Videogaming: Beginning PvP in Elder Scrolls Online

Rodney Orpheus
13 min readAug 9, 2021


If you enjoy this guide, do check out my other guides to Elder Scrolls Online:

MMOs are not normally famous for their PvP (Player vs. Player combat), but Elder Scrolls does it pretty well compared to most, and can be a lot of fun. There are three main areas where you can PvP: Battlegrounds, Cyrodiil, and Imperial City. The last two are actually PvPvE, because they contain lots of PvE (Player vs. Environment) quests, delves, and other content as well as Player vs. Payer battles.


  1. Gear & Skills
  2. Battlegrounds
  3. Alliance War
  4. Changing Alliance
  5. Alliance War Tips
  6. No Champion Point Campaigns
  7. No-Proc Gear Sets
  8. Recommended No-Proc Sets by Role

Gear & Skills

Let’s start with some tips on Gear and Skills you will need for successful PvPing in ESO. Although you can use the same build for PvP as you use for normal PvE content, it won’t be optimal, so it can be worth tweaking things if you want to get the best experience. The new Armory system can come in really handy here — you can use an Armory station to set up two builds for your character, one build for PvE content, and another build for PvP, and then just switch between them when you need to.


  • In PvP most players will try to do a lot of fast burst damage, particularly using Critical hits. So to protect yourself it’s common to wear heavier armor than you normally would for PvE. You should definitely wear a Heavy armor piece on your chest, and maybe for some other locations as well, particularly head and legs. It’s also common to wear armor with extra Critical Resistance. Critical Resistance is useless in PvE since NPC monsters never do Critical damage, however players do it practically all the time in PvP, so it’s best to be ready for it.
  • Using more Heavy armor will give you extra protection, but at the cost of Magicka and Stamina regeneration, so you might also want to take an armor set that can give you more resources, like Shacklebreaker or Vastarie’s Tutelage.
  • You know those Crown Store poisons you get for free from daily login rewards? Now might be a good time to try using them, especially if you are a Stamina-based character. You can really mess up an enemy player with a well-applied strong poison.
  • Make sure you have a good stock of potions slotted in your primary Quickslot, and use them frequently. This can often mean the difference between winning and losing a fight.


  • AoE damage over time skills can be useful in Alliance War sieges for taking out large groups of NPC guards in forts and resource points, but they aren’t much use against players. So consider reducing the amount of AoE skills you normally carry.
  • However single target damage over time skills can be very useful , because you can get a lot of bang for your buck with them — so consider taking at least a couple of these.
  • If you have been reading this far, you’ll know that players tend to carry heavier armor than usual, so skills that lower an enemy’s armor resistance can make a huge difference to the damage you can do.
  • Since players tend to run around a lot, skills that snare or immoblise the enemy are handy. You should have at least one of these.
  • Conversely, your own mobility is vital — gap closing skills like charges or teleports are a must if you normally use melee weapons. Or skills that boost your speed when you need to run away ;-)
  • Even if you aren’t a Healer, take at least one healing or protection skill, even if it’s just a self-heal of some sort. In the heat of a fight your party Healer can often get overwhelmed quickly, so help them out when you can, it’s for your own good!
  • Stealth is the most useful skill of all — if they can’t see you, they can’t hurt you. If you have access to invisibilty skills or potions, these can be very useful. Invisible Nightblades can do tremendous damage to an unsuspecting player and then run away easily when the going gets tough.
  • On the other side of the coin, taking skills that can help you see stealthed players can be a life-saver. Consider slotting either the Fighters Guild Expert Hunter skill or the Mages Guild Magelight skill —slotting either of these skills will also hugely increase your Critical hits, even when you aren’t actively using them, so you’ll do more damage as well.


Battlegrounds are classic small-scale 4v4v4 team PvP. You can get a quest to enter them from a recruiter in any of the major starting Alliance towns — look for a poster saying For Glory! Battlegrounds are fast-paced fun but just remember you will probably get your ass kicked pretty significantly first time you go there. But stick at it, and find a good team and you can do well. I generally prefer Alliance War but Battlegrounds is a good fast-food substitute.

