I'll preface this by saying I'm in no way a high end player, I've only played semi-casually for all these years on and off. I haven't been fortunate enough to be in trials yet, and only done pvp for fun. But this isn't so much about balance or numbers, this is about the feel of the class and the design approach changing over the years.
I am in an awful love-hate relationship with my class. I've heard many others share this sentiment, that nightblade is perpetually in an awkward spot when it comes to the enjoyment of the class, and I wager people who play it are the ones most often finding themselves wishing they were another class entirely – it has been the source of most of my long hiatusi from the game, especially every time they introduced a new class that seemed so much more convenient to be.
Initially, I played mine as a stamblade. I thought it looked cool, and it was the proper way to play the sneaky thief/assassin archetype I and many others enjoy. It'd be an understatement to say it really did not click with me. In the days of caltrops and volley, boring poison injection and surprise attack spams, and the ever present, annoying, tedious bow procs, I never found much enjoyment in combat. Worse yet, I tried very hard to play it properly and get optimal dps, yet that never seemed to work. Was I missing attack weaves? was I taking too long re-setting my aoe dots? Was I forgetting buffs one too many times? It was frustrating, and above all unrewarding. From everywhere, I only got either similar negativity – "Oh, other classes have it way easier." "Yeah, a pity, you have to work harder to reach the minimum, while the same work for others amounts to better results.", or "You just need to get better, this class has the highest ceiling so you can always outperform everybody else".
Eventually, after getting really, really frustrated with also being locked into the dps role as stamina, I decided to bite the bullet and swap to magblade. Took a while, to get going, but ultimately it wasn't the magical solution I secretly hoped it would be. Was being ranged better than melee? Most assuredly, it did feel better. Was I getting more dps more consistently? Perhaps, I still don't have a fully optimal build or have tried anything, but it does seem it's easier to deal good damage, although it might be confirmation bias. Yet, when it comes down to it, it all felt all the same. Stamina no longer even has caltrops, just volley – mag has the Twisting Path and Wall of Fire. Many small variations, but it will all still boil down to weaving to get bow procs, tediously spamming the same things, a fourth of your abilities being passive buffs or things you don't really actively use – things that don't change the gameplay up in any fun way.
What's more, your options remain awfully limited. And see, this is the bread if this post, if you don't feel like reading a personal recollection about the class above.
The class feels like it's not keeping up with the design phylosophy of new classes anymore. Obviously, this is a problem with all the original classes, but I'm bringing up nightblade because I main it, and because it's the one that *almost*, yet not even close at all, reaches what the new classes are doing.
See, new classes can do all 3 roles easily. Nightblade, specifically, has received small changes to better enable it to tank and heal, and distance it from being a pure dps class, yet they only exacerbate the differences between it and the new classes. In my opinion, Nightblade could use a rework where each skill line is dedicated to a specific role, and specifically that role. Currently, it can do a fine job tanking and sadly I hear a redundant, unnecessary healer. It fails to provide unique/optimal things that each other healer/tank brings and makes them worth taking over one and the same. More so, you're still locked down.
I mean – if you want to heal, you have to take the very specific healer morphs to your abilities INSTEAD of the very specific dps morphs – kind of same for tanking. Meanwhile the new classes have a tree dedicated, both morphs and all, to each role – you can swap on the fly, not re-skill every time you want to fill another role, especially ones so close like magdps/heal that don't even require a stat re-allocation. Complete skill line rework could solve those problems, while also tackle the lack of fun or rewarding gameplay loops within the abilities themselves.
What are your opinions on the class, the abilities, it's enjoyability or performance? Do you think some other type of change could be beneficial, or perhaps that it's perfect the way it is?
P.S. I heard that there might be some small to medium changes to how all proc-abilities work in the game, if anybody knows anything and how it affects nightblades I'd love to hear more. If it turns out there's huge changes to the class coming with the new expansion and I'm living under a rock, I do apologize – I just wish to hear other people's thoughts about what I believe is ESO's black sheep class.
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