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37 Tips to Getting Started in ESO [updated 2020]

Whether you are a new player looking for ESO tips or a returning player looking to brush up on your Elder Scrolls Online knowledge, we’ve put together a quick guide for all the things that are relevant for how to get started playing Elder Scrolls Online in 2020. Here’s the scoop on some ESO game secrets (not so secret) that every player should know.

Table of Contents

1. Use any of the Starter Zones for Easy Early Leveling

There are three zones specifically structured for newly made characters.

  • Daggerfall in the Glenumbra Zone
  • Vulkhel Guard in the Auridon Zone
  • Davon’s Watch in the Stone Falls Zone

Each faction has a starting zone nestled into their cluster of land. You do not have to use the zone specifically for your faction, this is just how ESO has structured starting out. Before DLC content, players would automatically be taken to their faction starter zone. With the addition of DLC, players automatically start off in the latest Chapter personally owned.

EXAMPLE: In 2020, I want to make a new character in ESO. If I own Morrowind but not Greymoor, upon making a new character I will be taken to the Morrowind intro story. If I own both Morrowind AND Greymoor, I will be ported to the intro Greymoor story since it is technically the newest story chapter. If I do not own a DLC pack or chapter, I am taken to my faction starting zone upon character creation.

When first starting a new character in Elder Scrolls Online it is best to use one of the starting zones. Although it is true that in ESO the zones will scale down to your level, starting zones are unique in that they offer simple quests and intentionally easier enemies to battle. Starter zones space out the mobs, and are void of world events making it easier for a new player to traverse the land and begin to level quickly.

2. Teleport Around Tamriel for Free

There are many ways to teleport to a zone for free.

  1. Access a Wayshrine 
  2. TP to a “friend”
  3. Access a boat at a dock to travel to zones in the same alliance
  4. Find a caravan to travel to cities in the same alliance

For the first method, Accessing a Wayshrine, you will have to actually run up to a wayshrine and toggle on it. A map menu will open up and you will be able to freely teleport to any wayshrines you have unlocked. 

Teleporting to a friend is a way to unlock a new zone AND teleport for free. To do this, open one of your social menus, either your friend list or guild list. From there, right-click onto the player’s name you wish to teleport to, find “teleport to friend” and done. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The person you port to is unaffected, they will not have to accept the port. The only way it will not work is if you are teleporting to someone who is trying to port themselves to a new zone.

Traveling via boat or caravan both work similarly. You have to actually run up and speak to the NPCs known as Navigators for the opportunity to use their transportation. These navigators have limited routes that they can send you, so you will have to find the appropriate ship or caravan if you are looking to travel to a specific zone. These port systems are usually used while traveling around completing quests, the quest itself will lead you through these ports to get you through to the next zone in the quest chain.

3. All Skill Lines Are Hidden Until Unlocked

Unfortunately, the skill lines in ESO is a soar subject for new players. Although there are tons of skill lines to unlock and use, they remain hidden until stumbled upon (or intentionally unlocked). I believe this is part of the mystery of an MMO, a player stumbles around, participating in stories, and will eventually learn and experience all the skill lines. However, most players enjoy knowing before investing time. 

For players who want to see all the skill lines, we are currently working a guide that will list all the skill lines available to unlock, but until we complete our guide, here is a couple of resources that can help you understand all the skill lines in ESO:

4. Unlock all three Unique Class Skill Lines ASAP for Equal Experience Gain

Each class is given three unique skill lines only available to that particular class. To best get full utility of your passives and active skills, it is recommended that as soon as you can unlock one skill from every line, do so. This keeps your experience gained for all three skill lines leveling at a nearly equal pace. 

5. Armor Skill Lines are Available for All Three Weights of Armor

Heavy, medium, and light armor all have unique skill lines that reward skills for using armor of the same weight class.

  • Equip 3 pieces of gear in the same weight class to unlock the skill line
  • Light Armor – skills/passives attribute to Magicka and damage
  • Medium Armor – skills/passives aid in stamina and DPS 
  • Heavy Armor – skills/passives aid in tankiness (health, regen, and armor stats)

To unlock armor skill lines in ESO, equip three pieces of the same armor weight. For example, if I wanted the light armor skill line, I would have to equip 3 pieces of light armor to my character, then go out into the world and kill stuff, or complete quests to begin to accumulate experience.

6. Complete the Main Story Quest [Experience and Skyshards]

All characters can and should participate in the main story quest. This story unlocks at level 10 and will release new chapters in 10 level increments. This story takes you all around Tamriel but starts off in the Harborage. At level 10 enter a major city and a ghostly figure will reach out to you asking you to find him in the Harborage. 

