Middle-earth™: Shadow of Mordor™

Middle-earth™: Shadow of Mordor™

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Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - General Guide
By Reinborn
My series of General Guides cover the basics and fundamentals of specific game's gameplay coming along with advices and experience gained after fully completing the game.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor takes place sometime after the events of Hobbit movies and around 60 years before Lord of the Rings begins, however, that is speculative as people claim that this entire game is non-canonical. But then again, how canonical are the actual movies compared to the books Tolkien wrote? What about Metro books compared to its game counterparts?

I guess we could say that the game takes place in that universe and the timeline is also roughly given but other little things that come into play are what tend to make people claim it's not canon. For instance, in the game, Rangers have their outpost directly on the Black Gate while it wasn't supposed to be there. Other mentions Celebrimbor and Sauron's appearance in the game to be not accurate. I'll let you be the judge and enjoy the game for what it is.
I will very briefly explain what's happened in the beginning of the game and how it goes down, fear not, free of spoilers.

Talion, our main protagonist has a wife named Ioreth and son, Dirhael. The story starts on the Black Gate, Rangers' outpost. Talion is training Diarhael while all of sudden, the screen cuts into a small skirmish with other orcs and Talion along with his family is captured. What follows is a dark ritual cast by the Black Hand while he slits throats of our hero's family before his eyes.

However, Talion does not die - he is chosen by one of the spirits to live on and bring vengeance upon Mordor. Called the gravewalker, he now sows fear amongs the ranks of orcs and their captains. He's become immortal in a way, Talion might die just as any other human or orc but his the spirit that chose him brings him alive and our hero wakes up at the top of one of the Forge Towers.

Who is the spirit accompanying you? What are those Forge Towers? How you will fare and if you will succeed depends on you, every death counts.

The combat mechanics in Middle-earth are quite straight forward. Have you ever played any Batman game? If so, then this might feel a lot like it for you, I know it has for me. It's important to note that the combat can be lenghty at the start as you have no skills unlocked but don't let that ruin the game for you.

What you essentially do, is slashing enemies to bits and when attacked, counter-attack with RMB. If attacked twice at the same time, you can press RMB again to summon your spirit to cover your back. Sometimes, however, there will be no chance to counter enemies, for example Defenders (orcs with shields and spears). The only possibility will be to dodge them by pressing space.
I have to say that even after dozens of hours into the game I still have troubles with the timing on that so I suggest jumping over enemies (vaulting) to avoid it as it works just as effectively.

Early in the game, you should stick to stealth. Not only killing orcs grants some additional experience for stealth kill but it also keeps unwanted attention away.
Talking about stealth brings me to our dagger. You have 3 weapons to choose from when fighting the orcs - your sword, bow and a dagger (more about them later). To use dagger, simply press shift to enter stealth mode and for bow, it's holding the RMB but these are the very basics that the game will teach you itself.
Each of these weapons has its own set of unique abilities and perks that you will unlock later on.

Now what you see in the picture are 2 main bars that should concern you. The upper one is self-explanatory - simply gain a specific amount of EXP before earning a skill point. The other, lower bar, is what determinates your Skill Tier. There are 5 tiers in total, each naturally offering more complex and useful abilities such as being able to mount creatures from distance without having to battle them and play quick-time event.

I'll list the most essential abilities you should get as early as possible.
  • Execution - after 8th hit streak you will be able to perform an execution, instantly killing an orc.
  • Strike from Above - being able to assassinate enemies from above with your dagger.
  • Wraith Stun - stun enemies and unleash rapid slashes to charge up your hit streak.
  • Elven Swiftness - whenever you drop down or jump over an obstacle. press space and gain temporary boost.

These are core abilities for a good start. Other abilities I seriously suggest unlocking soon after are the following: Critical Strike, Blade Master, Lethal Shadow Strike, Shadow Strike Chain and Shadow Mount.

And last thing falling into this category that needs to be mentioned are your bow's arrows. You start with a limited amount of arrows but can upgrade that up to 14. You can charge your bow shots by holding down RMB. Whenever you take out your bow, the time slows and you enter the wraith world - more about this later.
Gaining back arrows is possible by either draining uruks by holding E, which can be done 2-3 times to a single uruk before he dies. Or simply restock if you pass by arrows stuck in a wood or laying somewhere on orcs' watchtower.
Weapons & Runes
Here we have our 3 weapons - a sword, dagger and a bow. Each of them carries their own name. The sword is called Urfael (meaning "Firey Gleaming Brilliance"). The dagger is a piece of a broken sword that Talion's son used to carry and it broke in half. Due to the original owner of it, it is called Acharn (meaning "Revenge"). And lastly - the bow. Named Azkâr is an elven bow used by your elven spirit back when he was among the living.

Your weapons can be given specific bonuses to either enhance your already bought abilities and add other passive bonuses. These runes can be acquired by killing orc Captains or Warchiefs. Runes come in levels which are determined by the level/Power of the Captain and more factors - go to Power Struggle section for more info.
Runes can therefore be, let's say, level 4 or 17 but also 25, whereas 25 is considered Epic Rune and has yellow icon.
Each weapon can hold maximum of 5 runes at one time and each rune space has to be bought using Mirian currency.

