Last updated on October 22nd, 2018
In this larger than life Elder Scrolls Online Guide we are going to cover all the important information for new Players entering the world of Tamriel for the first time. When starting out there is a lot to know, so beginners may feel overwhelmed, which is natural. Here we are going to explain pretty much every facet of ESO and provide tips as well.
ESO Business Model
Before we get started with gameplay tips, it is important to know what business model Elder Scrolls Online uses. ESO can be played after purchasing it, and afterwards no monthly subscription is necessary and it can be played infinitely. ESO Plus, the monthly subscription, brings a lot of benefits that can impact speed of progression significantly, but it is not required. Here you can read all the differences when playing with and without this subscription.
In addition to that there is a Crown Store where you can spend Crowns, a premium currency bought with real-world money. Crowns are also given on a monthly basis by having ESO Plus. With Crowns you can purchase DLCs, as well as Houses and other goodies like Mounts or Costumes. Conversely, you gain access to all DLCs if you have an active ESO Plus membership, but access is revoked upon its expiration.
Is ESO Plus worth it then? That really depends on the time you plan on investing into the game. If you are an infrequent player then it may not be worth it since ESO Plus’s benefits would not be used to their maximum. If you play almost every day then ESO Plus is recommended until at least enough monthly Crowns are collected from subscription to purchase all available DLCs.
Probably the biggest benefit of ESO Plus is the Crafting Bag. It is essentially a bag of infinite space for ALL crafting materials. Without the Crafting Bag it is hard to manage these materials and most likely crafting materials will be juggled between alternate characters, due to inventory space limitations. Be sure to purchase this item if it is ever placed into the Crown Store.
Choosing Race Alliances in ESO
Races in Elder Scrolls Online are restricted to the Alliance that contains them, but this can be bypassed if you purchase the Any Race, Any Alliance upgrade from the Crown Store. Choosing an Alliance determines the starting area you are transported to after the tutorial section in Coldharbour. Players of any Alliance can PvE together on the landscape and in Dungeons if they wish, but players from different Alliances CANNOT PvP together in Cyrodiil. Note that the Imperial Race can be played only if purchased via the Crown Store and can play any Alliance.
Races have special innate abilities that work better with some roles. For example, Nords receive bonuses such as increased experience gain with Two Handed Skills, reduced damage taken, and increased Health and Stamina. This makes them more suitable for Tank Roles but they can be effective at other Roles as well. Be sure to keep this in mind when creating your character, because some bonuses are better than others for what you may be trying to do. However, players can also change their Race after creation by purchasing a Race Change Token from the Crown Store, but it isn’t cheap.
The Templar uses the power of the Aedra to smite enemies and assist allies. This class is close to the classic Paladin. The Templar skill lines consist of Aedric Spear, Dawn’s Wrath and Restoring Light. Aedric Spear is focused around damage and survivability. Dawn’s Wrath focuses on Damage over Time and control, while Restoring Light focuses solely on healing yourself and allies. Because of the Restoring Light skill tree, the Templar makes the best healer in the game, especially paired with the Restoration Staff skill tree. Tanking is a little harder as a Templar because of a lack of crowd control and mobility, but it is still very capable of fulfilling the role. As a DPS, a Templar does very well holding its own against other classes.
The Dragonknight has the blood of a dragon, and uses skills that would befit a dragon. Ardent Flame focuses mostly on DPS, Draconic Power adds survivability and Earthen Heart concentrates on damage mitigation and crowd control. Dragonknights make the best tanks in the game, mostly because of the large amounts of crowd control and damage mitigation skills they have access to. As a DPS, Dragonknights are on par with all the other classes, and can be capable healers when using the Restoration Staff skill line and the class’ damage mitigation skills.
The Nightblade is the stealthy assassin type, creeping through the shadows and stabbing from the darkness. They have the Assassination, Shadow and Siphoning skill trees. Assasination deals with debuffs, damage and mobility. Shadow focuses on crowd control and escape mechanisms. And Siphoning steals health, magicka and stamina from enemies and gives it to the Nightblade and their allies. The Nightblade can make for a decent healer, especially with the Siphoning skill tree and the Restoration Staff skill tree, while tanking is a little more difficult than the other classes. The One-handed and Shield skill line is a must have if you want to tank as a Nightblade. A Nightblade is a fearsome DPS character, and is one of the more dreaded opponents in PvP.
