Despite offering hundreds of hours of content to explore, The Elder Scrolls Online is surprisingly easy to jump into. Skyrim fans, in particular, will have an accelerated learning curve to conquer, with many similarities between its single-player world and that of the MMORPG.
However, just because it’s newcomer-friendly doesn’t mean The Elder Scrolls Online is a simplistic game — in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Between a unique combat system, deep crafting mechanics, multiple PvP and PvE options, and hundreds of quests, there’s a lot to wrap your head around.
If you’re looking to make the most of your first few months with The Elder Scrolls Online, here are some beginner tips and tricks to get you on the right track.
Before you can do anything else, your first task is creating a character. Thankfully, all available classes are viable options for first-time players — better yet, every weapon in the game is usable by every class, so you don’t need to worry about getting locked out of certain playstyles.
With that being said, each class offers its own unique set of abilities, and you’ll want to look at each one carefully before proceeding. ESO classes include Necromancers, Wardens, Dragonknights, Sorcerers, Nightblades, and Templars.
Once you’ve picked a class, you’re then free to level up nearly every skill in the game. Want to be a Sorcerer that uses a Greatsword? Just equip one and start slaying foes. Or perhaps you’d rather be a Heavy Armor wielding Archer — whatever you want to be, ESO gives you the freedom to craft your character however you see fit. You can also take advantage of the Skill Advisor system, which will recommend skills based on your preferred playstyle.
Combat in The Elder Scrolls Online will be familiar to anyone who has played Skyrim, although it comes with a few big twists. Namely, you’ll need to learn a technique called Weaving and understand how to toggle between weapon sets while watching cooldowns for DoTs and AoE attacks. Here’s a basic overview of what you need to know:
- Light attacks: Basic attacks that deal low damage.
- Heavy attacks: Deals big damage and can sometimes interrupt enemy attacks.
- Skills: Unlike Skyrim, you’ll have a sizeable Skill Bar at the bottom of the screen for special attacks. From invisibility and dash attacks to arrow storms and explosive spells, this is where you’ll deal the most damage to your enemies.
- Weaving: One of the best ways to increase your DPS is through Light Attack Weaving. This means you’ll want to mix a basic Light Attack in after every skill you use. Not only does this help conserve your Stamina and Magicka, but if done properly, it will speed up your attacks. There’s a lot more to it than that, but simply mixing up your attack pattern is a great place to start.
- Dodging: You can avoid incoming attacks by rolling, although it’ll drain a bit of Stamina. Useful to avoid deadly AoE attacks or incoming projectiles.
- Blocking: Absorb incoming attacks and reduce their damage.
- Bash: Perform a Light Attack while Blocking to Bash your opponents and interrupt certain abilities.
Take your time to master these skills before moving on to more difficult content. The basics are surprisingly easy to grasp, but it’ll take a bit of time before you figure out the best way to rotate through all your abilities. If you need more guidance, you can check out this official Combat Guide from ZeniMax Online Studios.
One of the first tasks you should work toward is completing the main story. Not only will this grant you a bunch of experience, but it’ll introduce you to many of the places and faces you’ll see throughout the world of Tamriel. It’s also one of the more engaging questlines you’ll come across in the MMO genre — and it’s definitely worthy of your time.
If you need to take a break from saving the world, head off into your local town, and join both the Mages and Fighters Guild. You’ll be able to join regardless of which class you choose, and they’re a welcome diversion from all the stress of being the Vestige — they’re also a great source of experience in the early game and will open up new skill lines for your perusal.
With the basics of combat behind you — and plenty of questing under your belt — you’re ready for your first real bit of cooperative action. The Elder Scrolls Online provides you with a robust Group Finder that’ll pair you up with three other adventurers before sending you off into one of its many Dungeons — instanced zones that see you facing off against hundreds of enemies and defeating a final boss.
The best part of Dungeons? They offer bonus experience for the first Random Dungeon of the day. At the very least, you should try to take advantage of this massive source of XP. If you happen to have an Experience Scroll — which is often passed out as daily login rewards — make sure you have it activated before diving into the Dungeon to watch your level skyrocket after completing the activity.
Outside of Dungeons, you’ll find a wealth of PvE opportunities scattered about Tamriel, including Dark Anchors, World Bosses, Trials, Arenas, and more. Feel free to dive into these at your own pace, as they have a lot to offer you in terms of experience and rewards, but with so much ground to cover, don’t feel bad putting these off until you’re a higher level.
