- 2019/05/22 - Small changes for Elsweyr
- 2019/03/06 - Total revamp guide and update for Wrathstone patch
- 2018/10/23 - Updated for Murkmire
- 2018/07/17 - Updated weapon section (different trait/enchantments), added links to various (good) bow builds
- 2018/07/17 - Updated and rewrote several parts (sustain, classes)
- 2018/06/02 - Updated and rewrote first part of guide for Summerset patch
- 2018/01/04 - Rewrote skills and warden section.
- 2017/12/29 - Added information about Acid Spray (negative) value regarding stamina sustain
- 2017/12/24 - Rewrote Champion points setup, Stamina sustain, Racial choice and Weapon setup parts
- 2017/11/24 - Reworded weapon/trait part slightly
- 2017/11/23 - Added Dark Deal as viable skill choice on Sorc
- 2017/11/22 - Marked Imperial as good race choice. Reworded race/class choice to define better and worse options (than from best to worst)
- 2017/11/21 - Changed Warden Rotation. Added Warden parses. Added recommended gear to Warden, NB and Sorc
No information below is in any way based on experience using bow/bow setups in high level (score pushing) veteran trials. Everything said is based solely on my own experience and testing and different people can get different results. Everyone should be well aware that ranged stamina builds ( = bow/bow) lack on DPS, utility and survivability to either magicka dd, stamina melee dd or both to small or significant degree depending on content and user's capabilities.
Purpose of this guide is to tell people how to do well on bow builds and can't and is not supposed to rival min maxing builds and experience of min maxing build creators. If something in the guide is contradiction to their ideas and their ideas are well explained and tested (not always the case!) it is generally better to believe them.
Orc, Bosmer, Redguard, Khajiit, Dunmer, Imperial
All listed races are viable with very small difference. Orcs are by small margin the best. Bosmer and Redguard are the two sustain choices, Bosmer better for Crushing Weapon/Cutting Dive spammable rotation and Redguard for Snipe rotation. Khajiit fit more higher crit chance builds, which can limit set and class options. Dunmer offer nothing interesting compared to Orc. Imperial are by small margin the weakest option.
Dubious Camoran Throne or Artaeum Takeaway Broth on damage races. Stamina+Health (blue) food on sustain races.
Shadow or Lover
Getting high enough penetration is important. Lover is the easy choice and preferable on low CP. Shadow with penetration gained elsewhere (Sharpened trait, Tzogvin and CP) is the best
Poison Injection, Endless Hail and Razor Caltrops are must have skills on all builds. Ballista (better morph of bow ultimate) is viable alternative (or the only option) for main ultimate across all classes. Flawless Dawnbreaker is the must have option for front bar ultimate across all builds with various ultimates except Warden using Wild Guardian. Minor Force buff source is crucial on all builds and if not achieved from Tzgovin set the preferred option is Channeled Acceleration (psijic) skill or alternatively Trap Beast (Fighters Guild).
Acid Spray is great addition because of the damage it does even on single target, but unless you are Dragonknight it may be too expensive to use often.
On any class and build you have 2 choices of spammables. Instant cast one be it either Crushing Weapon (all classes) or Cutting Dive (Warden) and cast time Snipe. Rotations using snipe result generally in higher DPS, but rotations using instant cast can feel better and more fluid and arguably even perform better in more dynamic environment.
Nightblade must have skills are Relentless Focus, Dark Shade and Leeching Strikes, but for some situations using Killer's Blade or Incap strike ultimate are viable option.
Sorcerer will always slot Bound Armaments on front bar (but preferably on both bars) for the passives it gives. If you can or have to stand in melee range, Hurricane is very good skill that offers even useful armor and speed buff. Critical Surge for some amazing self heals is always recommended when bar space allows it or content demands it. Greater Storm Atronach can be used as alternative to Ballista.
Warden skill bars will always include Subterranean Assault and Bull Netch. Cutting Dive as mentioned above, if needed instant spammable, and Wild Guardian ultimate as alternative to Dawnbreaker/Ballista.
Templar will always have Power of the Light, Restoring Focus and Repentance. Having any Aedric Spear skill on front bar (and if possible even back bar) for the passive is highly recommended too.
