Middle-earth: Shadow of War has a reasonably meaty skill system for you chew through, boosting protagonist Talion's abilities in and out of combat. The system is made up of six different skill trees, each offering different kinds of abilities, techniques, and specialities. It's not quite as deep as some of the systems that you find in more hardcore role-playing games, but you'll still want to carefully consider how you wish to bolster your play style as you move through the release.

With that in mind, we've put together this guide on what each skill brings to the table, and we're throwing our own recommendations into the mix for good measure. Now, let's transform Talion into as much of an overpowered orc killing machine as we can.

Understanding the Skill System

To unlock skills, you must first earn a skill point. You automatically gain one skill point every time that Talion levels up, and thankfully, he levels up quite quickly. One skill point buys you either one skill, or one upgrade.

Upgrades augment main skills with additional effects. Some upgrades are very powerful and can turn relatively unremarkable skills into incredibly useful tools. You can only have one upgrade per skill active at any one time, but you're not stuck with the first one that you buy. You can switch to a different upgrade, but you'll need to spend another skill point to do so.

Not all skills can be bought with points, however. To unlock some skills, you'll need to progress the main story to specific points.

There are six different skill lines: Combat, Predator, Ranged, Wraith, Mounted, and Story. They're all pretty self-explanatory. Within each line, there are five or six skills. Each of these skills has either two or three upgrades.

Combat Skills and Upgrades

Execution

What it does: Execution is a basic skill that lets you instantly kill lesser orcs or do chunks of damage to captains. To use it, you need to press circle and triangle together when your Might is full.

Our thoughts: Execution is your go-to skill for quickly getting rid of grunts. As long as the captain you're fighting isn't immune to them, executions can do good chunks of damage and are worth using to help chop that health bar down.

Upgrades:

  • Grim Resolve: When you take damage in combat, you gain Might.
    Our thoughts: A very helpful upgrade. Might is your key resource in combat. The easier it is to obtain, the better.
  • Secret Might: Gain Might for each stealth kill.
    Our thoughts: A decent choice if you like to play stealthy or whittle down orc numbers from the shadows before getting into a big fight.
  • Fatal Might: Your normal sword attacks gain a lot More might, but your Might depletes entirely if you take damage, miss, or exit combat.
    Our thoughts: If you're an advanced player, Fatal Might may be a good choice as you can rack up Might for executions and other techniques very quickly. But because of its unforgiving nature, it's very high risk.

Perfect Counter

What it does: Hit triangle when the counter icon flashes blue, and you'll automatically knock the enemy down.

Our thoughts: Get used to the timing, and Perfect Counter can make fights much easier. When you knock an orc down, they'll be stunned for at least several seconds, giving you time to deal with other enemies or deliver a finishing blow.

Upgrades:

  • Rain of Arrows: Pulling off a Perfect Counter restores one Elf-shot.
    Our thoughts: You can burn through your of Elf-shot rather quickly if you're using a lot of ranged attacks, so this upgrade can keep you stocked up for emergencies. Handy.
  • Mighty Reversal: Gain might from performing successful counters.
    Our thoughts: A great way to earn some extra Might during large encounters. More Might is never a bad thing.
  • Fatal Counter: Perfect Counters kill lesser orcs instantly.
    Our thoughts: Fatal Counter can allow you to thin orc numbers very quickly, but it's worth remembering that not all orcs have attacks that you can counter.

Critical Strike

What it does: Gives melee attacks a chance to hit for critical damage.

Our thoughts: A solid skill that can add some extra damage here and there. Critical hits aren't especially deadly in Shadow of War, but get enough of them and you'll start to see a difference in your damage output over time.

Upgrades:

  • Reprisal: Your chance of getting a critical hit increases the lower your health is.
    Our thoughts: Can help you get out of some tough situations, but ideally, you don't want to be in a position where you're running low on health to begin with.
  • Unstoppable: When your combo streak is at 20 or above, your chances of getting a critical hit increases hugely.
    Our thoughts: Useful if you're skilled at the game. A 20 combo streak isn't that difficult to obtain during bigger brawls, but against singular captains, you may have trouble hitting that mark.
  • Elven Precision: Push square just as your melee attack hits an enemy to greatly increase your chances of a critical hit.
    Our thoughts: A relatively easy way to get critical hits. The timing for pushing square after an attack isn't as tight as you may think, but it does take some practice to pull off reliably.

Ground Finisher

What it does: Ground executions, performed by pressing L2 and square next to a downed enemy, take less time to perform.

Our thoughts: Ground executions are a great way to kill off lesser enemies and do decent damage to captains. However, without this skill, they take a lengthy amount of time to perform and leave Talion vulnerable. As such, Ground Finisher comes highly recommended as it makes them way more efficient.

Upgrades:

  • Fury: During a ground execution, you can mash square to unleash a barrage of extra hits. These hits give you more Might.
    Our thoughts: The animation looks cool but Fury is limited in its usefulness as it leaves Talion wide open to attacks from surrounding enemies. It's an okay way to gain some extra Might before a big fight, but other than that...
  • Wraith Shield: When performing a ground execution, you can counter approaching enemies with your Wraith, allowing Talion to finish the execution uninterrupted.
    Our thoughts: Even with the Ground Finisher skill, ground executions are still long enough to invite other enemies to take a swing at you. This upgrade keeps you safe and all but guarantees the completion of ground executions. Very handy.
  • Ground Drain: Allows you to press R2 and circle to drain enemies who have been knocked down.
    Our thoughts: A useful upgrade if you prefer to drain your enemies rather than execute them when they're floored.

Brutal Aggression

What it does: Doubles your Might bar. Executions performed with the second half of the bar full will become brutal executions, which may cause lesser enemies to flee upon witnessing them.

Our thoughts: Brutal executions are nice to have around, but the real reason to grab this skill is the Might bar increase. Your Might bar will be doubled and split into two parts, allowing you to pull off two finishing techniques before it's fully depleted. A must.

Upgrades:

  • Wraith Execution: Pushing square after an execution allows you to jump to another enemy and execute them, too. You can do this until you run out of Focus.
    Our thoughts: Focus doesn't really get used for much, so this is a good upgrade to have up your sleeve when you're fighting off a horde of orcs.
  • Ceaseless Might: Finishing techniques no longer consume all of your Might.
    Our thoughts: A great way to conserve Might during longer battles.

Retaliation

What it does: Your last chance attack -- the quick time event that occurs when you run out of health -- can instantly kill lesser enemies if you time the button press just right.

Our thoughts: Killing the opponent that's about to do you in is a nice touch, but ultimately, killing lesser orcs isn't exactly difficult to begin with. Retaliation itself isn't worth much, but thankfully, its upgrades are pretty good.

Upgrades:

  • Adamant: Gives you one extra last chance attack, for a total of three.
    Our thoughts: Having one more last chance -- effectively an extra life -- makes for a good safety net when the going gets rough.
  • Vengeful Drain: Instead of killing your enemy, Retaliation drains them.
    Our thoughts: More useful than instantly killing your opponent as draining them can force them to fight by your side, increasing your chances of survival in the battle to come.
  • Burst of Might: Gain full Might when you perform a perfect last chance attack.
    Our thoughts: Timing a last chance attack perfectly can be difficult in the heat of the moment, but gaining full might is a very useful reward for doing so.

Predator Skills and Upgrades

Elven Agility

What it does: Press X at the right time when vaulting, climbing, or jumping, and you'll get a temporary speed boost.

Our thoughts: Elven Agility allows you to cover more ground much faster, making it a great tool for getting across Mordor's often tricky terrain.

Upgrades:

  • Silent Runner: When sprinting (hold X), you no longer make sound.
    Our thoughts: A simple but effective upgrade for when you're being stealthy.
  • Spectral Dash: Press X to travel short distances instantly while in stealth. Doing this consumes Focus.
    Our thoughts: Useful for getting around and also getting the jump on unsuspecting enemies.

Brutalize

What it does: Press R2 and triangle to perform a brutal stealth kill, which may cause nearby enemies to flee if they witness it.

Our thoughts: If you know that you're going to get into a fight and want to thin the numbers before things kick off, Brutalize is a better option than your standard stealth kill. It will almost always cause surrounding orcs to see you, however.

Upgrades: 

  • Unyielding Ferocity: When you use Brutalize, you gain extra Might and an increased combo streak.
    Our thoughts: Kind of useful for gaining a little extra Might before you get yourself into a big fight.
  • Reckless Hate: Brutalize has a chance of making even more enemies flee.
    Our thoughts: If you're looking to thin the numbers even more, this is a simple but quite effective upgrade.

Poison Tendril

What it does: Allows you to poison grog barrels from distance.

Our thoughts: A sneaky tool to have in your arsenal if you like to play stealthy. Means you don't have to break cover to potentially poison whole camps of orcs.

Upgrades:

  • Bursting Toxin: Orcs who drink poisoned grog explode, spreading the poison to other nearby orcs.
    Our thoughts: Definitely fun to watch, Bursting Toxin can cause havoc in populated orc camps.
  • Contagion: Orcs who drink poisoned grog go berserk, attacking both friend and foe. Attacks also spread the poison.
    Our thoughts: A different but equally entertaining way to spread complete chaos in busy orc camps. Just be careful that you're not caught in the crossfire.
  • Proximity Trigger: You can now prime things like fly nests and cage doors to go off when enemies approach, rather than activating them yourself.
    Our thoughts: This upgrade allows for some fun if you're a fan of planning out your attacks on orc encampments, but you can get similar results from simply staying hidden and shooting stuff yourself.

Wraith Chain

What it does: Allows you to take out additional enemies following a stealth kill by pushing square. Consumes Focus.

Our thoughts: Very useful for taking down multiple enemies who may otherwise spot you.

Upgrades:

  • Monster Hunter: You can now stealth kill beasts, such as caragors.
    Our thoughts: Can save you a lot of trouble when you're potentially up against caragors as well as hordes of orcs.
  • Shadow Blade: The first Wraith Chain kill doesn't consume any Focus.
    Our thoughts: Allows you to stealth kill two enemies for the price of one. Definitely has its uses, but Focus isn't a resource that you'll be lacking often.

Deadly Spectre

What it does: When using attract -- when in stealth, press triangle -- you can now hold down triangle to command your Wraith to kill the target.

Our thoughts: Great for killing off lesser orcs without having to move away from your current hiding spot.

Upgrades:

  • Terrifying Presence: Your Wraith performs a brutal stealth kill rather than a standard stealth kill.
    Our thoughts: With this upgrade you can Brutalize enemies without revealing yourself, which can be useful when you're looking to thin the ranks.
  • Spirit Drain: Your Wraith performs a drain rather than a standard stealth kill.
    Our thoughts: A solid choice if draining your enemies if more your style.

Death Threat

What it does: Allows you to send a death threat to a captain of your choice when draining a worm. The captain in question will have a higher chance of dropping powerful loot when defeated.

Our thoughts: An easy way to lure out enemy captains and potentially get some good loot in the process. Use it regularly.

Upgrades: 

  • Worse than Death: Shaming a defeated captain greatly reduces their level, but also has a chance of turning them into a much stronger maniac. Maniacs can drop powerful loot.
    Our thoughts: A fun upgrade if you're looking to really get under a certain captain's skin.
  • Vow of Violence: When you issue a death threat, you now get a bonus objective that, upon completion, grants you additional rewards.
    Our thoughts: Additional rewards in Shadow of War are never hugely impressive, but if you're feeling greedy, why not?

Ranged Skills and Upgrades

Detonate

What it does: Press L2 and square to teleport to a firepit and detonate it, blowing away nearby enemies and setting them on fire.

Our thoughts: A good way to start an ambush on a camp of orcs, potentially killing them off before they even have a chance to react.

Upgrades:

  • Bursting Arrow: You no longer have to teleport to firepits in order to detonate them -- you can simply shoot them from distance for the same effect.
    Our thoughts: A handy upgrade if you really like blowing orcs up with their own firepits.
  • Spider Song: Detonating a firepit causes poisonous spiders to appear and attack orcs.
    Our thoughts: An overall better way to spread chaos in larger orc camps than a single explosion.
  • Matron's Scent: Ghuls now swarm the area when detonating a firepit.
    Our thoughts: Ghuls are deadlier than spiders, but they're obviously going to attack you too if you're spotted. Can be a good choice depending on how much damage you want to do to a camp.

Freeze Pin

What it does: Shooting an orc in the leg temporarily pins them in place, leaving them completely vulnerable.

Our thoughts: Freeze Pin can really come in handy against both standard enemies and captains. A solid option when you want to open them up for a series of attacks.

Upgrades:

  • Brutal Cold: A successful Freeze Pin can make nearby enemies flee.
    Our thoughts: As always, a simple but effective way to thin the ranks.
  • Savage Ice: Freeze Pin now works on ologs and beasts.
    Our thoughts: A good upgrade that makes Freeze Pin more versatile. Great for stopping pesky caragors in particular.
  • Deep Freeze: Doubles the duration of Freeze Pin, keeping enemies stuck in place for longer.
    Our thoughts: Holding your foe in place for longer gives you time to escape or deal with other enemies, although standard Freeze Pin already holds for a decent length of time.

Bird of Prey

What it does: Hold L2 in the air to slow time and take aim with your bow. This consumes Focus.

Our thoughts: Stylish but not massively useful, Bird of Prey can help you get the jump on enemies but it doesn't really bring anything new to the table.

Upgrades:

  • Eagle Sight: Bird of Prey consumes Focus at a slower rate, allowing you to stay in the air for longer.
    Our thoughts: This upgrade gives you enough time to pick off multiple enemies while in the air, making it a bit more useful.
  • Talon Strike: Bird of Prey now lets you aim directly at the ground while in the air, Push square to smash down with a powerful blow, knocking away enemies. This consumes Elf-shot.
    Our thoughts: Talon Strike makes Bird of Prey much more useful, even if you need to spend Elf-shot to pull it off. Knocking away whole groups of enemies and stunning them can give you a huge advantage at the start of a fight.

Mighty Shot

What it does: When your Might bar is full, you can aim your bow and hit R1 to fire off an explosive shot that can hit multiple targets.

Our thoughts: An effective skill when you need to get rid of multiple enemies quickly.

Upgrades:

  • Firestorm: Mighty Shot now causes a fire explosion on impact.
    Our thoughts: A good way to deal more damage and send enemies running in fear. Just be careful that you don't do it too close to Talion, or he may catch fire, too.
  • Freeze Blast: Might shot now causes an explosion of ice on impact.
    Our thoughts: Freezing enemies doesn't do as much damage as setting them on fire, but it can open them up to further attacks. May be useful against captains in particular.
  • Venom: Mighty shot now causes a poisonous explosion on impact.
    Our thoughts: Poisoning lesser orcs is always an effective way to take them out of the picture since it damages them over time and forces them to drop their guard. Probably the best Mighty Shot upgrade overall because of poison's properties.

Shadow Strike

What it does: Shadow Strike allows you to teleport to and either kill or stun an enemy. It consumes Elf-shot.

Our thoughts: Shadow Strike is an incredibly useful skill. You can use it to get rid of troublesome archers who are hard to reach, or you can even use it to close the distance on captains, damaging them in the process.

Upgrades:

  • Chain of Shadows: Shadow Strike can now be chained to further enemies by pushing square or triangle. This consumes Focus.
    Our thoughts: An efficient way to take out multiple foes without resistance, all while moving across the battlefield at speed.
  • Shadow Strike Pull: You can now pull a targeted enemy to your position.
    Our thoughts: Can be useful for getting rid of individual orcs without having to leave your hiding spot. Good for stealth.
  • Shadow Dominate: Dominate your target instantly by using Shadow Strike on them.
    Our thoughts: An easy way to bolster your ranks very quickly.

Wraith Skills and Upgrades

Brace of Daggers

What it does: Press L2 to throw a dagger in the direction that you hold the analog stick.

Our thoughts: A great little skill that can be surprisingly helpful during combat. Daggers cause enemies to stagger on impact, opening them up for further attacks or keeping them off your back.

Upgrades:

  • Serrated Edge: Your throwing daggers now have a chance to hit for critical damage.
    Our thoughts: A decent way to rack up some extra damage here and there.
  • Swift Barrage: Allows you to throw three daggers in rapid succession by pressing L2 multiple times.
    Our thoughts: Throwing three daggers into the same target can do decent damage, making them a surprisingly effective way to kill off lesser orcs. The time it takes to throw all three can leave you open, though.
  • Rain of Blades: You now throw five daggers at once.
    Our thoughts: This makes your dagger throws less accurate but means that you can hit multiple enemies at once, potentially stopping a barrage of incoming attacks. Good in especially busy battles.

Elven Light

What it does: Hit square and X to perform an area of effect blast that damages and stuns nearby enemies. Might needs to be full.

Our thoughts: Always a good option when you're surrounded. Elven Light can outright kill multiple enemies if they're on low enough health, and if not, it can leave them open to grounded executions of further attacks.

Upgrades:

  • Cleansing Blaze: Elven Light now sets enemies on fire on impact.
    Our thoughts: A good option if you want more damage, but be careful that you don't set Talion on fire, too.
  • Winter's Breath: Elven Light now freezes enemies on impact.
    Our thoughts: An effective way to take multiple enemies out of the fight in one shot. The freezing lasts for a decent amount of time, too.
  • Poison Blast: Elven Light now poisons enemies on impact.
    Our thoughts: Again, poison is a great way to kill off lesser orcs and do big damage to captains. Overall, probably the best upgrade for Elven Light.

Ice Storm

What it does: Rapidly push square to perform a series of fast slashes on a frozen enemy.

Our thoughts: A great way to rack up damage on captains, but unleashing loads of slashes can leave you vulnerable. Try not to mash square too hard.

Upgrades:

  • Shower of Ice: The higher your combo streak, the bigger your freeze blast will be when you hit an enemy with your stun attack (mapped to circle).
    Our thoughts: As you can imagine, this upgrade is effective when you're up against a bunch of enemies, but you obviously need the combo streak to use it.
  • Frostbite: The final blow of your Ice Storm slashes becomes a critical hit.
    Our thoughts: Good for getting that extra bit of damage off against captains that you've managed to freeze.
  • Shattering Blow: The final blow of your Ice Storm slashes causes nearby enemies to flee.
    Our thoughts: If you can't be bothered fighting everyone, this is another reasonably good way to make them run away.

Consume

What it does: Press X and circle to drain your enemy, regaining some health. Might must be full.

Our thoughts: Your go-to technique when you're running low on health. Consume only works on lesser orcs, so it may be worth keeping a few alive when you're fighting a captain, just in case you need the healing.

Upgrades:

  • Chain of Souls: Push square to consume another enemy. You can keep doing this as long as you have the Focus.
    Our thoughts: A decent way to get even more health back as long as their are enough enemies around.
  • Lord of Wrath: Using consume increases your Wrath.
    Our thoughts: Wrath is built up quite slowly in comparison to Might and Focus, but it's only used for one technique: Elven Rage, which is essentially Talion's ultimate move. Lord of Wrath may be worth a shot if you find yourself consuming enemies more often than not.
  • Olog Lord: Consume now works against ologs.
    Our thoughts: Although ologs aren't nearly as common as orcs, groups of them can spring up alongside captains now and again. Useful in certain situations, then.

Treasure Hunter

What it does: Allows you to automatically pick up loot.

Our thoughts: This is one of those skills that basically removes an annoyance from the game. Picking up loot manually is slow and boring. It's a shame that you have to spend a skill point to get this, but it's probably worth it in the long run.

Upgrades:

  • Discerning Eye: Increases your chances of getting powerful loot from defeated enemies.
    Our thoughts: Want better gear on occasion? Take this upgrade.
  • Mind Breaker: Allows you to dominate orcs more quickly.
    Our thoughts: Dominating orcs is always a pretty good idea, so being able to do it faster is a solid upgrade.
  • Prospector: Increases your chances of finding more powerful gems.
    Our thoughts: Gems are easy enough to come by in Shadow of War, so crafting higher quality ones isn't too difficult. This upgrade can help you reach that level of quality faster, though.

Mounted Skills and Upgrades

Caragor Rider

What it does: Hold down circle and you can dominate a caragor, which allows you to jump on its back and ride it when its health is below a certain point.

Our thoughts: Caragors are great for two things: traversing Mordor at speed, and providing you with a meat shield. To get to you, orcs will first have to kill the caragor that you're riding.

Upgrades:

  • Pounce: Devouring enemies (press R2 and square near a downed foe) restores more of your caragor's health.
    Our thoughts: Keeping your caragor alive longer can't be a bad thing if you enjoy fighting while mounted.
  • Bestial Rage: You can use up some of your caragor's health to perform executions and summon more caragors with howl without using up any Might.
    Our thoughts: Caragors can be killed quickly enough when you're surrounded by orcs, so using up even more health to pull off special techniques seems like a risk. That said, you can do big amounts of damage with this upgrade before your mount dies.

Graug Rider

What it does: Hold down circle and you can dominate a graug, allowing you to ride it when its health is below a certain point.