Alliance War

Elder Scrolls Online has one of the best large-scale PvP modes in any fantasy MMO. It has two huge zones where the three Alliances can meet and battle it out: Cyrodiil and Imperial City. And when I say huge, I really mean it. Cyrodiil is a gigantic area that includes not only 18 large castles to capture (each with their own farm, mine, and lumbermill) but also three complete towns with merchants and other NPCs, multiple Delves and Dolmens, and tons of repeatable PvE quests. Yes, that’s right, ESO includes full PvE questing inside the PvP zones! This makes them a dangerous place to quest, because any other player you meet might be trying to kill you. On the other hand, they can be an incredibly fun place to quest if you like a challenge, but before you go there make sure you have a few levels under your belt and are with a good team.

Getting to Cyrodiil

Once you get to level 10, press L to open the Campaigns window in order to enter Cyrodiil. You will be given a choice of several campaigns to join. If you are going alone pick Below Level 50 — since all player characters on that server are relatively low level characters you won’t get completely steamrollered by enemies the moment you arrive. Once you arrive there for the first time you will be offered a starting quest — take it! It will teach you lots of useful things and award you 2 free skill points when you finish it.

Entering the Imperial City

The Imperial City is not unlocked by default on new accounts, it’s an additional DLC. However it is currently completely free, so you should unlock it right away! Open the Crown Store inside ESO, go to the DLC section, and click on Imperial City. Once you have unlocked it, when you press L you will now have the choice of going to either Cyrodiil or Imperial City. If you choose Imperial City you will be teleported instantly to your Alliance Base in the sewers under the city. Look around for quests to get you started, and explore! Note: I strongly recommend you go here with a team, it’s a very dangerous place!

Friend or Foe?

In Alliance War it’s important to be able to tell friends from enemies. Each player character will have a little icon above their head in the colour of their Alliance:

  • Blue — Daggerfall Covenant
  • Yellow — Aldmeri Dominion
  • Red — Ebonheart Pact

If you see a player with a icon of another colour than your Alliance, attack them! (Unless there are more of them, in which case go into stealth and/or run as fast as you can!). Speaking of stealth, don’t ever just stand around in the open in Cyrodiil or Imperial City, because the chances are that you will get ambushed and killed in seconds. Get used to staying in stealth mode as much as you can, it’s much safer that way.

Changing Alliance

Normally when you create a character, the race you pick will determine that character’s Alliance. That can be a problem if you really want to play a Khajiit (from the Aldmeri Dominion) and your friends are all fighting for the Daggerfall Covenant. Luckily there’s a way around this: the Any Race, Any Alliance Bundle available from the Crown Store. This bundle allows you to create a character of whatever Alliance you want, regardless of their race. It also includes Race & Name Change Tokens, plus a horse, a pet, and an outfit showing your Alliance affiliation. This is a great bundle, and for only 2000 Crowns it is well worth getting if you want to participate in Alliance War with different characters. Highly recommended.

However, note that if you use the Race Change Token in this bundle on a character you have already made, it does not change the Alliance of your character! Their Race will change, but their Alliance will remain the same.

If you have already created a character and want to change that character’s Alliance, you can only do this via an Alliance Change Token, also available in the Crown Store. Unfortunately this costs the rather ludicrous price of 2500 Crowns, and you don’t even get anything else with it. It’s usually better, and definitely cheaper, to just make a new character in this case.

Alliance War Tips:

  1. Make sure you have done the introductory quest in Cyrodiil. After you have done this, you will be able to pick up daily quests from the boards in your main Alliance base (this is Southern High Rock Gate if you are part of Daggerfall Covenant).
  2. There are two Alliance War skill lines that you can level up by playing in Cyrodiil: Assault (Stamina based) and Support (Magicka based). Both lines have very useful skills — and the passive skills are well worth unlocking too. Everyone should unlock the Assault passive Continuous Attack immediately — it will give you a massive speed boost when you are riding, which is hugely useful.
  3. If you are a mage, slot some healing skills (even if you are a DPS mage). There are never enough healers and even some small healing is better than standing there not knowing what to do. The Restoration Staff Regeneration skill is great, because you don’t even have to target it for it to be useful; and of course the Alliance War Support skills can be incredibly handy. Even if you aren’t a mage, you can still heal with the Undaunted skill Blood Altar, or use the Alliance War Assault skill Vigor.
  4. If you are a Stamina-based DPS, consider adding poison to your weapons. Poisons are not particularly great in PvE, but they can be fantastic in PvP.
  5. Repairing castle doors and walls is a great way to gain Alliance Points. You can also repair siege engines during a siege — which is useful, because they break quite easily. You will need to buy loads of Alliance War Repair Kits and have them slotted into your QuickSlots before the fight starts, since you can’t slot things during a combat. You can buy them at your Alliance Base or from the vendor in any Keep that your Alliance owns.
  6. If you aren’t a healer, learn how to use siege engines! You can do enormous damage with those things — they make you triply effective in a siege. Make sure you have a couple of siege engines in your quickslots before you get into a battle.
  7. During a siege, you should either be healing or using a siege engine of some sort. The only exception is if you are an archer — with a bow you can snipe really long distances in Cyrodiil, which can be handy.
  8. The main way to be useful is join the main zerg (for newbies, zerg is a large group) and follow the zerg leader. It can be really exhilarating to be part of a huge siege of 40–50 people, although it can also be extremely confusing the first few times. To join a team in Cyrodiil, type /z for zone chat and type LFG.
  9. Alternately if you are in a small Guild team of 5–10 people, a cool strategy can be to operate as a guerrilla force behind enemy lines. To do this find an unoccupied enemy resource such as a small town, farm, mine, or lumber mill. Hit it fast, take it over, and then run like hell. Find another resource and repeat. Note that this strategy depends on speed and surprise — eventually the enemy will get pissed off and send a team after you. That’s exactly what you want, because those enemies are then taken away from the main fight. But you do need to make sure they don’t catch you! The essence of this strategy is not PvPing, it’s taking out NPC guards and then riding away as fast as possible. So even if you don’t really like PvP as such you can still have fun and help your Alliance this way :-)

No Champion Point Campaigns

When you try to enter Cyrodiil or Imperial City you will see some campaigns listed as No CP. This means that in these campaigns players do not have the benefit of Champion Point bonuses. If you are a newer player a campaign of this type can be a very good choice, because there is a more level playing field between players and you won’t be ganked in seconds by someone with 1000 Champion Points more than you. Personally I always fight in No CP campaigns, because I find them a lot more fun. Note that all Under-50 campaigns are automatically No CP.

No-Proc Gear Sets

At the time of writing, No CP campaigns also have significant limitations in what gear can be used effectively in them, and so-called “Proc” gear sets have been disabled. This stops very experienced players exploiting the massive amounts of burst damage that these kind of gear sets can produce. Luckily this still leaves over 100 sets that are legal in No CP campaigns. So if you want to PvP in one of these campaigns, use gear from the list below for maximum effectiveness. Luckily many of these gear sets can be acquired fairly easily with a little bit of work, even if you only have the base game — see the recommended gear set list at the end of the article.

