Videogaming: Newbies Guide to Elder Scrolls Online

A guide to getting started in the best MMO there is.


But if you’re new to the game, read on here!


  1. Character Roles
  2. Skills
  3. Gear
  4. Gameplay Tips
  5. Class & Role Guides

Creating Your Character

Server Choice

  1. PC (Windows/Mac): NA or EU
  2. PlayStation: NA or EU
  3. Xbox: NA or EU

Windows and Mac users share the same megaserver so they can play together, but there is no cross-platform play with consoles, unfortunately.

Those NA and EU names should be self-explanatory. Pick whichever one is closest to you, unless you want to join a specific player guild that only plays on one of them. My guild Hidden Tradition plays solely on the PC EU megaserver, so if you want to team up with us, pick EU. (I’m @rodney418 in-game, so if you are on the PC EU server shoot me a message and say hello.)


  • Daggerfall Covenant
  • Aldmeri Dominion
  • Ebonheart Pact

The Alliance you pick when creating a character can effectively never be changed again, so it’s important to pick your Alliance wisely. If you are already a member of a gaming guild and want to be able to team up with the rest of your crew for large-scale PvP, or if you normally like to play as a duo with your best friend or your significant other, then I advise that you pick the same Alliance for your starting characters. If you don’t, there will be some zones of the game where you won’t be able to team with your friends.

Most people in the Hidden Tradition Guild are part of the Daggerfall Covenant, so if you want to guarantee that you can team up with the rest of our crew for adventuring in the PvPvE zones, pick that Alliance!


Daggerfall Covenant Races

  • Redguard: Good for any kind of physical warrior characters —if you like swords, daggers, or bows, Redguard does them all really well. A great choice for a classic Fighter/Ranger/Assassin type.
  • Orc: Great for tanking or any heavy armor warrior. They also have surprisingly good mobility, which can be really handy. Also a must if you like crafting — they get a bonus for that.

Aldmeri Dominion Races

  • High Elf / Altmer: Good for magicka-based characters of all types, especially if you want to do damage with your spells.
  • Wood Elf / Bosmer: Good for archery and melee damage.

Ebonheart Pact Races

  • Nord: Basically Vikings. Good for doing Viking-y sort of things i.e. drinking and hitting things with big weapons. Make good tanks and melee fighters.
  • Dark Elf / Dunmer: Great if you want to do lots of damage, either with spells or weapons.

Those are the race choices that come free with the basic game. You can also choose the Imperial race if you have unlocked the Imperial Edition Upgrade.

  • Imperial: Great for any kind of melee oriented character, especially good for tanking.

Races are normally locked to their own home Alliance. However if you upgrade to the All Races, All Alliances Bundle in the ESO Crown Store that allows you to play “foreign” races — so for example if you want to be in Daggerfall Covenant but you also want to play an elf or a talking cat, spend some money on this bundle and knock yourself out. It’s a very worthwhile purchase if you like having lots of characters, but still want to play in the same Alliance as your friends


Having said that, if getting the most powerful character around is important to you, there are some choices that are slightly more useful in certain areas than others.

There are four base classes, but they each have multiple skill lines and can use any weapon combination, allowing for huge flexibility.

  • Dragonknight: Good for tanking and close range damage of all types. If you want to be a fire mage, pick this, since they have lots of fire spells. A little bit weaker at longer range.
  • Sorcerer: Do lots of damage with long-range Lightning and Dark Magic spells. Can have demonic pets, so if you like having lots of pets around, pick this. Also make decent healers.
  • Nightblade: Sneaky sneaky sneak sneak. And assassination. Best choice if you like stealing things and ganking people. Powerful at either range or melee, especially against single targets.
  • Templar: Your basic Paladin & Cleric type class. Can be played as a pure magick-based caster/healer or as a heavy armor front-liner. Probably the most versatile class in the game.

There are also two DLC classes that can be unlocked:

  • Warden: Similar to the classic Druid/Ranger type character, but better in a lot of ways. Very versatile, with skills that can summon animal companions, heal, or control enemies with frost spells.
  • Necromancer: Fun class that can do almost anything, especially if there are lots of dead bodies around to play with.

