Shadow of War Ultimate Skills Guide

Shadow of War has a ton of abilities and skills to unlock, but which ones do I unlock first? Honestly, you don’t really need to go in a specific order because you are constantly getting Skill Points to put towards your skills. Any ways, if you are wondering about every skill in the game, I have made a list of all skills and abilities in the game, counting the DLC as well.

I do have a table of contents so you can skip to the desired Skill Tree if you are looking for something specific, but here are all the skills that Shadow of War has to offer:

Related: Beginner’s Guide to Witcher 3

-Combat Skill Tree-

The combat tree focuses on executions, building up Might, and allowing you to more efficiently and safely confront enemies in open melee combat. These are very important to upgrade because these help with all sorts of executions and finishers, which are abilities you will use from the beginning of the game.

Here are all the specific Skills under this tree and what each of them does:

Execution

When your Might is full aim at an enemy and press [the specified button] to execute them. Instantly kills grunt Uruks and beasts and heavily damages other targets.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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. Your Might fully resets after you take damage, miss an attack, or exit combat.

Perfect Counter

Well-timed counters knock down enemies. (Press [the counter button] when the prompt flashes blue).

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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.

Critical Strike

Melee attacks have a chance to critically hit, causing extra damage. Synergizes with gear that triggers on Critical Hits.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Reprisal – Critical Strike chance increases as your health is reduced.
  • Unstoppable – Critical Strike chance increases significantly as long as your Hitstreak is over 20.
  • Elven Precision – Press [the specified button] as your strike lands to greatly increase the chances of a critical strike.

Ground Finisher

Decreases the amount of time it takes to perform Ground Executions on downed enemies using [the specified button]

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Fury – Ground Executions enable you to unleash a flurry of blows by rapidly tapping [the specified button] before finishing an enemy, gaining Might on each hit.
  • Wraith Shield – The Wraith can counter enemies while you complete a ground execution.
  • Ground Drain – Press [the specified button] to drain enemies who have been knocked down.

Brutal Aggression

Might can be double-charged, enabling Brutal Executions which cause nearby enemies to flee in terror.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Wraith Execution – Press [the specified button] to chain Executions to additional enemies. Consumes focus for each additional target.
  • Ceaseless Might – Skills that require Might no longer fully deplete Might.

Retaliation

Time your Last Chance success perfectly to instantly kill the enemy targeting you. Does not apply to Captains, graugs, or drakes.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Adamant – Gain an additional Last Chance attempt.
  • Vengeful Drain – Retaliation Drains your attacker.
  • Burst of Might – Gain full Might on a perfect Last Chance.

-Predator Skill Tree-

The Predator tree focuses on setting traps for your enemies and Stealth Attacks. One of my favorite skills in this tree is Brutalize. I will explain everything about that later, but it pretty much makes all other Orcs run in fear so you eliminate a bunch of them in a small general area so the Captains are easy to fight.

Here are all the specific Skills under this tree and what each of them does:

Elven Agility

Hold [the specified button] for a burst of speed when leaping over objects, landing, or climbing.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Silent Runner – Holding [the specified button] to sprint no longer creates sound.
  • Spectral Dash – Press [the specified button] while in stealth to cross short distances or reach nearby enemies instantly. Consumes Focus.

Brutalize

Hold [the specified button] to perform a terrifying stealth kill, causing nearby enemies to flee while increasing both your Might and your Hitstreak.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Unyielding Ferocity – Using a Brutalize gives a bonus to both your Might and Hitstreak.
  • Reckless Hate – Brutalize causes more enemies to flee.

Poison Tendril

Aim at a grog barrel and press [the specified button] to poison it from afar.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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 specified button] to prime them to trigger when an enemy approaches.

Wraith Chain

Press [the specified button] to target an additional enemy during a stealth kill. Each additional target consumes focus.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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 specified button] while using attract to leave behind a Wraith that will kill your target.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Terrifying Presence – Your Wraith will Brutalize the target.
  • Spirit Drain – Your Wraith will Drain the target.

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.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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.

-Ranged Skill Tree-

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. I really enjoy this tree because your ranged attacks will be your best friend in this game. There will be a lot of enemies you face that will be immune to ranged attacks, but when they are not, the battle just gets easier for you.

Here are all the specific Skills under this tree and what each of them does:

Detonate

Shadow Strike into a firepit, detonating it and lighting nearby enemies on fire.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Bursting Arrow – Shoot firepits to detonate them without Shadow Striking into them.
  • Spider Song – Detonate a firepit and cause spiders to swarm the area.
  • Matron’s Scent – Detonate a firepit and cause Ghuls to swarm the area.

Freeze Pin

Shooting an enemy’s foot freezes them in place.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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.