Weapon Legends
Each of the 3 weapons have legends accompanying them. They are side missions viewable on the map. Completing these missions grants Mirian which can be used to either carve more runeholders on your weapons or to purchase abilities.
There are 10 legend mission for each weapon. What will happen after you complete all 10 missions for a single weapon is written in the spoiler tab - Being purely aesthetical matter, upon completing 10 missions for any of your weapon, it will gain more elvish appearance and inscription on the blade or handle.

Epic Runes
As I've stated above, Epic Runes are basically runes level 25. Now, if you plan your attack carefully, you can pretty much farm these runes.
To get 25lvl rune, you'll be best off starting with a 20 level (Power) Warchief. Do the following:

  • Gain intel on your target (+1)
  • Let the target be Warchief (+2)
  • Send a death threat via Uruk Captains (+1) note: Warchief will gain a gang to protect him.
  • Exploit his fear or hatred (+1)

Explained: Warchief's level is 20. Gaining intel on him grants 1 level on top. Him being a Warchief grants 2 levels. Sending a death treat gives 1 additional level and exploiting his fear or hatred another 1.

That's total of 25 which in the end is 25lvl Epic rune.

(note: Acquired rune will be based on what weapon you used in the fight)
Power Struggle
Power Struggles are occasions where Uruk Captains will fight among themselves or try to prove themselves to be worthy to the Dark Lord by completing a task such as killing a beast or winning a duel. We can use these situations againts them if we intervene.
Power Struggles are viewed on the map as red icons. Depending on what the struggle is, it can be:

  • Duel - A duel between 2 Uruk captains where you get the chance to kill 2 Captains at once.
  • Trial by Ordeal - Usually 1 Uruk Captain fights a beast on his own.
  • Beast Hunt - A whole pack of orcs with an Uruk Captain hunts a big group of beasts.
  • Execution - Executions lead by Uruk Captains.
  • Feast - Sometimes Captains start a little feasts, a parties if you will.
  • Recruitment - A specific Uruk Captain will attempt to recruit more orcs to strenghten his ranks.
  • Ambush - An ambush of Uruk Captain, sometimes lead by another Captain.

The Power number also signalizes Captain/Warchief's level (1-25). Dying is a really important part in Middle-earth, not only will the orc that just killed you become one of the 20 Captains but your death will also advance time (which can be done manually via Forge Towers as well) and that strenghtens Sauron's Army as it will trigger all uncompleted Power Struggle events, resulting in Uruk Captains gaining (or rarely losing) power.
Sauron's Army
Sauron's Army is made out of 20 Captains and 5 Warchiefs. But some of the 20 Captains can also serve as bodyguards to Warchiefs, meaning that whenever you attempt to challenge the Warchief, he will come out with his bodyguards all at once. Therefore it is advised to identify and hunt them down first to make the final fight easier.

To identify an Uruk captain, you can simply grab any random orc, press space and space again. This will, however, only reveal their location but their strenghts and weaknesses will remain unknown.

To learn Captains' or Warchiefs' strenghts and weaknesses you can either find documents that have round, green icon above them or random orcs that carry intel with the same icon. Captains themselves can also provide intel on others after you've beaten them enough so that they can be grabbed and interrogated.

Strenghts and weaknesses can vary a lot. Some Captains might be afraid of the sight of Caragors which causes them to flee. Bringing a Caragor to the fight makes the Captain instantly flee, making him more vulnerable to your attacks. Some, however, hate specific things and that is their strenght. Some Uruk Captain might hate burns so setting him on fire will cause his hate to trigger. Triggering Captains' hate heals them and causes them to be more resiliant to your damage and also will deal more damage to you.

Branding is an ability that becomes available to you later in the game, after you get further deep into the story. Branding essentially means controlling orcs and Uruk Captains, Warchiefs as well.
How to do it will be explained in the game so I won't go into detail here.

Instead, I'll tell you about its uses.

  • Some Captains have a weakness called "Fear of Betrayal" - being betrayed by his own makes him flee.
  • While sneaking through a stronghold, whenever you have to chance, brand some orcs, archers especially. Should you need a distraction, they will be there and take the focus of off you.
  • Branding a Captain opens up a new world of schemes for you. You can use your branded Captain to murder other Captain (with your help) he will do the job and then you might as well kill your own branded Captain to kill two at once.
  • Branding an Uruk Captain and making him become a bodyguard to a Warchief. What does this mean? Bodyguards can overthrow their master and that will cause them to become a Warchief after the original one dies.
  • If you own a branded Warchief, you can cause Riot between him and some other Warchief. Brand more Captains and make them bodyguards to your own Warchief to make him stronger.

Trials of War
Trials of War is a DLC pack that contains challenges such as 'Gain X score, finish under X minutes, and some other optional objective". The ones I found hard myself were Test of Wisdom and Test of the Wild. Test of the Wild isn't complicated at all once you get the hang of it. It's essentially about using Graugs to kill those captains, Graugs only! As I've mentioned, there are optional objectives, completing all of them will grant you access to the elite leaderboard.