These quests will have larger/more detailed quest icon symbols over the NPCs that are related to the story. In addition, completing every quest will reward a skill point. Let’s face it, we need all the skill points we can get our hands-on.

7. Join All Three Core Guilds [Mage, Fighters, Undaunted]

In Elder Scrolls Online we have two types of guilds; player guilds and what I could best describe as skill line guilds, also referred to as a faction. There are DLC guilds/factions that players can utilize, however the three that come with the core game offer plenty of skills and utilities that all ESO players should consider unlocking. You can find each of these in nearly every large city, see below for more details.

  • Mages Guild – the main focus is on Magicka and spell casting abilities. In addition, the Mages Guild offers the Persuasive Will passive that allows players to ‘persuade’ a conversation with an NPC (when a quest calls for it)
  • Fighters Guild – this mercenary group targets stamina and physical damage. Passives in this skill tree offer the Intimidating Presence passive which gives players in the Fighters Guild a way to force an NPC to reveal secrets when speaking with them during questing
  • Undaunted – this faction loves the dungeon lifestyle. The skill line focuses more on health and ways to aid your group in battle. The Undaunted could potentially be considered a tank line of utility abilities, however, it offers much more than health regen.

8. All NPCs can be Murdered and Stolen From

If you’re low on cash, (or simply enjoy sneaking around and stealing stuff) consider pick-pocketing a townie. Players can sneak up on, steal from, and assassinate all the NPCs in the game. (Except for guards, they have eyes in the back of their heads.) All loot stolen from NPCs can be sold to a fence inside an Outlaws Refuge

Whether you are looking to kill or steal, simply crouch behind and sneak up on your NPC prey. When doing so, you will see a couple of options. The first option will be to kill (assassinations are only available via the Dark Brotherhood) when doing so an elaborate animation will appear of you murdering your NPC and returning back to crouch.

The second option available is the opportunity to pickpocket. This option will be accompanied by a success rate percentage. When committing crimes a Legerdemain skill tree will appear and begin earning experience. This skill tree gives a better chance to pickpocket, lock pick, bounty gold fee reduction, and fence interactions per day.

The DLC guilds, the Thieves Guild, and the Dark Brotherhood both offer up skill lines that perk these crime abilities making it easier to assassinate, as well as pull off a 100% success pickpocket. 

9. Committing Aforementioned Crimes Will Accumulate a Bounty

ESO isn’t free for all, Tamriel is a society with rules! Therefore, players who choose the life of crime will have to live in the shadows. All crimes witnessed by another NPC will signal a bounty. 

A bounty is a gold price placed on your character relevant to the number of crimes committed. Over time this bounty will decrease, however it is best to either pay it off to a fencer, use a scroll to wipe your record clean, or simply avoid city guards until the timer runs out. Bounty timers still run while offline, so if you love that five-finger discount, you aren’t forced to be stuck in-game waiting out your bounty timer.

10. Guards in Major Cities Attack Players With an Outstanding Bounty

All crimes committed and WITNESSED (another NPC has to see you commit the crime) will accumulate a bounty. Bounties will make it hard for you to enter a city with guards. If spotted, a guard will chase you down in attempts to collect your bounty. 

When a guard kills you, the cost of your bounty will be automatically deducted from your person AND the guard will reclaim any stolen goods in your inventory. Avoid getting caught by guards and use the aforementioned Outlaws Refuges to sell goods and pay down your bounty to a fencer.

11. There are Ways to Get Rid of Bounty Faster

There are a couple of ways to decrease your bounty. First, the most simple solution is to wait out the timer. The second method is to find a skill line. The legerdemain skill line is a core game skill line that offers passives that help remove bounty, pick locks, and pickpockets. 

The Thieves Guild DLC offers a skill line that will help speed up the bounty timer, as well as decrease the amount of bounty accumulated when committing crimes related to thievery. The Dark Brotherhood DLC guild is another guild that aids in the criminal lifestyle. The Dark Brotherhood provides a skill tree that will help players get away with NPC assassinations easier and decreases the radius in which an NPC can spot a crime.

For those who have both the aforementioned DLC guilds, players will have a chance to obtain an Edict. Simply put, an Edict is a scroll that can be used to remove your bounty. Some remove more bounty than others, these scrolls are earned by participating in the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood quests and daily activities.

12. Join a Player Guild for Selling, RP, Help, ESO Friends, ETC

The only way to purchase gear from other players in ESO is to join a guild. There is not an open world marketplace. The only way to sell gear is through a player guild. There are many guilds to join, open up the guild HUD, to find a guild that best suits your needs.

13. Where to Reset Skill and Attribute Points

Skill and attribute points are super valuable in building your perfect champion. When you want to reset your points look for rededication shrines located in alliance capital cities. Look for the Shrine to Mara, the Shrine to Akatosh, and the Shrine to Stendarr. Each shrine will reset a different point set (attribute points, skill points). 

The shrine to Mara is a little different. The Mara shrine gives an 8 hour buff, and it’s where you can marry another player in-game.

Locations of Shrines to Reset Attribute and Skill Points:

  • Stonefalls (Ebonheart Pact) 
  • Mournhold, Deshaan (Ebonheart Pact)
  • Elden Root, Grahtwood (Aldmeri Dominion)
  • Vulkhel Guard (Aldmeri Dominion)
  • Auridon (Aldmeri Dominion)
  • Wayrest, Stormhaven (Daggerfall Covenant)
  • Daggerfall (Daggerfall Covenant)
  • Glenumbra (Daggerfall Covenant)

14. Get Married in Tamriel for Experience Bonus 

I do, and cannot undo. Yes, you can marry someone in ESO for an extra 10% experience bonus while in proximity to your partner. To do so you will need to complete a few steps which result in a ring that you and your betrothed can equip for the previously mentioned 10% experience gain. Just remember, you can get married twice and it is permanent, you cannot get a divorce!

  • Step 1: Decide who you want to marry
  • Step 2: Purchase the Imperial Edition DLC or purchase the Pledge of Mara (only one person of the pair has to purchase this pledge)
  • Step 3: Locate a Shrine of Mara (located next to rededication shrines)
  • Step 4: Begin the ritual by taking the Pledge of Mara. Your proposal must be accepted, so you both must be at the shrine to complete this ritual
  • Step 5: Rings are added to your inventory to be worn for +10% experience bonus

15. Unlock the Medicinal Use Passive with Alchemy Crafting

One passive that many players pass up (mostly because they are unaware) is the Medicinal Use passive found under the Alchemy crafting skill tree. This passive is super beneficial, and I would recommend everyone invest time in earning it (it’s fairly simple). 

This Medicinal Use passive once unlocked will grant + 30% to the duration of potion effects. This is a massive boost, and something everyone needs (IMO). To earn this passive you will have to level alchemy crafting.

16. Weapon Skill Line Available for Each Weapon

Every weapon that can be equipped will unlock a skill tree with active abilities and passive abilities. I would recommend equipping all gear when found, regardless if you intend on using it simply for the skill trees. This is the only way to unlock all the hidden skill lines. 

Weapon skills are different from your class skills, and specialty skills. Weapon skills can only be equipped to the weapon it reflects. Each weapon has 5 active skills to choose from, one ultimate, and a set of passives. Passives once unlocked will be applied so long as they are relevant to what you are doing. The actives will not work unless they are on the appropriate weapon. For example, I cannot have a two-handed sword skill equipped for my restoration staff. The two-handed sword skill will not work.

17. Use Consumables [Food, Potions, Scrolls]

It’s best to always have foods and potions ready to use, especially for dungeons. This seems like an obvious one, but regardless, use them!! Each type can be used simultaneously with the other so long as they do not share the same name (buffs with the same name will not stack). 

For a new player, keep a lookout for experience scrolls, as they will boost the experience you earn from completing activities for x amount of minutes. I find I get the most out of a scroll when participating in a dungeon simply because the action is constant and the experience is significantly more than questing.

18. Explore the World for Skyshards [3 skyshards equals 1 skill point]

All zones can be explored for more quests, hidden locations, and the most important, skyshards. Three skyshards will convert to 1 skill point. There are hundreds of skyshards to find in just the base game. The Tamriel Journal made a fantastic skyshard resource for those looking to find the exact locations for all the skyshards in Tamriel.

19. Pick a Mundus Stone [Resistance, Damage, Healing] for Extra Stats Early Game

A Mundus Stone is an interactable shrine out in the world that will provide you with a unique stat effect. There are 13 different Mundus stones to choose from. You can find each Mundus stone in all three faction territories, meaning, there are a total of three places to find each Mundus stone. Here is a list of where to find each stone and what status effect each stone provides.

20. Explore Single Player Delves for Skyshards

A delve is an open world, single player dungeon that can be explored, and looted for experience and skyshards. All Delves have a hidden skyshard inside. To participate in a delve simply find the entrance to the instance and enter. Other players can join in on your instance, however it is structured for a single player. The mobs and boss fights will be significantly easier than a multi-player activity.

21. Complete Daily Random Dungeons For Large Chunks of Experience

Random daily dungeons are a great way to level up and find gear. Open up the dungeon finder and select the random dungeon, this will put you in a queue to find a group. You can enter the random dungeon finder with a party as well, this may make the queue time faster because you have to find fewer people to party.

