It’s been three years since we last entered Monolith’s dangerous take on Mordor, and the latest open Middle-earth has been vastly improved with a bigger sandbox, a grander Nemesis System, castle sieges and much, much more. It’s Mordor, Talion, but not as we know it.
And if you thought 2014’s Shadow Of Mordor was a tough and challenging place to inhabit, the Dark Lord’s realm of 2017 is filled with even more rivals, allies and assassins to contend with. So to ensure you keep your head in the ever-changing landscape of Tolkien’s re-imagined universe, we’ve gathered ten essential tips, tricks and tactics.
Don't forget, you can read our full review of Shadow of War right here.
Farm unlock points by focusing on story and side-missions
Much like the previous entry in the Shadow series, Shadow Of War has its very own set of skill trees that are a must if you want to not just survive but thrive in the latter regions of the game.
Thankfully, SOW is pretty generous with these points early on, but the most important skills are locked at the top of the trees so you’ll need to farm them to reach the game-changers.
The main story missions are an ideal way to bag plenty of points, as are the plentiful side-missions you unlock as you explore Mordor’s varied topography. Haedir Towers are also a brilliant way to farm points, as well as serving as fast travel locations across the map.
Master parry, vault and dodge
SOW is a brutal crucible, and it’ll punish rash decisions and players who don’t think before they rush into battle. Considering how much impact your death has on the political ecosystem of Mordor, trying to keep your head firmly on your semi-Wraith shoulders is a serious issue. So heed our words: always enter every fight on the defensive.
Never get greedy with your hits, even if you’re about to strike an enemy down with a final slash. Since attacks can come from any side at any time (as most battles are against multiple foes), you’ll need to really master being able to dodge and parry early on. Whether facing a low-level orc grunt of a war chief in full-blown rage mode, parries are your best defense amid the chaos.
Attack War Chiefs from the ground up
The political landscape of the Nemesis System has been expanded far beyond the meager reaches of the first game, but the same concept still applies: destabilize a higher enemy’s power base by taking it apart brick by orcish brick.
Taking out/dominating commanders and captains that answer to a specific war chief will usually draw them out, as well as improving your chances of taking them down in your eventual showdown. If you’re in a risky mood, you can opt to take on middle-tier orcs without destroying their subordinates. Be warned though – if you fail, you’ll just end up strengthening an already formidable foe.
Purify every Haedir Tower from the off
SOW is an open-world game so, of course, it’s littered with radio towers - sorry, Haedir Towers - which are littered across the many regions of Mordor. These cloud-piercing structures serve three important roles: first, they give you unlock points for your skill tree every time you ‘purify’ one (ie, claim it for you own); second, they serve as helpful travel points across the impressively vast regions of the game; and third, they unlock hidden missions and collectibles.
To make your life a whole lot easier, especially in your first hours in each area, make a beeline for each tower and get it purified from the off. The sooner these towers are claimed, the more content will be opened up on the map and the faster you’ll be able to move when you’re chasing story missions for upgrade points, etc.
Always keep replenishing your quiver
Your spectral bow is just as important as it was in Shadow Of Mordor, often proving the tipping point in most battles where you’re about to be overwhelmed by a horde of murderous orcs with questionable names. The only problem is your basic arrows run out really quickly and don’t replenish automatically.
Thankfully, arrows can be found across the game. Keep an eye on your mini-map for arrow symbols as you explore and always stop to grab them (as long as you’re not down to your last sliver of health). Never be afraid to retreat and restock on this all-important ammo, especially when assaulting a high level settlement.
Seek out every Worm you can find
Identified by a green symbol on your mini-map (or colored green in Wraith Vision), these low-level orcs can provide you with important intel on orcs and uruk-hai operating in the immediate area. Not only will this enable you to plan your attack by identifying weaknesses and strengths, it will also streamline how you bring down high level commanders.
Worms are best taken by stealth, so hold down the Right Trigger/R2 then hold A/Circle to begin the interrogation. You’ll now be able to select which orc to reveal in the Nemesis menu. You can also scavenge intel from dead Worms located across Mordor (simply press RB/R1 over their corpse). However, if you kill a Worm in battle you’ll lose that potential intel.
Drain orc health to replenish your own
Dying in Shadow Of War will shape the Middle-earth of your playthrough, so to avoid giving your enemies an unexpected promotion you’re going to need to keep that health meter from depleting. One of the quickest (and riskiest) ways to fill it back up is by draining orcs of their lifeblood.
To do this simply hold B/Circle when near an enemy to begin the process. However, it takes around three seconds to fully drain them and you’ll only receive the benefits if you fully drain your enemy. Doing this leaves you open to attack, so either draw one enemy away, or wait until you’re down to one foe to bandage your wounds.
Never pass up an orc bearing treasure
Since gear and gems (more on those in a moment) are all the rage in Shadow Of War, you’ll want to keep your eye out for powerful new items on your travels. Thankfully, you won’t just have to take them from defeated Captains or War Chiefs (or even from *shudder* loot boxes) since random orcs also carry lootable items.
These orcs are defined by a black and white star symbol above their head, and will usually be surrounded by a larger group of foes. Since gems can provide buffed attributes, and weapons enhanced abilities, always try to slay and loot these orcish nightmares for all their worth. These orcs will also drop Mirian (SOW’s in-game currency).
Gems will enhance your gear and weapons
This classic RPG trope enables you to infuse each part of your inventory (so that’s your sword, your dagger, your bow, your armor and your cape/hood) with a gem that buffs a certain attribute. These gems, like weapons and armor, come in different levels which define the strength of their buff.
Thankfully, you can also equip gems of a higher level than your own current level (which is incredibly useful in your first few hours). To infuse a gem, head to the Inventory screen, and select the gear you want to infuse. However, it takes 1,000 Mirian to unlock each slot so you’ll need to grind for a while before you can fully utilize your best gems.
Save your own skin with a summon
Since Mordor’s new inhabitants are tougher than ever, Monolith has introduced the ability to summon allies to aid you in battle. This ability can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re fighting a high level orc, so it’s an important set of skills to pursue.
You’ll find this ability, known as Call Followers, in the Story branch of the skill tree. You can call in a bunch of orcs to save you, or upgrade it to bring in a horde of spiders, a captain or tougher orcs. You can also acquire the Call Mount skill from the Mount skill line, which includes draugs, caragors and drakes.