Now that we've revealed the skills and passives of the new Arcanist class, we can start to theorize about how well the class will perform at various roles in ESO.
Today we'll take a look at the tanking skills that the Arcanist has, most notably in the Soldier of Apocrypha skill line, and how well the class fits into the tank role.
When Zenimax first showed us the Arcanist class last month, one of the things about the class that they emphasized was that they wanted it to be capable of tanking using primarily Arcanist skills, without needing to rely on other skill lines such as One Hand & Shield for a taunt or Destruction Staff for Minor Brittle. So now that we know all of the skills, we can get some idea of whether or not ZOS managed to meet this goal.
Is the Arcanist a good Tank class in ESO?
We will now look at some of the most important aspects of tanking, and see how the Arcanist measures up in each regard. Please keep in mind that the version of the Arcanist we saw was in an old preview build of Necrom, so it's entirely possible that some skills will be changed by the time the class is released.
The most obvious skill that a tank needs to have equipped is a taunt, and the Arcanist has this covered, meaning it will be the only class in the game with a taunt built in to its class skills. The taunt, Runic Jolt, also puts Minor Maim on the enemy to slightly reduce their damage output.
However in the version of the game we saw, this taunt did not reduce enemy armour like the Pierce Armor skill does, so if that's going to be the case when Necrom goes live, it's likely that Arcanist tanks will still favour the latter option.
This does place the Runic Jolt skill at risk of being seldom used, so its possible that it will be reworked at some point in the future to give it a wider appeal.
Another very important aspect of tanking in ESO is debuffing enemies to give your team an easier job of defeating them. So what does the Arcanist bring to the table in this regard?
The Arcanist actually has a couple of very nice options for debuffing several enemies at once. Currently, tanks in ESO are tasked with reducing enemy armor so that they take more damage, and this is done by a variety of methods such as the Pierce Armor skill, the Crusher Enchantment, and sometimes sets like Crimson Oath's Rive. Sometimes tanks also put additional debuffs on enemies, such as Major Vulnerability.
While most tanks in an endgame scenario have Major Vulnerability covered via a skill like Frozen Colossus or a set like Turning Tide, applying Minor Vulnerability is a little more tricky - generally this task falls to a Healer or DD on the Warden class, applying the debuff using Fetcher Infection.
However the Arcanist class will have a unique ability among tanks to help with this. The Rune of Eldritch Horror skill gives Minor Vulnerability in an AOE around the caster, which could be very useful indeed for trash fights. However, this skill will also fear the enemies, which could mess with your attempts to stack them.
The Arcanist will also have easy class access to Minor Brittle by taking one of the morphs of Eldritch Horror, called Rune of the Colorless Pool. This skill also gives enemies Minor Brittle along with Minor Vulnerability, increasing their critical damage taken.
Finally, the Arcanist has a skill called Fatewoven Armor, which gives them a reflective damage shield, not too dissimilar from the Templar's Blazing Shield. This skill will also put Minor Breach on enemies who are damaged by the shield. This is another useful tool for trash fights - currently the only ways tanks can apply this reliably in an AOE is by either being a Warden and using Deep Fissure, or using the Dragon's Defilement set.
All in all, the Arcanist is definitely bringing a lot to the table in terms of debuffing enemies, and it's likely that organized groups will be considering the Arcanist as a tanking option for that reason.
But there are still more aspects of tanking that we need to consider in addition.
The third job that ESO tanks tend to do is buffing allies to improve their offensive or defensive stats. A diligent tank can really make the difference in a group by being mindful of their friends - this is an aspect of tanking that isn't always talked about.
The Arcanist has a couple of tools to help protect his or her friends. Firstly, the Runic Defense skill gives you Minor Protection, while giving allies Minor Resolve. This is a nice defensive buff for sure, however most groups will already have the buff because healers give it to their team with Combat Prayer.
The tank can use one of the morphs of Runic Defense, called Runeguard of Freedom, to give themselves CC immunity however, so it's likely that many Arcanist tanks will be using the skill anyway.
Arcanist tanks will be able to protect their team from AOE damage thanks to the Circumvented Fate passive, which grants the whole group Minor Evasion whenever they cast an Arcanist skill. However it doesn't need to be the tank who does this, any Arcanist in the group can do it as long as they have unlocked the passive.
Finally, tanks will also be able to make use of the new Arcanist's Domain skill from the Curative Runeforms skill line to grant their allies Minor Courage, a very important damage buff, as well as Minor Fortitude, Minor Intellect and Minor Endurance. However this task may instead fall to the healer if they too are an Arcanist.
This feature of the Arcanist class means that in many scenarios, the Claw of Yolnahkriin and Magma Incarnate sets are going to become pretty obsolete, since an Arcanist in the group will be able to give the Minor Courage buff to their friends by simply using one skill, rather than the tank needing to wear a set dedicated to providing the buff.
There's one more thing that is very important for tanks in ESO, and that is of course their own survivability. While experienced tanks can stay alive tanking on pretty much any class in most content without much trouble, any skills that a class has for buffing your own survivability will of course make that class a more natural and appealing fit for tanking, especially for beginners.
The most obvious skill that the Arcanist has to help with this is the Ultimate skill from the Soldier of Apocrypha skill line, called Gibbering Shield. This is sort of like a buffed up version of the Templar Blazing Shield, but it doesn't work in exactly the same way as that skill.
When you use the skill, you essentially get a shield that absorbs incoming damage, up to an upper limit. It then reflects the absorbed damage to nearby enemies in the form of a 10 second AOE DoT.
To be honest, I don't think this is very useful for a PvE tank. While the damage mitigation is nice, there are other ultimates that will help you with surviving just as much, such as the Barrier ultimate, which also helps the team. It's also generally not a good idea for tanks to put much focus on dishing out damage to enemies, even when it's reflected damage. Anything you reflect with this skill will pale in comparison to what DPS players of middling skill or greater can do - you're generally better off buffing them with an Aggressive Horn to get the most possible damage out of your group.
What might be more useful however is the Runespite Ward skill. This acts as a normal damage shield that also damages enemies who attack you. The usefulness of this shield largely depends on its size and cost - if it's as efficient as the Dragonknight's Igneous Shield then I can definitely see Arcanist tanks making use of this to get through tricky situations in one piece.
Finally, Arcanist tanks can make use of Runic Defense, which gives them Minor Protection and will automatically heal you when you fall to low health. Again, the usefulness of this skill largely depends on how strong the healing is going to be. If it's comparable to Dragon Blood then it's definitely going to get used a lot.
To sum things up, it definitely seems like the Arcanist has some potential as a strong tanking class in ESO. Its strongest abilities for tanking lie in the domain of buffing your allies and debuffing enemies, with a couple of options that certainly have the possibility to shake up the meta somewhat.
Just how good it is will depend on how all of these skills are balanced when Necrom finally releases in June. But It does seem that Zenimax were true to their word and have indeed given the Arcanist class a pretty much complete set of tanking tools.
Could the Arcanist tank rival the Dragonknight? Perhaps. The Dragonknight is probably still going to have an easier time sustaining thanks to the Battle Roar and Helping Hands passives, so it may remain the most obvious choice for new tanks.
If you want to keep an eye out for Arcanist Tank Builds in the run up to the release of the class, please check out our Arcanist Builds Page.
We hope you liked this article about the Arcanist class in ESO Necrom. The Elder Scrolls Online is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) developed by Zenimax Online Studios.