The Sorcerer is the spellcaster and summoner class, but is by no means a stereotypical mage that hides behind allies and deals massive damage from a distance. Sorcerers have the Storm Calling, Dark Magic, and Daedric Summoning skill lines. Storm Calling focuses on DPS, Dark Magic on crowd control and area of effect damage, and Daedric Summoning focuses on summoning Daedra to assist you and your allies. Sorcerers can make good healers when paired with the Restoration Staff skill tree. They can also tank, but are among the most difficult to gear up for the role. Sorcerers excel at DPS, and are some of the most deadly opponents around.
Wardens are defenders of the Green, master storytellers whose nature tales become magical reality. They wield frost spells against enemies and summon animals to aid them. Wardens have Winter’s Embrace (tank), Green Balance (healer) and Animal Companions (dps). They are excellent DPS and Healers, and decent tanks. The Warden Class can be played only if purchased via the Crown Store or if you purchase the Morrowind expansion.
The game is designed so that every Class can fulfill all 3 Roles: Tank, Damage Dealer and Healer. Some classes are better suited for specific roles, however.
ESO Leveling: Questing, Skill Points and Gear
Leveling, Skill Points and Champion Ranks
Leveling in ESO is done by completing Quests, killing Enemies, doing Dungeons and even by participating in PvP. By progressing from level to level you will receive Attribute Points that can be spent on Magicka, Health and Stamina and also Skill Points that can be spent on various Skill Lines.
Skill Points can also be obtained by completing 4-man Dungeons for the first time, collecting Skyshards and doing zone story quests. They are essential for any character because you cannot gain all the Skills you need without them and there are MANY passives you will wish to take, in addition to Crafting Skills.
The maximum level is 50 but that is not the end of your progression. After reaching level 50, Champion Ranks are unlocked. Here you can upgrade your character further with new passives, that are essential for Veteran Content (Hard Mode) and Trials (Raids). One notable thing about Champion Ranks is that they are account-based, meaning each Champion Point you earn on one character becomes available to all your other characters (regardless of their level). Currently you can obtain a total of 780 Champion Points to spend, but this amount increases 30 points with every major Update which are usually quarterly (spring, summer, fall, and winter).
Equipment and Gear
Do not get attached to gear that you get during the leveling process. Everything below Champion Point 160 (CP 160) will be deconstructed at the corresponding Crafting Station for Inspiration (Crafting XP) eventually. Deconstructing gear obtained from other players or enemies yields the most Inspiration, and is the fastest way to level many of the Crafting vocations. The only equipment that matters is max level gear and that is CP 160. Equipment that drops from enemies and in Dungeons corresponds to your level, so for enemies to start dropping CP 160 equipment your character needs to be level 50 and CP 160 at least. Sets are the most powerful gear you can get as they offer wide variety of powerful bonuses and are crucial for creating powerful end game Builds.
Crafting is an important aspect of Elder Scrolls Online because everything crafted for the highest levels is powerful and needed for Veteran Content. Crafting consists of 7 Vocations:
- Blacksmithing -Used to craft Weapons and Heavy Armor
- Clothing – Light and Medium Armor
- Woodworking – Staves, Bows and Shields
- Provisioning – Food and Drinks
- Alchemy – Potions
- Enchanting – Glyphs
- Jewelry – Rings and Necklaces
To craft anything you first need the appropriate Materials. Materials can be obtained from nodes around Tamriel, Guild Traders, NPC Vendors, Crates, Barrels, Urns and by killing Animals.
To start the crafting process access any Crafting Station. Crafting Stations offer a wide variety of options. For Clothing, Jewelry, Woodworking and Blacksmithing refinement of Raw Materials is required to craft any item. Enchanting, Alchemy and Provisioning can start crafting immediately, as long as recipes and proper combinations are known.
