Skill Overview – Melee Weapons

We're getting up close and personal with melee weapons.

We’re getting up close and personal with melee weapons.

We’re back with the next part in our continuing series of skill overviews based on the Elder Scrolls Online build that was playable at PAX Prime and more recently at London’s Eurogamer Expo.  Isarii here, and I’ll be guiding you through a look at what ESO has to offer in terms of melee weapons – the weapons of choice for players who like to get up close and personal.   If you like hitting things in the face, then this is the article for you. I’ll be breaking down the One-handed and Shield, Two-Handed, and Dual Wield weapon lines that you can level and upgrade in-game.

One-Handed and Shield

Masters of defense should look no further than the one-handed and shield skill line, which is clearly intended to be the go-to weapon set for aspiring tanks.

  • [Active] Puncture – Deals physical damage, reduces the target’s armor, and taunts the target for a moderate duration.
  • [Active] Low Slash – Deals physical damage, snares target, and reduces the target’s weapon damage for a moderate duration.
  • [Active] Defensive Posture – While slotted, increases block mitigation and reduces block cost.  Activating the skill reflects the next spell projectile back at the attacker.
  • [Active] Shield Charge – Charges to target and attacks, dealing physical damage and stunning the target for a short duration.
  • [Active] Power Bash – Deals physical damage, disorienting the target for a moderate duration.
  • [Passive] Sword and Board – While you have a one-handed weapon and shield equipped, all damage and armor are increased.
  • [Passive] Deadly Bash – While you have a one-handed weapon and shield equipped, bash deals double damage and costs less stamina.
  • [Passive] Fortress – While you have a one-handed weapon and shield equipped, the cost of blocking is reduced.
  • [Passive] Deflect Bolts – While you have a one-handed weapon and shield equipped, block an additional percentage of damage from projectiles and ranged attacks.
  • [Passive] Battlefield Mobility – While you have a one-handed weapon and shield equipped, movement speed while blocking is increased.
Daedroth Attacking

This could be a glimpse of “Defensive Posture”

The skills in one-handed and shield line should come as no surprise, as all the usual trappings of a tank’s toolkit are present; you have a taunt, snare, sunder, charge, spell reflect, and general survivability related goodies.  Fans of hitting people in the face with a shield will be pleased to see a shield bash, and the more observant ones will notice allusions to a second one in the passive Deadly Bash.  This refers to the melee interrupt standard to all weapon types, which I pointed out in a previous article detailing the reactive combat elements of The Elder Scrolls Online.

The abilities in this skill line are heavily weighted towards survivability, providing powerful defensive bonuses that as an aggregate outclass those found in any of the other skill lines we’ve seen so far.  In addition to this, the active ability Puncture is the only taunt we’re currently aware of.  The combination of these two features may very well make one-handed and shield borderline mandatory for tanking due to how significantly it surpasses the tanking abilities of the other weapons, so aspiring tanks would be well advised to plan to use it as their primary set.

 

Two-Handed

Up next we have the two-handed weapon line.  Do you enjoy hitting people in the face with heavy objects? Then this is the skill line for you.

  • [Active] Cleave – Deals physical damage to all enemies in front of you, inflicting a bleed dealing damage for a moderate duration.
  • [Active] Critical Charge – Charge to target and attack, dealing guaranteed critical physical damage.
  • [Active] Uppercut – After a short cast time, deals physical damage to an enemy, stunning them for a short duration and knocking them back a small distance.
  • [Active] Reverse Slash – Deals physical damage which increases based on the target’s missing health.
  • [Active] Momentum – Increases weapon damage by a flat percentage for a moderate duration, with the percentage amount increasing every few seconds.
  • [Passive] Heavy Weapons – While a two-handed weapon is equipped, axes have a chance to inflict a bleed damage over time effect, maces ignore a flat amount of armor, and swords deal a flat percentage more damage.
  • [Passive] Balance – Reduces the cost of two-handed weapon ability by a moderate percentage.
  • [Passive] Forceful Impact – While a two-handed weapon is equipped, light and heavy attacks deal a moderate percentage of the damage as splash damage to an additional nearby enemy.
  • [Passive] Arcane Fighter – While a two-handed weapon is equipped, the chance of proccing status effects is doubled.
  • [Passive] Battle Rush – While a two-handed weapon is equipped, killing an enemy increases stamina regeneration by a significant amount for a moderate duration.
Its hard to argue with someone wielding a very large sword

Its hard to argue with someone wielding a very large sword

While superficially the tree appears to be entirely focused on damage-dealing, I find it interesting that we see abilities typical of tank archetypes such as cleave and charge making appearances.  My expectation is that the morphs for a few of the two-handed abilities will end up offering players a choice between increasing their damage or increasing their survivability, making two-handed an ideal choice for those seeking to fulfill the role of a bruiser, or heavy DPS. Also worthy of the note is the Heavy Weapons passive, giving each two-handed weapon type a unique additional effect ala Skyrim, only all in one passive.

