Elder Scrolls Online: Deep-diving Morrowind’s new Warden class

Along with a new expansive 30-hour long story, Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind will introduce us to the game’s first new class called the Warden, a class I previewed at last week’s press event at ZeniMax HQ. And although it is called a “class” because that’s the term that gamers understand, Game Director Matt Firor likes to call it a “theme,” and the theme of the Warden is nature.

By now, I hope you’ve seen the Blur Studio trailer for the Morrowind chapter. The Redguard with the giant bear in that trailer represents the Warden. He shows off many of the abilities that are specific to the Warden, including the bear pet. But of course, there’s much more to the class than a fuzzy friend, so when I spoke to Game Director Matt Firor and Creative Director Richard Lambert in person, I asked them all about our new class and the role it plays in the expansion.

ESO class basics

For those unfamiliar with the inner workings classes in Elder Scrolls Online, let me explain the basics. In standard class-based MMORPGs, your character has a role and a set of abilities from the beginning of the game to the end. Sometimes, there are variations, but generally speaking, wizard abilities are separate from warrior abilities. In skill-based systems, you are given a number of character points that can be spent in a wide variety of abilities and skills. Warriors could end up having wizard abilities or even skills not even related to combat. Many times in skill-based systems, characters will level in specific skills as they use that skill. For instance, if you use a two-handed sword a lot, you will level up two-handed sword fighting.

Elder Scrolls Online marries those two systems. I like to think that it’s a fairly original take on combat meta, but it’s just a natural evolution of MMORPG combat (or maybe coming full circle back to classic skill-by-use systems!). Firor was spot on when he called it a theme. Every character has a huge number of skill trees to choose from. Weapons and armor, even guilds and crafting, have their own skill line. It is possible to create a perfectly viable character, filling any role, with non-class skills lines. The class adds flavor or augments these other skill lines by adding three skill lines of its own.

Warden skill lines

I was criticized in my column about the Warden when I said that Warden was the first class to really embrace all three roles of tank, healer, and DPS, but Firor kind of backed me up by saying that the Dragon Knight has the self-buffing line, the movement line, and the extra damage line, which is different from the Warden class. “First of all, the Warden is a theme, and that theme is nature,” Firor explained. “How do those skills break down? Really, he has a help-allies line, an animal control/direct damage line, and the self-shielding line. It’s up to the players how they want to mix and match between those and the rest of the skills.”

Lambert explained in a presentation that the names of those skill lines are Winter’s Embrace, Green Balance, and Animal Companion. Let’s break those down a little bit.

Winter’s Embrace uses ice powers to help shield the player from damage and does some self-healing. Lambert mentioned one of the first abilities shown in the Blur trailer called Polar Wind. Unfortunately, we did not get to really see this ability in the game itself, but Lambert described it as a damage and self-healing ability.

Lambert spent about twice as long describing the Green Balance skill line as he did Winter’s Embrace. He explained that the support abilities for the Warden are “conal,” meaning that they are targeted healing abilities and not an instant heal for everyone in the group (as some of the other classes handle healing). “You’re always moving; you’re always positioning yourself in gameplay,” he said, hightling the key differences between the way the Warden plays vs. the other healing classes.

I’m guessing that some of the best Warden builds will have a mix of Winter’s Embrace and Green Balance, but clearly, Animal Companion is the showcase skill line because Lambert spent a lot of time describing how this skill line works. Lambert detailed the abilities of the Animal Companion line extensively, spending much of the time on the Bear ultimate. The bear itself really becomes a companion for the Warden because once the ultimate is called, it’s possible to keep the bear up the whole time if the player takes the correct morph. And something Lambert told me outside of the presentation is that Wardens will actually be able to control the bear’s target by giving that target a heavy hit. For instance, if the player uses a bow, he can do a long draw and release with the weapon, and the target that is struck with that arrow will be the bear’s new target.

Playstyle

When I asked Lambert and Firor independently who they foresaw actually playing the Warden, I received very similar answers.

Firor said that there ae four reasons that he could see people picking up the Warden as a class, the first one being that it was a new class. Secondly, he thought people would latch onto the nature theme of the class, the players who really enjoy the stock druid archetype. Next and the most obvious, he believed that people would enjoy the bear pet. And lastly, he believed that people who enjoy a bit of everything — he used the term “jack of all trades”– would like to pick up this class.

