First Time Players may have some initial difficulties with their adventures across Tamriel. The below guide is intended to provide information on how to start playing the game on the right foot.
This introduction is intended to be spoiler free, so you can enjoy the story or multitude of stories unfolding during the game.
For Complete Elder Scrolls Newbies
If you’ve never played an Elder Scrolls game in your life, and ESO is your very first adventure in Tamriel, well then… the most important piece of advice is: Play the game!
As this is an online game with some pay-walls there are only a few essential considerations and tips before you just dive into the adventure head over heel. Select the server to play on (and the device if there is a choice). Resist spending or at least be careful on what to spend real money early-on in case you are willing/able to spend at all. So as you are already here you might as well also want read the next chapter as a primer on those issues. Most other long term decisions can be reverted (at some reasonable costs) later on.
And there is one more essential tip. As this is a MMO in the long run it is all about reputation. Once it is broken it is hard to impossible to fully mend it. Be nice, be unobtrusive, be polite. The different servers may have a different etiquette, so watch and learn.
Beyond this information stop reading this Wiki, and just go have fun enjoying the game. When you’re starting out, don’t worry about making mistakes, and don’t worry about playing efficiently. The premise of this page is that at first, it is most important to spend as much time as possible playing, and as little time as possible reading. Although many links are provided to pages with more information, you do not need to read those linked pages at first. But, if you’ve already played an Elder Scrolls game before (such as Skyrim, Morrowind or Oblivion), this page will give you some tips to help you hit the ground running.
Devices & Megaservers
The game is available in versions for PC (Windows), Mac, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. PC and Mac share a common server, Xbox and PS4 have their own ones respectively. This means you can not play together with someone on another hardware system and you cannot transfer characters between the platforms.
Within each hardware platform there are two separate “Megaservers”. One is “North America”, the other “Europe”. Each server has a separate set of 8 character slots and you can not transfer items between servers. In principle you can play together with anyone that is on the same platform and server, but to facilitate performance and load balances, the servers are organised into parallel “shards”, in one of which you are put on logging into the game. When you join a group and travel to the group leader you should be put in their shard.
There are also sometimes different versions of the same physical area/zone based on the progress in certain quests. You might happen to land in a different one then the rest of your group as you/they progress through the quest stages at different speed. A easy example is a battle going on also between NPCs and you fight a boss; once you succeed the enemies flee and you get back to the battle site to a victory scene.
Since ESO:TU no longer needs a subscription, the Crown Store is Zenimax’s way of trying to earn some long-term money. On the consoles these transactions are enabled via the consoles’ online shop.
Things you can buy fall into four categories.
There are consumables of different types (soul gems, potions, materials, riding lessons, treasure maps, …). Those will be added to the character that is active while buying.
DLCs and DLC-packages, mounts, companions, … can be used concurrently by all your characters on the server forever. They have to be activated for every individual character via the Collections menu.
ESO Plus (ESO+) is a monthly membership. Benefits are basically a full access to every DLC, but only as long as you are a member (you keep items and progress though) and a monthly allocation of Crowns. Thus it is a matter of gaming behavior, taste and personal preferences if you buy or rent any DLC you are interested in. A “trial” month of ESO+ nonetheless is cheaper than any single DLC and gets you the Crowns in addition.
There are packages of items that give a discount on individual items or contain some that can not be bought individually. Also on a regular basis there are discount sales of various items. Also be aware, that many shop items are purely for aesthetic reasons and do not give any other benefit, especially costumes and pet companions.
- Race determines your racial skill line, as well as the general appearance of your character. Without the Imperial Edition or Explorer’s Pack, it will also determine which Alliance you will hold membership in.
- Class determines which set of 3 class skill lines are available to your character.
- While you can customize your physical appearance to a grand degree, it will not alter any interactions within gameplay.
Although the physical control method is substantially different between PC/Mac and Xbox/PS4 the controls you can use are mostly identical.
