Hey Tamriel Foundry, I’m Phazius, an officer in Entropy Rising, and moderator of the Dragonknight class forums. I’ve returned from the land of skill articles to bring you my full impressions of what ESO‘s archetypal warrior class is capable of. In my time with the class I have tried every armor type and almost all the weapons, though I spent most of my time with a typical tank build, Heavy Armor, One Hand and Shield. While not as flexible as the Sorcerer because of its lower Magicka management, the Dragonknight produces really strong DPS, both melee and ranged, and really strong tanks due to their strong self buffs.
Races, Racials & Stats
While this is about the Dragonknight class, your character starts with which race you choose. In most of my time with the class I have been a Khajiit, which I chose for the Health Regeneration on Aldmeri but that was before the pre-order bonus, and how knowledge of how soft-capping works. Though it does work really well with Crit based builds. I would much rather have a race that helps address the Dragonknight’s lack of Magicka return skills, but that’s just me since I don’t DPS often. Other strong race choices are Altmer, who have good mana regen and increased fire damage, and Dunmer for similar reasons. Personally I will be playing a Breton on release for the cost reduction and increased spell resistance which are preferable for me as a tank while remaining flexible for other situations.
In terms of attributes points, all characters start off with the same base attributes (150 Health, 100 Magicka, 100 Stamina) regardless of race. Each level you gain 20 in all three and 1 attribute point to spend in an attribute of your choice. 1 point gets you either 10 Stamina, 10 Magicka, or 20 Health. While leveling more Magicka is great for lowering down time but with more Health per point, it is much more efficient to put a lot of points there and get gear that increases your Magicka and Stamina.
Weapons & Armor
For armor, I went with 5 Heavy/2 Light, opting to trade some defensiveness, which the Dragonknight has in droves, to make up for the weakness of low Magicka recovery as well as just giving us more spell resistance. While leveling its reasonable enough to use 7 of one type just to hit a certain level quickly, like the level you gain the active for that armor line.
For weapons, I’ve gone with One Hand and Shield, though I have added Dual Wielding and Destruction Staff to my list of preferred weapons. Shields are a hefty source of armor but with Inner Fire from The Undaunted skill line, are not required to being able to taunt things, though the morphs for Puncture give some nice bonuses. Ransack gives us some additional armor to play with, while Pierce Armor adds a reduction to spell resistance in addition to the armor reduction. Defensive Posture brings us a very reliable way of dealing with spell casters while also improving your ability to block, its cheap and has a nice set of morphs, Defensive Stance adds a stun to what ever spell you have reflected turning it into a very reliable stun against some enemies. Absorb Magic is a rather interesting option where instead of reflecting the spell, you heal for the damage you would have taken instead.
Ardent Flame does one thing very well, burn things. It has a good mix of Area of Effect and Single-target but its all fairly close range. The best skill in this line is very easily the Ultimate (Dragonknight Standard) but we’ll get to that. The skills in the line synergize with each other very well once you start getting the morphs, Lava Whip can add even more fire damage, Fiery Breath can make then vulnerable to more fire damage, and Inferno can add more critical strike chance.
Lets discuss the passives real quick before we get into the meat of this line. Normally burning is a relatively small dot that can be applied by fire damage, the Kindling passive increases it by 66% which is huge, as a Dragonknight your almost always gonna have burning applied to at least one enemy. Warmth is ok but its not that strong of a snare, it would be reasonable to skip it initially. Searing Heat increases the duration and damage of all Ardent Flames skills, it is incredibly strong because it adds duration to your Standard, which we will get to in a bit. Lastly we have World in Flame which is rather uninteresting but still pretty good, giving you increased damage with fire AoE abilities.
Fiery Reach (Active)
While this skill has gone through a few names it’s purpose has stayed the same, bringing targets in range. Unlike the other classes Dragonknight lacks some sort of movement skill or charge, however this also gives us the unique ability to bring things to us which can be safer than us to them, particularly in PvP. The morphs are split on usefulness, Extended Chain increases the range at which it can be used which is fantastic, Empowering Chains is pretty lackluster, increasing the damage of your next attack, which could be good but I have yet to be impressed by it. Personally it is just a stepping stone to Searing Strike and Dragonknight Standard.
