill while remaining undetected.
  • Upgrade: Grim Resolve - Gain Might each time you are damaged in combat.
  • Upgrade: Fatal Might - Successful sword strikes gain much more Might. Might resets after taking damage, missing an attack, or exiting combat.

Perfect Counter

  • Well-timed counters knock down enemies.
  • Upgrade: Fatal Counter - Well-timed counters instantly kill enemy grunts, but not captains and beasts.
  • Upgrade: Mighty Reversal - Gain Might from each counter.
  • Upgrade: Rain of Arrows - Well-timed counters replenish one Elf-Shot.

Critical Strike

  • Melee attacks have a chance of causing critical hits for additional damage.
  • Upgrade: Unstoppable - Your Critical Strike chance increases significantly as long as your hitstreak is above 20.
  • Upgrade: Reprisal - Critical Strike chance increases as your health is reduced.
  • Upgrade: Elven Precision - Use Strike as your Strike lands to greatly increase chance of a critical.

Ground Finisher

  • Decreases the amount of time it takes to perform ground executions on downed enemies.
  • Upgrade: Wraith Shield - Counter enemies while completing a ground execution.
  • Upgrade: Fury - Ground executions enable you to unleash a flurry of blows before finishing an enemy, gaining Might on each hit.
  • Upgrade: Ground Drain - Drain enemies who have been knocked down. 

Brutal Aggression

  • Might can be double-charged, enabling Brutal Executions which cause nearby enemies to flee in terror.
  • Upgrade: Ceaseless Might - Skills that require Might no longer fully deplete Might.
  • Upgrade: Wraith Execution - Chain executions to additional enemies. Consumes Focus for each additional target.

Retaliation 

  • Time you Last Chance success perfectly to instantly kill the enemy targeting you. Does not apply to captains, graugs, or drakes.
  • Upgrade: Vengeful Drain - Retaliation drains your attacker.
  • Upgrade: Adamant - Gain an additional Last Chance attempt.
  • Upgrade: Burst of Might - Gain full Might on a perfect Last Chance.

Predator skills

Predator skills focus on agility and stealth. Upgrade these abilities to punish your enemies quickly and undetected.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War skills

Elven Agility 

  • A burst of speed when leaping over objects, landing, or climbing. At the top of a climb you’ll vault over a ledge.
  • Upgrade: Spectral Dash - Cross short distances while in stealth or reach nearby enemies instantaneously.
  • Upgrade: Silent Runner - Sprinting no longer creates a sound.

Brutalize 

  • Perform terrifying stealth kills, causing nearby enemies to flee while increasing your Might and hitstreak.
  • Upgrade: Reckless Hate - Brutalize causes more enemies to flee.
  • Upgrade: Unyielding Ferocity - Using Brutalize gives a bonus to both your Might and hitstreak

Poison Tendril

  • Aim at a grog barrel and poison it from afar.
  • Upgrade: Contagion - Enemies who drink from poisoned grog go berserk and attack anyone nearby, spreading the poison.
  • Upgrade: Bursting Toxin - Grunts who drink from poisoned grog barrels explode, poisoning any nearby enemies.
  • Upgrade: Proximity Trigger - Aim at Morgai flies, cages, and bait anbandess 'Y' to prime them to trigger when an enemy approaches. 

Wraith Chain 

  • Target an additional enemy during a stealth kill.
  • Upgrade: Shadow Blade - Eliminates Focus cost for first target in a chain.
  • Upgrade: Monster Hunter - Stealth Kills can be used against Beasts.

Deadly Spectre 

  • Use Attract to leave behind a Wraith that will kill your target.
  • Upgrade: Spirit Drain - Your Wraith will Drain its target.
  • Upgrade: Terrifying Presence - Your Wraith will Brutalize its target.

Death Threat

  • Use a Worm to deliver a message to a specified Captain, letting him know that you are coming for him. This improves your chances of forging high-quality gear after killing the threatened enemy.
  • Upgrade: Worse than Death - Shame ruins the mind of your target, enormously reducing their level and possibly making them Deranged. There is a small chance the target actually becomes stronger, creating a dangerous Maniac.
  • Upgrade: Vow of Violence - A bonus objective is added to Death Threats/ Completing it grants you additional rewards.

