The Elder Scrolls Online

Ask Us Anything: Combat

In today’s Ask Us Anything, we answer questions you sent in about combat and how it works in The Elder Scrolls Online. We have some detailed answers and new information for you, so read on to learn more.

Didn’t see an answer to your question? Send it to us at community@elderscrollsonline.com, and we’ll consider it for an upcoming Ask Us Anything. Here are this bi-weekly edition’s questions and answers:


Would you please explain the soft locking system in detail? For example, how does it interact with dodge? Does it apply to melee attacks, or just ranged? During missile travel time, is it possible for another target to intervene between you and your existing soft lock target to take the attack? – By Matt Feisthammel

You must be facing your target to hit it. However, soft locking allows you to pick a target out of a crowd to hit. It is possible that your target could be behind another target. You would hit the target you had soft-locked, provided you were aiming at them. Another target could not step in the way of the soft-locked target to prevent you from hitting your soft-locked target. As for dodging? The target can execute a roll dodge or evasion move to avoid attack.


I know left click will be the main attacks ability but will there be "counter attack" abilities you can put on the hotbar that can only be used after a successful block with your shield or weapon?  – By Jesse Perry

There certainly are attacks which work better when capitalizing on certain opponent states, for example, exploiting your opponent’s vulnerability after an interrupt. However, we don’t have attacks that wouldn’t work without that situation being true.


How important will the 'holy trinity' be in PvE endgame/raids? Will dedicated tanks and healers be required, or will lighter armored characters be able to utilize the dodge system well enough to serve as competent tanks? Will healers need to focus entirely on healing, or will a more offensive spellcaster be able to sustain his group via spot heals? – By Lynx

Let’s have some fun here. This is what one of our internal testers sent out on Wednesday, February 27th. This email is unedited other than removing the ending of the letter which would sound a little too self-congratulatory of the tester.

Yesterday in the lunchtime dungeon test, our group of four (all at level 12) included:
·  1 Templar with light armor and healing staff, abilities focusing on healing
·  1 Templar with light armor and dual wield, Templar abilities focusing on healing
·  1 Dragonknight with light armor and destruction staff
·  1 Sorcerer with heavy armor and dual wield
This was with no real consultation with each other while making characters, other than ensuring there was at least one healer. For the sake of the dungeon we really could have used a true tank (the closest we had was the sorcerer wearing heavy armor and using unstable familiar to get the monster’s attention, with no real “keep myself alive” abilities), but as a group we were (eventually) able to take down the Fungal Grotto bosses. More to the point, with four players making independent choices in abilities and gear, three of the four made builds that defied the standard templates – and yet felt perfectly viable in actual play. The players were each able to build a character to their own taste with class abilities as a supplement, rather than the rigid defining aspect to the character, and have effective characters.

So in summation, we’re pretty happy watching the progression system allow people to play the way they want in the groups they want to play in.


In the introduction video you say that you can start with PvP at an early level. Will you be able to level up through PvP? – By Jan Schuh

Yes, currently you can start leveling via PvP in Cyrodiil at level 10.


With so many people fighting in the world alone or with groups what will be done to stop people stealing kills and XP? – By Danny Blades

Put simply, there is no reason to steal kills. We grant XP to both people for killing, and we have a looting system which makes it so both parties benefit from kills.


I have a question about your targeting system for combat, from what I've heard there will be a soft targeting system. My question is: How does this system work in raids/large PvP groups for healers? Will healers have a hard time finding players, and keeping track of their group’s health? – By Jacob Avila

Soft-lock targeting doesn’t really affect healing because you don’t have to find your target to heal them. You don’t target allies. Most of our heals are area-of-effects (AoEs) or cone effects. To be effective, you might want to stay in the middle of your allies for AoEs or face them for cone effects. Healers will need to be aware of their environment of course, and pay attention to the battle.


I want to know how the different armor types will be balanced. Why shouldn’t just anyone wear heavy armor? With advantages will a warrior have wearing light armor? – By Oliver Sieger

Each armor type has a full progression line associated with it. If you advance down the light armor progression line, you are likely to get bonuses to spells, magicka regeneration, and the like. Medium armor skill lines give you more bonuses to stamina activities such as dodge, sneak, etc. Heavy armor skill lines give bonuses to received healing, bracing, etc. And, of course, armor can have magical properties beyond this, and you may wish to mix and match as you see fit.


Will everyone be able to use active dodging via WASD movement, or will that be an ability linked skill? – By Ken Tweddle

Everyone with enough stamina will be able to use it. It is linked to movement and is not an ability you slot on your bar though certain passive abilities may augment it.


I've always been a high-tier competitive player so the intricacies of the player versus player combat interaction is what interests me the most. From the perspective of one player fighting another, where would you say the skill cap evidences itself (i.e. what part of the combat system will we use to distinguish ourselves and surpass opponent's in combat)? – By Martin Schelasin

There is a huge amount of skill in how you have built your character:

  • What abilities you have on your shortcut bar
  • What consumables you have at your disposal
  • How you allocated your health, magicka, and stamina points
  • What armor and weapons you’re using
  • Where you place your skill points

Once you are in combat, the big skill differentiators are:

  • Using your spells at the right time so you don’t waste magicka
  • Dodging or blocking at the right moment so you make your opponent waste his magicka
  • Coordinating your healing and crowd control with your teammates
  • Fighting near cover
  • Recognizing when you need to swap to your alternate weapon
  • Using area denial spells to defend choke points and break up formations
  • …and more

A small, coordinated group can definitely take down a larger group with the right tactics, character builds, and execution.


How will the bow and arrow system work? Will it just be auto-aim and auto-shoot kind of thing or what? – By Gabriel Bera

Like any of our combat, you must aim at your target to hit them. Bows will have a charged attack, meaning they hit harder if you hold down the left mouse button longer.


You've stated that any class can use any weapon, but will different weapons have different abilities? For example, I plan to be a healing Templar character; will I have the same healing abilities with a greatsword than with a staff? – By Zalkar/Braeden Weibel

Yes, each weapon has a unique set of abilities that can be unlocked as your skill increases.  For example, if you become an expert with Restoration Staff, you can use the ability “Grand Healing.”  If you equip your greatsword, you would not be able to use that ability.  Your Templar healing spell, however, can be used regardless of what type of weapon you have equipped. Finally, you can equip a back-up weapon and swap between the two in combat.  So you can have one loadout with a restoration staff and healing abilities, and then swap mid-combat to a greatsword with damage abilities.


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