Bird of Prey

Hold [the Specified button] to aim while in the air. This consumes Focus. Press [the specified button] to turn around quickly during bird of prey.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Eagle Sight – Focus is consumed at a slower rate while in the air.
  • Talon Strike – While falling, aim at the ground while holding [the specified button] and press [the specified button] to strike the ground with a damaging blast that also stuns nearby enemies.

Mighty Shot

When your might is full, press [the specified button] to fire an explosive shot.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Firestorm – Mighty Shot causes a Fire explosion.
  • Freeze Blast – Mighty Shot causes a Frost explosion.
  • Venom – Mighty shot causes a venom explosion.

Shadow Strike

Instantaneously reach an enemy by aiming at them and press [the specified button] to kill them or to stun them.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Chain of Shadows – Press [specifiedbutton] 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 [specified button]) or stun (Hold [specified button]) them.
  • Shadow Dominate – While aiming at an enemy, press [specified button] to reach them instantaneously and dominate them.

-Wraith Skill Tree-

The wraith tree is something of a catch-all, focusing on damaging multiple enemies, slowing enemies, and providing alternative ways to spend your might. This is a great tree to get if you like using your Wraith abilities. You can upgrade the duration of your slow-motion or even use it to get away from a battle quickly.

Here are all the specific Skills under this tree and what each of them does:

Brace of Daggers

Press [specified button] to Quick Throw a dagger that damages and staggers enemies.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Serrated Edge – Thrown daggers have a chance of causing Critical Strikes.
  • Swift Barrage – Three daggers can be thrown rapidly by repeatedly tapping [specified button].
  • Rain of Blades – Throw five daggers at once to hit multiple enemies.

Elven Light

Unleash a powerful blast by pressing [specified button] while Might is full, Stunning, and temporarily blinding nearby enemies.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Cleansing Blaze – Elven Light also sets enemies on fire.
  • Winter’s Breath – Elven Light causes a frost explosion.
  • Poison Blast – Elven Light poisons enemies.

Ice Storm

Freeze enemies by pressing [specified button] and follow with a flurry of sword strikes by repeatedly tapping [specified button].

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Shower of Ice – Press [specified button] to freeze all enemies in an area in front of you. The higher your hit streak, 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 [specified button] to Drain an enemy quickly during combat.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Chain of Souls – Aim with [specified button] during consume and press [specified button] to drain additional enemies. Consumes focus for each additional target.
  • Lord of Wrath – Consume increases Wrath.
  • Olog Lord – Consume works against Ologs.

Treasure hunter

Automatically collect loot from defeated enemies.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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 receiving higher quality Gems from defeated enemies.

-Mounted Skill Tree-

The mounted tree focuses on mounted combat, giving you more flexibility and power with beasts you control. Unless you really want to ride a ton of creatures around, this Skill tree is not that important. I mean, you will eventually want to upgrade it, but save it for last because it is not that important other than the Caragor Rider ability.

Here are all the specific Skills under this tree and what each of them does:

Caragor Rider

Hold [specified button] to Dominate and ride a Broken caragor.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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 [specified button] to Dominate and ride a Broken graug.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Devouring Force – Ground Executions restore more of your Graug’s health.
  • Enduring Fury – Graug basic attacks gain more Might.

Call Mount

Press [specified button] to summon a dominated caragor. Press [specified button] to command your caragor to attack targeted enemies. Hold [specified button] to dismiss your caragor.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Caragor Breaker – Shadow Mount unbroken Caragors.
  • Pack Master – When Shadow mounting a broken caragor, nearby caragors are also Dominated.

Dragon Rider

Hold [specified button] to dominate and mount a broken drake.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • 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.

-Story Skill Tree-

These are the Skills you unlock as you progress through the main story. They are in no particular order whatsoever but they are also very important to learn. Progressing the story is imperative for gameplay so make sure you play as much of it as you possibly can.

Here are all the specific Skills under this tree and what each of them does:

Drain

Hold [specified button] to recover health by draining the life from Orcs.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Domination – Drained enemies are also Dominated and will fight for you. Hold [specified button] to Dominate. Use [specified button] to stealth Dominate. Press [specified button] to activate.
  • Quiver of Souls – Draining an enemy replenishes Elf-shot.
  • Bright Lord’s Wrath – Draining or Dominating an enemy fully recovers Health and gains Wrath.

Spectral Glaive

Hold and release [specified button] after your Glaive appears to initiate a heavy sweeping attack.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Mighty Swing – Releasing [specified button] the moment your Glaive is fully charged generates might for every enemy hit.
  • Deadly Striker – Double-charge your Glaive for more follow-up attacks. (Tap [specified button] repeatedly after charging.