On the theorycrafting side of things, I’m curious about the role of Arcane Fighter, and if it’s serving as a balancing mechanic.  Most MMOs implement weapon procs -which are weapon effects that have a chance to apply on every hit- by limiting them on the basis of procs per minute (PPM) as opposed to a flat percentage to proc on every hit.  In addition to balancing the utility-value of the proc between weapons of various speeds, this also serves to lessen the chance of random number generation (RNG) granting a player massive, overpowering chains of procs.  Could Arcane Fighter be an indication that ESO is implementing procs based on flat chance and not procs per minute, thus planning to balance the discrepancy between dual wield and two-handed attack speeds by increasing the proc rate for two-handed weapons?  I suppose time will tell.

 

Dual Wield

Not to be confused with duel wielding, the dual wield skill line offers players the most direct and dedicated route towards dishing out melee damage.

  • [Active] Twin Slashes – Two hits for physical damage, inflicting a bleed effect for a short duration.
  • [Active] Flurry – A six hit attack performing bonus damage on the final hit.
  • [Active] Whirlwind – Deals physical damage to all enemies surrounding the caster. Damage is increased versus low health enemies.
  • [Active] Sparks – Blinds the target for a moderate duration.
  • [Active] Hidden Blade – Throws a dagger that deals physical damage and interrupts the target, snaring them for a moderate duration.
  • [Passive] Slaughter – Increases damage by a flat percentage against targets at low health.
  • [Passive] Dual Wield Expert – Increases off-hand weapon damage.
  • [Passive] Controlled Fury - Reduces the cost of dual-wield abilities by a moderate percentage.
  • [Passive] Ruffian – While dual wielding, the player deals more damage against disabled targets.
  • [Passive] Twin Blade and Blunt – While dual wielding, axes have a chance to inflict a bleed damage over time effect, maces deal a percentage of bonus damage against heavily armored targets, swords deal a flat percentage more damage, and daggers have increased critical strike chance.
bad-man

Dual Wield can bring the DPS while another player holds enemy attention

I don’t see many surprises here.  Damaging abilities?  Check.  CC that adds to your survivability?  Check.  CC that keeps the target from getting away?  Check.  Everything I would expect to see for the standard dual wield or assassin archetypes.  If you’re looking to deal damage quickly, effectively, and not do a whole lot else, this is probably the skill line for you. It’s certainly worth noting that the wording of the ability appears to imply that the amount of bonus damage dealt by maces will scale with the amount of armor rating the target has, whether this passive will function in this way remains to be seen. Likely the functionality of this passive will mirror that in the two-handed line.

 

I would be interested to hear from the Tamriel Foundry community what weapon line you will be choosing for your melee-themed characters? What do you think sounds stronger for DPS, dual-wield, or two-handed? Do you think the One-handed and Shield tree will be required for tanking, or do you think some tank builds may be able to use an alternative weapon? Are there any obvious weaknesses you perceive in any of these weapon lines? Let us know in the comment section below!

156 responses to “Skill Overview – Melee Weapons”

  1. Profile Photo
    xLegionx

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    Breton Nightblade

    First off, thanks so much @Isarii for a fantastic article. I know you pretty much expect to hear that from everybody but seriously dude…great article!!! :)

    Now, reading from all this it seems to me that duel-wielding (lol… ;) ) probably will be working best with the nightblade’s assassination skill tree as some of its abilities work pretty well with that tree. I can see most assassin-based players having Slaughter which would go remarkably well with the nightblades Assassin’s blade ability which does increased damage against low-health targets.

    Ruffian also works well against targets whom you stun while in stealth. That increased damage boost against a stunned opponent would be useful in a fight. I also like the twin blade & blunt passive which has a variety of effects. For assassination based night blades this would be a useful addition in conjunction with the nightblades pressure point passives which will boost crit strike chance exponentially. Hidden blade is a must have obviously for any melee dps going up against a ranged attacker such as a magic-user or perhaps an archer (if archers can be interrupted).

        May the light of god shine through all the enemies of the faith and show them the way to redemption. For it is through redemption that misdeeds against the divines shall be wiped clean and salvation be known to those worthy of it.

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    Galahad

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    Imperial Templar

    Lowly Knights of Stendarr

    @Isarii – Thanks a lot for posting this! Good shit, man.

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    Zorkaluk

    Grandmaster

    Total Posts: 1802

    Altmer Sorcerer

    My reaction to the second paragraph of 2H:

    Wut.

  4. Member Avatar
    Triplesteel

    Novice

    Total Posts: 18

    Orc Dragonknight

    Good to see some of the abilities I’ll be able to start working towards. Glad to see the shield / one handed weapon combo actually looks good. Definitely has a lot of CC but I suppose that what ‘tanks’ need in PVP.