Character Roles

  1. Tank
  2. Healer
  3. Damage Dealer (sometimes called DPS, or Damage Per Second)

A standard 4 person Dungeon team will have 1 Tank, 1 Healer, and 2 Damage Dealers. There are usually way more people playing Damage Dealers than either Tank or Healer, so if you want to be sure of getting on to a team pick Healer or Tank role.

Weapons & Roles

  • Tank: Use One Hand & Shield (best for beginners) or Frost Destruction Staff (for more advanced players). Make sure to put lots of points in health.
  • Healer: Use Restoration Staff, and put lots of points in Magicka.
  • Melee DPS: Use Two-Handed or Dual Wield, and put points into Stamina.
  • Ranged DPS: Use Bow (Stamina) or Flame/Lightning Destruction Staff (Magicka).

At level 15 you get to equip two weapons and switch between them, so you will get lots more choices when you hit that level.


  • Health
  • Stamina
  • Magicka

If you want to play an archer or melee fighter, Stamina will be your most important attribute. Conversely if you want to play a spellcasting character you most important attribute will be Magicka. Since your damage and healing output is based on your maximum Stamina or Magicka, in general you will concentrate on only one of these two — it’s usually a bad idea to combine them, since that will lower your ability to do damage.

Health is useful to stop you dying, so it’s obviously important for tank-based characters. If you find you are dying too fast, put more points in Health. Many people advise just putting all your attribute points in either Stamina or Magicka, but I find that makes characters a bit too squishy. For safety I recommend putting a point in Health for every two points you spend on either Stamina or Magicka.


This means that as soon as you start playing you will have 4 skill lines available to you — 3 from your class and 1 from your weapon. In general try to keep at least one skill from each skill line in your skill bar while you are starting to level up. That way you will level up each of the skill lines and unlock new skills for each one. It’s better to be a generalist at the start — don’t specialise in just one or two skill lines too early on.

Guild Skills

  • Fighters Guild: Important for Stamina-based characters
  • Mages Guild: Important for Magicka-based characters
  • Undaunted: Important for team play (especially dungeons)

You will find representatives from all of these Guilds in every Alliance starting town in Tamriel. If you are playing in Daggerfall Covenant, you will find these Guilds in buildings around the centre of Daggerfall — the Mages Guild and Fighters Guild have their own buildings in the centre of town, and the Undaunted can be found drinking in the Rosy Lion Inn. No matter what class or role you want to play, I strongly advise you to join all three of these as soon as you can, since they all have great quests and very useful skill lines that you can learn.

You can also unlock skill lines from the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood (the Assassins Guild) with the Guilds & Glory DLC megapack— well worth it if you like playing sneaky characters.



  • Magicka spellcaster: Wear mainly Light armor
  • Stamina fighter: Wear mainly Medium armor
  • Tank: Wear mainly Heavy armor

If you are mainly wearing Light or Medium armor and find yourself too squishy, consider wearing one or two pieces of Heavy armor on your chest and legs. That will increase your resistance to damage considerably.

Gear also comes in Sets, and you get extra bonuses for wearing multiple pieces from the same set. You can get special Dungeon Sets in each dungeon, or Overland Sets by questing in the open world. Gear sets can also be crafted.

Overland Sets drop according to the following rules:

  • Delve bosses drop waist and feet
  • World bosses drop head, chest, legs and weapons
  • Public dungeon bosses drop shoulders, hands and weapons (in zones without public dungeons these drop from the other sources)
  • Dark Anchors, dragons, and chests drop rings and necklaces (in zones without Dark Anchors these drop in trials and arenas)

Good Starting Sets


  • Plague Doctor: drops in the Deshaan Overland Zone
  • Ebon Armory: drops in the Crypt of Hearts dungeon
  • Leeching Plate: drops in the Imperial City Prison dungeon
  • Battalion Defender: drops in Cyrodiil from Rewards of the Worthy Boxes


  • Sanctuary: drops in the Banished Cells dungeon
  • The Worm’s Raiment: drops in the Vaults of Madness dungeon
  • Spell Power Cure: drops in the White-Gold Tower dungeon

Magicka Damage

  • Mother’s Sorrow: drops in the Deshaan Overland Zone
  • Withered Hand: drops in the Alikr Desert Overland Zone
  • Burning Spellweave: drops in the City of Ash dungeon
  • Treasure Hunter: drops in the Volenfell dungeon
  • Scathing Mage: drops in the Imperial City Prison dungeon

Stamina Damage

  • Spriggan’s Thorn: drops in the Bangkorai Overland Zone
  • Strength of the Automaton: drops in the Darkshade Caverns dungeon
  • Leviathan: drops in the Crypts of Hearts dungeon
  • Hircine’s Veneer: drops in the Selene’s Web dungeon

Gameplay Tips


It also means that you can’t ever “out-level” an area. You can do any quests anywhere in the world, in any order, and they will always be the same level as you.


