Whats up Foundry lurkers, Phazius here and I’m back to continue our “Skill Overview” series by revisiting the Nightblade. We pretty extensively previewed the class in our coverage after PAX Prime, so some of this information will not be new, but in order to give the Nightblade class a consistent treatment with our other articles, we wanted to be sure to give you all a full rundown on all it’s abilities (including the passives which were not reported after PAX). The Nightblade in ESO epitomizes the rogue archetype, but has enough versatility to be appropriate for a wide variety of builds. Traditionally, the Nightblade relies on stealth, subtlety, and dark magic to get in close and deliver devastating single target damage to unsuspecting foes.
The first skill tree the Nightblade has access to, Assassination, focuses on this very strategy, incorporating heavy hitting melee attacks and abilities designed to deliver high melee DPS. Assassination also gives a bit of avoidance, to help the Nightblade stay in the thick of the action for long enough to secure their kill.
- [Ultimate] Death Stroke - Deals damage to your target, and reduces their incoming healing. The damage dealt is increased by your Ultimate pool.
- [Active] Assassins Blade - Deals moderate damage with a large damage multiplier when used against low health enemies.
- [Active] Teleport Strike – Teleport directly to your target, dealing damage and stunning them for a short duration.
- [Active] Blur - A medium duration self buff that gives attackers a percentage based miss chance when attacking the Nightblade.
- [Active] Mark Target – Place a mark on a high-health target; while marked you deal extra damage to the target. Killing the marked target will heal the Nightblade.
- [Active] Haste – Increases the attack speed of normal and power attacks for a moderate duration.
- [Passive] Master Assassin – Deal increased damage while stealthed or invisible. Successful sneak attacks stun for longer.
- [Passive] Executioner – Killing an enemy with an Assassination ability restores some Magicka.
- [Passive] Pressure Points – Increases the Nightblade’s critical strike chance for every Assassination ability on their current hotbar.
- [Passive] Hemorrhage – Increases the Nightblade’s bonus critical strike damage for each Assassination ability on their current hotbar.
This seems to be a pretty traditional skill tree for a stealth assasin. Assassin’s Blade is your basic stabbing skill with bonus execute damage against near-death enemies. Teleport Strike is an excellent gap-closer, not only instantly closing the distance to your target, but stunning them in the process. Blur gives the Nightblade some staying power in melee by giving foes a random chance to miss attacks. this will be a super useful skill for tank Nightblades, particularly since this costs Magicka as opposed to the Stamina cost of many other tanking abilities. Mark Target is a great skill for solo or small-group PvP, and the functional nature of this ability may result in Nightblades being the “main assist” of choice in PvP groups. Haste looks more like a option to increase sustained damage-over-time, and will probably be more useful during predictable PvE encounters when the player has an opportunity to stay in melee range for an extended period of time. Death Stroke brings a crucially important healing debuff, and will be a really important tool in the Nightblade’s arsenal for taking down pesky healers. The passive abilities in this tree seem to generally reinforce the assassin theme, giving bonuses for attacking from stealth, killing targets, and stacking Assassination abilities for more burst through critical hits.
Next up, the Shadow line provides some great utility to complement the assassin style. Shadow includes a nice bag of tricks, that can be used strategically to turn the course of a fight in the Nightblades’ favor.
- [Ultimate] Consuming Darkness – An AoE snare that renders the Nightblade invisibile. Attacking an enemy removes the invisibility for a short time. Allies can activate the Slip Away synergy, also gaining invisibility.
- [Active] Shadow Cloak – Gain invisibility for a short duration.
- [Active] Veiled Strike – Deals increased damage and stun enemies. Requires Stealth.
- [Active] Summon Shade – Summons a shade which attacks and debuffs your enemies causing them to deal less damage.
- [Active] Path of Darkness – Deals damage in a path in front of you, increases your movement speed along that path.
- [Active] Aspect of Terror – Nearby enemies are afflicted with Fear.