Tips for Trials of War:

  • Use Lethal Shadow Strike to navigate through the map AT ALL TIMES. It's faster than Elven Swiftness and also grants a decent amount of points.
  • Whenever you see caged or wild Caragor, shadow mount him and then kill him for some fast, easy points.
  • Branding a Warchief in the Test of Wisdom is advised. Use that Warchief to cause riots againts other Warchiefs so that you can locate and dispose off them quickly.
  • Use Graug to kill Captains in Test of the Wild. There are many baits around, I suggest you learn their location and then it's a piece of cake - Graugs are one-hitters when it comes to killing.
  • Test of Defiance's objective might be a little bit confusing after you spend 40 minutes playing and realize you screwed it up. Plan your strategy in advance and take your time, there is no time limit.
  • Challenges are timed, except Test of Defiance. Abuse Forge Towers' teleport as much as possible, never waste not even a second with running if you don't have to. Remember, you can pause and take a look at the Sauron's Army and think your strategy through, the timer stops there.

To summarize it, some challenges will simply require you to play them a few times. I've managed to finish the first 3 on my first try whereas the Test of the Wild took me around 5 tries and Test of Defiance 3 or 4. It's only about practicing, even if you look up specific guides and follow them, it's about you trying over and over.
Personal View
In the end, whether the game is canonical or not, it won't matter. It's an enjoyable game which offers satisfying moments but also keeps you on edge because every death matters. That brings me to a little tip that has been around since the game came out, people have been saying it over and over but I'd assume that very few would actually do it in game. What is it?
Sometimes fleeing is the best and only option.
Would you rather take your chances and risk filling Sauron's Army with additional Captains, potentionally other Captains increasing in Power or would you just turn around and run to fight another day?

I've done this a few times and I knew I did the right thing. You might also encounter a Captain with "Combat Master" trait. Those are tough as they will counter every single strong attack of yours. Worst of all is when they are invlunerable to both stealth and ranger attacks. Your only option is to use a mount to kill him, but they can kill it quickly anyway as well. But I'd suggest spamming Wraith Flash all the time. It's a cheesy strategy but if nothing else works, man's gotta do what man's gotta do.

Middle-earth can become nerve-wrecking game to say the truth, but if you're all about unlocking achievements like me, be happy. There's plenty of them here and they're fine to go for.
And here we are again, at the end. This was rather comprehensive and exhausting guide compared to what I usually like to stick to in my General Guides. But it was necessary as the game is quite large.

Thank you for reading my guide, now get out there and pay a visit to the Black Hand!

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Reinborn  [author] Nov 8 @ 12:15am 
@Marion.Iden Don't know how that slip past me, I guess I did not consider it a spoiler, given the fact it happens so, so early on and it's not a built-up point of a story that develops over a longer period of time. Nevertheless, I've hidden the text and deleted your comment just in case so that people would not see it.
marypippert Feb 22 @ 10:59am 
Where so I find herbs
The Infomaniac Mar 3, 2018 @ 1:46am 
Well pretty much everything except runes become useless later on,when everything is upgraded.
Agarillobob Jul 4, 2017 @ 8:38am 
What happens with P points once you finished leveling it up? do they go to waste or do they give xp/M
Antrosa Jul 2, 2017 @ 2:12pm 
@generalcornwallrus everyone have diffrent captains you would have to send a picture of his traits if you want help
Drama Jun 30, 2017 @ 9:30pm 
muito bom o guia ajudou muit o <3
PurpleGradient Jun 27, 2017 @ 12:11pm 
any way to quickly kill stakuga the wicked? he is power level 19 rn ._.
Rincevent May 23, 2017 @ 2:56pm 
@Sahrot Rein Thanks for the answers! I'm not far ingame for the moment (second memory/artifact for our mysterious ghost companion), so just basic mounting right now. Didn't understand I needed to be above it.
Reinborn  [author] May 23, 2017 @ 12:07pm 
Also, this ability, the Shadow Mount, can only be obtained if you have already unlocked the ability to mount Graugs. That can be done if you finish a mission called "Hunting Partners" with Torvin.
It's been many months since I last played the game but as long as you've finished Torvin's hunting missions, you are able to get the ability.
If you do have the ability but still cannot shadow mount beasts, perhaps give me some more info or talk back to me. :Dominate:
Reinborn  [author] May 23, 2017 @ 12:07pm 
@Dice Ex Machina, there are several ways to mount the caragors. The most basic way is to jump on top of them from above (ruins, structures, cliffs). You could also perform a counter-attack during their charge - both of these options are abilities (TIER 1 and TIER 2).
The most useful and top tier way to do this, however, is the Shadow Mount ability. This ability enables you to instantly mount either Graug or a Caragor, this can be done if you press RMB (enter the wraith world), aim at the desired mount and press the specific button (can't recall which one it is but it should show on your screen automatically).