Mundus Stones


  • Personal Bank
  • Guild Bank (if you are a member of a player Guild)
  • Guild Store (if you are a member of a player Guild)

When you pick up crafting materials, put them in your Personal Bank. When you go to craft you can access them instantly — you don’t need to carry them around in your inventory.

The Guild Bank and Guild Store are very useful if you want to share gear with your Guildmates. If your Guild has designed a special tabard, you can also purchse this in the Guild Store.




  • Map Pins: Puts all of the destinations you haven’t yet discovered on to your map, so you know where to go to find them. It does take away some of the fun of exploration, so decide which is more important to you :-)
  • Votan’s Minimap: The problem with a minimap, and also with Addons that put a lot of combat text on the screen etc. is that they pull your eye away from the real action going on in the environment onscreen. So I understand the design decision that ESO made to not have one in the game. Having said that, some people really need a minimap so they can orient themselves, so for them, this is a great solution. There’s also a extra Addon for this called Circular Votan’s Minimap, which makes it circular instead of square, and which is quite lovely. Be warned that adding a Minimap might slow your graphics down a bit, so don’t use it if you are on a slow machine.
  • Dustman: You can set this to organise all the junk in your inventory and sell it all automatically for you when you visit a merchant — a huge time saver. Does require a bit of setting up at first, but really handy once you have it all working.

Note that most of these will not work unless you have various other Addon libraries installed as well — so before installing an Addon with Minion click on it to get a detailed description of which other Addon libraries it needs, and then install those as well.

Class & Role Guides


The most important thing to remember to be a good tank is that it’s your job to get hit. You want enemies to be hitting you, because if they are hitting you, they are not hitting someone else who can’t defend themselves the way you can. So tactically remember the following:

  1. Pick your weapon carefully. One Hand & Shield is your best choice if you are a stamina-based tank. It’s the only Stamina weapon choice that has a Taunt skill associated with it, so you can force enemies to attack you.
  2. I don’t recommend using a Magicka-based character for tanking if you are new to the game, but if you do, use a Frost Staff. Every time you do a Heavy Attack with it, it will give you a free damage shield.
  3. You need at least one Taunt skill, and you need to use it on almost every enemy you see. This goes triple for bosses, you need to be Taunting them all the time. Since there are only three Taunt skills in the entire game, one melee and two ranged (Puncture , Inner Fire, and Destructive Clench), you don’t have to worry too much about what to use. Get at least one of these and use it frequently.
  4. You need to block a lot — every time you block you reduce the damage you take by 50%, which is huge. Learn to watch for when enemies are about to unleash a big attack and make sure to raise your shield or staff to block it before it happens. This is the most important skill you will need as a tank.
  5. Second only to that is dodging — if you see a big red circle on the ground, don’t stand in it — double tap a movement key to dodge out of it quickly instead.
  6. Keep situational awareness. If you see someone else’s health bar going down fast, it means they have aggroed some nasty enemies. Be prepared to run over and Taunt those enemies to get them off your friend and on to you instead. You might think tanking is all about standing in one place with a shield raised, but you’d be wrong. Mobility is one of the most useful things you’ll need, so always pack at least one skill that allows you to move around the battlefield quickly.
  7. On the other side of the coin, skills that control or impede the enemy’s movement are really useful too, to stop them running off and hitting your healer instead of you.
  8. If you find yourself running out of Stamina a lot (and you will) get some food or drink that increase Stamina recovery and make sure to use them frequently.