Ranged classes

If you're sinking points into ranged classes, you'll be buffing your ability to attack from afar with weaponry such as bows.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War skills

Detonate 

  • Shadow Strike into a firepit, detonating it and lighting nearby enemies on fire.
  • Upgrade: Spider Song - Detonate a firepit and cause spiders to swarm the area.
  • Upgrade: Bursting Arrow - Shoot firepits to detonate them without Shadow Striking into them.
  • Upgrade: Matron’s Scent - Detonate a firepit and cause ghuls to swarm the area.

 Freeze Pin

  • Shooting an enemy’s foot freeze’s them in place.
  • Upgrade: Savage Ice - Freeze Pin affects Olog-hai and beasts.
  • Upgrade: Deep Freeze - Freeze Pin duration is doubled.
  • Upgrade: Brutal Cold - Freeze Pin causes nearby enemies to flee in terror.

Bird of Prey

  • Slow down time and aim while in the air. This consumes Focus.
  • Upgrade: Talon Strike - While falling, strike at the ground with a damaging blast that also Stuns nearby enemies. Consumes Elf-shot.
  • Upgrade: Eagle Sight - Focus is consumed at a slower rate while in the air.

Mighty Shot

  • When your Might is full, fire an explosive shot.
  • Upgrade: Freeze Blast - Might Shot causes a frost explosion.
  • Upgrade: Firestorm - Might Shot causes a fire explosion.
  • Upgrade: Venom - Might Shot causes a poison explosion

Shadow Strike

  • Instantaneously reach an enemy by aiming at them and pressing left trigger + X to kill them or Left Trigger + Y to Stun them. Consumes Elf-shot.
  • Upgrade: Shadow Strike Pull - Pull a targeted enemy to you and kill or stun them.
  • Upgrade: Chain of Shadows - Press X or Y during a Shadow Strike to chain to additional enemies. Consumes Focus for each additional target.
  • Upgrade: Shadow Dominate - While aiming at an enemy, press Left Trigger + B to reach them instantaneously and Dominate them.

Wraith skills

Wraith skills channel the power of the ethereal but powerful elf Celebrimbor.

Middle Earth Shadow of War skills

Brace of Daggers 

  • Quickdraw to throw a dagger that damages and staggers enemies.
  • Upgrade: Serrated Edge - Thrown daggers have a chance to cause a critical strike.
  • Upgrade: Swift Barrage - Three daggers can be thrown rapidly.
  • Upgrade: Rain of Blades - Throw five daggers at once to hit multiple enemies.

Elven Light 

  • Unleash a powerful blast which, when your Might is full, stuns and temporarily blinds nearby enemies.
  • Upgrade: Winter’s Breath - Elven Light also freezes enemies.
  • Upgrade: Cleansing Blaze - Elven Light also sets enemies on fire.
  • Upgrade: Poison Blast - Elven Light also poisons enemies.

Ice Storm

  • Freeze enemies then follow with a flurry of sword strikes.
  • Upgrade: Frostbite - Ice Storm finishers also cause a critical strike.
  • Upgrade: Shower of Ice - Freeze all enemies in an area in front of you. The higher your hitstreak, the larger the area of effect.
  • Upgrade: Shattering Blow - An Ice Storm finisher shatters your target, causing nearby enemies to flee in terror.

Consume

  • When your Might is full, drain an enemy quickly during combat. 
  • Upgrade: Lord of Wrath - Consume increases Wrath. 
  • Upgrade: Olog Lord - Consume works against Ologs.
  • Upgrade: Chain of Souls - Aim during Consume and Drain additional enemies. Consumes Focus for each additional target.

Treasure Hunter 

  • Automatically collect loot from defeated enemies.
  • Upgrade: Discerning Eye - Increases your chances of getting higher quality gear drops from captains or higher ranking orcs.
  • Upgrade: Mind Breaker - Increases domination speed.
  • Upgrade: Prospector - Increases your chances of receiving higher quality gems from defeated enemies.