Lambert called the druid archetype a ranger archetype, but the feeling was similar in his description. He said that it would be for those players who want their character to be in touch with nature. He also argued that people who love the bow as a primary weapon would love the synergy between the class skill line and the bow skill line. And lastly, he said that Warden was the ultimate support role because it can do some of everything. If a group needed a little bit more healing, a Warden can do that; if a group needed an off-tank, a Warden could do that, too.

Based on what I saw, I do like the Warden. Although I do believe that it leans on a few gimmicks too much, like the bear and the cliff racer spammable. The balance survivability and versatility of Winter’s Embrace and Green Balance will make the class formidable in PvE many situations. I’ve never known a pet class to be great in PvP or group-based PvE unless it was overpowered, but I am looking forward to playing the class as I solo-play my way through Vvardenfell.

Thanks to Rich Lambert and Matt Firor for taking the time to talk about the Warden. We have a more content from my visit to ZeniMax, so be sure to check it all out!

Disclosure: In accordance with Massively OP’s ethics policy, we must disclose that ZeniMax paid for our writer’s flight to and hotel at this press event. They also fed him a Panera Bread ham and cheese sandwich. Yum. Neither ZeniMax nor Bethesda has requested nor been granted any control or influence over our coverage of the event, and the writer is paid exclusively by Massively OP for his work.

Get caught up on all of our pieces from the Morrowind press event!

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45 Comments on "Elder Scrolls Online: Deep-diving Morrowind’s new Warden class"

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Fenryr Grey

they should remove classes and not add them.

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Daniel Reasor

The Ultimate should be that the bear becomes the main toon, and the Warden becomes a ranged DPS pet.

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Kurt Shadle

It’s actually kind of funny, the Morrowind announcement just made me not want to play ESO at all right now. I’m not happy with my current character so I was thinking of starting a new one. Then comes the warden which looks like the perfect class for me with a mix of nature and ice. Don’t want to start a new character to just start over again I am few months.

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Vik Brummer

This was me originally, but then I thought I need to research stuff and collect mats and whatnot so I started a templar to do that with instead of just grinding on my Stamblade.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I’m wondering if we really should be calling it a “new class” being that it was actually one of the original classes for the game in testing that was cancelled before release. At the time they felt it wasn’t unique enough. I’m curious how much of it was changed from then and how much of it stayed. It’s an old original class brought back from the dead. I guess it’s fair to call it new since it never made the game’s official launch but still it feels a little weird to do so too.

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Loyal Patron
Rottenrotny

Cool, I guess. but I hate pet classes. :-|

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MrSaxon

I want a Panera Bread ham and cheese sandwich now.

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Dug From The Earth

So basically….

If you are playing for fun, you will use a mix of all 3 skill lines (including the pet)

If you are playing the min/max game, you probably will mostly use skills and abilities from many of the other non-class skill lines depending on your role.

Its pretty silly how so many of the min/max builds use so few of the actual class abilities for their classes, choosing to go with so many other side skills like Meteor and Caltrops.

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Totakeke

It really depends on how you want to build the character. Like, one of the more popular Templar tank/healer build is mostly all class skills. A popular Nightblade tank build is mostly class skills too.

The most OP skill that’s kind of out in the boons is Warhorn though. Since you have to PVP for that skill, and it’s basically mandatory to have someone in a group to have the skill.

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jay

That’s because the non-class skills are often much better than the class skills. If they make the class skills better or even slightly balanced with the non-class skills people scream that x class is OP.

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Alex Willis

I love the idea of making the companion permanent via a skill morph, but I am likewise dubious of its performance. How can a companion ever keep up on DPS or tanking fronts? The only way I find companions useful (in games like LOTRO, for example, with the Loremaster) is as ranged support or in control support. (The Bog Lurker, for example, is really quite solid in PvE DPS support.) But I am not seeing that here.

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Doubleplusgood

If anyone is interested there is a full Warden ability list. There is a Reddit post and one on the ESO forums with ZoS employee confirming it.
I tried to post a link but it got removed by the moderators, so guess you’ll have to find it for yourself :)

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Arktouros

Yea I got that as well. The picture was from the Official Xbox Magazine (OXM) so it’s legit.

However as always it’s all about the morphs.

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Doubleplusgood

Yeah but I guess we already know that everyone is going to take the bear morph that makes it permanent and whatever the other morph is will end up on the long list of pointless never used morphs.

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NeoWolf

I am intrigued by the class, Druidy types have always appealed to me as they are invariably pet classes which i like a lot. I just wish Bear wasn’t their only option.