Videogaming: Roles & Classes in Elder Scrolls Online

Rodney Orpheus
10 min readFeb 22, 2022


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

The following is a brief overview of the three roles in Elder Scrolls Online, and some tips on how to start playing them.


There are three basic roles:

  1. Tank
  2. Healer
  3. Damage Dealer (or DPS)

The Tank is the person out in front taking the brunt of enemy damage. They will be set up with lots of Health, armor, and damage reduction skills.

The Healer heals the team. They usually will be a magicka oriented character using a Restoration Staff and with lots of healing and damage reduction skills (and maybe a couple of damage skills as well for when the team is fully healed).

The Damage Dealer (DPS = Damage Per Second) is designed to do lots and lots of damage, so they will be specced for Light or Medium Armor, carry lots of damage-based skills, and usually some mobility skillls to get them to the enemy fast and also away from trouble fast.


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:

  • Race: Redguard or Orc. Both make great tanks so pick one of those if you are in Daggerfall Covenant. Nord is also a great tanking class if you prefer the Ebonheart Pact. If you have the Imperial Edition, you can go for the Imperial race, they make excellent tanks too.
  • 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

I know a few people playing the Sorcerer class in ESO and having problems, especially in dungeons and other group stuff like Imperial City. So here are a few tips…

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

  • A good way to start is with Destruction Staff on Bar 1 and Restoration Staff on Bar 2. With this setup you can run Bar 1 for offensive spells and Bar 2 for defence and buffs. If you are going for pure damage, two Destruction staves will also work well — take a Lightning Staff for Area of Effect spells and crowd control, and a Flame Staff on your back bar for attacking single targets and bosses.
  • 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

  • If you’re going to be doing a lot of group stuff, like dungeons, always look for spells that have Synergy. Synergies are extra effects that other members of the group can trigger and they can greatly increase the spell’s effects. The really are the key to good group work.
  • 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

Bar 1 (Destruction Staff):

  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

Nightblade is a very versatile class in ESO — you can play it as a close-range stealth assassin, a long-range archer, a healer, a tank, whatever. For this article I’m going to concentrate on the two main variations: Stamina NB and Magicka NB.

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)…



Rodney Orpheus

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