Middle-earth: Shadow of War – Tips and Tricks for Getting Started

Before you play the Middle-earth: Shadow of War game, you will definitely want to know these simple but useful tips and tricks. If you have any tips feel free to share with us!

Things to Know Before Playing

About Patches/Updates

  • The market/paid loot boxes were completely removed from the game. You can earn some loot for doing online vendettas and sieges, but it’s minor stuff.
  • The patches also gave the game a wide range of very nuanced difficulty settings, including something like Devil May Cry’s “Heaven or Hell” difficulty setting – everything dies very quickly, including yourself.
  • Act 4: Shadow Wars was renamed to Epilogue and reworked. There is still an ending cinematic if you finish it, but if you feel done with the game after Act 3 just look it up online.

Start of the Game

  • The first game (Shadow of Mordor) has “Nemesis Forge” which allows to carry over a nemesis and follower to this game. It’s a minor feature, you might not even notice your old rival or friend.
  • It does still provide a better experience if you die every so often so that you can get the most out of the Nemesis system, but you do no longer need to intentionally gimp yourself for that to happen.
  • You don’t get to recruit orc captains until Act 2.
  • If you want to hang around in Act 1 for a while, you still want to do main missions until you’re dealing with siege beasts. That mission earns you the double jump (Shadow Strider) which makes moving around much easier.
  • It’s best to recruit orc captains who you think are the funniest or are followers of a warchief (so they can betray him later on). For the really late game you’ll end recruiting high level orc captains anyway.
  • If you can’t fast travel to a Haedir tower or a different region, an orc or beast is still targeting you. You’ll have to move away further to make sure you are unseen.


  • Even if gear in your inventory doesn’t give you prompts for it, you can upgrade it to your current level or sell it from the Modify Gear menu. Exceptions: you can’t upgrade if the item still has a challenge, starting gear can’t be destroyed.
  • There are two kind of bows: regular ones and longbows. Longbows have piercing shots, but have a lower Elf-shot maximum.
  • Most of the Legendary gear and set bonuses are so-so. The exception is the Threshing Sword from the Machine set. It boosts the attacks with the Glaive. It makes the Deadly Striker skill upgrade for the Glaive devastating.

Skill Points

  • The game will give you more than enough skill points throughout the game to get all the main skills and all the skill upgrades you would want.
  • Get all the main skills (the big symbols) first because they’re all good for something, no matter how you specifically want to play.
  • Obtaining a main skill will frequently unlock a matching Shadows of the Past mission (often in a later region while in Act 1). Those always have optional objectives that can earn you another skill point.

Abilities and Main Skills

  • The game shoves a lot of abilities in a small number of keys/buttons. The “display combat hints” setting spams hints, but can be a useful reminder that you can do things you might have forgotten about.
  • An orc captain can be on fire, poisoned and cursed at the same time. Freezing them or making them “dazed” will stop these effects.
  • The Consume skill (default: C) uses Might to quickly drain a orc and restore a portion of your health. It can’t be interrupted, unlike the main Drain/Dominate ability (default: hold E). If an orc captain is “broken”, Consume will now dominate them and it can’t be interrupted. Since orc
  • captains are frequently surrounded by half a dozen orcs, this is very useful.

  • The Poison Tendril skill will allow you to poison grog containers by aiming at them from a distance and pressing a button (default: G). Firing at these poisoned containers will make them explode with balefire, a combination of poison and fire.
  • Treasure Hunter will automatically pick up gems, coins and gear dropped by enemies. Upon collecting all the Gondorian Artifacts in every region, you will unlock the Prospector skill upgrade. This will make gems you find tier 2 instead of tier 1. Sometimes you’ll find olog-hai (ogres) carrying a gem, Prospector makes their gems tier 4 instead of tier 3.

Skill Upgrade Recommendations

  • Perfect Counter > Fatal Counter makes dealing with a huge group of orcs easier, but has negative synergy with Ground Finisher > Ground Drain (there won’t be knocked down orcs if you instantly kill them).
  • Ground Finisher > Wraith Shield will allow you to parry during a ground execution to avoid being interrupted.
  • Ground Finisher > Ground Drain will combo with the skill upgrades for Drain.
  • Brutal Aggression > Ceaseless Might allows you to Execute twice in a row with a full Might bar, which is a good ability to damage orc captains.
  • Freeze Pin > Savage Ice gives you a tool to stop olog-hai (ogrelike, hulking orcs) and beasts in their tracks.
  • Shadow Strike > Pull allows you to teleport an orc to you, this allows you to grab an orc captain away from his army. If you do it from a high place it’ll take long for backup to arrive.
  • Shadow Mount > Packmaster allows you to dominate a broken Caragor and instantly recruit their buddies, this can single-handedly take out entire mounted patrols and neuter them completely.
  • Shadow Strider > Hammer of Eregion will freeze an enemy if you leap over them, setting them up for tons of damage.
  • Detonate > Matron’s Scent and Call Followers > Cluster of Spiders allow you to exploit Mortal Weaknesses without having to rely on the environment to summon them.

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