Each base skill now gets three upgraded versions that can be applied as you level up, changing how useful any given skill ends up being in combat situations.
Shadow Of War’s Talion and his wraithly companion Celbrimbor automatically start out with several of the skills from the previous game, but the rest still have to be unlocked, with an even bigger skill tree available than before because of the addition of sub-skills.
If you are keeping up with all the side missions, like the Shelob Memories, the Ithildin Doors, and the various combat trials Celebrimbor gives you in each province, it’s entirely possible to get every skill in the game by the end of Act IV. For those wanting to optimize, however, there are certain skills that are more useful than others from beginning to end. Here are some tips and tricks on picking the right ones – and why.
Best Shadow Of War Skills
Here, we’re going to mostly focus on combat skills that are consistently useful in plenty of scenarios in Shadow of War, from being swarmed by grunts to taking on Legendary orcs. These are the combat options that are going to keep Talion alive longer and help you cleave a bloody swathe through Mordor!
Spider Song Skill (Detonate Upgrade)
While somewhat hampered by the fact that it can only be used on a firepit, this skill is just plain fun to use. A bunch of orcs minding their own business, bragging about killing Tarks, and drinking grog are suddenly all on fire and being swarmed by magic spiders. What’s not to love?
Ground Finisher Skill
This imminently useful skill lets you more quickly execute any knocked-down enemies so you won’t be interrupted by an attack from his buddies. The Wraith Shield upgrade makes this even more helpful since you can counter any incoming strike during the shortened execution time. If you prefer to heal during those mass-frenzied battles, pick Ground Drain instead of Wraith Shield.
Freeze Pin Skill
A lot of players overlook the usefulness of this early Ranged skill, seeing it as only being helpful when a captain is fleeing battle and you don’t want to track him down later.
It has a lot more utility than that, however, and can be used to lock a powerful melee foe in place while you deal with his subordinates. Coupled with the Brutal Cold upgrade that sends grunts fleeing in terror, this is easy crowd control fairly early in the game.
Fatal Counter Skill (Perfect Counter Upgrade)
When there’s just a horde of enemies around you, this skill is a life (and time) saver. Perfect Counter should be picked up quickly since it keeps enemies down for a time (pairing well with Ground Finisher), but even if you don’t execute them, it’s nice to have some breathing room while they get back up.
When you upgrade to Fatal Counter, though, there’s no need to worry about grunts anymore, because perfect counters when the icon flashes blue results in an automatic execution!
Hammer Of Eregion Skill (Shadow Strider Upgrade)
The ability to freeze orc captains to get in more powerful strikes when they are vulnerable makes some of those frustrating Legendary enemies much easier to handle.
Since you can just keep freezing many of them without end (unless they randomly got assigned the freeze immunity skill), there’s no reason not to grab this upgrade as soon as possible.
Although it’s only available to use with full Might, this area of effect blast is perfect for getting a group of enemies off your back so you can regroup and take some guys down with executions or aimed Elf-Shots.
The elemental upgrades are also absolutely killer, giving you fire, freezing, or poison. Plan ahead and pick one that matches the vulnerability of a captain you are going up against!
Ceaseless Might Skill (Brutal Aggression Upgrade)
Executions now cause enemies to flee in terror… and they don’t fully deplete your Might? That’s amazingly helpful for thinning out hordes. If you go with Wraith Execution instead of Ceaseless Might, you can chain multiple executions so long as you still have Focus left, getting in several quick kills (or depleting a captain’s health).
The final stop of the Combat chain lets you automatically kill a normal enemy when you get a perfect Last Chance, but the real draw here is in the available upgrades.
Adamant is the all-around most useful option, giving an extra Last Chance (which you’ll need in battles where you are getting ganged up on by multiple captains and their hordes of followers). But Vengeful Drain can also be as useful, healing you on a successful Last Chance.
Shadow Mount Skill
This is critical during those large sieges with plenty of big monsters, because you want to be able to quickly mount things like Caragors or Graugs at range to turn the tide of battle.
Note that there’s a powerful way to upgrade this skill with the right equipment. When wearing two pieces of the Feral Legendary gear set, you can use Shadow Mount against unbroken Graugs, and with four pieces equipped you can shadow mount unbroken Drakes.
Dragon Rider Skill
This one’s a necessity, although it won’t be available until later on in the campaign. Gaining the skill to ride a drake is critical in many large scale combat scenarios, in addition to providing some clear hints to Talion’s ultimate fate…
Those are our favorite Shadow Of War skills for Talion and Celbrimbor to unleash! What are your favorite picks to use? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check out our other Shadow Of War guides for more tips and tricks. Here are a few to get you started: