Skills in Shadow of War are unlocked with a skill points system similarly to Shadow of Mordor. However, the skill tree is radically different. There are 6 types of skills, and each upgrade the next of its type as well as three upgrades for the skill.
List of Skills
The combat tree focuses on executions, building up Might, and allowing you to more efficiently and safely confront enemies in open melee combat.
Execution: "When your Might is full aim at an enemy and press [the pictured button] to execute them." Instantly kills grunt Uruks and beasts and heavily damages other targets. Upgrades:
- Grim Resolve : "Gain Might each time you are damaged in combat." Synergizes well with gear that gives bonuses at low health, and good for ensuring you don't lose might due to taking damage.
- Secret Might: "Gain Might while remaining undetected." Also causes stealth attacks to gain might.
- Fatal Might: "Successful sword attacks gain more Might. Might fully resets after you take damage, miss an attack, or exit combat." For obvious reasons, one of the most difficult execution skill upgrades to use.
Perfect Counter: "Well-timed counters knock down enemies. (Press [the counter button] when the prompt flashes blue)" Upgrades:
- Rain of Arrows: "Well-timed counters replenish 1 Elf -shot."
- Mighty Reversal: "Gain Might from each counter." Triggers on all counters, not just perfect ones.
- Fatal Counter: "Well-timed counters instantly kill grunt orcs ." Good for clearing out enemies that surround priority targets.
Critical Strike: "Melee attacks have a chance to critically hit, causing extra damage." Synergizes with gear that triggers on Critical Hits. Upgrades:
- Reprisal: "Critical Strike chance increases as your Health is reduced." Useful for builds that utilize Grim Resolve.
- Unstoppable: "Critical Strike chance increases significantly as long as your Hitstreak is over 20." Recommended for skilled players, like Fatal Might.
- Elven Precision: "Press [the pictured button] as your strike lands to greatly increase the chances of a critical strike." Recommended for players with good timing, provides the best Critical Strike chance bonus of the three upgrades.
Ground Finisher: "Decreases the amount of time it takes to perform Ground Executions on downed enemies using [the pictured button]" Upgrades:
- Fury: "Ground Executions enable you to unleash a flurry of blows by rapidly tapping [the pictured button] before finishing an enemy, gaining Might on each hit." Allows the player to rapidly build up Might, but also increases the time it takes to perform Ground Executions again.
- Wraith Shield: "The Wraith can counter enemies while you complete a ground execution."
- Ground Drain: "Press [the pictured button] to drain enemies who have been knocked down." This will not necessarily kill the enemy. Works well with domination-focused builds.
Brutal Aggression: "Might can be double-charged, enabling Brutal Executions which cause nearby enemies to flee in terror."
- Wraith Execution: "Press [the pictured button] to chain Executions to additional enemies. Consumes focus for each additional target."
- Ceaseless Might: "Skills that require Might no longer fully deplete Might." Works well for clearing out large groups of groups of grunts with other Might-consuming skills, or allows you to do heavy damage to priority targets by double-executing them.
Retaliation: "Time your Last Chance success perfectly to instantly kill the enemy targeting you. Does not apply to Captains, graugs, or drakes." Also does not work against bosses like Nazgul. Not recommended for skilled players as it only helps when you reach a Last Chance state. Upgrades:
- Adamant: "Gain an additional Last Chance attempt." The "go-to" retaliation upgrade for high difficulties or hard missions.
- Vengeful Drain: "Retaliation Drains your attacker." Good for domination builds.
- Burst of Might: "Gain full Might on a perfect Last Chance." Synergizes well with Ceaseless Might and Might-based builds.
The Predator tree focuses on setting traps for your enemies and Stealth Attacks.
Elven Agility: "Hold [the pictured button] for a burst of speed when leaping over objects, landing, or climbing." Upgrades:
- Silent Runner: "Holding [the pictured button] to sprint no longer creates sound."
- Spectral Dash: "Press [the pictured button] while in stealth to cross short distances or reach nearby enemies instantly. Consumes Focus." Useful for opening combat from a favorable position or stealth attack. Essential for stealth builds.
Brutalize: "Hold [the pictured button] to perform a terrifying stealth kill, causing nearby enemies to flee while increasing both your Might and your Hitstreak." Upgrades:
- Unyielding Ferocity: "Using a Brutalize gives a bonus to both your Might and Hitstreak." Combos well with the Combat tree.
- Reckless Hate: "Brutalize causes more enemies to flee." Good for builds with strong single-target capabilities, as it can clear out more grunts at the start of a fight.
Poison Tendril: "Aim at a grog barrel and press [the pictured button] to poison it from afar." Also allows you to shoot barrels causing balefire damage in the area. Upgrades:
- Bursting Toxin: "Poisoned grunts have a chance of exploding and poisoning nearby enemies when they die.".
- Contagion: "Enemies who drink from poisoned grog barrels go berserk and attack anyone nearby, spreading the poison."
- Proximity Trigger: "Aim at Morgai flies, Cages, or Bait and press [the pictured button] to prime them to trigger when an enemy approaches."
Wraith Chain: "Press [the pictured button] to target an additional enemy during a stealth kill. Each additional target consumes focus." Recommended for stealth builds. Also, helpful for heavy use of Stealth kills in open combat or stealth-vulnerable captains as a terrified enemy can be used to start a wraith chain to otherwise invalid targets. Upgrades:
- Monster Hunter: "Stealth kills can be used against Beasts."
- Shadow Blade: "Your first Chained stealth kill no longer consumes focus,"
Deadly Spectre: "Hold down [the pictured button] while using attract to leave behind a Wraith that will kill your target." Useful for stealth attacking enemies without revealing your current position. Upgrades:
- Terrifying Presence: "Your Wraith will Brutalize the target."
- Spirit Drain: "Your Wraith will Drain the target." Useful for domination builds.
Death Threat: "Use a worm to deliver a message to a specified Captain, letting him know that you are coming for him. This improves the chances of forging high-quality gear after killing the threatened enemy." Unlocked through story quests. Upgrades:
- 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."
- Vow of Violence: "A bonus objective is added to the Death Threat. Completing it grants you additional rewards."
The ranged tree obviously focuses on Ranged attacks, allowing them to be used to close the distance, apply different effects, and simply be more effective.
Detonate: "Shadow Strike into a firepit, detonating it and lighting nearby enemies on fire." Upgrades:
- Bursting Arrow: "Shoot firepits to detonate them without Shadow Striking into them." Useful if you want to detonate and remain at range.
- Spider Song: "Detonate a firepit and cause spiders to swarm the area." Useful for applying Balefire to enemies.
- Matron's Scent: "Detonate a firepit and cause Ghuls to swarm the area."
Freeze Pin: "Shooting an enemy's foot freezes them in place." Upgrades:
- Brutal Cold: "Freeze Pin causes nearby enemies to flee in terror."
- Savage Ice: "Freeze Pin affects Olog-hai and Beasts."
- Deep Freeze: "Freeze Pin duration is doubled." Can often keep the affected enemy out of combat for a whole fight.
Bird of Prey: "Hold [the pictured button] to aim while in the air. This consumes Focus. Press [the pictured button] to turn around quickly during bird of prey." Running out of focus will cause you to drop out of ranged mode. Upgrades:
- Eagle Sight: "Focus is consumed at a slower rate while in the air." Useful for hitting a number of headshots quickly and without running out of Focus.
- Talon Strike: "While falling, aim at the ground while holding [the pictured button] and press [the pictured button] to strike the ground with a damaging blast that also stuns nearby enemies." Good for Range/Melee hybrid builds.
Mighty Shot: "When your might is full, press [the pictured button] to fire an explosive shot." Combos well with Ceaseless Might. Upgrades:
- Firestorm: "Mighty Shot causes a Fire explosion."
- Freeze Blast: "Mighty Shot causes a Frost explosion." Less useful for instantly killing grunt Uruks, but helpful against priority targets with Frost Storm or if you have allies to help follow up.
- Venom: "Mighty shot causes a venom explosion."
Shadow Strike: "Instantaneously reach an enemy by aiming at them and press [the pictured button to kill them or [the pictured button] to stun them." Recommended for all builds. Upgrades:
- Chain of Shadows: "Press [pictured button] or [pictured button] during a Shadow Strike to chain to nearby enemies. Consumes focus with each additional target."
- Shadow Strike Pull: "Pull a targeted enemy towards you and kill (Hold [pictured button]) or stun (Hold [pictured button]) them."
- Shadow Dominate: "While aiming at an enemy, press [pictured button] to reach them instantaneously and dominate them."
The wraith tree is something of a catch-all, focusing on damaging multiple enemies, slowing enemies, and providing alternate ways to spend your might.
Brace of Daggers: "Press [pictured button] to Quick Throw a dagger that damages and staggers enemies." Upgrades:
- Serrated Edge: "Thrown daggers have a chance of causing Critical Strikes."
- Swift Barrage: "Three daggers can be thrown rapidly by repeatedly tapping [pictured button]."
- Rain of Blades: "Throw five daggers at once to hit multiple enemies." Good for building might.
Elven Light: "Unleash a powerful blast by pressing [pictured button] while Might is full, Stunning and temporarily blinding nearby enemies." Upgrades:
- Cleansing Blaze: "Elven Light also sets enemies on fire."
- Winter's Breath: "Elven Light causes a frost explosion." Trade-offs similar to Freeze blast.
- Poison Blast: "Elven Light poisons enemies."
Ice Storm: "Freeze enemies by pressing [pictured button] and follow with a flurry of sword strikes by repeatedly tapping [pictured button]." Combos with all frost abilities. Upgrades:
- Shower of Ice: "Press [pictured button] to freeze all enemies in an area in front of you. The higher your hitstreak, the larger the area of effect."
- Frostbite: "Ice Storm Finishers also cause Critical Strikes."
- Shattering Blow: "An Ice storm finisher shatters your target, causing nearby enemies to flee in terror."
Consume: "When your might is full, press [pictured button] to Drain an enemy quickly during combat." Upgrades:
- Chain of Souls: "Aim with [pictured button] during consume and press [pictured button] to drain additional enemies. Consumes focus for each additional target." Combos extremely well with any drain upgrade.
- Lord of Wrath: "Consume increases Wrath."
- Olog Lord: "Consume works against Ologs." Good for domination builds.
Treasure hunter: "Automatically collect loot from defeated enemies." Upgrades:
- Discerning Eye: "Increases your chances of high-quality gear drops from Captains or higher ranking orcs."
- Mind Breaker: "Increases domination speed."
- Prospector: "Increases your chance of recieving higher quality Gems from defeated enemies."
The mounted tree focuses on mounted combat, giving you more flexibility and power with beasts you control.
Caragor Rider: "Hold [pictured button] to Dominate and ride a Broken caragor." Upgrades:
- Pounce: "Devouring enemies while in stealth restores more of your caragor's Health."
- Bestial Rage: "You can perform an execution or Howl to summon additional caragors even when Might is not full. Instead, your action consumes some of your mount's health."
Graug Rider: "Hold [pictured button] to Dominate and ride a Broken graug." Upgrades:
- Devouring Force: "Ground Executions restore more of your Graug's health."
- Enduring Fury: "Graug basic attacks gain more Might."
Call Mount: "Press [pictured button] to summon a dominated caragor. Press [pictured button] to command your caragor to attack targeted enemies. Hold [pictured button] to dismiss your caragor. Upgrades:
- Dire Caragor: "You can summon a dire caragor."
- Graug Call: "You can summon a graug."
- Dragon Song: "You can summon a drake."
Shadow Mount: "Instantly mount a broken graug, caragor or drake (Dragon Rider must be unlocked) with Shadow Strike." Requires Shadow Strike. Upgrades:
- Caragor Breaker: "Shadow Mount unbroken Caragors."
- Pack Master: "When Shadow mounting a broken caragor, nearby caragors are also Dominated."
Dragon Rider: "Hold [pictured button] to dominate and mount a broken drake." Upgrades:
- Scales of Iron: "Your drake takes less damage from attacks."
- Soaring Rage: "Your Drake can shoot fireballs even if your Might is not full. Instead, your action consumes some of your mount's Health."
The Story tree has no particular focus and contains abilities that are unlocked as the game progresses.
Drain: "Hold [pictured button] to recover health by draining the life from Orcs." Upgrades:
- Domination: "Drained enemies are also Dominated and will fight for you. Hold [pictured button] to Dominate. Use [pictured button] to stealth Dominate. Press [pictured button] to activate." Central to many builds. Higher level enemies must be broken first.
- Quiver of Souls: "Draining an enemy replenishes Elf-shot." Good for ranged-melee hybrid builds.
- Bright Lord's Wrath: "Draining or Dominating an enemy fully recovers Health and gains Wrath." Great to use once you get Raise Dead to make up for not being able to dominate grunt orcs.
Spectral Glaive: "Hold and release [pictured button] after your Glaive appears to initiate a heavy sweeping attack." Upgrades:
- Mighty Swing: "Releasing [pictured button] the moment your Glaive is fully charged generates might for every enemy hit." Recommended for players with good timing.
- Deadly Striker: "Double-charge your Glaive for more follow-up attacks. (Tap [pictured button] repeatedly after charging." Works well with gear that triggers on Glaive attacks.
Elven Rage: "Each kill gives Wrath energy. When your Wrath is full, press [pictured button] to slow time, making every melee strike lethal and enabling you to unleash unlimited executions." Elven Rage will not instantly kill Captains or boss enemies. Upgrades are useful for clearing out any survivors, but are better for finishing off priority tagets. Upgrades:
- Final Blaze: "When Elven Rage ends, a fiery blast is detonated."
- Freezing Burst: "When Elven Rage ends, a freezing blast is detonated." Best for following up with ice storm.
- Poisonous Wrath: "When Elven Rage ends, a poisonous blast is detonated."
Shadow Strider: "Press [pictured button] while leaping to double jump. Allows you to cover wider gaps or change direction between jumps." Upgrades:
- Hammer of Eregion: "Press [pictured button] to vault over an Uruk and Freeze them." Combos with Ice Storm. Good for any melee build.
- Waters of Lorien: "Upgrade dodge to instantly flash past enemies. Consumes focus." Good for range and stealth builds, allowing you to escape melee combat quickly. This move is also a direct counter to vault breaker captains,warchiefs, overlords.
- Eagle's Eyrie: "Hold [pictured button] as you vault over 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." Excellent for melee-range hybrid builds.
Call Followers: "Summon a group of warriors to fight alongside you by pressing [pictured button]. Press [pictured button] to command your warriors to attack targeted enemies. Hold [pictured button] to dismiss them." Primarily a gateway to its upgrades. Upgrades:
- Bodyguard: "Assign a Captain to be your Bodyguard in the Army menu. You can summon the bodyguard by pressing [pictured button]. Press [pictured button] again to command your bodyguard to attack nearby enemies. Press [pictured button] to dismiss your bodyguard."
- Cluster of Spiders: "Summon a cluster of spiders by pressing [pictured button]. Spiders have poison attacks which can exploit the weakness of a captain or higher ranked Uruk."
- Iron Guard: "Summoned warriors are tougher."
Dominate Captain: "Dominate a Captain whose will has been Broken. Orc captains who are higher level than you cannot be recruited." Upgrades:
- Destroy followers: "Hold [pictured button] to explode the heads of nearby followers, causing enemies to flee in terror." Not recommended, even for crowd control.
- Lifeblood: "Hold [pictured button] to heal all nearby followers by consuming your health. Any followers who are bleeding out are unaffected." Not recommended under most circumstances.
- Enrage followers: "Hold [pictured button] to enrage nearby friendly captains. Consumes wrath." Recommended for domination builds.
The following contains spoilers for the end of act three and act four.
Added to the Wraith tree is Raise Dead: "When your Might is full, press [pictured button] to quickly resurrect fallen grunts during combat." Upgrades:
- Death Troll: "Olog-hai can be raised from death."
- Undying Beast: "Caragors and ghuls can be raised from death."
- Undying loyalty: "Resurrect Captains or higher ranked Orc followers." Also allows you to resurrect Olog-hai captains.
Due to Celebrimor's departure, Elven Rage is replaced with a new ability, Ringwraith: "Each kill gives you Wrath energy. When your wrath is full, press [pictured button] to summon ghostly Gondorians to fight by your side and make your melee attacks more lethal. When completed, you raise nearby orcs from the dead." Slows time, makes Talion invisible, effectively putting him in unconditional stealth, and causes him to gain might quickly over time, allowing him to unleash Might-based moves almost continuously. Upgrades:
- Flaming Weapons: "Raised revenants receive fire weapons."
- Poisoned Weapons: "Raised revenants receive poison weapons."
- Cursed Weapons: "Raised revenants receive curse weapons."
Blade of Galadriel
Due to the length of the DLC, Eltariel does not have a full skill tree of her own. For balance however, she does have access to a number of "Legacy abilities" provided Talion unlocked them in the main game. The following skills, are found in a skill tree unique to Eltariel:
Radiance: "Hold [pictured button] to create a lingering Light which Gradually recovers health over a period of time." Upgrades:
- Shield: "The lingering Light also protects Eltariel from a single enemy attack"
- Restoration: "The lingering Light also heals allies and infuses nearby enemies with light."
Elven Light: "When your Might is full, press [pictured button] to infuse nearby enemies with light and blind them." Upgrades:
- Burst: "Enemies are Blinded longer. Detonates nearby explosives."
- Restore: "Heals nearby allies and revives downed Follower Captains."
Blaze: "When your Might is full, press [pictured button] to infuse an enemy with Light. Causes grunts to explode and Blinds Captains" Upgrades:
- Replenish: "Replenishes Elf-shot when used."
- Flare: "Grunts killed with Blaze create bigger explosions and infuse nearby enemies with more Light."
Light Blast: "Hold and release [pictured button] to create a flash of Light, knocking back nearby enemies and infusing them with light." Functionally similar to Spectral Glaive. Upgrades:
- Charge: "Hold [pictured button] longer to charge up a stronger burst of Light."
- Comet: "Leap into the air after releasing [pictured button]. Press [pictured button] again to slam into the ground, releasing a blast of Light."
Elven Rage: "When your wrath is full press [pictured button] to infuse nearby enemies with Light and Blind them. You will also temporarily become Invisible." Upgrades:
- Intangible: "Invisibility granted from Elven rage lasts longer and can be used for multiple Stealth Attacks."
- Surge: "Gain Wrath faster when killing enemies."
Cone of Light: "Hold [the pictured button] to project a cone of Light. Enemies within the cone are infused with Light and Blinded." Upgrades:
- Ward: "Holding [pictured button] projects a sphere of light which heals allies and infuses nearby enemies with Light."
- Focus: "Narrows your cone of Light, enabling it to infuse enemies with Light more quickly."
Light Bolt: "Tap [pictured button] to throw Light at the nearest target." Upgrades:
- Link: "Light Bolt chains to other nearby targets."
- Intensify: "Target is infused with a greater amount of Light."
Quick Shot: "Tap [pictured button] to quickly fire an arrow from your bow. This requires one Elf-shot." Similar to Talion's Quick Throw, but deals more damage. Upgrades:
- Impact: "Quick Shot knocks down enemies."
- Fury: "Quick Shot gains more Might."
Elven Star: "When your Might is full, press [pictured button] while in ranged mode to fire an orb of Light that heals and protects allies while infusing enemies with Light. Consumes Elf-shot." Upgrades:
- Cataclysm: "The orb of Light detonates any Blinded enemies it touches."
- Shine: "Increases the Duration of Orb of Light."
Light Trap: "Hold down [pictured button] while in Stealth to leave behind a trap that will Blind enemies who walk into it." Upgrades:
- Bloom: "When the trap explodes, It creates an orb of Light that heals and protects allies while infusing enemies with Light."
- Minefield: "You can lay down 4 traps at once."
For descriptions of Legacy abilities, see above.
Combat: Execution, Perfect Counter, Critical Strike, Ground Finisher, Retaliation
Predator: Elven Agility, Brutalize, Poison Tendril, Spirit Chain (Wraith Chain), Spirit Step (Shadow Strider)
Ranged: Detonate, Freeze Pin, Bird of Prey, Talon Strike, Spirit Strike (Shadow Strike)
Mounted: Caragor Rider, Graug Rider, Spirit Mount (Shadow Mount), Dragon Rider, Treasure Hunter