Shadow Of War Guide: 11 Tips We Wish We Knew Before Starting
By Justin Haywald, Lucy James | @lucyjamesgames, and Matt Espineli on
What We Learned
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a dense action-RPG with a lot of skills to unlock, systems to get your head around, and many, many orcs to kill. While our beginner's guide covered the opening hours of the game, in the intervening hours we've learned a fair number of tips that we wish we knew before starting the game.
Shadow of War is out now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It was originally slated to launch in August, only for it to be pushed back to October. A free-to-play strategy RPG version of Middle-earth: Shadow of War for iOS and Android devices launched ahead of the game's release. For more about our thoughts on the game, don't miss our Shadow of War review.
For a brief rundown on the original game's plot, check out our feature detailing the game's story so far. You can also check out our Shadow Of War Beginner's Guide, the 12 Best Skills in the game, as well as how to get each Legendary gear set. And make sure to check out our other Shadow of War tips, guides, and walkthroughs.
You Can Increase An Orc Captain's Strength In Advance
After you recruit several Orc Captains to your army, there are various ways to increase their power level to make them stronger. For one, make sure you have Wealth Gems attached to your Ring of Power. With these attached, any Captain you recruit automatically gains a couple of levels when they join your side. The more powerful the Gem, the more levels your Captains gain.
Also, if there's a particular Orc Captain you're looking to recruit, have a worm send them a death threat before you take them on. Doing this increases their level by 5. Remember you have three "turns" to complete these missions; completing other Nemesis missions or skipping ahead in time at a Haedir tower takes up a turn. If you don't fulfil the Death Threat mission in time, you can actually send him another threat to increase his power by a further five levels.
The Fighting Pits Are A Useful Asset
The best (and easiest) way to expand the strength of your army is in the fighting pits. If you control a region, you'll have access to its battle arena. You can then send Orcs to face off in the pits, and the winner gains a good number of levels. The process is fairly hands-off, but it's a great way to get all of your Orcs up to the current level cap.
And you can even send your weaker Orcs into the pits and just replace them with the Orc who beats them. If you don't control the winning Captain at the end of the battle, they just hang around the fight pits waiting for you to swoop them up and recruit them onto your team. And as a plus, their health will usually have taken some kind of hit from the battle they just faced!
Call Help For Easy Domination
It can be tough to dominate an Orc when multiple enemies surround you. To make this process easier, call in a bodyguard or caragor and back off. As long as there's someone friendly to take the heat, you can more easily hold down the Dominate button and turn a bunch of Orcs to your side fairly quickly.
Seek Out White Symbol Orcs
As you wander through Mordor, you'll come across Orcs with a white symbol above their heads, signaling that they're treasure carriers. Make sure to kill them for some easy rewards. Usually it's a modest amount of Mirian, but every now and then we found a Gem.
Attach Wealth Gems To Your Weapons
If you're running low on Mirian, make sure you've attached Wealth Gems to all three of your weapons, as these Gems increase the chance that enemies drop Mirian. More powerful Wealth Gems means a higher chance of a money drop, so make sure to equip the best three you've got.
Assign Marauder Overlords To Regions For Easy Mirian Chests
Unlike the first game, Orcs now belong to tribes, and the tribe a region's Overlord belongs to affects the whole area. But once you take over a region and put a new Overlord in charge, his tribe will provide your bonuses. If your Overlord is a member of the Marauder tribe, then Mirian chests will be available in the region to find and loot.
Strategically Utilize A Nemesis Mission's Time Window
Nemesis missions are only active for a limited time, meaning that if you don't complete them, time will advance, and this results in an Orc increasing its level. Be mindful of when to skip Nemesis missions, as you never know when doing so may not be in your favor. For example, you might want an an Orc to increase in level, so you can later recruit them to your cause. But if there's a Warchief bodyguard who you'd rather kill than see gain power, it might be in your best interest to seek them out.
Sometimes your Orc followers might take on a Nemesis Mission that's out of their league. Make sure to send another follower as backup. You can never be too careful.
Win Over Warchiefs
If you find a fortress assault too difficult to take on, take some time to recruit Warchiefs; it disables their associated defenses during a fortress assault, making it a cake walk.
Don't Forget To Defend Your Fortress From Online Threats
Once you've taken a fortress, don't forget to defend it, as it can be attacked online. But ensuring that it's defended well is an easy way to earn Spoils of War--loot chests guaranteed to contain at least one legendary follower.
In the Army menu, tap R1 or RB to bring up the Siege Upgrade menu. Make sure you have followers assigned in every open slot and--Mirian levels permitting--the strongest defense in place. For extra defense, assign bodyguards to your Warchiefs. When your fortress gets attacked, they can help hold onto defense points longer. By ensuring every Warchief is in position and has a bodyguard, it increases your Defense Rating in online Ranked Conquests.
Your Attack Rating is based on how well you attack others' fortresses. By participating in online assaults, your Assault and Defense ratings increase, allowing you to rank up. Higher ranks provide bonus amounts of Spoils of War gained from Online Activities, meaning you get more Spoils of War chests and better followers.
There's A Photo Mode
It's easy to miss, but there's actually a photo mode in the game. It comes complete with a wealth of filters and adjustable sliders for your photo editing pleasure. To access it, simply toggle it on in the game's options menu.
Don't Worry Too Much About Skill Points
It's easy to get stressed out early in the game when you first look at Shadow of War's incredibly dense Skills board. However, the game is so generous with points, that you'll be able to have almost every major skill filled up before you hit level 20. And since you can only use one sub-skill at a time, the list looks a lot more full than it really is. You're likely to run out of spots you want to spend skill points on before you run out of game.