Elven Rage

Each kill gives Wrath energy. When your Wrath is full, press [specified button] to slow time, making every melee strike lethal and enabling you to unleash unlimited executions.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Final Blaze – When Elven Rage ends, a fiery blast is detonated.
  • Freezing Burst – When Elven Rage ends, a freezing blast is detonated.
  • Poisonous Wrath – When Elven Rage ends, a poisonous blast is detonated.

Shadow Strider

Press [specified button] while leaping to double jump. Allows you to cover wider gaps or change direction between jumps.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Hammer of Eregion – Press [specified button] to vault over an Uruk and Freeze them.
  • Waters of Lorien – Upgrade dodge to instantly flash past enemies. Consumes focus.
  • Eagle’s Eyrie – Hold [specified 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.

Call Followers

Summon a group of warriors to fight alongside you by pressing [specified button]. Press [specified button] to command your warriors to attack targeted enemies. Hold [specified button] to dismiss them.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Bodyguard – Assign a Captain to be your Bodyguard in the Army menu. You can summon the bodyguard by pressing [specified button]. Press [specified button] again to command your bodyguard to attack nearby enemies. Press [specified button] to dismiss your bodyguard.
  • Cluster of Spiders – Summon a cluster of spiders by pressing [specified button]. Spiders have poison attacks that 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.

Here are the sub-skills that help in making this skill even better:

  • Destroy followers – Hold [specified button] to explode the heads of nearby followers, causing enemies to flee in terror.
  • Lifeblood – Hold [specified button] to heal all nearby followers by consuming your health. Any followers who are bleeding out are unaffected.
  • Enrage followers – Hold [specified button] to enrage nearby friendly captains. Consumes wrath.

-Act 4 Skills-

These are the skills that you unlock in Act 4 of the game. These are endgame skills that you can only get for almost completing the main story. 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 [specified button] to summon ghostly Gondorians to fight by your side and make your melee attacks more lethal.

Here are all the specific Skills under this tree and what each of them does:

  • 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.
  • Flaming Weapons – Raised revenants receive fire weapons.
  • Poisoned Weapons – Raised revenants receive poison weapons.
  • Cursed Weapons – Raised revenants receive curse weapons.

-Blade of Galadriel-

These are the skills that you have access to in the Blade of Galadriel DLC. You can also have access to Legacy skills that you have unlocked in the main game, but I am only going to go over the skills you can unlock in the DLC itself. They are very similar to Talion’s abilities, but they work a little differently in some ways.

Here are all the specific Skills under this tree and what each of them does:

Combat

  • Radiance – Hold [specified button] to create a lingering Light which Gradually recovers health over a period of time.
    • 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 [specified button] to infuse nearby enemies with light and blind them.
    • Burst – Enemies are Blinded longer. Detonates nearby explosives.
    • Restore – Heals nearby allies and revives downed Follower Captains.
  • Blaze – When your Might is full, press [specified button] to infuse an enemy with Light. Causes grunts to explode and Blinds Captains.
    • 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 [specified button] to create a flash of Light, knocking back nearby enemies and infusing them with light.
    • Charge – Hold [specified button] longer to charge up a stronger burst of Light.
    • Comet – Leap into the air after releasing [specified button]. Press [specified 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.
    • Intangible – Invisibility granted from Elven rage lasts longer and can be used for multiple Stealth Attacks.
    • Surge – Gain Wrath faster when killing enemies.

Ranged

  • Cone of Light – Hold [the specified button] to project a cone of Light. Enemies within the cone are infused with Light and Blinded.
    • Ward – Holding [specified 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 [specified button] to throw Light at the nearest target.
    • Link – Light Bolt chains to other nearby targets.
    • Intensify – Target is infused with a greater amount of Light.
  • Quick Shot – Tap [specified button] to quickly fire an arrow from your bow. This requires one Elf-shot.
    • Impact – Quick Shot knocks down enemies.
    • Fury – Quick Shot gains more Might.
  • Elven Star – When your Might is full, press [specified button] while in ranged mode to fire an orb of light that heals and protects allies while infusing enemies with Light. Consumes Elf-shot.
    • Cataclysm – The orb of Light detonates any Blinded enemies it touches.
    • Shine – Increases the Duration of Orb of Light.
  • Light Trap – Hold down [specified button] while in Stealth to leave behind a trap that will Blind enemies who walk into it.
    • 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.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are just so many abilities in this game. Honestly, you don’t really need to get them in a specific order because you are constantly getting upgrades, and if you are decently good at the game, you won’t really have any trouble with the hard enemies either. Shadow of War has a much different system than Shadow of Mordor and it is imperative that you know exactly how it works. Have fun upgrading your Orc killer!

Caleb Simmons

I first started playing video games on my Nintendo Gameboy Advance, and I have not stopped playing ever since. My goal is to help others with questions about their favorite video games.

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