The most powerful abilities in the game come from ultimate and using it effectively can make or break the team. After spending countless hours in The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), I wanted to share some insights as what I’ve learned about ultimates. The purpose of this guide is to discuss the mechanics of ultimates, highlight a few important ones, then discuss how you can optimize these abilities for solo or group play. So let’s get started with our ESO Ultimates Guide!
Video coming soon
Table of Contents
Think of ultimate as a separate resource from stamina, magicka, and health. Ultimates are meant as a somewhat rare but powerful ability that can’t be cast over and over. With that being said, you earn ultimate by doing damage and this accumulates over time. Once you’ve reached your ultimate threshold, say 200 for a Dragonknight Standards, you can use the ability which instantly returns your ultimate resource pool to zero.
Each class and skill line has it’s own ultimates and ZOS is looking at expanding this. As of right now, the below chart list them all in the game (current with patch 1.4). Most of which we’ve discussed in previous guides, so click the hyperlink if you’re looking for more class specific skill suggestions.
|Class or Category||Skill Line||Ultimate Ability||Morph||Morph|
|Dragonknight||Ardent Flame||Dragonknight Standard||Shifting Standard||Standard of Might|
|Draconic Power||Dragon Leap||Take Flight||Ferocious Leap|
|Earthen Heart||Magma Armor||Magma Shell||Corrosive Armor|
|Nightblade||Assassination||Death Stroke||Incapacitating Strike||Soul Harvest|
|Shadow||Consuming Darkness||Bolstering Darkness||Veil of Blades|
|Siphoning||Soul Shred||Soul Siphon||Soul Tether|
|Sorcerer||Daedric Summoning||Summon Storm Atronach||Greater Storm Atronach||Summon Charged Atronach|
|Dark Magic||Negate Magic||Suppression Field||Absorption Field|
|Storm Calling||Overload||Power Overload||Energy Overload|
|Templar||Aedric Spear||Radial Sweep||Empowering Sweep||Crescent Sweep|
|Dawn’s Wrath||Nova||Solar Prison||Solar Disturbance|
|Restoring Light||Rite of Passage||Remembrance||Practiced Incantation|
|World||Soul Magic||Soul Strike||Soul Assault||Shatter Soul|
|Vampire||Bat Swarm||Clouding Swarm||Devouring Swarm|
|Werewolf||Werewolf Transformation||Pack Leader||Werewolf Berserker|
|Guild||Fighters Guild||Dawnbreaker||Flawless Dawnbreaker||Bawnbreaker of Smiting|
|Mages Guild||Meteor||Ice Comet||Shooting Star|
|Alliance War||Assault||War Horn||Aggressive Horn||Sturdy Horn|
|Support||Barrier||Reviving Barrier||Replenishing Barrier|
With that comprehensive list above, keep in mind that ultimates can do a bunch of different things.
- Dragonknight’s Magma Armor limits damage to 3%
- Sorcerer’s Negate Magic removes spells and thwarts casting in that area
- Alliance War Support Barrier creates a huge defensive bubble
- Mages Guild Meteor drops a comet from the sky damaging enemies in an area
Ultimates abilities aren’t just damage or healing, they’re very different and can augment as characters weakness or strengthen a role. For an example, let’s say I play a Dragonknight and I’m interested in doing PvP. I’m constantly out of range since I’m using a Two-Hander weapon and my class abilities are maxed out at 10 meters. This would be a good time to equip the World Soul Magic skill Soul Strike which would allow you to channel massive ranged damage out to 28 meters.
When building a character, you can use these ultimates to heighten your ability or augment something you’re missing. They also vary and cost which needs to be taken into an account because some classes have an advantage when it comes to building ultimate. Now let’s discuss the nuts and bolts of ultimate and how it works.
How Ultimates Work
Ultimate abilities and their mechanics have gone through a massive change. Early on, it was gained for many different actions, now just a few actions proc ultimate generation. Patch 1.1.2 brought about this change which didn’t actually give us the mechanics behind the new system. Luckily the folks over at Tamriel Foundry did the math for us with the below picture.