Dragonknight has no obvious must have skills. Venomous Claw or Noxious Breath can be very useful and the first one even significant DPS gain, but both limit user to melee range. Flames of Oblivion has greater range (still not very large) so that is recommended skill to always slot and use when situations allows. If forced to melee range, ultimate Dragonknight Standard can be used as alternative to Ballista.
The absolutely best option for gear build is having Perfected Relequen
set on body (always active) with Tzogvin Warband
on weapons (active only on front bar), VMA Bow
on backbar and Velidreth
Traits and Enchantments
- Alternatives to Relequen (when missing it or doing content not suitable for relequen) are Vicious Ophidian, Twice-Fanged Serpent, Strength of the Automaton (sorcerer or templar), Hunding's Rage, War Machine (warden). All these are also valid alternative for Tzogvin in case of missing special backbar bow like VMA (so active constantly by being on both weapons)
- Alternatives to Tzogvin that fulfill same function (only frontbar active) are Veiled Heritance, Briarheart, War Machine (warden).
- The only useful alternative to VMA Bow is Master Bow. If having neither, equip bow of same set your front bar bow is.
- Alternatives to Velidreth monster set is Stormfist monster set for better range reach and sustain, but it is also possible to have 2 single pieces of monster set (either double weapon damage or one weapon damage and one penetration) or completely changing gear to two always active sets and Master Bow on front.
- All armor traits should always be divines with Stamina enchants (unless needing more health)
- Jewelry traits are slightly toss up between Infused and Bloodthirsty, alas I cannot say what is the best combination. My preferred way is 2 Infused and 1 Bloodthirsty. Always with Weapon Damage enchant.
- Weapon traits slightly depend on build choice. Backbar bow is always Infused with Weapon Damage enchant. Frontbar bow can be Precise or Sharpened with Absorb Stamina or Poison enchantment.
Because of lack of time I am unable to test and look for best rotations for all types (instant cast, snipe spammables) and classes. Over last 2 years bow/bow reached big enough renown to be included with various seriousness on various sites and youtube build videos. I recommend to look there for best performing rotations. I will describe only two rotations below, one for beginners to achieve reasonable DPS and the one I am using and I am well familiar with on class and with skills of my choice (warden with cutting dive).
BOW MECHANICS AND OTHER DETAILS
Basic Bow rotation for all classes
Back Bar: Endless Hail -> LA -> Poison Injection -> LA -> Caltrops -> (LA - > Class specific Buff Skill AND/OR LA -> Ultimate) -> SWAP
Front Bar: (LA -> Spammable) repeat n times until last second of Endless Hail, then LA -> SWAP
Will vary with various added skills and buffs. Crucial is to always swap to back bar when endless hail needs recasting. It is also very recommend to always start and end front bar rotation with light attack so you can avoid starting or ending back bar rotation with light attack and decrease then time spent on back.
Being able to weave light attacks between skills is MANDATORY for good DPS on bow (generally tho everywhere in ESO)
Cutting Dive/Sub rotation for warden
Back Bar: Endless Hail -> LA -> Caltrops -> LA -> Sub Assault -> SWAP
Front Bar: LA -> Poison Injection -> LA -> Cutting Dive -> LA -> Sub Assault -> LA -> Cutting Dive -> LA -> Cutting Dive -> LA -> Sub Assault -> LA -> Cutting Dive -> LA -> Cutting Dive -> LA -> Sub Assault -> LA -> SWAP
Replace Cutting Dive with Wild Guardian ultimate when ready or Bull Netch recast when running out.
This is my personal rotation fitting my own needs of something instant, dynamic and mobile for low performance in trials and chaotic environment of latest trials and dungeons.
Long Shots Passive explanation
- It affects only bow abilities (including light attacks)
- It is additive with all other % bonuses, notably CP (and others like Hawk Eye, Minor Berserk, ...).
That means for example on build with 10% (mighty), 18% (thaumaturge), 8% (minor berserk), 25% (hawk eye) going from 0m range to 23m range (12% long shots) will increase damage of your volley by 7.5% and not 12%.
The distances in picture are measured by the last position each skill with reported distance could be used. The red lines are the last position before long shot buff gets increased by 2%.