There are controls for moving around, sneaking and sprinting. In fight you can block, interrupt, dodge and use a normal weapon attack and a heavy charged weapon attack. For various skills there are only 5 usable slots and one for an ultimate skill. At Level 15 you gain a second set of weapon and skill slot.
You have a set of consumables you can map to quickslots when in your inventory. You can preselect one of the slotted ones for immediate use.
The only real difference between the platforms is the chat system. Consoles rely on speech-chat, PC/Mac uses text-chat. In addition both offer a wide set of visual emotes and some quicktexts for social interaction. Those can also be mapped to a few quickslots. The speech-chat offers a variety of distinctive channels for surroundings, group, and guilds. You can listen to multiple but only speak to one. Text-chat offers distinctive commands on whom to address your text to.
Furthermore there are toggles for map and third person / first person view and to call your active mount
All other activities can be accessed via menu.
Attributes and Leveling
You have three attributes that stand for your three core resources: health, stamina and magicka.
- Health determines how much damage you can take before you die.
- Stamina is used by “physical actions” like sprinting, blocking, sneaking and most weapon skills.
- Magicka is used to cast spells, namely most of the class skills and the attacks with staffs.
All 3 attributes are displayed at the bottom of the screen when they are not at their maximum. All three attributes recover over time with different rates in and out of combat. The maximum and the recovery rates can be influenced by enchanted gear and by using consumables.
You gain Experience Points (XP) for various actions in the game, e.g., killing enemies (or helping to kill), handing in quests, exploring,… There are increasing amounts of XP necessary to gain a level. The maximum level is 50, then you begin earning Champion levels. The game uses two different systems of enemy levels. For most of the story quests the enemy level is defined by the area.
When you gain a level you receive an attribute point. This can be spent on increasing the maximum of one attribute; by 111 for stamina or magicka and by 122 for health. The distribution of the points can be altered later on at a rededication shrine or with a crown store item.
There is a further in-fight resource called “Ultimate” that is filled by normal fighting and used by an ultimate skill.
Skills are the way to customize your character. They are grouped into various skill lines. There are active skills, that use either magicka or stamina to be performed, passive skills, that are active all the time, and ultimate skills, that use the “Ultimate” resource which is loaded by using normal attacks and skills from the skill line it belongs to. You will earn skill points by leveling, from handing in specific quests and from collecting skyshards. Those Skill points can be invested into the various individual skills as long as you have made sufficient progress in the skill line to fulfill the minimum requirements. Progress in the skill lines is mostly made by using the skills in that line or performing the associated tasks (e.g, decomposing gear for its material in the crafting skill line) and from time to time by reading books. Faction skill lines are increased by gaining reputation with the faction; usually by doing their quests and tasks.
Attacking enemies can be done by using light weapon attacks, by charging a light attack to be a heavy one and by using attack skills. You can only use five skills and one ultimate in addition to the light and heavy attack. At Level 15 you gain a second weapon slot with another 5+1 slots. It is possible to use a second identical weapon type or a different one.
Furthermore you have countering moves. Attacks can be blocked, you can dodge roll out of an attack and you can break free of impeding enemy skills.
Attacks while sneaking do more damage but take you out of sneak directly.
There are group specific combos called “synergies” you can use when prompted on the screen after somebody near (not necessarily grouped) has cast an appropriate spell.
There are a myriad of quests in all of Tamriel. There is a main story quest-line and an alliance story quest-line, which mostly mark your progress through the different areas. On the way you will bump into tons of side quests. Furthermore there are three quest lines for the major neutral factions and quest lines for the DLCs.
Quests, enemies and reward in the a subzone of a normal areas have a predefined level. For quests of the main story line and those with their own skill-line (mages, warrior, undaunted) the enemies and rewards are matched to your current level. For DLC content and PvP in Cyrodiil you are “battle-leveled” (=adjusted) to the max level to give everyone equal chances.
