ESO DPS Guide: Gear, Damage Sources & Rotations
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ESO DPS Guide: Gear, Damage Sources & Rotations

In this Elder Scrolls Online DPS Guide I am going to cover a bunch of mechanics and how to improve your overall DPS. Having high Damage Per Second is very important for Veteran end game content, otherwise you become a liability, and it becomes much more difficult. Having great Gear, knowing what Skills to use and what to focus on is only one part of the equation. Rotation is what makes or breaks every DPS build.

ESO Damage Dealing Basics

Before you do anything else you need to choose is your DPS going to come from Magicka or Stamina based Skills. Usually both versions work very well for each class with the biggest differences being Skills used and Damage type. If you choose Magicka as your DPS then ALL of your attribute points will go into Magicka since it increases the effectiveness of all Skills that use Magicka, on top of giving your a larger resource pool. If you chose Stamina as your dps then ALL of your attributes will go into Stamina since it increases the effectiveness of all Skills that use Stamina, in addition to the larger resource pool.

Besides Max Magicka and Max Stamina, they other stats that really impact your performance are Spell Damage and Weapon Damage. Magicka and Spell Damage work together to increase your overall damage per attack, and likewise Stamina and Weapons Damage do the same. These stats are roughly equal in terms of what they provide from a damage stand point, however Max Magicka and Max Stamina both allow you to use more Skills before running out of resources.

Damage Types, Resistance and Penetration

Damage in ESO is split into two groups: Physical and Magical. Physical Damage is mitigated by Armor (Physical Resistance) and Magical Damage is mitigated by Magical Resistance.

Physical Damage Sub Types: Poison and Disease
Magical Damage Sub Types: Frost, Shock and Flame

All Physical Damage Sub Types are mitigated by Armor (Physical Resistance) and their own mitigation (Poison Resistance for example). All Magical Damage Sub Types are mitigated the same way. So for example Frost Damage will be mitigated with Spell Resistance + Frost Resistance before applying damage.

Penetration ignores resistance, meaning you will deal more damage. In PvE the highest resistances go to around 18k but because of all the debuffs (Major and Minor Fracture/Breach, Glyph of Crushing) that your Tank should do, realistically you need somewhere around 10k Penetration. If you have 18k Spell Penetration and the enemy has 10k Spell Resistance, all that additional 8k Penetration is forfeit, meaning you gain nothing from it. For this reason you shouldn’t stack Penetration any higher than about 10k. In PvP, however, players tend to stack Resistance as high as they can, meaning Penetration will pay off more.

How to increase your Damage in ESO

Players will want to maximize their DPS, and they can start by focusing on the following:

Weapon Quality

Once you know what gear you are set on, and are level CP160, invest in the Tempering Alloy or Rosin to upgrade your weapon to Gold Legendary Weapon Quality. The DPS difference from Purple to Gold is significant and will be noticeable. Materials or Weapons themselves can be purchased from Guild Traders, or you can refine raw materials or complete Crafting Writs to obtain them.

Increasing your Magicka or Stamina Attribute

The vast majority of skills scale off your Magicka or Stamina pool, so having a large pool means higher damage. Some skills are more affected by “Spell/Weapon Damage”, so optimize your setup so you have a large 40k ish attribute pool with around 2000 Spell or Weapon Damage. Please note that having high pools does not mean good regeneration, and sustained DPS will also need Magicka/Stamina Recovery in order to keep attacking through lengthier fights.


Sets can provide various bonuses that improve overall DPS. Damage Dealers use Light and/or Medium Armor because the passive Skills of both work very well for DPS. Unlike Weapons, Gold Legendary Quality is a nice-to-have rather than a must, but you should consider it anyway particularly for your Jewelry Glyphs. Glyphs should be Legendary Quality and give you Max Magicka/Max Stamina, add Magicka/Stamina Recovery or Spell/Weapon Damage. Traits play significant role as well so focus on Sharpened for your weapons, Divine and Infused for your Armor, and Arcane/Robust for your Jewelry. Those who will do harder dungeons should get at least one or two Bloodthirsty traits on Jewelry in place of Arcane/Robust.


Sorcery/Brutality Buffs are very important for DPS classes since they boost overall DPS by 20% for Major and 5% for Minor. Do not forget that Minor and Major buffs stack, so go through your Skills and find the innate buffs that you have and add them to your bar so you can self-buff during your rotation.



Potions that are good for DPS are Essence of Spell Power, Spell Crit, Weapon Power, and Weapon Crit. Which one to use depends on your build and playstyle. They can be expensive to get so stick with Potions that restore only 2 stats until you get to tough end game content like Veteran Trials. Minimally you want to have Potions that give you back your primary resource and increase your Recovery with that resource (Magicka or Stamina).