Writs are Daily Quests that can be obtained by visiting notice boards.
Writs are unlocked after becoming certified in a chosen vocation. To become certified visit Danel Telleno at the Mages Guild for Alchemist, Enchanter & Provisioner Certification, Millenith at the Fighters Guild for Blacksmithing, Woodworking & Clothing and Felarian in Alinor for Jewelry. Jewelry Crafting is only available if you have the Summerset Expansion.
After completing Writs you will receive bags, coffers or satchels that need to be opened to receive the rewards inside. These can vary from rare improvement materials to equipment that can be sold for increased price or deconstructed for increased Inspiration.
By leveling any crafting vocation new Crafting Skills are unlocked that need to be upgraded with Skill Points. Upgrading these Skills will provide means to level crafting more efficiently, craft far more powerful items and other special bonuses.
Depending on your Vocation, some options at Crafting Stations are more useful while leveling while others not so much until CP 160 has been reached. For example, Researching Traits is recommended to do whenever possible because there is a lot of them and they are required for crafting special Sets crafted only at Special Crafting Stations located in the world (usually Caves or Camps, not in Cities).
The improvement option, on the other hand should not be used until CP 160 has been reached since improvement materials are rare and everything below CP 160 will be deconstructed at some point.
- Delves – Solo Dungeons
- Public Dungeons – Are annoying to solo so bringing a friend or two is recommended
- Group Dungeons – 4 Player Dungeons that can be accessed by going to the Group & Activity Finder Tab and choosing the desired Dungeon and Role to take
Every day there is 1 Random Group Dungeon available in the Activity Finder Tab that gives rewards and much more XP per completion. It is highly recommended to do these every day because it helps tremendously in gaining levels fast. Group Dungeons also give 1 Skill Point upon completing the quest received inside the dungeon. These quests can only be done once per dungeon.
Trials are Raids designed for 12 people. Trials have repeatable quests once per week that give coffers with great rewards. Trials are recommended only to those who have reached CP 160 and above.
Every Dungeon and Trial has their Veteran counterpart. These are much more challenging then normal and it is not recommended to attempt them until you get solid gear and achieve higher levels (160 CP is recommended).
Mounts & Transportation
Fast Travel using Wayshrines is the fastest form of traveling, but it can cost gold if you are not currently at one. It can become extremely expensive if Fast Travel is used in quick succession because the cost goes up almost tenfold. To avoid such high costs you need to wait a bit before Fast Traveling again, if not at a Wayshrine, or simply ride to the nearest one and then port.
There is an alternative solution, which is to simply go to the Friends or Guild tab, right click on any name whose location suits you and choose Travel to Player. This costs nothing and can often save you a lot of time!
Mounts are also present in the game. By visiting Stables in any Major City you are given an option to purchase a horse. More exotic mounts can be bought from the Crown Store or acquired via Crown Crates. Mounts acquired are added to Collections and can be changed from there.
Each Mount has a certain amount of storage space, stamina and speed. These are called Riding Skills. Riding Skills are character-based skills affecting Speed, Stamina and Capacity of the mount. To upgrade Riding Skills, visit any Stables and choose an upgrade. After every upgrade you need to wait for 20h before purchasing another upgrade. These Skill work universally across all Mounts on the same character.
Inventory Space & Banks
Inventory Space is very limited in the beginning but can be upgraded by visiting Pack Merchants located in every Major City. Every subsequent upgrade costs more in game gold. Managing Inventory can be a chore so creating alternate characters is a good way to store some materials or other stuff you do not need at that moment. Knowing what to do with all these items can go a long way to having enough space. Here are couple of tips that can help with that:
- Craft Bag – Only available when ESO Plus is active. The Craft Bag helps tremendously in managing inventory space by automatically putting every crafting material into a bag with infinite space. This is hands down the best thing you can get for storage, but it comes at the cost of a Subscription every month.
- Sell Trash Items – Items under the miscellaneous tab like Daedra Husk, Ectoplasm and Carapace should all be sold to merchants since they have no use. Blue Monster Trophy items should be also sold.