Mounted skills

Beast-related abilities fall under the Mounted sub-category. These pertain to gaining mastery over beasts to turn the tide of a fight.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War skills

Caragor Rider 

  • Hold B to dominate and ride a Broken caragor.
  • Upgrade: Bestial Rage - You can perform an Execution or Howl to summon additional caragors even when your Might is not full. Instead, your action consumes some of your mount's Health.
  • Upgrade: Pounce - Devouring enemies while in stealth restores more of your caragor's Health.

Graug Rider

  • Hold B to dominate and ride a Broken graug.
  • Upgrade: Enduring Fury - Graug basic attacks gain more Might.
  • Upgrade: Devouring Force - Graug Executions restore more of your graug's Health.

Call Mount

  • Press Left D-Pad to summon a Dominated caragor.
  • Upgrade: Graug Call - You can summon a graug.
  • Upgrade: Dragon Song - You can summon a drake.
  • Upgrade: Dire Caragor - you can summon a Dire Caragor.

Shadow Mount

  • Instantly mount a Broken graug, caragor, or drake with Shadow Strike.
  • Upgrade: Packmaster - When Shadow Mounting a Broken caragor, other nearby caragors are Dominated.
  • Upgrade: Caragor Breaker - Shadow Mount unbroken caragors.

Dragon Rider

  • Hold B to Dominate and ride a Broken drake.
  • Upgrade: Scales of Iron - Your drake takes far less damage from attacks.
  • Upgrade: Soaring Rage - Your drake can shoot fireballs even when your Might is not full. Instead, your action coconsumesome of your mount's Health

Story skills

You'll only be able to unlock story skills at particular stages of the main campaign. They include important abilities likle orc domination.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War skills

Drain

  • Recover health by draining life from orcs and beasts.
  • Upgrade: Domination - Drained enemies are also dominated.
  • Upgrade: Quiver of Souls - Draining an enemy replenishes elf-shot
  • Upgrade: Bright Lord’s Wrath - Draining or dominating an enemy fully recovers health and gains you Wrath.

Spectral Glaive 

  • After your Glaive appears you can initiate a heavy sweeping attack.
  • Upgrade: Mighty Swing - Releasing X the moment your Glaive is charged generates Might for each enemy hit.
  • Upgrade: Deadly Striker - Double-charge your Glaive for fast sword-combo follow-up attacks.

Elven Rage

  • Slow time, with all melee attacks resulting in instantly lethal executions.
  • Upgrade: Freezing Burst - All nearby enemies are affected by a frost explosion after Elven Rage ends.
  • Upgrade: Final Blaze - All nearby enemies are affected by a fire explosion after Elven Rage ends.
  • Upgrade: Poisonous Wrath - All nearby enemies are affected by a poison explosion after Elven Rage ends.

Shadow Strider

  • Talion can double-jump in mid-air. You can also cross wider gaps or change direction mid-jump.
  • Upgrade: Waters of Lorien - Upgrade dodge to instantly flash past enemies. Consumes focus.
  • Upgrade: Hammer of Eregion - Press A to vault over an Uruk and Freeze them.
  • Upgrade: Eagle's Eyrie - Hold Left Trigger while vaulting an enemy to leap off their head and perform a double jump. If Bird of Prey is unlocked you will be able to enter Bird of Prey as you jump

Call Followers

  • Summon a group of warriors to fight alongside you. Command them to attack targets or dismiss them.
  • Upgrade: Bodyguard - Assign a captain to be your bodyguard in the army menu. Command your bodyguard to attack targets or dismiss them.
  • Upgrade: Cluster of Spiders - Summon a cluster of spiders with your followers. Spiders cause a poison effect.
  • Upgrade: Iron Guard - Summoned followers can withstand more damage.

Dominate Captain

  • Dominate a Captain who has been broken. Orc captains who are a higher level than you cannot be recruited.
  • Upgrade: Lifeblood - Hold Down on d-pad to heal all nearby Followers by consuming your Health. Any Followers who are bleeding out are unaffected.
  • Upgrade: Destroy Followers - Hold Down D-pad to explode the heads of nearby Followers, causing enemies to flee in terror.
  • Upgrade: Enrage Followers - Hold Down D-pad to enrage nearby friendly Captains. Consumes Wrath.

That’s all we have for the moment. Be sure to keep checking back here for all the latest on Middle Earth: Shadow of War’s skills and let us know what you’d like to see from the game in the comments.

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