Our thoughts: Graugs are very powerful mounts. They can take a lot of punishment, deal huge damage to enemies, and regain a good amount of health with their execution move. Can't go wrong with a graug.

Upgrades:

  • Devouring Force: Executions restore more of your graug's health.
    Our thoughts: Graugs are already tough beasts, but making them even harder to kill can't be a bad thing.
  • Enduring Fury: Your graug's basic attacks gain more Might.
    Our thoughts: More Might equals more executions, so this upgrade can potentially make Devouring Force obsolete as long as you're fighting a large group of enemies.

Call Mount

What it does: Allows you to summon a mount by pressing left on the d-pad. You can then ride it or command it to attack your enemies. Call Mount works on a cooldown timer, so you'll have to wait a little while before you can summon another beast.

Our thoughts: Call Mount essentially gives you access to a fierce companion whenever you need it. Very useful indeed.

Upgrades:

  • Dire Caragor: Summons a powerful dire caragor to your side.
    Our thoughts: If you're a fan of caragors, you'll love the dire caragor. It has more health and it dishes out more damage with its attacks.
  • Graug Call: Allows you to summon a graug to your side.
    Our thoughts: Honestly, a somewhat overpowered skill. Graugs are very tough opponents for the vast majority of orcs that you'll encounter. Having access to one whenever you have need is incredibly useful.
  • Dragon Song: Allows you to summon a drake to your side.
    Our thoughts: Drakes are unmatched when it comes to traversal -- hop on its back and fly wherever you want without having to worry about running into orcs. In combat, drakes can be devastating, but they're not as hardy as graugs and they can be picked apart with spears and other long range weapons when you're aiming their fiery breath.

Shadow Mount

What it does: Allows you to instantly mount a caragor, graug, or drake when their health is low enough by aiming at them and pressing circle.

Our thoughts: Makes mounting beasts a hell of a lot easier. You can even do it from a distance, meaning that you can let creatures fight with orcs before jumping in and instantly taking the mount for yourself.

Upgrades:

  • Caragor Breaker: You can mount caragors regardless of their health.
    Our thoughts: Can make caragors much less of a problem, which is always good since they're such a pain to fight.
  • Packmaster: Nearby caragors are automatically dominated when you use Shadow Mount on a caragor.
    Our thoughts: A great way to cause some real chaos and even turn the tides in a large battle. A pack of caragors can easily kill a bunch of lesser orcs.

Dragon Rider

What it does: Hold circle to dominate a drake and ride it. Its health has to be below a certain point.

Our thoughts: Drakes are perfect for getting around Mordor with ease. Actually finding a drake to dominate is another matter entirely, however.

Upgrades:

  • Scales of Iron: Makes your drake much more resistant to attacks.
    Our thoughts: A must-have skill if you're a drake enthusiast. Scales of Iron makes your drakes way harder to kill.
  • Soaring Rage: Allows your drake to shoot fireballs by consuming health instead of Might.
    Our thoughts: A risky upgrade that favours damage output over survival. If you just want to do as much damage as possible with your drake, then it seems like a fair trade.

Story Skills and Upgrades

Drain

What it does: Allows you to recover health from orcs by holding down circle.

Our thoughts: One of your basic skills. Your most basic option for regaining lost health.

Upgrades:

  • Domination: Enemies that you drain are dominated, meaning that they'll fight for you if combat occurs nearby.
    Our thoughts: Easily one of the most useful upgrades in the entire game. Dominated orcs can turn the tide of any battle.
  • Quiver of Souls: Draining an enemy replenishes your stock of Elf-shot.
    Our thoughts: Another very, very useful upgrade. Opt to drain foes in combat and you'll have a steady supply of Elf-shot.
  • Bright Lord's Wrath: Draining an enemy fully recovers your health and fills your Wrath bar a bit.
    Our thoughts: Not quite as useful as the two previous upgrades, but still effective when you're in dire need of health.

Spectral Glaive

What it does: Hold down square to summon a wide-reaching glaive. Release square to swing it, knocking back enemies and dealing good damage.

Our thoughts: The glaive takes a couple of seconds to summon so the timing can be a little awkward if you're surrounded, but it's great for pushing multiple enemies away at once and giving your room to breathe.