No good MMORPG is complete without its fair share of PvP, and The Elder Scrolls Online has enough depth to its competitive multiplayer offerings to keep you engaged for years. Cyrodiil might be the most tempting — featuring a massive open-world and 200 player battles — but you’ll first want to dip your toes into Battlegrounds. These are small-scale conflicts that pit three teams of four against each other in a variety of matches, including twists on Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, and Territory Control.
Just like Dungeons, Battlegrounds offer bonus XP for your first match of the day. You’ll need to place first or second to earn the bonus, so pair up with a few of your friends, get a game plan together, and prepare to reap the massive XP rewards. If you don’t have a consistent group of friends online, fear not — Battlegrounds uses the same Group Finder as Dungeons to make sure you can always find a match.
There are very few skills in The Elder Scrolls Online that are universally beneficial. With dozens of skill lines and a multitude of playstyles, each character should be specialized as you see fit. However, every character in ESO can benefit from Continuous Assault — a passive skill that grants Major Gallop and increases your Mount Speed by a staggering 30%.
To unlock Major Gallop, you’ll need to first unlock the Assault line by heading into a Cyrodiil campaign through your Menu screen. Start the basic training exercises until the Assault Skill Line is unlocked, and spend one Skill Point to learn Continuous Attack.
Not only will this come in handy during end-game PvP, but anyone doing a bit of questing will quickly appreciate the speed boost. Beyond that one skill, feel free to spec out your character as you see fit.
By now, you’ve probably spent most of your time in Tamriel hacking away at Daedra, roaming the vast open world, or engaging in PvP combat. But much like Skyrim, there’s more to The Elder Scrolls Online than just combat — and one of the first non-combat endeavors you’ll want to undertake is crafting.
Whether you’re looking to craft jewelry, heavy armor, swords, or staves, crafting is a massive part of the ESO experience. The basics are rather straightforward — gather materials in the wild or break down unwanted gear to earn components, then forge these into a new item — and the game does a great job of walking you through the basics.
In fact, many players spend the majority of their time crafting and completing writs instead of dungeon diving — so make sure you take a few hours to explore everything it has to offer.
The Elder Scrolls Online takes a unique approach to upgrading your mounts. Instead of buying faster or stronger ones from Stablemasters, you’ll instead upgrade all your mounts at once. Every 20 hours, you can head over to a stable and increase one of three stats:
- Speed: Impacts mount’s top speed.
- Stamina: Impacts how much damage a mount can take before you fall off.
- Carrying Capacity: Adds inventory slots for your horse, extending your available storage.
Each of these can be upgraded to 60% of its base value, and it’s in your best interest to upgrade one every day. Since you can only perform a single upgrade every 20 hours, you’re looking at well over 100 days of waiting before all three are fully upgraded.
Keep in mind that mounts from the Crown Store — that is, the premium currency marketplace — might look fancy, but they don’t confer any in-game benefits. They’re beholden to the same Speed, Stamina, and Carrying Capacity stats as the rest of your stable, so don’t worry about other players getting the upper hand by throwing down real cash.
Hitting the max level of 50 is just the beginning of your ESO experience. Leveling beyond that will grant you Champion Points (CP), which can be used to level up a variety of passive abilities with a newly unlocked Constellations menu — similar to what you’ve seen in Skyrim. Stamina, Health, and Magicka can all be further improved with CP and quickly become a powerful way to specialize your build.
However, Champion Points are just one aspect of The Elder Scrolls Online‘s end-game. By the time you reach this level, you’ve likely completed the main quest — which means other Alliance stories are now open to you. You’ll also be able to take part in Veteran Dungeons and Veteran Battlegrounds — challenging new takes on older content.
Then there’s the previously mentioned Cyrodiil, Trials, Dark Anchors, and Arenas. You’ll also want to join a Guild to tackle some of the most difficult PvE and PvP content in the game. If you’d rather hang your hat and give up the life of an adventurer, you can purchase and customize dozens of homes across Tamriel or spend all your money acquiring fancy crafting recipes and selling your creations to other players.
No matter how you cut it, there’s a lot of ground to cover in The Elder Scrolls Online. Having been on the market for several years now, thousands of hours’ worth of content is scattered throughout its world. Take your time, tackle quests and activities that pique your interest, and slowly work your way toward level 50. This beginner’s guide is only scratching the surface of what’s available to you, but it should give you a productive way to spend your first dozen hours with the game and set you off in the right direction.