- Deconstruct Equipment – Deconstruct every Equipment item acquired up until level CP 160 that is not better than what you are currently using. Equipment with Magnifying Glass icons next to them should be used for Researching Traits while equipment with Ornate (Gold Bag) icon next to it should be sold to vendors for increased Gold.
Banks are present in every Major City. Here you can store almost every item type. Banks are account bound, meaning you can take items from the bank with any character on that account. Use banks as much as possible to reduce the hassle of dealing with inventory space. Your bank space limit can be increased with in game gold or from the Crown Store.
Guilds & Guild Traders
Every character can be a member of 5 Guilds simultaneously. Guilds can focus on different things. Here are the Guild types you can join:
- Social – Social Guilds usually do not have any requirements and are there to help each other out a bit while communicating via chat all the time.
- PvE – Player versus Environment are Dungeons and Trials focused guilds.
- PvP – Player versus Player Guilds focus on Battlegrounds and Cyrodiil PvP content.
- Trading – Trading Guilds focus on selling items via Guild Stores and Guild Traders
Check Zone chat to see recruiting messages from Guilds and join the ones that suit your needs. By joining a Guild you unlock Guild Bank and Guild Stores in Banks. Guild Banks are used to store items that you want to share with other Guild Members while Guild Stores work as “in guild only Auction Houses” where you put items up for sale. Guild Stores are best used with Trading Guilds since there will be many more members actively seeking to buy and sell.
Guild Traders are the equivalent of an Auction House where a Guild Store is made public to anyone. Guild Traders can be located at many places in the world but mainly in Major Cities. To list items for sale at Guild Traders your Guild needs to have one available, which usually costs a significant chunk of Gold, as they must be bid on against other competing Guilds. This is often why many of these Guilds have a weekly dues.
There are 6 NPC Guilds in ESO:
- Fighter’s Guild
- Mages’ Guild
- Thieves Guild (DLC)
- Dark Brotherhood (DLC)
- Psijic Order (Summerset Expansion)
To join any of these guilds simply talk to the person in charge of their respective guilds. The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood both require DLC, purchased either through Crown Store or by having ESO Plus active. Psijic Order requires the Summerset Expansion to be purchased. To start playing these stories go to the Collections and switch to Stories Tab, accept quests and have at it.
Every NPC Guild comes with their own Skill Line, offering many additional Skills that can be extremely useful. To level up these Skill Lines, specific tasks need to be completed. These tasks vary from Guild to Guild. What every Guild shares in common though, are Story and repeatable quests. Other tasks can be something like killing Daedra for Fighter’s Guild, finding Lorebooks for Mages’ Guild and killing people for Dark Brotherhood.
Upon reaching level 45, Pledges become available at the Undaunted Guild. Pledges are repeatable daily quests which require of you to complete specific Dungeons. Rewards for completing these quests are Undaunted Keys that can be used to open 3 different chests at the Undaunted Guild, each offering special rewards in terms of equipment. It is highly recommended to do pledges every day and save these keys until you hit CP 160 and then open chests.
Special Monster Sets that can be acquired from Undaunted Pledges come in 2 pieces, Helm and Shoulder Piece. Shoulder Pieces drop from Undaunted Chests and Helmets drop from Bosses in Veteran Dungeons. Each Boss drops a specific Helm, which can be farmed, but the Shoulder pieces are somewhat random. There are three different chests you can open with your keys, and each chest has a fixed pool of Shoulders that drop. Be sure to learn what these are so that you are using your keys on the correct chest for the Shoulder you wish to get!
To create an Outfit, visit any Outfit Station located near Crafting Stations in Major Cities. Here you can change the look and color of every Armor and Weapon Piece. When you are done with the changes, confirm by paying with in game Gold or Outfit Tokens that can be purchased in Crown Store. All changes are saved in Outfit Slot 1, but more slots can be purchased in Crown Store. Outfits are independent of gear equipped, meaning you can change gear all the time without your looks changing at all if Outfit 1 has been chosen on Character Screen.
To learn how to unlock all these Styles simply Mouse over any Style you want to use for Outfit and it will be explained. Usually unlocking a Style means acquiring Motifs that drop randomly from Crates, Barrels, Enemies etc, but can sometimes be from special events or from Dungeons.