Upgrades:

  • Mighty Swing: Releasing square the moment the glaive is fully summoned generates Might for every enemy that you hit.
    Our thoughts: A very quick way to generate a lot of Might, but obviously requires careful timing.
  • Deadly Striker: Keep pushing square to unleash more glaive attacks.
    Our thoughts: Continued glaive attacks can easily kill off lesser orcs and keep whole groups at a distance. A good go-to upgrade when you're stuck in a crowd.

Elven Rage

What it does: Elven Rage is essentially your ultimate technique. When your Wrath is full, press R3 and L3 together. This slows down time and allows you to killer lesser orcs in a single blow. You can also do big damage to captains with concentrated attacks.

Our thoughts: Elven Rage is kind of like your get out of jail card. It doesn't last a huge amount of time, but with the right approach, you can kill captains and massacre whole hordes of lesser orcs. Wrath builds quite slowly, so only try to use Elven Rage when you really need it.

Upgrades:

  • Final Blaze: When Elven Rage ends, Talion lets off a fiery explosion.
    Our thoughts: A good way to finish off any wounded orcs that are still stumbling about.
  • Freezing Burst: When Elven Rage ends, Talion lets off a blast that freezes enemies.
    Our thoughts: Not as damaging as Final Blaze, but freezing enemies opens them up to further blows, which is useful against captains who may have survived your Elven Rage onslaught.
  • Poisonous Wrath: When Elven Rage ends, Talion lets off a poisonous explosion.
    Our thoughts: Again, poison is a very effective way to deal with any number of orcs, and can even cripple captains.

Shadow Strider

What it does: While leaping, press X to perform a ghostly double jump.

Our thoughts: Shadow Strider is great fun to use, allowing you to accurately bound across environments. Perfect for getting around.

Upgrades:

  • Hammer of Eregion: Press X on an orc to jump over them. With this upgrade, doing so freezes the orc.
    Our thoughts: Another somewhat overpowered upgrade, you can hop over whole waves of orcs with this and leave them all frozen, defenceless against further attacks. It even works against captains who aren't immune to ice.
  • Waters of Lorien: Replaces your dodge roll. Pressing X now teleports you a short distance, but uses up Focus.
    Our thoughts: Gets you out of danger faster than your dodge roll and you can even teleport through enemies. Takes a little getting used to, but it's an effective skill overall.
  • Eagle's Eyrie: After jumping over an orc's head, you can perform a double jump. If the Bird of Prey skill is unlocked, you can hold L2 to slow time and aim as you fall.
    Our thoughts: Makes your more agile and able to cover more ground during combat, but not a strictly necessary upgrade.

Call Followers

What it does: Press right on the d-pad to summon a group of fighters. Pressing it again makes them attack nearby enemies.

Our thoughts: Calling your followers to aid you can be a huge help during tougher battles, and you can also use them to create chaos while you remain hidden.

Upgrades:

  • Bodyguard: After assigning an allied orc to be your bodyguard, you can use Call Followers to summon them at anytime.
    Our thoughts: Bodyguards are great to have around, and they'll level up as they fight by your side.
  • Cluster of Spiders: You summon a swarm of spiders instead of followers.
    Our thoughts: Spiders can be surprisingly effective, especially when they're numerous, but they can be killed off quickly. A decent upgrade for surprise attacks.
  • Iron Guard: Your followers have more health.
    Our thoughts: If you're using your followers a lot, this may be a worthwhile upgrade.

Dominate Captain

What it does: Allows you to dominate orc captains and add them to your army or shame them once their health is below a certain point.

Our thoughts: A key skill that you'll obviously come to rely on as the game progresses and Talion requires his own army of orcs.

Upgrades:

  • Destroy Followers: Hold down on the d-pad to make your followers explode, which causes nearby enemies to flee.
    Our thoughts: Destroy Followers can be quite amusing to use, but summoning your allies just to blow them up seems like a waste -- there are easier ways to scare off enemies.
  • Lifeblood: Sacrifice some of your own health by hold down on the d-pad to restore the health of your nearby allies.
    Our thoughts: Can be useful during big battles where your allies need a health boost, but other than that, your own health is probably more important.
  • Enrage Followers: Hold down on the d-pad to enrage your followers. This uses up Wrath.
    Our thoughts: Enraging your captains can make them very deadly indeed. The best of Dominate Captain's upgrades.

So, which skills will you be picking up in Shadow of War? Show no mercy to your ugly enemies in the comments section below.