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MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/04/14)  | Pub:Bethesda Softworks
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Previews: The Warden is ESO’s First True Hybrid Class

By William Murphy on February 22, 2017

The Warden is ESO’s First True Hybrid Class

During last week’s press event at Zenimax Online Studios, we were given a slew of information on all of the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online Chapter’s content. One of the chief new features being added with the update is the Warden class. The game’s fifth class is one for everyone to enjoy, as it’s the game’s first true hybrid – a healer, a tank, and a DPS rolled into one.

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For those who really follow ESO close, you’ll recognize the Warden from the data-mined beta files that marked it as the fifth class way back then. This Warden is nothing like the one they had planned years ago, and while Matt, Rich, and Brian didn’t want to get into specifics the Warden back then didn’t feel nearly as fun and complete as the Warden we’re getting with Morrowind.

We did not go hands-on with the new class (or any Morrowind content) while at Zenimax, but we did get more detail than we ever could have wished for when it comes to the new content. Many players have been longing for more active skill lines to be added to ESO, and the Warden serves this purpose as well as achieving the goal of adding a new class into the mix. No new weapon skill lines are coming to Tamriel and Nirn in this Chapter, but that doesn’t mean they’re ruled out for future updates. Besides, the three new skill lines you get with the Warden will likely keep most people pretty busy for a while.

The “Ice Tank” line is called Winter’s Embrace, and it focuses as you’d expect on water and ice magic. This is the one that a lot of your more protective and control spells will come from. It’s loaded with self-buffs (defensive and offensive), as well as protective magic for you and your team.

The Healer line is all nature-based magic, and it’s called Green Balance. It’s heals are little more skill-based than the Healing Staff’s, but also pretty potent. You’ve got Fungal Growth, a cone AOE heal. Healing Seed, which is actually a dropped seed that can sit on the ground and be used by anyone when needed in combat. Those are just a sample – we didn’t learn much about passives as a lot of the skills for the lines are obviously still work in progress.

And of course, the DPS line. Focused on the beasts of Nirn, it’s called Animal Companions and this is the one that nets you your permanent bear pet. But here’s the kicker, if you want to play the Warden and not feel forced to use the bear, you simply don’t have to. The bear is the Animal Companions Ultimate skill called Wild Guardian. So if you don’t want to play a pet class, just don’t slot that Ultimate. And for those wondering, yes that means you won’t get the bear until level 12 but unlike other Ultimates, simply having the Wild Guardian slotted means he’s always with you.

There are two forms it can morph into – one is an auto-resurrect. When the bear dies, if you morphed into this version it’ll automatically resummons. Without this morph, you’d have to fill your UItimate charge again first. The other morph sacrifices this “always on” bear for one who’s far more burst-damage prone. Basically, the other morph fills the bear with rage that does insane damage, and if your target is below a threshold of health it acts as an execute skill with the bear basically decimating the enemy.

The whole Animal Companions line is filled with other pet-like skills too. You can briefly summon a cliff racer that comes down and rushes your enemy. You can summon a giant swarm of bugs that does AOE damage too. Theoretically, you could mix and match skills from all three lines to make your ideal class build – not to mention weapon, guild, and other skill lines. While we didn’t get to play the Warden, Creative Director Rich Lambert said he believes that it’ll definitely be a wanted class in parties due to its sheer amount of utility. And by adding a class that can easily be a tank or a healer as well as a DPS without having to use Healing Staff or a Shield, it likely means we’ll see dungeon queues continue to drop too.

Personally, the Warden sounds a lot like the class I’ve wanted since launch. I’ve leveled a Dragon Knight and a Sorc in ESO, working slowly on a Templar and a Nightblade, but I’ve wanted a Druidic class since the early days. For me, June 6th can’t come fast enough. Until then, time to work on my Champion Point level.

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.