- [Passive] Refreshing Shadow – Activating a Shadow ability increases stamina regeneration
- [Passive] Shadow Barrier – Take less damage after coming out of stealth or invisibility
- [Passive] Fortitude – Increase max Health per slotted Shadow ability slotted
- [Passive] Dark Veil – Increase duration of Shadow abilities
Our PAX article accidentally included the incorrect description for Consuming Darkness, so this error is corrected. The actual effect of the Shadow ultimate is really interesting, from a tactical perspective. It creates an AoE snare and opens the opportunity for group stealth. The synergy could be great for ambushing siege encampments, or as an escape tool allowing small groups to avoid being overrun by roaming zergs. Remember, everyone can stealth in ESO, but Shadow Cloak makes Nightblade the only class with a reliable in-combat stealth. In addition to opening the opportunity for sneak attacks, Shadow Cloak may be effectively used to break line of sight, avoid crowd control, or simply ditch an enemy attacker.
Veiled Strike is the only ability we’ve seen which requires stealth, I wonder if this stun will stack with the base stun duration mentioned in Master Assassin, or if the base stun is really short and this is much longer. Summon Shade looks helpful in PvE as a mitigation skill or in PvP as a distraction. Hopefully the AI on the summoned shade is intelligent enough to avoid breaking crowd control. Path of Darkness seems like a great ability for catching fleeing enemies, or closing quickly on an unsuspecting enemy. Aspect of Terror could be excellent, but it really depends on what “Fear” does in ESO; are they standing in place? are they running? does it break on damage? The Shadow passives provide a lot of elusiveness, survivability, and sustain and should be useful for engaging from stealth.
Siphoning presents an alternative approach to the Assassination tree, rather than overwhelming a foe with burst damage, Siphoning focuses on prolonging fights and wearing your enemies down with DoT’s, crowd control, and self-heals.
- [Ultimate] Soul Shred – Deals PBAoE damage and stuns nearby enemies. Initiates the Leeching Strike synergy.
- [Active] Strife – Places a DoT on your target which also heals you for the duration.
- [Active] Agony – Stuns and DoTs an enemy for a long duration, but the effect is broken by any other damage.
- [Active] Cripple – Places a DoT on an enemy which gradually decreases its movement speed, transferring an equal speed bonus to the Nightblade.
- [Active] Siphoning Strikes – Sacrifice a portion of your own weapon damage in to restore a portion of your Magicka and Stamina with every hit.
- [Active] Drain Power – Debuff the attack power of nearby enemies, transferring a portion of that power to the Nightblade for each affected enemy.
- [Passive] Catalyst – Increase potion effectiveness
- [Passive] Magicka Flood – Increase maximum magicka when you have a Siphoning ability slotted.
- [Passive] Soul Siphoner – Increases healing taken by Siphoning abilities
- [Passive] Transfer – Gain ultimate when dealing damage with a Siphoning ability
Soul Shred is a point-blank AoE stun, which is a useful control and escape tool. This ultimate arguably brings the most group utility, by allowing allies to exploit a synergy, gaining self-healing. Strife is an amazing ability in longer-duration fights, not only adding another stacking DoT to your target, but returning a gradual inflow of healing to keep the Nightblade in the fight for longer. Agony adds a long-duration crowd control which also deals damage-over-time. This seems like an absolutely incredible ability, and should probably be one of the first things on any Nightblade’s hotbar. Cripple adds a useful chase or escape skill, slowing enemies and increasing your speed at the same time. Siphoning Strikes would be great for someone preferring the rapid use of skills as their primary source of DPS rather than basic weapon attacks. This could also be as bread-and-butter ability for Nightblade tanks who require Stamina return to keep enemies engaged.Thankfully, since this is a toggle, the Nightblade can alternate by activating Siphoning Strikes whenever his or her combat resources are low. Drain Power is a great utility skill for group play, increasing your own damage at the expense of all nearby enemies.
As for passives, additional Magicka is always good, and increased healing revived from Siphoning skills is a welcome boost to Strife. The effectiveness of Transfer depends whether ticks of DoT damage activate the bonus, or only initial application of a skill. I left Catalyst for last because it’s a bit unusual, increasing the effectiveness of potions. This is the only passive that has this kind of effect, and its amazing since potion effects can be flexibly adapted for almost any scenario!
Thanks for reading and I hope this facilitates a bit more discussion of the Nightblade class. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section below, and let us know what you think the best Nightblade builds will use. Think Nightblades can be viable tanks or healers, or are they a DPS only class? What is your favorite ultimate from the three at the Nightblade’s disposal, and which weapon set do you think complements this playstyle most closely?