Food can give significant buffs to Max Stamina, Magicka and Health which leads to improved performance and surviveability. Purple CP 150 food is the best choice and if you cannot craft it yourself it is available at Guild Traders for a fair price. My recommendation is to use regen drinks when in PvE content. Magicka users want to buy “Witchmother’s Potent Brew” and stamina users want “Dubious Camoran Throne“. If, however, you cannot find these, Blue food that increases Health and your primary Attribute (Stamina/Magicka) is better than nothing.

Critical Chance and Critical Damage

2 very important factors in any DPS build are Critical Chance and Critical Damage. These 2 are increased through Buffs, Gear, Passive Skills, and Champion Points. It is important to have both as high as possible. Buffs that affect Critical Chance and Critical Damage are Prophecy, Savagery and Force.

Skill Ranks

Skill Ranks can boost damage or duration, depending on the Skill used. Slot your skills in your bar when turning in quests and defeating enemies to rank them up and unlock morphs and more powerful abilities. The Maximum Rank for any Class Skill is 4. Additionally, do not neglect to put points into passive skills for Medium Armor and Light Armor, as they will improve your DPS sustain by lowering your resource consumption and improving regeneration.

Number next to Skill indicates Rank

DPS Gear: Sets, Enchantments and Traits

Gear is important for any role. Damage Dealers usually stick with Light or Medium Armor or mix both of them in same build. An optimized build is usually taking advantage of the Undaunted Passive Skill “Undaunted Mettle”, that gives you a bonus for wearing a piece of each armor type. For example a Magicka Build would wear a Heavy Chest, Medium Legs and light everything else to get a 4% stat bonus and maximize protection from the armor.

Here is a list of some general good dps armor sets that are not too hard to obtain (Can be crafted / found overworld / easy dungeons)

Stamina Builds

Magicka Builds

Monster Sets


DPS enchantments are straightforward and most people use these setups:

Armor: Depending on the build, what you should focus on here is either increased Max Stamina or Magicka. It might be tempting to slot Health Glyphs, but it is always better to increase your surviveability via shields and bubbles than by pumping numbers. As a guideline, an optmized magicka Sorceror will have only 16k-18k health, and survive by virtue of their damage shield skills such as Annulment. However, since the Murkmire changes, it may be a good idea to put Prismatic Glyphs on your Chest, Legs and Head to further increase your surviveability if you find you are dying often.

Weapon: Weapon Enchantment should always be Glyph of Weapon Damage on your front or back bar, but ideally not both since they don’t stack. This Glyph affects Light & Heavy attacks and Skill damage, so you want to keep it up as often as possible. Consider using an Infused Trait on the weapon that uses this Glyph for best results. If you are dual wielding then you should know that 2 same enchantments on both weapons DO NOT STACK. For dual wielding slot Weapon Damage Glyph on Primary Weapon and Glyph of Poison/Disease/Flame/Frost/Shock on Secondary.

Jewelry: The best Jewelry Enchantments for DPS classes are Glyph of Increased Physical/Magical Harm and Stamina/Magicka Recovery. Remember that Enchantments on Jewelry STACKS, meaning you can have the same Glyph on all pieces of Jewelry.


  • Armor: Divines and Infused are recommended since it can lead to significant boosts from Mundus Stones and Enchantments.
  • WeaponInfused, Precise and Nirnhoned are the best choices since they increase Damage by increasing Enchantment effectiveness, Critical Chance and Damage.
  • Jewelry: Bloodthirsty, Infused and Robust/Arcane are the most effective ones.

DPS Champion Skills

It is easy to get confused with all the Champion Skills available. There are many good Skills but not so many great ones. Remember that game always rounds up the percentage gains of Champion Skills, meaning if it says for example that you get increased Damage by 5.6%, the actual gain is 5% and 0.6% is forfeit. Here are best Champion Skills for Magicka and Stamina Builds.


  • Thaumaturge – Increases DoT damage
  • Master at Arms – Increases damage done from direct attacks (any attack that is not DoT or AoE)
  • Staff Expert – Increases damage from Light and Heavy attacks with Staves
  • Elemental Expert – Increases damage from Elements
  • Spell Erosion – Increases Spell Penetration
  • Elfborn – Increases Critical Damage
  • Arcanist – Increases Magicka Regeneration
  • Tenacity – Increases Magicka and Stamina Restoration with Heavy Attacks
  • Tumbling – Reduces stamina cost of Roll Dodge and Breaking Free
  • Shadow Ward – Reduces Stamina cost of blocking
  • Hardy – Reduces damage from Poison, Disease and Physical attacks
  • Elemental Defender – Reduces damage from Elemental attacks
  • Thick Skinned – Reduces damage from DoT effects
  • Bastion – Increases effectiveness of Shields (only for classes that have Damage Shield Skills)
  • Iron Clad – Reduces duration of Snare, Fear, Stun and Disorientation effects
  • Spell Shield – Increases Spell Resistance