     

  5. Member Avatar
    Aegwynn

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 2

    Redguard Dragonknight

    I’ve used the trusted sword (actually I use a mace) and board since Morrowind, so I guess that’s a no-brainer. I love the One-hand and Shield skills, they are very fitting for my DK tank.

    My only concern however is how do I choose between alle these talents? One-hand and Shield skills, the DK skills, race skills, and guild skills and so on.

     

     

     

    Greetings from Norway, keep up the good work!

  6. Member Avatar
    Does Not Exist

    Journeyman

    Total Posts: 59

    Khajiit Dragonknight

    I can see 1H and sheild being used for people who want to fill the traditional role of a tank.  With the way the aggro system works (or at least how they said it will work), the taunt may be borderline required for tanking.

    My guess is that the system is alot more flexible though.  I remember someone from ZOS saying in an interview something along the lines of “… and you have your tank, which lets say is a guy in light armor with a staff…”, which leads me to beleive that taunts will not be required, or can be obtained from other skill lines.  They also said that Line of sight, distance from enemy, weapon type, CC, and AoE will all factor into the aggro system.  My guess is that if a guy is blasting everyone and knocking them down, taunts will not be a requirement.  They also said that Everyone will be getting hit and being really involved and that a tank will only want to hold two or three mobs at a time.

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    Desdemonte

    Journeyman

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    Bosmer Nightblade

    Vokundein

    Stamina/Magicka costs of the actives would be nice to know. I say this because Whirlwind specifically states “caster”- not the stat I would have expected being used in a weapon skill.

    Desdemonte Galiczhar, Oathsworn of Vokundein

    War is not about who is right, it is about who is left

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    Isarii

    Moderator

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    Breton Templar

    xLegionx said on October 10, 2013 :

    First off, thanks so much @Isarii for a fantastic article. I know you pretty much expect to hear that from everybody but seriously dude…great article!!!

    I have no expectations and always love to get positive feedback.  I am still new at this game journalism thing, so being validated is a pretty big deal to me.  Thanks to everyone who has nice things to say.

    I do agree fully with your speculation about DW and Nightblades.  I imagine stealth-oriented DW dagger NBs will be pretty common and effective.

    Zorkaluk said on October 10, 2013 :

    My reaction to the second paragraph of 2H:

    Wut.

    Haha, I had a feeling some people would do that when they read that part.  That’s what I thought of when I saw that passive, and it seemed like something I could say that wasn’t completely obvious.  Once we get our hands on some concrete numbers I may revisit that line of thinking to see if we can determine if one is better than the other (also taking into account DW’s ability to trigger two different procs, and situations when that could be better or worse).

    Aegwynn said on October 10, 2013 :

    My only concern however is how do I choose between alle these talents? One-hand and Shield skills, the DK skills, race skills, and guild skills and so on.

    Greetings from Norway, keep up the good work!

    Hello from America!  I’ve had a strange amount of interaction with Norwegian people on the internet in the last week or two – though usually they’re gloating about having a functioning government or confused about certain elements of ours.

    As far as what to choose, well that’s half the fun!  At least you’re able to unlock everything without having to respec every time you want to change your build.

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    Robomb227

    Novice

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    Dunmer Sorcerer

    Finally the weapon skill lines are up :)

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    Azengard

    Adept

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    Nord Dragonknight

    I have a question… The passive skills worked all the time or have to choose which to use? Like Neverwinter… -.-‘

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    Isarii

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    Breton Templar

    Does-Not-Exist said on October 10, 2013 :

    My guess is that the system is alot more flexible though.  I remember someone from ZOS saying in an interview something along the lines of “… and you have your tank, which lets say is a guy in light armor with a staff…”, which leads me to beleive that taunts will not be required, or can be obtained from other skill lines.  They also said that Line of sight, distance from enemy, weapon type, CC, and AoE will all factor into the aggro system.  My guess is that if a guy is blasting everyone and knocking them down, taunts will not be a requirement.  They also said that Everyone will be getting hit and being really involved and that a tank will only want to hold two or three mobs at a time.

    While the aggro system may turn out to be marginally different, I wouldn’t expect to see anything that dramatic (especially light armored and staff wielding tanks).  One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that when they describe that fact that everyone will be getting hit, they still clearly describe the encounter as having one or two large mobs that have to be dealt with by the tank.  It seems they’re trying to engage players with the reactive combat without them having to be tanks, but that the fundamental role of the tank will not be changing at all – they’re just adding a bit of excitement for the DPS while the main damage source is still unmanageable by them.

    Desdemonte said on October 10, 2013 :

    Stamina/Magicka costs of the actives would be nice to know. Isay this because Whirlwind specifically states “caster”- not the stat I would have expected being used in a weapon skill.

