Shadow of Mordor is now available, meaning you can experience stealth action-adventure in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth universe. This is Monolith's first round in the genre, but as I noted in my review, they did a pretty good job with the game. You'll take control of Wraith-bonded ranger Talion, who's on a quest to take down Sauron and avenge his family. That means you'll be fighting an entire army of Uruk all alone.
To lessen the number of deaths you'll have to experience, here's a few tips. These hints and guidelines will keep you alive longer and keep your enemies in the ground.
Don't Just Kill Captains, Execute Them
Is there one pesky Uruk Captain who keeps getting in your way and becoming stronger every time you kill it? You've stabbed and shot the same fiend over and over, but they keep resurrecting with a larger list of scars and a bone to pick with you.
Your problem is you're not executing the captain. While stealth or ranged kills are much easier, an Execution finishes an uruk for good. When in combat, Talion has a Hit Streak counter in the top-left corner of the screen. This keeps track of successive attacks without Talion taking damage. When your Hit Streak hits 8 (5, if you pick up a certain skill), Talion's sword glows white and you can perform an Execution on a target. Just hit Y+B (Xbox 360/Xbox One) or Triangle+Circle (PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4) when you're aimed in the direction of your target and Talion will brutally kill them, usually via beheading. You can also use a combo finisher or a stun finisher (Stun the target with Circle/B, thenb do your full attack chain).
An executed captain will never return to life. You can tell if you were successful by going to the Sauron's Army menu screen. If the captain's dead body is sitting there, you failed and the captain has a chance of returning. If instead there's an effigy with only the captain's severed head on it, you succeeded. Knowing this will keep a revived captain from surprising you when you try to take down a Warchief.
Interrogation and Intel Are Important
Other open-world games may let you head straight at your foes, but every uruk in Shadow of Mordor has its own strengths and weaknesses. You don't want to spend 30 minutes setting up the perfect stealth kill and exit strategy, only to find out the captain you're attacking is immune to stealth kills. If you want to win, you need information.
When you first kick off Talion's quest, the Sauron's Army screen will be dark. You can fill it out by randomly running into captains or you can be proactive. Anytime you're fighting an uruk, you can hold R1 (PlayStation platforms) or Right Bumper (Xbox) to grab them. Try to make sure it's the last one alive, otherwise you're setting yourself up for a hit. Once you've grabbed your chosen target, you'll see the button prompt to interrogate. This will take you to the Sauron's Army screen where you can illuminate some of those mysterious silhouettes.
Once you've revealed the captains, you still need information on their strengths and weaknesses. To get that, you either need to Interrogate another captain or a worm. Worms are uruk marked on the mini-map by a green diamond icon. They'll also appear green in your Wraith World vision. They're easier to handle than captains and you'll find one or two in most uruk strongholds. Finally, you'll find out about Warchiefs by interrogating captains. Remember, forewarned is forearmed. I once died against a Warchief three times before finding out that it was susceptible to stealth kills. Don't be like me.
And don't forget your Wraith World vision. It sees enemies through walls, making it indispensable.
Kill The Bodyguards
Trying to kill a Warchief without taking out his captain bodyguards is just begging for death. A lone Warchief will frequently be swarmed with uruk; adding captains on top of that is foolhardy. Yes, it makes the act of targeting a Warchief much longer, but it's worth it.
Don't Be Afraid to Run
Speaking of uruk swarms, unless you're an absolute combat master you should know when to cut and run. Especially when you're low on health, it's best to hoof it and hide out somewhere. A Wraith Flash and a few well-timed dodges can find you outside of the mob, giving you distance to escape. Running is important because dying moves the clock forward in Shadow of Mordor, meaning Sauron's uruk army will shift and become stronger.
Save The Ranged Attacks
You should be using your ranged attacks you two things, taking out ranged enemies and dispatching certain uruk before they hit the alarms. You can dodge the attacks of ranged enemies, but it's best to take them out of the equation completely.
Alarms are Talion's ultimate enemy. You can tell when an uruk is going to trigger an alarm when they run away from the melee with a red icon above their heads. Finishing off these uruk before they hit the alarms is the difference between a manageable fight and a dirt nap. Use the slow-motion power of your ranged Focus Mode to hit them with a well-placed headshot.
Forge Towers Are Your Friends
Unlock the Forge Towers in every area. Yes, running across the landscape in satisfying in Shadow of Mordor, but unlocked Forge Towers means Fast Travel. You can use Fast Travel in most cases when you're not in combat. Trapped deep within an enemy stronghold? Just Fast Travel out. There's no penalty for using the system.
Get Out of The Way
Many players will probably stick with countering for all their combat needs, but Talion's dodge shouldn't be forgotten. It retains all of the benefits of countering, but with the added bonus of positioning. Going from the middle of a mob to the outer edges is worth it. It's better to keep all of your enemies in front of you rather than letting them surround you, as a number of Talion's attacks sweep the area in front of him.
The Battle Will Never End
Your first inclination in Shadow of Mordor will be to become an uruk-murdering machine, dispatching captains with extreme prejudice. There's just one problem, even if you execute every captain you come across, the game will just make another one to fill the spot. Until you get to the game's latter half and gain the ability to dominate and control Uruk, you're wasting your time trying to kill all of them. Focus on the ones that are bodyguards for Warchiefs or the occasional pesky hunters, who will harry you from one end of the map to the other. The rest you can kill if you cross your path, but in the game's first half, it's best to remain focused.