Box art - Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

Shadow of War – Best Skills and Upgrades Guide

Just about everything in Middle-earth: Shadow of War has been expanded upon and improved in this sequel to the 2014 original Shadow of Mordor. This even includes your ever-important skill tree. In Shadow of War, the skill tree has been made much larger, encompassing 33 skills for Talion to use and 87 total upgrades for said skills.

All skills are divided up into six main branches: Combat, Predator, Ranged, Wraith, Mounted, and Story skills. With so much thrown at you all at once, it can be overwhelming figuring out what would be best for every situation in Shadow of War. We’ve got your back, though, with the very best skills and upgrades that you focus on getting first.

Also: 5 Tips I Wish I Knew Before Starting Shadow of War

Shadow of War – Best Skills

Though Shadow of War doles out skill points pretty generously, the 33 total skills to choose from can make it quite stressful. Here are some of the best skills we recommend for in-and-out of combat:

  • Execution- the first in the combat branch. Lets you execute low level enemies instantly with a full Might Meter
  • Brutal Aggression- fourth in the combat branch. you can now charge your Might Meter twice and use Brutal Executions
  • Wraith Chain- fourth predator skill. Allows you to use stealth kill on an additional target
  • Bird of Prey- third ranged skill. Hold left trigger mid-air to slow time and use ranged attacks
  • Treasure Hunter- fifth wraith skill. As we mentioned in our general guide, saves you a bunch of time and effort
  • Dragon Rider- fifth mounted skill. Allows you to ride a drake

Shadow of War – Best Upgrades


Your skills aren’t complete on their own, as the 87 upgrades available across the six branches let you vastly improve and modify them. Remember that you are only able to equip one upgrade per skill at a single time. Here are the best upgrades that you should focus on unlocking first:

  • Secret Might (Execution)- this is an upgrade for the combat skill Execution. Grants Might for every undetected kill
  • Wraith Execution (Brutal Aggression)- allows you to chain executions to more enemies
  • Silent Runner (Elven Agility)- holding the trigger to run no longer makes sound
  • Eagle Sight (Bird of Prey)- focus is consumed at a slower rate while mid-air
  • Chain of Shadows (Shadow Strike)- allows you to chain Shadow Strike to additional enemies
  • Shower of Ice (Ice Storm)- freeze enemies in front of you
  • Discerning Eye (Treasure Hunter)- gives you better chances of higher quality items dropping
  • Soaring Rage (Dragon Rider)- drake can shoot fireballs without Might, instead using its health to do so
  • Domination (Drain)- drained enemies will become dominated and join your side
  • Eagle’s Eyrie (Shadow Strider)- allows you to double jump off an enemy’s head and use Bird of Prey mid-air
  • Lifeblood (Dominate Captain)- you can heal all of your Followers by using some of your health