- Ultimate is only generated by doing damage, healing, and critical strikes
- The amount of ultimate generated is based on the oppositions total health and your damage
- Meaning, it’s easier to gain ultimate vs a level 47 Skeleton with 1000 health vs. a Boss with 150,000
- The harder you hit, the more ultimate you can gain
- *Wasn’t listed but fighting enemies five levels lower than you will not generate ultimate
Right away that tells us every character should go for big damage, heals and critical hits. Maybe even a tank should think about using some critical since ultimates are important to every class, group or solo play. Speaking of that, each class has a very important ultimate you should be using and I want to highlight the importance of these.
You’re going to see a trend with this below list. Each of these abilities have a defensive and offensive component to them. When doing hard content, we often talk about “rolling ultimates” which we will cover soon. But here’s each ultimate every class should have.
Dragonknight – Dragonknight Standard morphed into Standard of Might AKA “Standard”
Ability Effects – Enemies take fire damage every second and receive 50% less healing for 15 seconds, while on Standard of Might. Caster deals 17% more damage and takes 17% less damage, while on Standard of Might. An ally may activate the Shackle synergy, damaging and immobilizing enemies in the area.
+ Standard provides a massive damage boost, healing debuff and damage reduction for the people INSIDE of it’s area. Moreover, it also procs a synergy which someone can active to do damage and possibly generate even more ultimate. The trick with this ability is that everyone stands inside of the Standard. If you’re going to be stunned or there’s a massive pool of red, get out. Otherwise stay inside to get damage mitigation.
– The downside of this ability is that it doesn’t move (with this morph). So be careful before you place it down. Usually I lock enemies in place via Burning Talons to ensure they stay inside the area.
Nightblade – Consuming Darkness morphed into Veil of Blades AKA “Veil”
Ability Effects – Creates an area of darkness for 15 seconds. Enemies in this area are snared 70% and take magic damage every 0.5 seconds. Nearby allies take -30% less damage and caster gains an additional 100% of this value. Grants allies in the area Slip Away, granting them invisibility.
+ Very similar to the Dragonknight’s Standard and just as deadly. Another damage over time, damage mitigation and a valuable synergy if someone is under pressure. I use this to nuke down bosses and or help out teammates. Let’s say the healer is getting chased and about to die, drop a nearby Veil on them so they can use the “Slip Away” synergy.
– The same problem that effects the Dragonknight’s Standard effects this ability, the radius. Veil’s radius is even smaller and Nightblade’s do not have a enemy pull to compensate. Generally I get around this by communicating with my team and having them Crowd Control (CC) targets with the radius.
Sorcerer – Negate Magic morphed into Suppression Field AKA “Negate”
Ability Effects – Dispels enemy placed effects in area for 9.5 seconds, while silencing enemies and stunning monsters nearby. Allies in area gain Spell Resistance.
+ Not exactly an offensive powerhouse, thought this is the mother of all defensive ultimates. You literally stop casting and stun-lock enemies inside. It’s essentially a 10 second do whatever you want ability. Throw in additional spell resistance and the Dark Magic passive Exploitation (15% critical chance) and this ability becomes a must have.
– It’s the same downside that effects all of these ultimates, it’s small radius. I get around this on my Sorc by stunning enemies in place via Streak then dropping a Negate on top of them. Lock them down somehow inside this area for an amazing ultimate.
Templar – Nova morphed into Solar Prison AKA “Nova”
Ability Effects – Enemies deal 30% less damage for 8 seconds, and take magic damage every 1 second. An ally may activate the Gravity Crush synergy, dealing damage and stunning all enemies in the area.
+ Very similar to Standard again and it also provides a CC stun synergy which needs to be used. The one thing most don’t know about this ability, it’s not area capped. Meaning, you can hit more than six targets. In PvP, try using this on a choke point with 10+ enemies. You’ll literally be able to wipe a group with Nova.