Searing Strike (Active)
Searing Strike is a melee attack that is very very cheap, does a good amount of base damage, and has a very strong Damage over Time component as well being more than twice as strong as the initial hit. The real strength of the skill comes from its morphs which, like Fiery Reach, are good and bad. Burning Ember makes it a decent self heal if your in a fight that is long enough to have the effect end. When it ends you are healed for 30% of the damage the DoT did which is ok for how cheap the skill is. The real power is from Unstable Flame which cause the DoT component to tick 12% harder than the previous tick, this stacks up to where the last tick is twice as hard as the first.
Dragonkight Standard (Ultimate)
This is pretty much the best skill in all of the Dragonknight skill lines, it creates an area that deals damage every second to things standing in its area, and also decreases the healing they receive by 50%. This skill gets even better with the morphs. Shifting Standard which I personally don’t like does allow you to refresh it a second time a new location. Standard of Might is what makes this skill almost too good, it increases the damage you do and reduces the damage you take by 30% while you are standing in the area of the Standard. The damage increase also applies to the Standard, which makes it completely over the top. In addition to all this, all 3 versions of the skill have the Shackle synergy which roots people in the effective area, meaning they are stuck taking large amounts of damage and less healing.
Draconic Might is a fairly defensive skill line, which gives the Dragonknight a lot of inherent tankiness, the passives all give some sort of defensive bonus, and the actives net you 2 of my favorite skills. Spike Armor gives you, well, armor and has a small damage reflect because its spiky, Dark Talon is a very strong AoE root that does some physical damage and has a synergy, Dragon Blood is a very strong self heal, Reflective Scales is similar to Defensive Posture though it lasts for 4 seconds instead of 1 spell, Inhale deals damage to enemies and heals the amount of damage done as well. Passives wise, you gain a nice amount of defensiveness, with Iron Skin increasing your Block amount, Scales Armor increases your spell resistance, and Burning Heart and Elder Dragon increases your healing received and Health regen respectively, based on how many Draconic Power skills you have slotted.
Spike Armor (Active)
Spike Armor is the single largest increase you can get to your armor from a single skill, its not that expensive, and the “thorns” effect isn’t a negligible amount of damage. I like using this skill in my Destruction Staff build, which uses mostly light armor, to off set the low armor value. The morphs are interesting but not great, Razor Armor increases the armor granted by the skill by 25% but only for a few seconds, Volatile Armor cause you to shoot out spikes in a small area dealing some physical damage, when you cast the skill.
Dark Talons (Active)
This is one of the best skills a Dragonknight has, it is an AoE root that lasts 4 seconds and deals physical damage, its great when tanking for keeping large groups of enemies locked down, or soloing so you only have to deal with a few enemies at a time. It is a bit expensive so you must be aware of your positioning when casting because it is centered around you. The morphs are the real strength of the skill, Choking Talons causes effected enemies to deal 15% less damage which is nice when dealing with quite a few casters or PvP.. The other morph turns it into a monster of an AoE, Burning Talons adds fire damage equal to the physical damage over 4 seconds, effectively doubling the amount you deal and is my personal favorite for all situations. In addition to all this, all 3 versions of Dark Talons have the Impale synergy which allows allies to explode the talons for a good amount of damage.
Dragon Leap (Ultimate)
Probably the flashiest skill the Dragonknight gets, you sprout wings and leap forward dealing a large amount of damage and knocking enemies down for 4 seconds, I think I would like it more if the cost was a bit lower than it is. The morphs provide both offensive and defensive options, Take Flight increases the damage and range, while Ferocious Leap grants you a lot of spell resistance for 8 seconds.
Earthen Heart is the Dragonknight’s support and CC tree, but also bring us some of our best passives. We get 2 group buff spells, Molten Weapons and Obsidian Shield, 2 very hard CCs in the form of Stonefist and Petrify. Ash Cloud sits more on the CC side being a very strong slow covering an area. Magma Armor is a great tanking ultimate, being able to cap incoming damage and it does decent damage.
