Elder Scrolls Online – Crossbows and Polearms

Polearms and crossbows, currently the two most requested weapon types to be added to the game (with unarmed nipping at their heels, I’m sure). Personally I love both weapon types, I like the idea of a heavier melee or ranged weapon more akin to a portable siege implement than current small arms. I have always loved polearms and similar weapon styles – they embody force and power, but do so in a very graceful manner. Aesthetically, I find pole weapon combat more pleasing to the eye than anything you’d see with a traditional sword/shield or heavy weapon (two-hander) setup, and I’ve never been overly fond of dual wielding. I fell in love with crossbows in skyrim/dawnguard and have been a fan of the weapon over traditional bows ever since.

In historical combat, both of these weapons were used for a few key reasons. Polearms were cheap, readily available, and could be created from almost any common farming implement a peasant may have access to. They were the common man’s weapon. Hollywood has tried to convince us that there were always legions of soldiers wielding shining swords in battle, but that’s about as far from the truth as you can get. Swords were always an officer’s weapon, they were expensive and difficult to make – and in actual combat a sword would hardly stand a chance against a weapon with greater reach.

Crossbows, similarly, were used because they were easy to use. It took years of training for someone to become proficient with a shortbow or longbow, and these weapons required expert craftsmanship and care. A crossbow, on the other hand – while a little more complex to create – could be reloaded and fired by anyone with five minutes of instruction. In the hands of an untrained soldier, a crossbow was far more accurate and deadly than a bow, and it could be used in the thick of combat more easily. The downside, of course, was slower reload speed and shorter effective range when compared to a standard bow design.

In support of both of these weapons being added to Elder Scrolls Online, I’m going to preface this with a look at the current weapon types in the game – what they provide, and what they lack, and what could be focused on by new weapon types in order to ensure that they mesh well with what we currently have access to.

We’ll split up the current 6 weapons into two sets: Melee and ranged, with the 2hander, dual wield, and onehanded + shield in the melee group, and the bow, restoration staff, and destruction staff in the ranged group.

Elder Scrolls Online - Crossbows and Polearms
For the melee group, this is what each currently provides to the user/game environment:

Two Handed: Base 7 meter attack range, slow attack speed
-Heavy Single-target burst damage through uppercut/reverse slash
-Light splash damage through reverse slice/forceful
-Light AOE damage through cleave
-Melee/spell synergy through arcane fighter

Sword and Shield: Base 5 meter attack range, fast attack speed
-Tanking/taunting through puncturing strike
-Heavy defense through passives and abilities

Dual Wield: Base 5 meter attack range, medium attack speed
-Combat Utility (heals, debuffs, snares) through several abilities
-Relatively high sustained damage on single targets, but low burst damage
-Light AoE damage through whirlwind/shrouded daggers, stronger when executing
-Some range via hidden blade/flying blade/shrouded daggers

And for the ranged group, this is what each provides:

Bow:
-Light to moderate ranged AOE damage
-Heavy AoE control through snares and immobilizes
-Heavy single target control through stuns, knockbacks, and interrupts
-Low Sustained but moderately high burst damage against single targets

Destruction Staff:
-High AoE damage through impulse and wall of elements
-Relatively high single target burst damage through force shock/clipping
-Damage utility through weakness to elements and destructive touch

Restoration Staff:
-Heavy resource regeneration through heavy attacks
-Heavy survivability and support through heals
-Moderate buffing for self and allies through force siphon/blessing of protection

What melee weapon sets currently do not cover:
-High AoE Damage
-AoE Control
-Resource Regeneration

What ranged weapon sets currently do not cover:
-Tanking/Taunting
-Defense/Mitigation
-Execute-style abilities

So when looking to add two new weapon types to the game – the polearm and the crossbow – these are the aspects we need to focus on, and they fit the two weapon types relatively well. For the polearm, AoE damage and control is perfect, as these weapons were designed for wide, sweeping attacks and are extremely effective for fending off multiple attackers.
The ranged aspects are a little harder to work in with the crossbow – it makes plenty of sense that a crossbow would have execute-style effects, but tanking and taunting, or damage mitigation? They dont fit in very well at first glance. Ranged tanking, however, is something a lot of players love in other MMO’s, and it’s something lacking in ESO at present, so I think we can make it work out.

Now, on to some suggestions (and these are only baseline suggestions to get ideas going for the players and developers) for each weapon type. We’ll start with the polearm skill line, and what I think the tree should (roughly) look like.

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Veteran Maelstrom Arena -Elder Scrolls Online- Why You Shouldn’t Run It For Weapons [Rant]

When traveling through Tamriel, you can’t help but notice many players with shiny Maelstrom weapons. And those weapons are indeed amazing.

Veteran Maelstrom Arena -Elder Scrolls Online- Why You Shouldn't Run It For Weapons [Rant]

 

If you started playing and/or running Veteran Maelstrom Arena after Dark Brotherhood launch, there is something you should know: From the launch of Orsinium to the launch of Dark Brotherhood, there were only 3 traits in vMA: Sharpened, Precise, Defending. Another factor was that before Thieves Guild there was no round saving option for vMA, so less people were able to practice the tougher rounds. As a result, the leaderboard was relatively empty and required significantly less skill to get on it. While there was indeed a significantly worse drop chance in the last chest, which didn’t guarantee a vMA weapon as it does today, if you would get a weapon, it was Sharpened, Precise or Defending. Two of these traits (Sharpened and Precise) can be considered the best traits for any weapon (Precise > Defending > Sharpened for a Restoration Staff).

So if you ask yourself how those people got their Sharpened Infernos, there is an easy answer: They all ran it before DB (and before TG)!

With DB, ZOS nuked the loot tables by polluting them with many undesirable traits, making it nearly impossible (even in 1000+ runs) to get the weapon of your desire. This was “fixed” now by guaranteeing a vMA weapon after every run. However, the undesirable traits are still there.

Let me give you a numbers perspective:

After Orsinium, I ran the arena exactly 200 times with leaderboard rewards every week and, even though the traits of what I got were good (greatswords, daggers, 1h swords, maces; everything I don’t need), I never got a single of the four weapons I wanted: Sharpened Inferno, Sharpened Maul, Sharpened Bow, Precise Resto.

With DB launch, I ran vMA once, and got a ring in the end, which is what made me quit the game and transfer part of my guild to Black Desert. When I heard the news of ZOS increasing the weapon drop chance in the last chest to 100%, I decided to give ESO another try.

I ran vMA another 50 times, making it 251 runs in total. I still don’t have a single Inferno Staff, I did get, however, a Precise Resto Staff (a Powered one would’ve been even better, but I consider both perfectly viable). It’s nice to have, but as a DD, I will rarely use it. I still don’t have a Sharpened Maul or a Sharpened Bow.

I ran the arena 251 times (~200 flawless runs) since its launch and because of that, I had way better drop chances than you will ever have with these polluted loot tables. By now, I know at least 6 players that haven’t gotten their desired weapon after 1000+ runs. According to current drop chances, every fifth of you will NOT have his desired weapon after 1000 runs!

I’m done with the arena. I am not going in there again. Don’t get me wrong, I am ready to run it another 200 times for a Sharpened Inferno Staff, but I am not ready to run it another 200 times and not get my weapon. I need a guarantee because I am not a masochist, and you shouldn’t be, either, unless you really enjoy it. We need a token system.