– You guessed it, radius is the downside. Counter it the same ways as above by somehow trapping the enemy inside with CCs. Since the Templar isn’t the optimal role for this, use your groups strengths and lock them down.
Now that we know what ultimates are, how they work and which ones we should bring, let’s talk about optimizing their use. First off, certain classes have passives and or abilities that can generate ultimate on their own. The Nightblade’s Death Stroke morphed into Soul Harvest rewards ultimate for enemies killed giving a massive boost to ultimate generation. The Dragonknight’s Mountain’s Blessing passive grants two ultimate for each time casting a Earthen Heart ability. The Sorcerer’s Daedric Summoning passive Power Stone reduces ultimate cost by 15%! And the Templar’s Dawn’s Wrath Prism passive grants ultimate for each Wrath ability cast. Make sure you fully understand your own class and pick up these ultimate producing passives or skills immediately.
Now there’s also gear and an ultimate that generates ultimate. If you want to try out Werewolf World skill line, the passive Blood Rage “generates 5 ultimate every 3 seconds by taking damage while in humanoid form. Must have Werewolf Transformation slotted.” So what I use to do is slot this ability on my primary tanking bar, then switch to bar two for a Standard of Might when I reached the 200 mark.
There’s a couple of gear sets that do similar things. Take the Bastion of the Dragon set for instance. It’s a five piece set that reduces the ultimate cost abilities by 15%. Combine this set with the Sorcerer’s passive, that’s 30% less ultimate cost!. Additionally, the Werewolf set was added in patch 1.4 which is a five piece set granting ultimate every time you take damage every five seconds. I don’t know if being a Werewolf and using this set stack on top of each other, but image 10 ultimate every five seconds!
Since we know ultimate is generated via hits, heals and criticals, make sure you stack a lot of spell/weapon critical chance and spell/weapon power. There’s a million combinations of gear choices that can make this happen along with Mundus Stones and even potions. Either way, come equipped with hard hitting massive critical generating gear for big ultimate gains.
Lastly, don’t forget about synergies. Know which ones you should and should not activate. These abilities are like free damage and generate a massive amount of ultimate. A good strategy is to have one or more teammates use an ability that procs a synergy on the tanks since they have lower critical chance than most. This gives them some damage while blocking and extra ultimate generation because EVERYONE needs to drop ultimates.
Drop it Like it’s Hot
What separates a good team or player is the use of ultimates. When encountering newer players, they generally save their ultimate or have an ineffective one equipped and do not know how to even gain the resources. Don’t be that player.
DELTIA’S STORY TIME: Early on in my Meatball PvP career I learned a valuable lesson that hopefully you won’t have to repeat the hard way. When PvPing with my friend, I constantly out damaged him and thought I was a significantly better player. One day this led to a friendly duel where I thought I would surely crush him. The exact opposite happened as I was dead while staring up at him with 80% health remaining.
I rezzed, got up and started asking questions. The most important thing he told me is “use trinkets early and often.” That was a reference to a previous game but the point remains the same, use ultimates, potions, abilities, magicka, etc early and often. Don’t wait and save something because it does no good to you or your group if you have a potion available or an ultimate while your dead.
The same concept can be applied with ultimates, use early and often. If we bring in four players to Dragonstar Arena, we should be able to rotate ultimates constantly. Here’s an example:
- Nightblade DPS 1st to drop Veil (15 seconds duration)
- Sorcerer DPS 2nd drops Negate (9.5 seconds duration)
- Templar Healer 3rd drops Nova (8 second duration)
- Dragonknight Tank 4th drops Standard (15 second duration)
- That’s roughly 50 seconds of time which some Nightblade with enough critical should have another Veil up
I hope you enjoyed this guide and look forward to keeping the content coming! How do you use ultimates? Leave me a comment please.