The Elder Scrolls Online guide — 10 essential tips for your first character
Tips for new TESO players
Written by Cory Banks and Tyler Wilde
The Elder Scrolls Online will feel familiar to both Elder Scrolls and MMO players, but not wholly—character building, for instance, uses a system adapted from both games. These tips will set you on a prosperous journey from level one to 10, with little time wasted and a character build you can be proud of.
1. Find the newbie area
Characters in The Daggerfall Covenant start in Daggerfall. That sure makes a lot of sense until you wander out of the city walls. At levels 3-8, all you’ll find out there is death. We did manage to complete a couple quests—mostly because higher level players were clearing the way—but new players are well advised to find their way to newbie island.
In the case of The Daggerfall Covenant, transit to the Island of Low Level Quests (aka Stros M'Kai) begins as a casual mention that you should talk to the sea captain who pulled you out of the water. Do that, and you’ll embark on a series quests that eventually land you back at Daggerfall, equipped with the right tools to venture into the rest of Tamriel. Basically, before leaving the city walls, do the very first quest that’s mentioned and you’ll be headed in the right direction.
2. Don't dwell on bugged quests
If you get to the end of a quest and something doesn’t seem right—an important item or character is missing—it’s probably not you. We’ve run into several bugged quests, or quests which need tweaks to drop and respawn rates. Your best bet is to logout and back in, which often solves the problem. If that doesn’t solve it—and we hate to say this—you should really move on to another quest at this point. There are a ton of quests out in the world, and you can go back to the broken one at any time when the issue is repaired.
3. Assign your skill points wisely
ESO's skill system can be intimidating even for Elder Scrolls veterans and MMO junkies. Rather than three skill trees a la World of Warcraft or a free-form leveling system like Skyrim, ESO takes a hybrid approach that allows for flexible character builds. Unfortunately, it’s not immediately apparent how to plan your leveling path.
As you level, you’ll spend skill points to either unlock new abilities or morph existing ones, adding new effects to your chosen power. The abilities you have in your hotbar are the ones that go up in rank as you kill monsters, complete quests, and gain experience.
It’s smart to put your first points into each of your class skill trees, so you can gain experience in all three trees as you move through the first zone. You’ll also find that the types of weapons and armor you have equipped will level as well—so put on pieces of gear from both the light, medium, and heavy tiers at the beginning. That way, you’ll unlock access to each tree’s passive abilities, and you’ll have more options for when you finally decide which type of armor to dedicate yourself to.
4. Plan ahead for healing
Unlike other MMOs, any class in ESO can heal. Those abilities to keep your party members healthy are tied to the Restoration Staff skill tree, which you can level by equipping a Resto Staff and unlocking the tree’s first ability, Regeneration. If you think you might try your hand at healing in the future, keep this first ability on your hotbar so it gains experience as you level.
5. Start crafting right away
You won’t have to unlock any crafting or gathering skills when you first hit Tamriel. Unlike other MMOs, these skill lines are available right at the beginning. You’ll find materials for the various types of crafting out in the wilderness: Maple logs, ore veins, and jute flowers correspond to woodworking, blacksmithing, and tailoring, respectively. Animals you kill will sometimes drop rawhide, used for leatherworking. If you plan to cook or brew drinks, you’ll find a ton of supplies in the world’s various barrels and crates.
To craft, you’ll use stations that are generally found in towns—though finding a random enchanting table in a dungeon isn’t unheard of. Vendors in towns will often have additional ingredients for your recipes. Speaking of, those recipes can often be found in rooms and houses in the game’s many towns. Just like in Skyrim, it pays to be nosy.
6. Learn to lockpick, be a dirty thief
Just like in other Elder Scrolls games, you’ll find lots of locked chests in dungeons and tucked-away nooks and crannies. The process for opening these chests is completely different from other MMORPGs, however.
Once you attempt to pick a lock, you’ll be shown a minigame window with a few tumblers—and, most importantly, a timer. Your task is to press down each tumbler to a specific point, using the left mouse button. When the tumbler starts to shake, let go of the mouse button. If you timed it right, the tumbler with lock into place. Get through all of the tumblers before the timer runs out, and the goods are yours. Fail, and you have to wait a few seconds before you can try again.
This may not sound exciting in theory, but it’s surprisingly effective in practice. The minigame can become quite intense if you’re surrounded by enemies, and you don’t want to fellow players to open the chest before you do. Depending your lockpicking skill (which increases with each character level), your lockpick may break, so be sure to carry a healthy supply around.
7. Choose the right class for you: Sorcerer
The main magic class in ESO, Sorcerers have access to high DPS and direct damage abilities through the Storm Calling skill tree. They can also summon pets, like a WoW Warlock, through Daedric Summoning, or control enemies with Dark Magic. Don’t be fooled by fantasy magic user tropes, however: it won’t be surprising to see Sorcerers act in the Tank roll for group content.
8. Choose the right class for you: Dragon Knight
Dragon Knights are the big, beefy warriors of The Elder Scrolls Online. They fight up-close and personal with big weapons, and have access to high damage fire magic. They can make great damage dealers, or great tanks with a sword and shield equipped.
9. Choose the right class for you: Nightblade
If you liked sneaking and stealing in Skyrim, the Nightblade class could be for you. They can output huge DPS through the Assasination skill tree, or focus on stealth and surprise with Shadow skills. They even get some damage-over-time and self-healing abilities through the classes’ Siphoning tree. Many Nightblades will focus on dual wielding combat, or ranged attacks with a bow.
10. Choose the right class for you: Templar
The Elder Scrolls’ answer to the paladin, Templars use the power of light to combat darkness, or really anything threatening. Aedric Spear powers will cause high damage, as well as stuns and interrupts. Dawn’s Wrath abiltiies do damage too, but also weaken enemies through debuffs. The Templar’s best powers are in the Restoring Light tree, which introduces a second set of healing powers alongside the Restoration Staff line available to all classes. Expect a properly-specc’d Templar to be an amazing group healer.