How to make a Tank character:

  • Class: Easiest class to tank with is probably Dragonknight or Warden. Other classes can also work, but might be a bit more difficult.
  • Attributes: You will need both Health and Stamina (or Magicka if you are going for a Magicka tank). Probably put equal points is both, maybe a bit more in Health if you are going full hardcore tank.
  • Armor: All Heavy, or 5 Heavy, 1 Medium, 1 Light. But mainly Heavy, you’ll be getting hit a lot :-)
  • First Weapon: One Hand & Shield is pretty much your basic primary weapon set. The first skill Puncture is one of the few Taunt skills in the game, so you will be using that all the time. The second skill, Low Slash, is good for doing some damage, especially if you morph it into Deep Slash, which turns it into an AoE that hits 3 targets at once. All of the other active and passive 1H & Shield skills are really handy too, especially Shield Charge, which allows you to speed across the battlefield and tackle an enemy that’s causing problems.
  • Second Weapon: either use a Two Handed weapon (for the Cleave skill), which is a great melee AoE skill, or grab a Bow (for pulling enemies). Some people like to use a Frost Destruction staff, but that’s a little more advanced.
  • Fighters Guild Skills: You’ll want some of these, so do every Fighters Guild quest you get given. Killing Undead and Daedra increase this skill line, so do lots of dolmens, crypts etc. Silver Bolts gives you a crossbow — so if you are not using a bow this skill is a great way to get a ranged attack. Also Dawnbreaker is one of the best Ultimate skills, so get that one as soon as you can. Get all the Fighters Guild passives too, you will need them, especially in places like dolmens and Imperial City.
  • Undaunted Skills: Inner Fire is a must since it’s one of only two long range taunts in the game — and it has a nice Synergy as well that can be triggered by other members of your team for extra damage. Bone Shield is also a good defensive skill with a really useful Synergy that gives the whole team a shield bonus.
  • Dragonknight Skills: Draconic Power is the tanking skill line, you’ll need lots of skills from that. To begin with definitely Spiked Armor (for defence) and Dark Talons (for rooting enemies). Dragon Blood is also a good self-heal. Unlock all of the Draconic passives, and take Dragon Leap as your first Ultimate skill, it’s just so much fun and gives you great mobility. From Earthen Heart skills, Magma Armor is also a good Ultimate.

Example Dragonknight Skill Bars for tanking in a group

  1. 1H: Puncture / Ransack
  2. 1H: Low Slash / Deep Slash
  3. 1H: Shield Charge
  4. Draconic Power: Spiked Armor or other class defensive skill
  5. Draconic Power: Dragon Blood or other class defensive skill
  6. Ultimate: Dragon Leap or Magma Armor
  7. 2H: Cleave/Brawler or other weapon skill
  8. Undaunted: Bone Shield or second weapon skill
  9. Undaunted: Inner Fire
  10. Draconic Power: Dark Talons or other class AoE skill
  11. Fighters Guild: Silver Bolts
  12. Ultimate: Dragon Leap or Dawnbreaker

That should be enough to get you going :-)

Playing a Sorcerer

Although you can play Sorcerer using Stamina-based abilities, that’s a little more complex, so I’m going to concentrate on Magicka here, since that’s what most people will naturally gravitate to with this class.

If you are making a totally new Sorcerer character, the best race to choose for any Magicka-based character in Daggerfall Covenant is Breton. From outside of the Covenant, High Elf, Dark Elf, or Argonian are also great choices.

Weapons, Gear & Attributes

  • For armor, if you are really low level just wear the best quality armor you can find. Once you get up to about level 20 look at wearing 5 pieces of Light armor and maybe 2 pieces of Heavy armor — those couple of heavy pieces will help a lot. Go for sets with good Magicka, or maybe some Health.
  • For Attributes you’ll want mainly Magicka and some Health. A safe rule of thumb is 1/3 in Health, the rest in Magicka.

Sorcerer Skills

  • Most of the Sorcerer passive skills are really handy, but check before you spend the points — not all of them will be useful at the beginning.
  • Dark Magick: the passive skill Unholy Knowledge is a must for extra spellcasting, and Blood Magic to give you self-healing. Crystal Shards is a good starter spell. Dark Exchange is a decent self-heal. Negate Magick is also a useful Ultimate skill in groups.
  • Daedric Summoning: If you mainly play in full groups you probably won’t use summoned pets much after you hit about level 15. They are really good for solo or duo play though. Having said that, do use Storm Atronach as your main Ultimate for group play, it’s amazing in a dungeon and has a great Synergy — and dropping it on top of an enemy also stuns them. The Power Stone passive here is also great for building Ultimate. The Twilight Matriarch (morph of Winged Twilight) is good for healing as well.
  • Storm Calling: This is where most of your AoE damage will come from. Lightning Form is a great self-defence skill, you should have it on your buff bar at all times. Lightning Splash should be your main AoE, always drop it right on top of the tank for maximum effect. It has a great synergy too. Mage’s Fury is a must for hitting low health enemies, it does an AoE explosion if you kill someone with it and it gives you some of your Magicka back. Surge increases your damage, so very useful. Get all the passive skills too.

