Understanding Nemesis System in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

By   /   Sep 30, 2014

The Nemesis system in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is one of the standout features of the game.

As one would expect from the developers who created the amazing AI in games such as F.E.A.R, the nemesis system is an intelligence marvel and presents players with a completely different experience through each of their playthroughs of the game.

For more help on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, read our Artifacts Locations and Ithildin Locations Guide.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Nemesis System

Every enemy under the system is randomly generated in each playthrough and as the game progresses, Talion’s various actions have an impact on those enemies and they will all react differently to him whether it is to fight him or run away in fear.

Nemsis Characteristics

Each nemesis has its own unique name which is randomly generated so players will never come across an enemy with the same name as one of their previous playthrough. The nemesis is also given a title based on their appearance, traits or past actions such as Evil Eye, The Clever and The Runt. A title is useful in understanding the nemesis’ habits and behavior.

Character Model
The body of each enemy under the nemesis system is randomly generated by combining multiple body types and parts as well as hairstyles, voice and behavior. The appearance of a nemesis tells a lot about his personality.

Power Levels
This determines the difficulty of a Nemesis and indicates the base strength level. So far it seems as if the level cap of enemies is 20 but higher leveled ones might be revealed soon. The higher the power level of a Nemesis, the difficult it is to take him and his minions down in battle.

The longer a nemesis stays alive in the system, the smarter and more ruthless he becomes which allows him to climb up the rank ladder of the orc/uruk society. The rank prefix determines how capable and for how long has the nemesis been in the system.

No prefix means the nemesis recently entered the system while a Veteran has been there for a little while and has had success on his missions. Similarly Elite and Legendary ranked nemeses have been in the system for a long while with numerous successful missions.

The orc/uruk society is based upon active competition and rivalry. One nemesis might have an ongoing rivalry with another nemesis in the system which leads to them constantly doing missions against each other until one of them is dead.

There is also a ‘subordinate’ system in the Nemesis system. Several Captains will always surround a Warchief to protect and help him in combat.

Fighting Styles
Each enemy in the Nemesis system has its own particular fighting style, derived from base Uruk fighting styles and then further improved by staying longer in the Nemesis system and acquiring new abilities and buffs.

Nemeses also tend to surround themselves with other Uruks of the same type for example a Berserker Captain would be surrounded mostly by other weaker Berserker Uruks.

Each nemesis has its own unique set of traits which determine the way it fights and also helps players in deciding the best way to defeat a particular nemesis.

Location of Your Nemesis
Location will guide players on the map as to where a particular Nemesis is staying. Even if the location of a Nemesis isn’t show, a mission which would draw him out would definitely be. If another nemesis was previously dominated and is now in the same area as the one which the player is currently hunting, the nemesis would come and aid the player in combat.

Different Ranks in Nemesis System

The Uruk society is divided into three basic types:

A warchief is at the top of the Uruk rankings with 2-3 Captains serving directly underneath him as bodyguards. A  Warchief is much tougher than a Captain and doesn’t show up on the map, instead he must be drawn out by disrupting his lower ranks to attract attention.

If a dominated enemy threatens a warchief before players kill the warchief, the chances of epic runes being dropped increases. However following a threat, the Warchief surrounds himself with more bodyguards so killing him is not easy.

If players manage to dominate a Warchief, all the uruks under him become available to command.

Captains are the most common enemies from the Nemesis system which players will encounter. While Captains are powerful than regular Uruks due to the various traits at their disposal, they also have weaknesses which make easy to defeat if exploited.

Captains are the most dynamic as they are the ones who fight and go do missions on their own if they are left alone. They also serve directly under a Warchief as well as some of them acting as his bodyguards.

Like a Warchief, Captains can also be threatened through a dominated Uruk to increase the chances of Epic rune drops.

Grunts are the lowest ranking and also the most common enemies in the game. For a grunt to make it into the Nemesis system they have to do something worthy such as kill the players or defeat a Captain in combat.

Any Grunt can become a Captain so if players need a regime change in the Nemesis system, they can simply die at the hands of Grunts they want to promote to the Captain status.


All the Nemeses in the game embark upon different missions randomly. These missions are triggered by the players embarking on a mission of their own, spending time on the map screen or simply dying at the hands of someone.

Promotion Mission
Completing a promotion mission, an Uruk Grunt enters the Nemesis system to become a Captain and acquires a new title and armor. If there are no empty slots in the Captain’s roster, the Uruk attempts to kill another Captain.

Newly added Captains to the system are much easier to defeat compared to the old ones.

Duel Mission
One Nemesis battles another Uruk Nemesis in an attempt to gain more power. The Nemeses can either go one on one, or fight with their followers.

The victor gets a power level, whether he kills the opponent or players step in and do the job for him. The losing Uruk may survive, especially in the case of cowardly ones, by fleeing the battle.

Betrayal Mission
Even at the top ranks, there is always struggle for power. A Warchief’s bodyguard might betray him and damage or outright kill him. If the initial assassination attempt is unsuccessful, the betrayer will have to fight the Warchief and all his other men which would certainly mean his death.

If players choose to step in at this point and kill the Warchief, the betrayer immediately becomes the new Warchief and gains a power level. This is useful for drawing out a Warchief with the plan on killing him especially if one of his bodyguards is already dominated by the players.

Recruit Mission
Throughout the course of the game, enemies on the Nemesis system attempt to recruit new followers. If successful, they gain a power level.

Execution Mission
A particular Uruk might decide to execute another Uruk and his followers. The executioner Nemesis will line up the victim Nemesis with 3 of his followers and execute them one by one, the Nemesis being the last one.

If players kill the executioner while this is happening, the survivor gains a power level but if the execution is successful, he gains a power level.

Survived After Encounter
If a nemesis survives an encounter with players, whether they fought or not, they gain a power level. This can be a useful way to level up someone which the players plan on dominating later by simply leaving that specific nemesis alive.

Killed Talon
If a nemesis delivers a killing blow to players, he gains a power level along with other Nemeses who survived encounters against players.

During the festivities, Uruks are in a dull state and not good in combat. Players can take advantage of this to stealth kill a Nemesis. If the feast is uninterrupted, the Nemeses involved in it gain power levels.

Beast Hunt Mission
Throughout the game Uruks take part in beast hunts to show off their skills to others. If a Nemesis is successful on the hunt, he gains a power level. If he isn’t, the nemesis will probably die or develop a fear of the beast he was hunting.

Players can get involved in the hunt and either kill the beast to level up a Nemesis or take out the Nemesis while he is distracted by the beast.

Ambush Mission
Similar to a duel, one nemesis would be fighting another but one of them would be outnumbered by the ambush set by the other. Normally ambushing Nemesis wins but players can change that if they decide to defend the Uruk who is outnumbered which can be a useful strategy if they are looking to dominate someone.

Interactions With Nemesis

Players as Talion can impact the Nemesis system in various ways in order to promote someone they dominated or in an attempt to overthrow a particularly annoying and challenging Warchief they don’t want to fight.

Players can intentionally die at the hands of some Uruks in order to promote them farther in the Nemesis system.

Alternatively, they can choose to die at the hands of a specific Uruk multiple times to level him up faster so that they can have a powerful minion if they choose to dominate the Nemesis or kill him for a powerful rune.

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