For normal PvE quest areas other players are concurrently present and you can group or just help each other ungrouped. When ungrouped but sufficiently near and contributing to fights you will progress both but you have to do all other quest stages separately. Some critical quest stages like speech checks have to be done individually even when grouped. In addition to this regular PvE story areas behavior, there are also dedicated solo dungeons where you will always get your individual instance. There also is content distributed over all areas where enemies of that level are so much harder or higher in number, that they should better be tackled in (small) groups. Those are marked with the cross-bones/skull. Undaunted quests have their own icon and dungeons intended to be done in larger groups.
Factions and Guilds
You join your first faction when creating your character from one of the three warring alliances. This comes with its own story/quest-line.
There are 3 (+2 in DLC) factions independent of the warring alliances and present in all of them that can be joined in game by talking to certain people. All of those bring their own story/quest-line and their own skill-line.
There are further minor factions that the player character can join after some quests. Those do not have any impact on the game-play further on except some remarks from bystanding NPCs later on.
Factions are also an essential tool of the game as well. On the one hand add some richer content flavor and on the other to technically enable interactions between various characters. Thus there is a plenitude of other non joinable factions, some of them in favor of, some neutral to and some hostile to the player. Reputation with such factions can change progressing in the game and so may the reaction of faction member NPCs to the player.
In addition to the in-game guilds and factions, there is the implementation of player guilds typical for MMO games. Within ESO the guild membership is per user account (not per played character).
You can join a maximum of 5 guilds simultaneously.
In addition to having their own chat channels guilds offer a common guild bank (500 spots, available from 10 members on). A guild shop is available from 50 members on, where members can set up items for sale for 30 days. Selling cost an upfront offer fee and a share of the sales return. Guilds can give money bids for the use of a guild trader, which is one of the NPC trading characters present at set locations in Tamriel. Guild traders present their guild offers to the general public. Who is allowed to access guild banks and shops in what way is among the settings the guild master can manage for individual guild ranks.
You will find plenty of services gathered in various settlements with usually only one per area that has all of them. Among those services are traders, (player) guild traders, banks, (game) guild halls, crafting and dying stations, inns, shrines, stables and outlaw refugees. Guild traders and traders can also be found in may out of town locations and some travelling the roads.
There are plenty of things to do besides questing.
While exploring you may come by treasure maps, locked box treasures, rare books (achievement), sight seeing locations (achievement), sky shards, semi-boss monsters world events. You may also find materials for crafting (alchemy, enchanting, metal working, cloth making) and fishing grounds.
There are crafting stations for 6 professions you can have. Most are in town, but there are sites where you can craft set items that have bonuses for 2-5 items you wear. The professions available are black smithing/metal working (metal weapons and heavy armor), wood working/carpentry (staffs, bows, shields), clothing (light and medium armor), alchemy (potions, restoring attributes & resistances), enchanting (glyphs adding a magical effect to items) and provisioning (food stuffs and drinks, increasing max attributes or attribute regeneration).
All crafts need to be improved with skill points to keep up with leveling to use new materials etc. There are also skills making finding easier, research faster or have items sent daily.
Weapons and armor can be created in 2 level quality steps with a new material every 10 levels (starting 16). In addition, they need a race style material and eventually a further material to add one researchable bonus. You need to have researched 2 to 8 of such bonuses on an item at any station to be able to craft set items at the appropriate set stations.
For alchemy, the 4 possible effects of an ingredient have to be tested by eating or using. The strength/level is determined by water quality with skill points invested. Be aware that poisonous effects can currently not be applied to weapons and as such only work as negative side effects on you.
For enchanting, glyphs can be dismantled to runes. Collected runes can be assembled to glyphs (with some skill point requirement).
In provisioning, you have to find a recipe and invest skill points into higher quality (green 1 effect, blue 2, purple 3) and higher level (minimum lvl requirement and effect strength). There is tons of materials to be found in containers but in a very high variety of items taking much space. Food and drinks only drop in white quality.