ESO Combat System: Introduction to skill based fighting


As you might know, compared to most MMOs, ESO will have a different targeting system. Unlike the classic targeting system, where you select the target with the mouse or a hotkey to attack it, also known as “tab targeting”, ESO’s combat system will have a more shooter-esque targeting system. Aiming at a target might sound easy, but how will it really affect the player’s experience during combat? Let’s see, shall we?


Well, first of all, the player’s skills (such as movement, anticipation, fast reactions) are more important now, considering how the targeting system works – let’s dive in a bit. The first thing that comes to mind is that we will not have “dodge” or the “chance to hit” stats  (like the usual ones we know, obtained through items or talents). Players won’t just stand in one place now with a 60% dodge chance and spamming spells that will hit their target due to the “chance on hit” cap. Basically, the player’s chance to hit depends on his reflexes, aim, skills and of course the surrounding environment. If you’re wondering how exactly, let’s take it one by one.

  • Dodge – players will be able to dodge most incoming attacks (providing they have the stamina to do so), either by using a dodge roll, a teleport or manually moving away from the  danger zone.
  • Chance to hit – different from the normal targeting combat system, where you just select the target and wait for the ability to hit –  this is much smarter. Players will now have to anticipate the enemies’ move and use their abilities more wisely.
  • Block – this is also very different than the classic concept. You won’t get a “block chance” from item stats…in fact you’ll actually have to use your weapon or shield to physically block an incoming attack. We’ll no longer have to rely on chance given by a block stat maxed to the point of diminishing returns. Oh and did I mention that a successful block uses stamina? Sure you may have enough of this resource but keep in mind that dodge uses the same resource and… let’s just say that spamming your “stamina eating” abilities, will leave you in the open, with a useless shield and the will to live.

By now it should be pretty clear that ESO’s combat system is based more on the player’s skill than it is on stats. But there’s more – Let’s talk a bit about the actual fight.


What I find interesting and a lot more realistic, is that players are compelled to be involved in the battle. Bottom line is that players are now forced to actually face the fight in order to do damage or heal. Let’s take a PvP fight for example  – we won’t see instant spells hitting you while the player casting them is running like hell from you. I mean, sure, it’s possible, but that means that player needs to stop, turn and attack…then run again. Or even better, we won’t see healers running away from you while healing a team member. I can give you endless examples but I think you got the gist; this will definitely be more realistic and players have to face the fight, if they want to contribute to it.

Another thing that many players may not realize is how this affects the “spell clicking” habit. Since the mouse will be used as the main aim device, players won’t be able to mouse click their abilities to use them (at least not without losing precious time, especially in a fight). So who likes to use combat abilities via mouse  will be a little disappointed – thank God that the keyboard and/or the mouse have enough buttons for key binds.

Seeing how weapons, abilities and player skills are nicely “synergized” , I believe that the Elder Scrolls Online combat system will prove to be a challenge for both PVPers and PVEers alike.

You can also check out our ESO Combat Overview article, for a better understanding of this system.

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