One of the aspects of Shadow of War that I am enjoying most is the variety given to players to choose how they approach the game’s complex fighting system. There will be players that wish to engage in close combat that is heavily dependent on the Combat tree. There are those, like me, that will want to use the Ranged tree to keep our hands clean as much as possible. There are also players that will want to use the Wraith tree, or even the Mount tree that utilizes beasts. Today, I’m going to break down what I believe are the best Skills for different builds, mixing and matching as required.
Range and Stealth Build
Any Ranged build is going to have an element of stealth. That goes without saying. Furthermore, this build also means that Talion will spend less time face-to-face with his opposition, and more time trying to hit them from a distance using creative attacks that exploit the environment. Here are the Skills that would match up well with that sort of approach.
Predator Tree - Elven Agility
If you’re going to be attacking from a distance, utilizing great heights to stay clear of getting your boots dirty, the Elven Agility Skill with the Silent Runner Upgrade is essential. Not only can you move quietly as you sprint, you can also use a burst of energy to vault yourself to the highest points in mere seconds. This Skill and its Upgrade are about getting you to your preferred point of attack quickly and safely.
Predator Tree - Poison Tendril
The Poison Tendril Skill will allow you to aim your Bow at a grog barrel and poison it from a distance. This is about as clean as it gets when it comes to killing your enemies without getting your hands dirty. There are also some nifty Upgrades to this skill, including Contagion. This will cause enemies that are poisoned to go berserk and attack their allies.
Predator Tree - Deadly Spectre
There are times when you are going to need to get a little close to your foes. This is unavoidable. You might be trying to clear out some Archers so you can claim the high ground, in which case the Deadly Spectre Skill is great. It allows you to stealth kill an enemy with a Wraith, keeping yourself out of sight to any wandering enemy eyes.
Ranged Tree - Detonate
The Detonate Skill alone isn’t the best way to keep yourself at range and in stealth mode. Add the Bursting Arrow Upgrade, however, and you can blow up fire pits from a distance using your Bow and Elf-Shot. These explosions can clear out numerous low-level enemies in a single shot, and can even lower the health of Captains if fire and explosions are among their Weaknesses.
Ranged Tree - Mighty Shot
Mighty Shot alone will cause an explosive shot, but it’s the Upgrades available that make this appealing. Combine Mighty Shot with the Firestorm or Venom Upgrades and you can either poison or set your targets on fire. Again, depending on the Weaknesses of the Captain, Warchief or Overlord you’re fighting, you’ll need to activate the right Upgrade, but you can cause some long-distance hurt with this.
Ranged Tree - Shadow Strike
Shadow Strike is essential to your ranged build. It will allow you to aim your Bow (if you have some Elf-Shot) at an enemy, and then teleport to their location and kill them. This means you are on top of and neutralizing your enemy without having to risk being seen closing the gap. There are some good Upgrades for Shadow Strike, but nothing that jumps out as being better than the rest.
Mounted Tree - Call Mount
Riding around on a beast is the last thing you want to do if stealth and range are your goals. However, you can use the Call Mount Skill to summon a Caragor, Graug or Drake (Dragon). They can then be made to attack your foes without you riding them. You can sit nice and cozy in your perch, letting your powerful Graug smash your enemies to bits below.
Close Quarters Combat Build
Some people don’t have the patience to sit back and plan their enemy’s demise over a long period of time. They need to push through now, even if it means cutting down every enemy in their path during a bloody battle. For that, the following Skills and Upgrades will help you deal out the punishment as quickly and violently as required.
Combat Tree - Execution
There are several Captains in the game that have Mortal Weaknesses to Executions. If you are using the Execution Skill and your Might is full, you could walk up to them and put them in the ground with a single strike. That’s a rare thing in Shadow of War, but shows the power of the Execution Skill. For an in-your-face combat build, the Grim Resolve Upgrade will give you Might when you are damaged in combat, and a full Might bar is required to perform an Execution.
Combat Tree - Perfect Counter
Since Might is a big deal for this build, I’d suggest you choose the Perfect Counter Skill with the Mighty Reversal Upgrade. Each time you counter one of your enemies, you gain Might. This means that, when paired with Execution and Grim Resolve, you gain Might every time you take damage or counter an attack. That Might bar should be full quite often in this build.
Combat Tree - Critical Strike
The Critical Strike Skill is going to be a big one as well. It gives you a chance of causing a Critical Hit for additional damage, and pairs well with some Armor and Weapon bonuses. I’m not a huge fan of the Upgrades that come with the Critical Strike Skill, so consider skipping them for them and buying some of the Skills we have suggested in this build. If something stands out, however, go for it.
Ranged Tree - Freeze Pin
It might sound silly to have a Ranged Skill in a combat build, but hear me out. The Freeze Pin Skill will allow you to use your Elf-Shot to hit an enemy in the leg, holding them in place for a short period of time. This is when you can attack. Consider using the Deep Freeze Upgrade to have the Freeze Pin duration doubled. Try Freeze Pin on a Captain vulnerable to Executions, then put a quick end to the fight.
Wraith Tree - Elven Light
The Elven Light Skill is important because it will allow you to get yourself out of a sticky situation. The Elven Light Skill will unleash a powerful blast that knocks down your nearby enemies. It can be Upgraded to Cleansing Blaze (fire), Winter’s Breath (freezing), or Poison Blast (poison), meaning the blast will cause that damage type to the enemies in the AOE.
Mounted Tree - All of Them
You’re a warrior who likes having your enemy’s blood on your face after a battle. If you don’t look like Ragnar Lothbrok after a battle, you aren’t satisfied. The Mounted Skills will give you that up close and personal devastation that you want. It’s loud, messy, and a hell of a lot of fun. Smash your foes to bits while riding a Graug, or swoop in on a Drake like the Mother of Dragons and turn the world to fire.
Because Shadow of War is so open and free, you can build whatever you like. Maybe it focuses on combat and maybe it likes stealth and range. Maybe it’s a combination of the two. Take the Skills I’ve laid out here and study the in-game Skill tree. Figure out what works for your play style and create your own best Skills and character build.
Now that you have a good handle on the best Skills, Upgrades and how to build your characters, consider checking out the Shadow of War walkthrough and guide we’ve put together.