Most likely, this will be the first class I will try. I'm excited about this class mostly because of the fast action combat of ESO and the diverse DPS that the class appears to bring to the playing field. Oh, yeah, and who doesn't like to turn invisible? From the reports coming out of PAX and other conventions, the Nightblade appears to be the first rogue class that I've seen that has some strong viability in a PvE setting, but of course, the class still plays wonderfully in PvP. Stick with me as I break down my thoughts on the class as we know it.
Although I will mostly talk about the class trees this round, there are skill trees for several other systems in-game, including race, armor, and weapons. Unfortunately, I cannot take into account those variables right now because I frankly don't know what those variables are, and those variables appear to give players a seemly infinite number of possible roles and function.
The Nightblade skill tree consists of the Assassination tree, the Shadow tree, and the Siphoning tree. No doubt someone will create hybrid combinations of these three trees that will end up making it more effective than following a single tree to its apex. Unfortunately, that is hard to predict at this point without someone grossly breaking the NDA. For now, I will simply expound on the skill trees individually.
Although the Assassination tree seems as if it would have some invisibility abilities, so far we haven't seen any -- well, not exactly. If you ever played Neverwinter, then you have likely tried out the Trickster Rogue class or at least seen it in the opening CGI trailer. The Assassination tree contains similar skills as the Trickster Rogue, specifically the abilities to make the character strike faster or harder. Teleport Strike stands out to me the most. This ability allows players to disappear then immediately reappear next to the target, dealing damage and stunning him. Assassination Nightblades also work with buffs and debuffs as well, like Mark Target (which ensures you do extra damage to that specific target and heals you if the target is killed) or Haste (which increases the attack speed of your weapons). From what I can tell, this tree will excel in PvP but will also remain viable in PvE as well because of the debuffs that it can place on a target.
When looking at the Shadow tree, I think it's immediately evident that this is the "lone wolf" PvP class. The Shadow Cloak ability, which grants invisibility, stands out. That, combined with Veiled Strike, makes the Shadow Nightblade lethal in PvP. Unlike MMOs where performing an attack or being hit yourself causes your character to drop out of stealth, ESO allows Nightblades to stay invisible. However, your Magicka does not regenerate while stealthed, and stealth is on a timer; it's not infinite. Because of this tree's bursty damage, I am having a hard time seeing it work well in the prolonged fights of dungeons, but given the number of stuns and debuffs the tree can have, I could be wrong.
Lastly, the Siphoning trees is the expected DoT tree for the Nightblade. It seems that every rogue-type class has a DoT tree, doesn't it? It makes sense, generally. Rogues do burst damage, and adding a DoT tree counterbalances that by giving sustained damage with DoTs. The Siphoning DoTs also act as buffs to the player as well. Strife and Cripple place a DoT on the enemy that also grants health and speed to the player, respectively. Siphon Strikes grants an energy and Magicka restore with each successful attack. Although I'm sure that players will find a way to use this tree effectively in PvP, the Siphoning tree appears to be the most obvious PvE tree for the Nightblade. It's possible, if you combine the self-heal abilities with the sword-and-shield defensive and taunt abilities, a Siphoning specced Nightblade might be able to tank. Unfortunately, we will not be able to test that out until another time.
Since yesterday was Talk-Like-A-Pirate, perhaps we should revisit the topic of holidays in Elder Scrolls Online. Woolydub had an interesting idea last week to deal with those players who both love and hate in-game holiday events:
I'd like all the different factions to have their own holidays at different times of the year. That way there is always a celebration to be had and if you are a bah humbug sort of person, you can just play on one of your characters whose faction isn't celebrating anything at the moment. It's a win-win all year round.ESO is in the unique position where it can celebrate holiday on the whole continent or just celebrate holidays by nation. Although the Daggerfall Covenant seems to have the most regionally specific holidays, there's nothing top stop ZeniMax from making up new ones for the other nations.
This week's question is kind of a deep one that has to do with class separation. It's a given at this point that not every skill tree will fit nicely into both PvE and PvP. But how do you think that should be handled? Some games give classes another tree to explore, like a DoT tree, for instance. Other games will make abilities perform different functions in PvP than they do in PvE. What are your thoughts? How would you handle it if you were designing The Elder Scrolls Online? I'll talk about this topic more in depth next week, using your thoughts as a springboard. I'll see you then.
Each week, traverse the treacherous terrain of Tamriel with Larry Everett as he records his journey through The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMORPG from ZeniMax. Comments are welcome below, or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. He promises to keep the arrow-to-the-knee jokes to a minimum.