For more, check out Prima's Beginner tips and best Shadow of Mordor Abilities.

At this point in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, you know how to kill enemies with stealth takedowns, unlock Forge Towers and fire arrows while in Ranged Mode. Now it’s time to take your journey to the next level with more advanced tips. In this feature, we’ll tell you how to slaughter Captains, make upgrades and control a mighty Caragor.  

Do in the Worm: interrogate the slimy Uruk for valuable information 

Each Captain in Shadow of Mordor has strengths (impervious to ranged attacks) and weaknesses (terrified of Caragors, for example). The only way you’ll learn this information is to track down pieces of intel strewn around Middle-earth. Some of it’s out in the open on top of crates. All you have to do is walk up to it and press R1. 

Trickier intel resides with Worms, specially marked Uruk that glow green when you enter the Wraith World. We suggest pressing/holding R2 and then tapping Triangle to distract the Worm and separate it from the pack, but don’t kill it! Instead, stun the Worm with a few sword slashes, then with the enemy stunned, press and hold R1 to grab the creature and then X to interrogate. If done correctly, you’ll receive the intel on a specific Captain. Keep in mind you can also identify a Captain while in Wraith mode. 

Tip: Press Options to access Sauron’s Army to check Captain stats, view Power Struggles and mark your targets. 

Killing Captains: know their strengths, exploit their weaknesses 

Although you can kill most Captains by rapidly mashing the attack button, you’ll take them out much quicker if you make note of their particular strengths and weaknesses learned after interrogating the Worm. If one of the Captains is afraid of Caragor, for instance, set one or more loose and watch everything unfold from a safe distance. Conversely, if the Captain is impervious to Talion’s arrows, you’ll need to engage this foe up close. Without this intel, you go into the fight blind. 

Tip: Check a Captain’s Power Rating to see how tough he is. 

Like Talion, Captains regain health over time, so you need to become the aggressor. Some travel with other Uruk, and you should attempt to engage the Captain one-on-one whenever possible. Should more Uruk arrive, parry to avoid attacks and then focus your attention back onto the Captain.

Tip: In our experience, attempting a stealth kill on a Captain is a bad idea the first time around. These are often repelled so the Captain can lock up with Talion and talk a little trash. Then the fight officially begins.

Most Captains will stay and fight regardless of the situation, but others will flee. Don’t let him escape! Chase after the Captain and take him down. There’s a great chance that putting distance between you and his Uruk buddies will cause them to give up their pursuit, thereby increasing the chances of engaging the Captain mano-e-mano. 

Unfortunately the Uruk crave power at all times. Kill one Captain and another will often take his place.

Tip: Dead Captains drop Runes that help Talion power up his weapons. After killing the Captain, walk up to the glowing icon and press R1 to collect it.

Tip: Losing to a Captain may result in this character receiving an increased Power Rating.

Understanding Power Struggles 

The old saying there’s no honor among thieves perfectly applies to Uruk. These Power Struggles pit two rival Captains and their cronies against each other.   

Here’s why this is good for Talion:

  • You can hang back and let both Captains weaken each other.
  • It’s a great opportunity to kill two Captains in one location.
  • You’ll catch the targeted Captain in a potentially weakened state

Do not let one one Captain kill the other, as the victor will immediately grow in power.

Unlock new Abilities

You’ll get far without making upgrades, but you should always seek to improve Talion’s Abilities. First you’ll need Ability Points that you’ll earn from gaining XP through killing enemies and completing missions.  

Once you have an Ability Point (or hoarded several) pause and head to the Abilities screen, where you’ll then spend these points to access new moves for Talion. Only the first tier is available when you start the game, but you’ll be able to access additional tiers by completing those aforementioned Power Struggles. 

Tip: The Abilities screen tells you when you will unlock the next ability point (earned XP) and tier (Power Struggle). 

Here are some examples of Abilities you will unlock: 

Execution: After charging Talion’s Hit Streak, press Triangle + Circle to execute his target. 

Impact: Countered enemies (Triangle) will get knocked backward, stunned or knocked down.

Strike From Above: Aerial takedowns (R2 + Square) on unaware targets become lethal. 

Elven Swiftness: Time your landing (tap X) when jumping over an obstacle to receive a temporary speed boost and +1 Hit Streak.

Detonate: Shoot fires or barrels to make them explode. Talion is immune to fire and explosive damage. 

Wraith Stun: Stun Talion’s enemies (press Circle) and then follow up with multiple sword strikes. 

Ride Caragors: Press R1 to mount a Caragor from above. Once mounted, you can ride, climb and fight enemies.

Weapons and Runes

You can upgrade Talion’s Sword, Bow and Dagger with unlocked Runes. To do this, select the desired weapon and Rune, then spend the required amount of Mirian to equip said Rune. Naturally, you’ll need to have enough Mirian to this. You can also convert the Rune into Mirian if you don’t want it. This lets you save up for better Runes later on. 

Examples of Runes: 

Sword

Know No Pail (level 5): 15 percent chance to recover +5 health on any kill

Blade Master (level 8): 49 percent chance to recover full health when hit streak reaches 30.

Bow 

Sylvan Arrow (level 5): 30 percent chance to recover +30 Focus for a headshot kill. 

Dagger 

To the Death (level 8): Recover 49 percent Focus for grab shank kills.

How to earn more Mirian in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 

Mirian, otherwise known as M, is the game’s virtual currency and is necessary for upgrading Talion’s weapons and increasing his Maximum Health, Focus and Elf-shot. The best ways to earn it? Track down collectibles, complete side missions and challenges and/or bonus objectives. Check the map to see opportunities to earn Mirian, which the game’s developers marked in white. 

Use Caragor to your advantage 

These ferocious creatures kill without mercy, be it Uruk or Talion. You’ll often see them in cages, and it’s your choice to free the beasts (hack with Talion’s sword or break the chain with an arrow from afar) and let them run amok. You can even shoot bait hanging above to make the Caragor even crazier. 

Unlock the Ride Caragors Ability to command one. Stand above a Caragor on a ledge and press R1 to jump off and mount the animal. Complete the mini-game (use the Left stick to move the cursor into the circle and press the desired button) and now you’re able to steer the Caragor and perform the following actions:

  • Press Square to attack or knock down.
  • Press Triangle to bite. Caragor will regain health while munching downed enemies.
  • Hold L2 to use Ranged Mode.
  • Hold R2 and press Square to attack from above, dismounts.
  • Hold Circle to drain your mount and regain Elf-shot. This damages the Caragor.
  • Hold X to charge through and knock down enemies.

Tip: If you dismount a Caragor, it will remain loyal to Talian and fight until it’s dead. 

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is available now for PS4, Xbox One and PC.