Could Zenimax Do More to Help Ice Mages in ESO's Next Update?

By Andrew | 20 Sep 2022 | Share
Could Zenimax Do More to Help Ice Mages in ESO's Next Update?

The ice mage playstyle is something that has generally performed quite poorly in the Elder Scrolls Online. While if you played at a fairly casual level there was no problem with focusing on ice magic if that's what you enjoy using, there was no denying that in terms of damage output it fell behind fire and shock magic. 

What is the problem with ice magic currently?

The comparatively poor damage was due primarily to the way some passive and active abilities work in the Destruction Staff skill line, for example Elemental Rage gives a 15% damage bonus to those with a fire staff, and a duration increase to players with a shock staff, while using an ice staff just immobilizes enemies caught in the ultimate's radius. Similarly, the Tri Focus and Ancient Knowledge passives give single target damage bonuses to fire staves, and AOE damage bonuses to lightning staves, meanwhile ice staves get some extra tanking utility which, while useful for tanks, provides no value at all for DPS players who want to focus on ice magic. 

However, it seems that Zenimax have taken notice of this problem and have made some changes to improve the situation.

ESO Warden ClassESO Warden Class

How is ice magic being changed in the Firesong update?

First of all, I have to note that all of this only applies to the Warden class. On the live servers right now, the Piercing Cold passive on Warden increases all magic and ice damage by 10%. For the Firesong patch, Zenimax have decided to rework this passive. It will now increase all of your damage done by 10% when you are using an ice staff, or increase it by 2% if you are using another weapon. According to the patch notes, this change is to make up for the fact that most of Warden's ice damage abilities are more utility focused and do not do as much damage as other abilities that do another damage type.

This change will help to mitigate some of the issues where fire and lightning builds are simply better at dealing damage due to the destruction staff passives, however does it go far enough? 

ESO Blockade of FrostESO Blockade of Frost

Could this be done better?

The main problem with this is that it's a buff that only Wardens will get - while wardens are obviously the "ice themed" class, what if you wanted to focus on ice damage with another class? This change also isn't really improving ice magic, it's just applying an extra buff to all damage types for players who use an ice staff, a kind of sticking plaster fix for the problems that make ice magic poor to begin with. 

I think that a better approach would be to put the 10% ice damage boost from the Live version of Piercing Cold into the Destruction Staff skill line itself, perhaps included in one of the aforementioned passive abilities. This would then allow all players to access it and build around it, rather than just wardens. The Piercing Cold passive could then either give an additional damage boost to ice damage, or maybe something more utility focused - it should be good enough to ensure that Warden's class identity as ice magic experts isn't infringed upon, while obviously not being overpowered either. 

Those are just my thoughts anyway. With the changes currently on PTS with the Piercing Cold passive, Wardens will at least be able to make ice staves more viable for DPS, which all in all isn't a bad thing.

We hope you enjoyed this article about Wardens in the ESO Firesong update. The Elder Scrolls Online is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) developed by Zenimax Online Studios.
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