Skill Overview – Ranged Weapons

A wild wamasu appears

Some prefer to smite their foes from a safe distance.

Greetings Foundry fans; Phazius here to continue our ongoing series of skill overviews based on the version of ESO that was playable at PAX Prime and Eurogamer Expo. This time, we’ll take a close look at the complement to the three melee lines presented last week by examining the ranged weapon options. We’ll be covering the two offensive options, the Bow and the Destruction Staff; followed by the Restoration Staff for those that prefer healing over offense. While perhaps not as popular their melee counterparts a ranged weapon is a key part of any build and should be taken into consideration when selecting your choice of skills. As a preliminary reminder, note that while Bow uses stamina for its skills, both staves use Magicka as their resource.



The bow is the perfect weapon for dealing physical ranged damage, and excels at keeping the player at a safe distance from his foes.

  • [Active] Poison Arrow – Deals immediate damage to the target and poisons them, interrupting enemy spells stunning the caster and putting them off balance.
  • [Active] Volley – Deals damage in a targeted area immobilizing any foes that are hit.
  • [Active] Scatter Shot – Deals damage to the target, knocking them backwards and disorienting them for a short time.
  • [Active] Arrow Spray – Deals damage and snares the target for a short time.
  • [Active] Snipe – Deals a large amount of damage at a longer range.
  • [Passive] Accuracy – While you have a bow equipped, you have a increased critical strike chance.
  • [Passive] Ranger – Reduces the stamina cost of bow skills.
  • [Passive] Long Shots – While you have a bow equipped, you deal bonus damage to distant targets.
  • [Passive] Hawk Eye – Bow attacks deal extra damage when hitting vulnerable targets.
  • [Passive] Hasty Retreat – While you have a bow equipped, you gain a short burst of movement speed after dodging.
Wood elf typical

I couldn’t find any good shots of bow abilities in action, so…. have a Bosmer!

The bow skill line comes loaded with all the tools needed to deal damage at range and keep your target from getting to you. This weapon incorporates root, knockback, snare, range, and mobility. Overall, the line is well rounded and makes a great primary weapon. One thing that stands out is Poison Arrow incorporating a ranged interrupt, unlike the standard bash melee alternative. Whether it works only on spell casts or on abilities like physical channels as well remains to be seen, but seems unlikely. Regardless, this seems like a bread-and-butter ability for any bow user. I wonder what conditions qualify as “vulnerable” in order to trigger the damage bonus from Hawk Eye. I think stealth archery will definitely have some compelling tools, with a sneak attack Snipe providing an excellent opening ability, followed by a bonus damage shot due to the stun inflicted by the sneak attack. The bow line is also no slouch when it comes to AoE capability, with both a cone and a ground target that provide considerable area damage.


Destruction Staff

The Destruction Staff will be the iconic weapon of choice for mages intent on channeling a deadly arsenal of elemental damage.

  • [Active] Destructive Touch – Deals damage and applies elemental effects. Fire causes knockback, Frost causes a stun, Shock causes disorient.
  • [Active] Wall of Elements – Create wall of AoE damage.
  • [Active] Force Shock – Deals damage and interrupts enemy casting. Interrupted enemies are stunned.
  • [Active] Impulse – Deals PBAoE damage and applies elemental effects. Fire causes burning, Frost causes chilled, Shock causes concussion.
  • [Active] Weakness to Elements – The target’s resistances to Fire, Frost, and Lightning are reduced.
  • [Passive] Tri-Focus – Destruction Staff heavy attacks cause the following effects: Frost snares the target, Shock deals some splash damage to 2 nearby foes, Fire reduces enemy spell resistance.
  • [Passive] Penetrating Magic – Your destruction spells bypass some of the targets spell resistance.
  • [Passive] Elemental Force – Increased chance to apply fire, shock, or cold status effects when you have a destruction staff equipped.
  • [Passive] Evocation – Your heavy attacks charge faster when you have a destruction staff equiped.
  • [Passive] Destruction Expert – Restore some Magicka when killing an enemy with a destruction staff equipped.
Mage duels should be epic....and sparkly!

Mage duels should be epic….and sparkly!

I’m really glad that the skills and effects of the skills depend on the elemental variety of staff you are using. Fire staves fit the archetype of the most “destructive”, causing burning, knockback, and… more burning. Frost is a bit more defensive variety, adding slows or stuns. Shock staves add splash damage, disorienting, or stunning enemies. Wall of Elements sounds like a simple, but solid ranged AoE, which can be used for both outright DPS as well as area denial, while causing status effects to all enemies in its area. Force Shock fills a similar role for the Destruction Staff as Poison Arrow does for the bow, providing a ranged method for interrupting enemies. The passives also works towards benefiting your choice of elemental staff and increasing your efficiency, by returning Magicka when defeating a foe.


Restoration Staff

Restoration Staff is the primary means of healing in ESO, and one of two dedicated healing skill trees in addition to the Templar’s Restoring Light line. It is designed to stand on its own as a fully capable healing package within a single weapon type.

  • [Active] Regeneration – Heals the wounds of a nearby ally over time.
  • [Active] Grand Healing – Heals all allies in a large target area.
  • [Active] Blessing of Protection – Heal all allies in front of you and increase their defenses for a short time.
  • [Active] Steadfast Ward – Create a shield on the lowest health ally in front of you. The shield’s strength is based on the ally’s missing health.
  • [Active] Force Siphon – Your allies gain additional health when attacking your marked target.
  • [Passive] Essence Drain – While you have a restoration staff equipped, the last hit of a heavy attack heals a nearby ally.
  • [Passive] Restoration Expert – While you have a restoration staff equipped, your healing on targets with low health is increased.
  • [Passive] Cycle of Life – Gain bonus damage based on your current health when wielding a Restoration Staff.
  • [Passive] Absorb – While you have a restoration staff equipped, blocking spells restores Magicka.
  • [Passive] Restoration Master – While you have a restoration staff equipped, increase all healing done.
We know Argonians will be proficient healers.

We know Argonians will be proficient healers.

Interestingly, the passives from Restoration Staff will effect the Templar skills if you have a staff equipped, but not the other way around. Essence Drain spreads light healing around the party for a fire-and-forget playstyle when the group is not fighting dangerous foes. This will helpfully allow the designated healer to have some fun contributing towards the group’s offense except when specialized healing is needed. Absorb is a cool ability, incorporating a skill element into a healing efficiency, through quick reactions to react to incoming spells. Regeneration is the only heal-over-time that I’m aware of and should be kept active on the tank at all times. Grand Healing sounds great for keeping your melee range party members healthy, drop it in melee range and you’re good to go. Blessing of Protection is a conic heal that improves allies defenses, great for tanks, less damage taken is less healing required! Steadfast Ward is something I would use if a party member is low but the tank really needs a heal, shield the non-tank and get back to them. Force Siphon looks very passive, though it on a boss, free healing for everyone is super efficient!

Thanks for reading this installment of our skill overviews, it will be interesting to see what healing builds people come up with for non-Templars, as well as how to best weave Templar and Restoration Staff heals together for the absolute best possible healing output. What kind of mage builds do you envision are facilitated by the abilities in the Destruction Staff line? The last core skill set is the armor skill lines which will be coming soon, so stay tuned!