Colors for dying are unlocked by completing various Achievements. Mousing over dyes at Outfit Stations will show you how to unlock them. However, dying Hats and Costumes can only be done if you have ESO Plus active.
In ESO you can have your own House. A small one is given to the Player as a reward for completing the introductory Housing Quest. House sizes vary from Small to Manors and can be Furnished or Unfurnished. They are also styled after the game’s 10 Playable Races and are account wide, meaning every character on that account can access them.
Homes can be purchased with Crowns from Crown Store and in game Gold by visiting any House from the Collections Tab. Click on the Housing subtab and preview to travel to your chosen House. You can preview with or without decorations before you decide to purchase.
Houses can be decorated with various items you find and craft, ranging from typical furnishings such as beds and chairs to extravagant ones like statues and thrones. Every Crafting Vocation has a Furnishing option at Crafting Stations, and to craft any Furnishing item you need both the recipe and materials. Recipes can be looted from containers around Tamriel, with Styles usually matching the region, while materials are usually acquired by harvesting material nodes.
The benefits of having a House are that you can put Crafting Stations (Normal and Special) in it, Training Dummies and Storage Chests that can be purchased via Master Writ Vouchers, Tel Var Stones or in the Crown Store. This is of course in addition to just the novelty of having a home…
Lastly we come to PvP, Cyrodiil, Imperial City and Battlegrounds. As of the time of this Guide there are really only a few ways you can PvP and I’ll explain them here. First up is Cyrodiil which boasts hundreds of players fighting in one giant map, where the game’s Alliances compete for dominance.
In Cyrodiil players can take part in two Campaigns of their choosing. One they will set as their “Home” Campaign and the other will be their “Guest” Campaign. These operate mostly the same, except you cannot become Emperor in your Guest Campaign. In order to become Emperor you must be playing in your Home Campaign and you must have the highest accumulated Alliance Points for that Campaign at the time your faction controls all 6 keeps around the Imperial City.
Players can earn Alliance Points by killing players, capturing and defending Keeps and Resources and by completing Quests in Cyrodiil. They can also earn Alliance Points from competing in Battlegrounds and by playing in the Imperial City as well, however, these do not count towards Emperor. Alliance Points can be used to acquire Siege, Motifs, Consumables and even Sets that can be worn by the player.
Players competing in a Cyrodiil Campaign cannot fight with players from a different Alliance, so keep this in mind when making a character because you may not be able to PvP in Cyrodiil with your friends or Guildmates if you are not the same.
The Imperial City can only be accessed by purchasing the Imperial City DLC or by having an active ESO Plus membership. You can get to the Imperial City inside Cyrodiil by traveling to one of the entrances there. The Imperial City is home to many Districts that you can travel to, and is a much smaller PvP experience, with some PvE elements mixed in.
Players gain Tel Var Stones from defeating enemies and players inside the Imperial City, however they lose half of them upon death if they do not make it back to the bank before depositing them. The more Tel Var you acquire the higher your bonus modifier will become and the more Tel Var you will acquire from each enemy and player. This can provide a bit more excitement than your typical PvP, as there is much more risk/reward to it, and players will have to decide how long to stay in the Imperial City before it becomes too risky. Players can spend their Tel Var on special vendors inside the Imperial City to by unique items and equipment.
Battlegrounds should be thought of as your more “traditional” PvP. Whereas sometimes in Cyrodiil you’ll have huge battles of hundreds of players at a time, in Battlegrounds you will play 4 vs. 4 vs. 4 in more familiar game types like “Deathmatch” and “Capture the Flag”. You can play alone or with friends, but Champion Points are not applied to this game type, making it more accessible to newer players.
Stay tuned for more ESO Guides as we take on Crafting, Dungeons, PvP and of course, Builds! If you want to find out more about the upcoming changes with Update 19 read about them in Elder Scrolls Online Wolfhunter Changes: The Age Of The Werewolf. You can also check out the upcoming dungeons in The Elder Scrolls Online: Wolfhunter Dungeons Preview.