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:

-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:
-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.