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Middle-earth Shadow of War: How to Upgrade Your Character

How to Upgrade Your Character in Middle-earth: Shadow of War

In Shadow of War, Talion has access to a much more flexible upgrade system than in Shadow of Mordor. This time around you can upgrade your character to center around individual playstyles by choosing from a wide selection of gear and skills.

Upgrade Your Character by Getting Gear

The Rune system from Shadow of Mordor is gone and has been replaced by a much more in-depth gear system in Shadow of War. You can get swords, daggers, bows, axes, armor, cloaks, and runes (rings) that will add to your base power as well as provide item-specific enhancements to your skills.


The rarity of a piece of gear is indicative of its abilities. Here’s what you can expect from each rarity level:

  • Normal: Direct stat-boost only. No added effects.
  • Rare: Direct stat-boost and one-time unlockable effect.
  • Epic: Direct stat-boost and stronger one-time unlockable effect.
  • Legendary: Direct stat-boost and multiple unlockable effects.

Gems can also boost each weapon. For a one-time fee of 1,000 Mirian, you can unlock the gem slot for a piece of gear and use the jewels to strengthen it.

There are three kinds of Gems in Shadow of War, and each of them can have three different effects depending on where you slot them.:

Warrior Gem

Concentrates on damage.

  • Weapon: Large damage increase for the weapon the gem is slotted in only.
  • Armor: Moderate damage increase with all attacks.
  • Rune: Increased follower damage.

Life Gem

Concentrates on health.

  • Weapon: Increases Health stolen with the weapon to which it is equipped.
  • Armor: Increases max Health
  • Rune: Less Damage to followers

Wealth Gem

Focuses on Mirian and XP

  • Weapon: Increases chances that enemies killed with the weapon the gem is slotted in will drop Mirian.
  • Armor: Increases XP earned.
  • Rune: Increases an Orc Captain’s level when they’re recruited.

Gear stats intertwine with skills, and both work to make the other stronger.

Upgrade Your Character by Unlocking Skills

What good is gear if you don’t have cool abilities to use it with? Skills are divided into six categories in this game and are arranged in a loose tree. You can learn things like Executions, which allows you to automatically kill a nearby enemy grunt or deal substantial damage to a captain when your Might gauge is full, or less direct things like riding caragors.

The way skills are set up makes it easy to select them based on the way you want to play the game. If you love using the bow, you don’t have to unlock a bunch of skills you’ll never use before you can get the bow skills. You just have to progress through the Ranged tree and worry about its particular prerequisites instead of a vast intertwined mess of abilities.

Unlocking skills is easy, all you need is a skill point. You get one skill point each time Talion levels up, and you can also get them for completing tasks around Mordor. For example, purifying all the Haedir Towers in a region will give you a bonus skill point. The opportunity to level up or perform a bonus task comes up pretty often so you should never have a dry spell as long as you continue to do missions.

That’s the basics of upgrading your character in Middle-earth: Shadow of War. Check out our wiki for more on the game.

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