Passives wise we get Eternal Mountain which increases the duration of Earthen Heart skills by 20% which is very useful for our group buffs and CCs, we get Battle Roar which restores Health, Magicka, and stamina by 100% of the ultimate’s costs, its freaking strong. Mountain’s Blessing nets us some free Ultimate resource every time we use a Earthen Heart skill, which is great cause these all get refreshed quite often, Helping Hands is similar to Mountain’s Blessing, giving us 5% of our Stamina back.
Stonefist is a short range stun that does a small amount of damage as well, the cost isn’t too high so you can use it a few times to keep something locked down. The morphs are both pretty useful, Stone Giant gives you armor when you cast it for 4 seconds, while not good for 1 target its great for soloing where most fights are 2-3 enemies. Obsidian Shard brings us a bit more safety by increasing the range at which the skill can be used, it is normally pretty short but this morph brings it up to a more mid-range.
Molten Weapons (Active)
One of the Dragonknight’s two group buffs Molten Weapons increases you and your parties weapon damage and is doubly effective on your self, its very cheap on magicka, and lasts a long time. The morphs bring further damage increases with Molten Armaments which give everyone a short burst of increased critical strike chance, while my preferred morph, Igneous Weapons, adds additional fire damage to every light and heavy attack. I like Igneous more because I feel like you don’t want to refresh the buff often enough to make the extra Crit worth it. Your better off getting more passive Crit from other places like medium armor.
Magma Armor (Ultimate)
My initial impressions of this ultimate were quite positive but I have come to not really need it and found Standard of Might to be significantly more useful in more situations, incoming damage is not quite high enough for me to use it all the time, maybe in future content like Adventure Zones I will fall back in love with it. It does last quite a while and deals a decent amount of damage every second, while capping your incoming damage, it looks great on paper but didn’t turn out that way in practice. Our morphs are nice for more of a support role in PvP, Magma Shell allows people to activate the Protective Shell synergy giving them a damage shield for 85% of their max Health, while Corrosive Armor reduces nearby enemies weapon damage by 30%. Both morphs help keep our group mates alive, while the skill itself keeps us alive.
Other Skill Lines
Lets take a look at what could be useful from some of the other skill lines available. When you get to your factions first big zone (Glenumbra, Stonefalls, or Auridon) you can seek out the Fighters Guild, Mages Guild, and the Undaunted.
Silver Bolts from the Fighters Guild give us a Stamina-based ranged attack that isn’t tied to a weapon, that knocks down undead and daedra and has a very small chance of dealing a massive amount of extra damage. The Silver Shards morph allows it to splash onto 2 other targets for 50% of the base damage while Silver Leash gives us the ability to activate it a second time for an effect similar to Fiery Reach.
Do you like Crit? I like Crit. Mage Light from the Mages Guild is a toggle skill that while active lowers your max magicka by 5% but gives us 10% spell Crit and provides increased detection against stealth and invisible enemies. Inner Light doesn’t do much but it does give us another 10% for a total of 20% while active which is a massive amount of Crit in one spot. Radiant Light bring’s some protection from stealth attacks to your allies but this buff doesn’t apply to you, it maintains the 10% bonus to Crit though. Its useful when in group PvP but I would rather have the extra Crit.
Blood Altar from the Undaunted line is fairly underwhelming, it increases your health regen and allows allies to channel at the altar to heal, though the regen increase is pretty low and I felt that the synergy interrupted the flow of chaining synergies cause you have to sit there and channel, taking you out of the fight for a few seconds.
The last early available skill like is Soul Magic, which is earned by completing steps of the main story which is available every 5 levels. After completing the intro sequence and are thrown into your factions starting zone, you have access to Soul Trap which I’m sure many TES fans are familiar with. Its a small DoT that fills soul gems if you kill the target while it is still active. The morphs are nice for leveling, with Soul Splitting Trap filling 2 gems at the same time, while Consuming Trap restores 7% Health, Magicka, and Stamina when you kill an affected enemy.
This is about as much of the Dragonknight I can fit into the first 15 levels that we are currently allowed to talk about, feel free to ask questions but do remember that for now I am limited to 1-15. You can follow me on https://twitter.com/Phazius for more ramblings and be sure to watch for my stream on http://www.twitch.tv/phazius when the NDA is finally gone.