The Elder Scrolls

Some comments on archery

I have seen a few recent posts where people mention having trouble with archery power, one-shotting etc. Here are some observations to get on track.

–Oblivion is a challenging game and generally doesn't give you much very easily. The ability to one-shot anything is gone by about level 22 where you can first have the highest enchanted deadric bow and deadric arrows. With them you can one-shot some of the low endurance stat mages and female bosmer bandits. The core of the game has to do with killing Mehrunes's minions, so the ability to one-shot black mages in O-towers is my benchmark. Beyond level 22 or so (maybe level 20) you cannot one-shot the leveled Valkanaz mages with Hatreds soul + a deadric arrow. Pure one-shotting is a very special and very fleeting ability.

–Your power is in relation to enemy rank in pretty much all skills. You start with Apprentice level skill fighting petty soul creatures so you need to build to master level skill to face Greater soul creatures on the same effort-to-kill level. They show up at level 15. If you build up faster (you can reach master rank at level 7-8 with a major skill) you will dominate more. This means one-shotting many weaker things when you have one of the powerful bows in your hand like Frostwyrm or a hatreds soul. If you want to one-shot tougher things add poison.

–Your sneak skill is also relative to enemy rank/level. You can walk barefoot without sneaking and get close enough for a sneak shot at low levels/enemy ranks. The ring of Kajiit at level 10 will boost your ability so much that you can then often sneak effectively even with low sneak skill. This will help you build sneak skill quickly by walking past rats and crabs, etc. in darker dungeons, which you could not do before.

–Your bow/marksman power-skill is based on number of hits, so you do not want to constantly take sneak shots early in the game while building marksman skill. Leveling is a player option that makes the game more difficult and makes you have to work and adapt. If you just want to role play your major skill set and be a one-shot bow god right away, don't level beyond level 4 and go fight the invisible super monkey dragon boss in the mountains for it's super bow as soon as you can. That bow only needs petty and lesser soul gems for recharge.

–Oblivion gates help build skill naturally with scamps out in the open requiring 6-7 easy shots. Next come the baby clannfear also needing 6-7 shots with your new greater skill. You can build master bow skill very quickly in oblivion gates, especially if you stick with an iron bow for the mooks. Out on the roads you get timber wolves and wild boar to build points on, but in general the mooks in the gates are easier find and easier to fill with arrows. It is the same for mages and warriors with spell casts and sword slashes.

–You generally will not be able to take multiple sneak shots on an enemy until you have the ring of kajiit and high sneak ability, but if you stay on schedule with your marksman skill you will gain the knock down expert perk at just about the time things start to get hairy/spongy. Knock down gives you about three 'free' shots, which you can add to your 3x sneak shot as 'safe' damage. This puts you back into the 5-7 danger shot range you started out with scamps. Then at master level you get paralyze which gives you another three free shots, so out in the open with a brown bear charging you, you now have 1 long range sneak shot (3x), and on average a knock down 3x shot and a paralyze 3x shot, so as far as safety goes you have the same ability in light as you do in darkness (where all of the shots would be sneak). Yes, it is more challenging than being a mage and blasting away, but if you want the easy way be a mage.

–Ideally you will have master marksman, master sneak, and expert armorer skill by level 16-20 plus the ring of kajiit 35% chameleon at level 10-11. The required/suggested dungeons and gates of the main quest can naturally build your skill to this level for you. You will need to adjust your game play choices if not going to these high enemy areas. With master skills you should be able to kill all of the greater soul enemies with four sneak shots or less with iron or steel arrows and a bow appropriate for that level (tribal goblin dungeons will provide hundreds of steel arrows after level 20 or so). You have to work on your stealthy movement here because light level matters. Long distance zoom shots will keep you undetected in high light. Faster moving enemies (high speed stat) will detect you more easily, which is why conjurers are so hard to sneak-kill.

–At level 1 it takes about 14 shots to kill a zombie (marksman at 25, iron bow/arrows, no sneak). At level 50 it takes about 14 shots to kill a goblin warlord (all sneak shots, deadric bow, steel arrows, 100 marksman, 100 sneak, 75 armorer, 100 agility, and at least the Ring of Kajiit to stay undetected).

–At end game levels monster dungeons and oblivion towers will be about 75% greater soul creatures (needing 4 sneak shots) and only 25% leveled grand soul damage sponges. You have several options for them. One is playing around with fortify fatigue potions and damaging your fatigue attributes to boost your arrow power, another is simply using a poison to pull down enemy health.

–Hatreds soul bow. This is the developer's gift for a pure archer's end game play. The drain/damage speed enchantment reduces the enemy speed stat so it reduces their ability to detect you in sneak mode. This is what lets you make those 14 sneak shots on level 50 goblins. You only need one shot to stun, and you only have 15 available charges so it is wise to hot-key a second bow for doing the bulk of the damage. I shoot a second hatreds soul that is depleted of charge. The bows weigh half as much as deadric so the weight of two is the same as one deadric. The level 19-top version is the only one that works well for this so don't flip out if your lesser versions don't quite keep you hidden.

–Enchanted damage bows found or made with sigils do not give you much if any advantage. The silence bows can be useful with poison.

–Archery with custom enchanted bows is another story. You are basically casting spells with your bows and you can cast some very powerful spells without needing the same skill or magicka a mage would need with spells. Command, weakness to element, weakness to poison and weakness to magic are very useful, very powerful.

–Alchemy is the great equalizer for anyone with a bow. It will let builds with combat or magic as the specialty keep up, just as it will let someone playing a stealth archer who falls behind in his skills keep up.

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