Three years is basically forever in the ever-changing video game landscape, so you’d be forgiven if you don’t remember all the ins and outs of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. However, its sequel, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, is not so forgiving.
Both Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War is open-world action games inspired by the Assassin’s Creed and Arkham series. You run around, jump and climb and overtake Sauron’s forces. Along the way, you’ll find new abilities, gear, and story (and plot) pieces, picking up collectibles and consumables. But stabbing the Orcs is the core gameplay.
Combat – Middle-earth: Shadow of War
In the first game, you learn Talion’s abilities slowly. In the second game, you start with almost all of them and there are no tutorials for it. At least it’s scary.
For melee, Talion has two weapons: sword and dagger. For your purposes as a player, they are no different – they are mapped to the same node and he will use whichever node the context requires.
Talion’s also has a spectral bow (-ish). It is not so physically as it is attached to Celebrimbor’s residence in his body. There’s a lot he could do with it in the first game, but it was introduced relatively slowly in the second, so we’ll skip that for now.
Skills – Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Talion has a powerful skill tree – there are 33 skills and 87 upgrades for those skills. Some of these will unlock as you progress in the campaign, and you can buy the rest with skill points you earn by doing various things or gaining enough XP to level up. Skills add options for Talion’s battle, new (magic) powers, and add new creatures you can control.
Unlike the first game, Middle-earth: Shadow of War gives players a lot of control over their gear. You now have five pieces to worry about: a sword, a dagger, a bow, armor, and a hood.
Sometimes, like when you defeat certain orc captains or collect all the ithildin words in an area, a piece of equipment will drop. (We’ll talk more about Italian words below.) They all have a pretty distinct symbol, so you’ll know what it is. Each part of the gear also has a color associated with its quality and index.
Each shard is only associated with one stat or ability, and higher numbers equate to better gear, whether it’s a melee attack for swords or stealth for a hood.
There are four gear levels – common (white), rare (yellow), epic (orange), and legendary (purple). You cannot upgrade a regular device.
You can upgrade a rare and better equipment. When you first pick it up, you’ll see a small quest under the stat that asks you to do some quests. In the example above you can see that we have a poisoned enemy to unlock the upgrade. Once we do that, we’ll be able to spend some mirian coins and Celebrimbor will upgrade the armor.
You can only upgrade rare (yellow) and epic (orange) gear once in Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Legendary gear (purple) has (many) harder quests, but you can upgrade it more than once.
You can destroy equipment you don’t want or need anymore and turn it into mirian (cash).