Destruction Staff Skills

  • Force Shock, morphed to Crushing Shock. This will interrupt spellcasters and archers and is really useful. Just spam it all the time on casters. It will also interrupt people trying to resurrect their friends in PvP, which is hugely satisfying :-)
  • Weakness to Elements is good against bosses, it massively lowers their spell resistance, and it lasts for about 20 seconds.
  • Wall of Elements is a great AoE damage over time skill, especially useful in dungeons — highly recommended.
  • Impulse is a fantastic spammable AoE, but you do need to be right in the middle of the enemy to use it, so make sure you have plenty of defence if you want to use this one.

Other Skills

  • Always level up your Racial passive skills whenever you can, they are vital.
  • The Undaunted skill line is great for any group content, especially dungeons, because every skill has a Synergy. A lot of people overlook Blood Altar, but it’s totally worth getting if you’re a healer or need to back up the main healer — it’s great for group healing in a small space like a dungeon, and it’s easy to get at low level. Trapping Webs is good against bosses and player enemies in PvP — does magic damage, slows them down, and the synergy lets other players summon spider pets. Very useful skill. Necrotic Orb is just great, it’s an AoE, has a synergy, and gives resources back to your team. Fantastic for dungeons but it does take a while to unlock.
  • Mages Guild: Magelight and Entropy will both increase your spell efficiency and keep you alive better, and Entropy even allows you to do some damage at the same time. Magelight is also great for PvP, because it exposes stealthed enemies. The Ultimate skill is also tremendous.
  • A brilliant Ultimate for later in the game is Soul Strike from the Soul Magic line; it does HUGE single target damage, and you will get it once you finish the main story.

Example skill bars

  1. Force Shock/Crushing Shock
  2. Crystal Shards/Fragments
  3. Lightning Splash
  4. Wall of Elements
  5. Mage’s Fury/Endless Fury
  6. Ultimate: Storm Atronach or Overload

Bar 2 (Destruction or Restoration Staff):

  1. Trapping Webs or Restoration skill
  2. Blood Altar or Restoration skill
  3. Entropy/Degeneration
  4. Lightning Form / Boundless Form
  5. Winged Twilight/Twilight Matriarch
  6. Ultimate: Negate Magick, Storm Atronach, or Soul Strike

That should be enough to allow you to stay alive, pull your weight, and have a ton of fun :-)

Details on all these skills can be found here:

Playing a Nightblade

Stamina Nightblade

This is the most common way to go, and it’s really fun and easy to play.

Race: In Daggerfall Covenant, choose Redguard or Orc. From outside DC you could play Khajiit, Wood Elf, Nord, or Imperial, they will all work well. Wood Elf and Khajiit are especially good for stealth-oriented characters.

Attributes: 1/3 Health, 2/3 Stamina is a safe choice.

Armor: All Medium, maybe with a couple of pieces of Heavy. More Heavy if you want to tank.

Weapons: Any combination of Bow, Dual Wield, or Two Handed are the normal choices. Nightblades don’t have many class AoE skills, so it’s important to take weapons that have some AoE. Only take One Handed & Shield if you want to tank.

Example skill bars


  1. Bow: Poison Arrow
  2. Bow: pick an AoE you like
  3. Assassination: Mark Target
  4. Assassination: Blur
  5. Shadow: Shadow Cloak
  6. Ultimate: Bow Ultimate


  1. DW or 2H skill
  2. DW or 2H AoE skill
  3. Assassination: Teleport Strike
  4. Shadow: Veiled Strike
  5. Assassination: Assassin’s Blade
  6. Ultimate: Death Stroke

If you aren’t using a bow, Silver Bolts from the Fighters Guild is a useful ranged skill to use instead.

Magicka NB coming later (eventually)…

I write about music, tech, and, games. All the cool stuff the kids are doing these days.

I write about music, tech, and, games. All the cool stuff the kids are doing these days.