  • Mighty – Increases Physical Damage
  • Thaumaturge – Increases DoT damage
  • Precise Strikes – Increases Critical Damage of Physical Attacks
  • Piercing – Increases Physical Penetration
  • Master at Arms – Increases damage done from direct attacks (any attack that is not DoT or AoE)
  • Physical Weapon Expert – Increases Light and Heavy Attack damage with every Weapon except Staves
  • Shadow Ward – Reduces Stamina cost of blocking
  • Tumbling – Reduces stamina cost of Roll Dodge and Breaking Free
  • Tenacity – Increases Magicka and Stamina Restoration with Heavy Attacks
  • Mooncalf – Increases Stamina Regeneration
  • Hardy – Reduces damage from Poison, Disease and Physical attacks
  • Elemental Defender – Reduces damage from Elemental attacks
  • Thick Skinned – Reduces damage from DoT effects
  • Iron Clad – Reduces duration of Snare, Fear, Stun and Disorientation effects
  • Spell Shield – Increases Spell Resistance

How many points goes into each of these Champion Skills depends on many things such as Build, Content, Skill Passives… By using these, however, you are on the right path to maximize your DPS.


The best Gear in the game won’t help you if you do not know how to properly rotate Skills. There are also some ‘hidden’ mechanics that players use to maximize their Damage output. In this section we will explore these, beginning with Weaving and Canceling.

Light Weaving and Swap Canceling

Light Weaving means hitting an enemy with Light Attack and Skill at the same time. It increases overall DPS a lot and it also helps with Ultimate gain since every Light/Heavy Attack generates a buff for 8 seconds that restores Ultimate. To do this move, simply start a Light Attack and before it hits an opponent use any Skill from the rotation. That will cancel the animation of Light Attack and prioritize Skill instead but both attacks will deal damage. This also works with Heavy Attacks, so practice until you get the hang of it.

Swap Canceling means switching Weapons while casting a Skill.  If you cast a Skill and swap bars immediately, the skill will still fire but the animation won’t play. This move is very useful for heavy bar swapping rotations, and is a more advanced technique. This saves valuable time when DPSing, and improves your overall damage out put.

Skill Priority

General Skill and Attack rotation looks something like this:

  1. Buff – Using any Skill that gives Brutality/Savagery/Sorcery/Prophecy/Force
  2. Debuff – Debuffing means lowering enemy resistance to the type of Damage you are dealing. In Dungeons and Trials you should not worry about this cause Tanks are the ones that do that usually.
  3. DoT attack – Damage over Time attacks means using any Skill that puts lasting damage on the enemy like Bleed, Poison, lasting Elemental AoE attacks like Liquid Lightning… Different DoTs stack but same ones do not so putting 2 DoTs like Poison and Bleed on the enemy at the same time is a viable strategy. DoT should be reapplied upon expiration.
  4. Main Skill or Heavy Attack – Main Skill is a spammable one that does a lot of instant Damage. Use this with Light Weaving until any DoT expires. Heavy Attack is used instead of Main Skill when you are out of Magicka or Stamina because it instantly restores some of it. Some Skill Lines have Skills that do increased damage to low health enemies (Reverse Slash for example) and these should be used with Light Weaving instead of Main Skill when enemy is under 25% Health.
  5. Repeat – Reapply Buffs and Debuffs if necessary, then reapply DoTs and continue using attack from Step 4 that works best at that moment.

While learning these rotations you will constantly run out of Magicka or Stamina and that is normal. Be patient, practice on enemies and dummies if you have one and also install Add On like Combat Metrics that will tell you how much DPS you are doing. The number that you are looking to reach for the toughest Veteran content is around 30k.

Final Tips

Practice is the most important thing for any DPS Class. After awhile all the timing and reflexes will become muscle memory. Even with bad gear you can reach decent DPS numbers if you can nail the rotation.

While practicing do not waste expensive potions. Use those only for toughest content. However, Food is relatively cheap and lasts for a long time and should be used even when practicing.

Mundus Stones for DPS Classes are Lover, Thief, Shadow, Mage, Apprentice, and the Tower and. It mostly depends on the scenario and build you are running which one you are going to use but you cannot go wrong with these.

Do not forget to take care of your Health as well if you are having trouble. 18k with Buffs is enough for most content but if you are inexperienced try to increase it to 20k until you feel familiar with the Dungeons your are running and the setup you are using. Staying alive is always more important than dealing damage. After all, you cannot DPS if you are dead!

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.

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