No-Proc gear sets that can be used in No CP Cyrodiil & Imperial City

  • Aetherial Ascension
  • Agility
  • Akaviri Dragonguard
  • Amber Plasm
  • Ancient Dragonguard
  • Archer’s Mind
  • Armor of the Seducer
  • Armor of the Trainee
  • Assassin’s Guile
  • Bahraha’s Curse (4-pieces)
  • Bastion of the Heartland
  • Battlefield Acrobat
  • Beekeeper’s Gear
  • Black Rose
  • Blessing of the Potentates
  • Blooddrinker
  • Buffer of the Swift
  • Champion of the Hist
  • Crafty Alfiq
  • Crushing Wall (Maelstrom)
  • Dagon’s Dominion
  • Darkstride
  • Deadly Strike
  • Draugr Hulk
  • Duneripper’s Scales
  • Eagle Eye
  • Elf Bane
  • Endurance
  • Eyes of Mara
  • Fiord’s Legacy
  • Flanking Strategist
  • Footman’s Fortune
  • Fortified Brass
  • Frostbite
  • Grace of Sithis
  • Grace of the Ancients
  • Hawk’s Eye
  • Healer’s Habit
  • Heartland Conqueror
  • Hunding’s Rage
  • Impregnable Armor
  • Innate Axiom
  • Jailbreaker
  • Jorvuld’s Guidance
  • Kvatch Gladiator
  • Law of Julianos
  • Leki’s Focus
  • Leviathan
  • Light Speaker
  • Malacath’s Band of Brutality
  • Mark of the Pariah
  • Marksman’s Crest
  • Markyn Ring of Majesty
  • Medusa
  • Mighty Chudan*
  • Mother’s Sorrow
  • Netch’s Touch
  • New Moon Acolyte
  • Night Mother’s Embrace
  • Night Terror (3-piece)
  • Order of Diagna
  • Orgnum’s Scales
  • Perfected Crushing Wall
  • Permafrost
  • Plague Doctor
  • Prisoner’s Rags
  • Rattlecage
  • Ranger’s Gait
  • Red Eagle’s Fury
  • Relics of the Physician, Ansur
  • Robes of Alteration Mastery
  • Robes of Destruction Mastery
  • Salvation
  • Sergeant’s Mail
  • Shacklebreaker
  • Shalk Exoskeleton
  • Shapeshifter’s Chain
  • Shield Breaker
  • Shield of the Valiant (5-piece)
  • Silks of the Sun
  • Slimecraw*
  • Spider Cultist Cowl
  • Spinner’s Garments
  • Spriggan’s Thorns
  • Strength of the Automaton
  • Swamp Raider
  • Sword Dancer
  • Sword-Singer
  • Syvarra’s Scales (4-pieces)
  • Toothrow
  • Torc of Tonal Constancy
  • Torug’s Pact
  • Trial by Fire
  • Treasure Hunter
  • Titanborn Strength
  • Twice-Born Star
  • Twilight’s Embrace
  • Vampire’s Cloak
  • Vesture of Darloc Brae (4-piece)
  • War Maiden
  • Way of Air (4-piece)
  • Way of the Arena
  • Willow’s Path
  • Willpower
  • Witch-Knight’s Defiance
  • Wrath of the Imperium
  • Ysgramor’s Birthright

Note that at the time of writing, Mighty Chudan and Slimecraw appear to be the only two Monster Sets that are No Proc.

Auxiliary Sets

These sets have two 5-piece bonuses, of which one will not work, but the other should. So they may not be optimal, but should still give decent results:

  • Call of the Undertaker
  • Coward’s Gear
  • Dauntless Combatant
  • Dead Water’s Guile
  • Dragon’s Defilement
  • Fasalla’s Guile
  • Hanu’s Compassion
  • Heem-Jas’ Retribution
  • Hex Siphon
  • Hide of Morihaus
  • Kagrenac’s Hope
  • Knightmare
  • Might of the Lost Legion
  • Oblivion’s Edge
  • Oblivion’s Foe
  • Pestilent Host
  • Sentry
  • Shadow Dancer’s Raiment
  • Vastarie’s Tutelage
  • Vicious Death
  • Wisdom of Vanus
  • Wizard’s Riposte

Recommended No-Proc sets by role

Some useful and relatively easy to obtain No-Proc sets that have been well-tested and known to give good results:


  • Akaviri Dragonguard
  • Beekeepers Gear
  • Plague Doctor
  • Mark of the Pariah
  • Dunerippers Scales
  • Torug’s Pact
  • Fortified Brass
  • Orgnum’s Scales


  • Jorvuld’s Guidance
  • Eyes of Mara
  • Light Speaker
  • Amber Plasm
  • Armour of the Seducer

Stamina DPS

  • Spriggan’s Thorns
  • Leviathan
  • Hunding’s Rage
  • Strength of the Automaton
  • Battlefield Acrobat
  • Dagon’s Dominion
  • Archer’s Mind
  • Draughr Hulk
  • Deadly Strike
  • Flanking Strategist
  • Toothrow

Magicka DPS

  • Law of Julianos
  • Mother’s Sorrow
  • Crafty Alfiq
  • Treasure Hunter
  • Robes of Destruction Mastery
  • Silks of the Sun
  • Elf Bane


  • Shacklebreaker — good, craftable all-round set that will give increased damage and sustain to any role. Since it’s craftable, it’s available in any weight.
  • Black Rose — a tanky all-round set that can be purchased with Tel Var Stones from armor merchants in the Imperial City Sewers. Comes in Heavy only, but realistically that’s the weight you will probably want with this.



Rodney Orpheus

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