The Wardens are worshippers of Y'ffre and defenders of the Green. They are master storytellers whose nature tales become magical reality. Wardens weave spells to cause plants and fungi to grow rapidly. They can also call animals to come to their aid, and wield frost spells to combat their foes.
Wardens are often erroneously assumed to be nothing more than militant Wood Elf priests known as Spinners, though this is far from the truth. Both groups may worship Y'ffre, but Wardens are more than willing to shed the blood of those who seek to harm the wilds. There have been reports of Wardens attacking gangs and even full outposts in retaliation for harm done to Y'ffre's domain. Wardens draw upon the environment to change and shape reality, and cast powerful spells utilizing conjuration or alteration magic, which is again different from their counterparts found in Valenwood. The Wardens as a whole do not bow to any specific organized group or guild.
Wardens are also not typically Bosmer, in spite of misconceptions. Members of all races have been found protecting Tamriel's wilds. They do not follow the Green Pact either (excluding those who are both Warden and Wood Elf), as they're willing to make full use of nature's bounty to survive. As a matter of fact, one of the only Wardens whose identity has been made public is Boldekh, a Redguard warrior on Nature's behalf who was sent by Vivec to help Naryu Virian assassinate the grandmaster of the Morag Tong.
At some point in history before the Alliance War, a Wayrest blacksmith began to breed bears in honor of a fallen Warden. The Psijic Order created magical gauntlets named after them, suited to the usage of Nature-based magic. In the Second Era, tattoos symbolizing the intertwining of all life forms were popular among those who feel a connection with Nature in Tamriel, including Wardens.
Sometime in 2E 582, King Camoran was asked to send Wardens to a valley in the Tenmar mountains, for it to be cleansed of Maarselok's taint.
Versatile Champion of the Wilds
The Warden class is an adaptable, support-orientated option for players who want to be able to fill a specific role while simultaneously providing assistance to others. If you are interested in a class that uses the wilds of Tamriel to protect, heal, or deal damage (occasionally all at the same time) the Warden is for you.
“The nature-based class was a core player fantasy that we hadn't fulfilled with the four classes that currently exist," says the Warden's Lead Designer Eric Wrobel. “So we wanted to give people the ability to express themselves that way."
Like nature itself, the Warden is an irresistible, chaotic force in battle, able to summon fierce animals, sprout healing plants from the ground, or cloak themselves and others in protective ice.
The inspiration for the character's design in part comes from traditional nature-based archetypes and in part from the Elder Scrolls' Spinners – the Wood Elf priests of Y'ffre who use storytelling to preserve Bosmer culture.
“The most important thing about the Warden's visual style is that it's very natural and organic looking," Wrobel says. “When we were building its abilities, we often modified them to look wild and spontaneous. We didn't want the abilities to feel synthetic."
This core philosophy can be found in every aspect of the Warden's design, including abilities, effects, and animations. For example, when activating the ultimate Wild Guardian, you'll notice your Warden summons the war bear with smooth natural motions, and when casting Healing Seed, the plants appear to sprout at random from the earth, just as they might in the natural world.
The Warden also stands unique in The Elder Scrolls Online as an ally-focused class that finds creative ways to benefit their group-mates regardless of their primary skill line or role. For example, Frost Cloak gives you and nearby allies Major Ward and Major Resolve, resulting in a serious buff to the party's defense, and Enchanted Growth grants your allies Minor Intellect and Minor Endurance, increasing both Magicka and Stamina regeneration.
No matter what skill lines you pursue, you'll always be an asset to your fellow adventurers with the Warden.
Draw Power from Nirn itself
At first glance, the Warden's three skill lines appear relatively easy to identify (Animal Companions for damage, Green Balance for healing, and Winter's Embrace for tanking), making them welcoming to newcomers and experienced veterans alike.
"With the Warden's skill lines, we wanted to communicate more clearly what each skill is about and what you're going to get if you invest in that line," Wrobel says. “With some of the other classes in ESO, the skill lines can do a little of this and a little that, and a lot of them need to rely on weapon abilities in order to fulfill a specific role. This is the first time we've made it as clear cut, which we think players will appreciate."
The fact that the skill lines seem straightforward doesn't mean that the Warden will be easy for you to play. In fact, the Warden's abilities require various levels of finesse, featuring their fair share of skill shots or tricky, timed effects. For example, Scorch summons three Shalks in a straight line after a three-second delay. This allows you to pull off some big-time burst damage, but it also requires precise timing and positioning in order to execute. By comparison, Dive sends a shrieking Cliff Racer at a targeted enemy for some simple direct damage.
In some cases, the amount of skill required to effectively use an ability increases after you have morphed it. While Fungal Growth simply requires you to look at allies to heal them, after morphing it to Soothing Spores, your heal strength is increased if they are nearby, meaning you'll need to focus on positioning and team coordination to get the most out of it.
Your Warden can be exactly as complex or as simple as you want it to be, and the new class permits a host of unique builds for various levels of play.