    We are not reporting using numbers intentionally as all of that is subject to change at this point in time.  It has been known for quite some time that all physical weapons (1H+S, 2H, DW, and Bow) use stamina, while the magical weapons (DStaff and RStaff) use magicka.

    The term caster is used broadly in MMOs and does not retain its RP connotations in the context of game mechanics; if you are activating an ability, you are the caster of that ability regardless of what resource the ability is powered by or its elemental damage-type.

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    Elloa

    Adept

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    Breton Templar

    Whitestar

    Great article Isarii!

     

    There is many possibilities of building completely different character by mixing up some well though skills from different skill lines. It’s really what’s get exiting with ESO. Something I really would like to try is “suprising” and “unexpected” build. I can’t wait to have my character, get all skills possible, and start to build very weird (but hopefully working) build that no one else have though about.

     

     

     

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    Isarii

    Moderator

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    Breton Templar

    Azengard said on October 10, 2013 :

    I have a question… The passive skills worked all the time or have to choose which to use? Like Neverwinter… -.-’

    You do not have to choose, but passives are specifically applicable to certain abilities or requirements.  Armor passives scale with the amount of armor pieces of that type equipped, class passives are always on or scale with the number of abilities from that skill line slotted, and weapon passives typically only apply to abilities from that weapon.

    For more information on the basics of builds, check out my previous Build-A-Build Workshop article here on TF.

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    glak

    Hero

    Total Posts: 2913

    Breton Templar

    Tamriel Trading House NA

    Desdemonte said on October 10, 2013 :

    Stamina/Magicka costs of the actives would be nice to know.

    If the previous article w/ One Hand & Shield is anything to go on, all of the melee weapon active abilities use just stamina.  A good thing for those who don’t want to build on a magicka pool for whatever reason.

    Azengard said on October 10, 2013 :

    I have a question… The passive skills worked all the time or have to choose which to use? Like Neverwinter… -.-’

    Have to purchase each one you want with a skill point, but don’t have to purchase all of them. They only work if that weapon type is equipped.

     

    Thank you @Isarii for this melee weapon write up.

     

    Patiently waiting for the resto staff info so I can contrast it with Templar’s Restoring Light skill line.

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    Deftknight

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    Imperial Nightblade

    The Gaiscioch Family

    I’m definitely noticing the way that Dual-Wield and Nightblade skills go hand in hand, which I am definitely liking.

    I reckon that 1h + Shield will be mandatory for any tank unless a Sorceror’s pets are effective Taunt-ers.

    I must admit that that ‘Critical Charge’, ‘Momentum’ and ‘Arcane Fighter’ have made me reconsider forgetting about subtlety and just going with a 2-hander swinging, mouth frothing, beard wearing Dragonknight. Particularly as it adds a non-Ultimate charge to the DK’s repertoire:

    - @Isarii (or anyone else) do you think ‘Critical Charge’ could be particular useful in PvP? What are the range limitations? Can you simply spend Stamina and get a guaranteed crit?

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    Dracane

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    Altmer Sorcerer

    Were is the staff skill line ?

     

    I guess you just forgot it ?  :) I’d hope so.

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    Isarii

    Moderator

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    Breton Templar

    glak said on October 10, 2013 :

    Patiently waiting for the resto staff info so I can contrast it with Templar’s Restoring Light skill line.

    Should be in our next batch.

    Deftknight said on October 10, 2013 :

    @Isarii (or anyone else) do you think ‘Critical Charge’ could be particular useful in PvP? What are the range limitations? Can you simply spend Stamina and get a guaranteed crit?

    Gap closers are always useful in PvP, but every class has a magicka powered option for one as well (Nightblade targeted teleport, Templar charge, Sorcerer blink, and Dragonknight grapple).

    I wouldn’t take the critical damage into too much consideration as it’s simply balanced into the base damage of the ability.  While it may be a useful ability, that won’t be the reason.

    Dracane said on October 10, 2013 :

    Were is the staff skill line ?

    I guess you just forgot it ? I’d hope so.

    Staffs aren’t melee weapons.  The staffs and the bow will be covered in an upcoming article.

  18. Member Avatar
    irons

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 2

    Redguard Dragonknight

    In PvE a tank will need to use 1H/Shield otherwise heavily focused single target DD like Nightblades will out DPS the tank.

    For DPS dual wield will win in PvE while 2Handed will be better for PvP because of the higher burst.

  19. Member Avatar
    Kasar

    Adept

    Total Posts: 155

    Imperial Nightblade

    @Isarii Great article man! It seems Dual-wielding is what I’m going to use. I saw in a previous video that an Argonian Nightblade had curved short swords, so that had my attention. Now I’m sold. Keep up the good work.

     

     

     

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    Isarii

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    Breton Templar

    @Kasar

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