Regardless, participating in a random dungeon will reward additional experience (101k) and a special loot bag of goodies. So not only will you be earning massive amounts of experience for participating in the dungeon activities, but you will also get a second layer of experience just for choosing random rather than selecting a specific dungeon to enter.

22. Read Every Bookshelf for Extra Experience and Knowledge Toward Skills

A hot topic for debate is the dilemma of reading bookshelves as you see them OR waiting till you reach max level, then going back and finding all the bookshelves. This is because some players feel that the skill gain from reading a bookshelf is worth more at higher levels because of the percentage of knowledge it gives.

Personally, I think it is best to read them as you go, rather than run back around to find them all. It’s a nice little boost to skill trees and experience during the leveling process and let’s face it, it’s going to be a pain in the tush to go back and re-find every bookshelf and book you have come into contact with.

23. Deconstruct Gear for Crafting Levels

A great way to earn experience toward a particular crafting expertise is to take the gear you have found in the world and deconstruct it. There are a few restrictions, the deconstruction has to be at the appropriate crafting table. You will not be able to deconstruct a two-handed sword at a Clothing Station (you will have to find a blacksmith station). The process of deconstruction is a great way to get materials for crafting as well as earning experience toward that expertise.

24. Start Researching Gear for Crafting Early [time-gated restrictions]

If you intend on being a crafter in Elder Scrolls Online, it is best to start the process early. Higher-level gear will require unlocking/knowing traits. A trait is a stat that can be applied to a weapon that is correlated with a specific crafting resource.

In order to learn traits, you will have to research gear with that particular trait. This process of researching is time-gated, and you cannot research more than one at a time at a singular station. So, as soon as you see gear with a new trait, take it over and start that researching process to avoid having to wait long periods of time in the future. 

25. Don’t Buy Gear Early Game [Run a Dungeon Instead]

The biggest waste of gold in early leveling is buying gear. Every three to five levels you will end up trading that gear out for something better anyway so might as well save your gold and do dungeons for gear. Massive amounts of gear drops from simply participating in dungeons. If you are looking for a particular gear set, below are some resources that provide information on the gear that can drop from the different dungeons in ESO.

26. Two-Handed Weapon Gives 2 Points Toward a Set Bonus

Wearing 5 pieces of gear (clothing, jewelry, or weapons) of the same set will give increased bonus set stats. In the case of a two-handed weapon, it provides double the set bonus because it is viewed to be taking up two spots. So rather than 1 count toward a set, a two-handed weapon will give 2 points toward a set bonus. 

A set bonus provides players additional traits and perks for running a certain type of gear. The more items in the set, the better the reward. For example, Ashen Grip gear; two items adds maximum health, wearing three items adds a weapon damage boost, four items adds 1% critical damage, and at five items “gain a 10% chance to breath fire and deal 800 Flame Damage to enemies in front of you on melee hits. This can occur once every 4 seconds”. All these extra bonus perks stack, making it well worth your time to invest in a 5 piece set because the amount of benefits you gain is much greater than wearing gear of random sets.

27. Understand the Basics of Combat

There are all sorts of ways to attack an enemy in Elder Scrolls Online. We have light attacks, heavy attacks, and skill attacks. In addition to the offense, we have some defensive abilities that need to be used appropriately to best avoid large bursts of damage from an enemy. Let us briefly discuss all the ways to do damage and defend ourselves in ESO.

Light Attacks

Light attacks are the most basic form of attacking an enemy. Press your ‘attack’ button (PC LMB) and this will trigger a single attack worth a small amount of damage. The way in which the light attack responds will depend on the weapon you have equipped. For example, staff will shoot out a magic ball of light, where a sword will swing once dealing damage within melee range.

Heavy Attacks

A heavy attack is used by holding down your attack button until the animation triggers itself. This form of attack is similar to a light attack, but it will do more damage. In addition, some passive abilities only trigger after the use of a successful heavy attack, therefore, you should incorporate the heavy attack into your gameplay to ensure you are getting full benefits of all passives.

Active Skills

The abilities unlocked with skill points are known as active abilities. These abilities are to be placed in your skill bar. Each skill has its own unique nuances and timers associated. They are triggered via buttons 1 through 5 (XBOX – X, Y, B, LB, RB) (PS4- Square, triangle, circle, L1, L2).

Ultimate Skill

All skill lines have the option to unlock the ultimate ability. Only one ultimate can be slotted per skill bar (two total if you count weapon swapping). Ultimates have to be charged with light attacks. Once it reaches enough points, you will be able to activate it. Your ultimate will be [R on PC], [LB+RB on Xbox], and [L1+L2 on PS4].


Block will prevent a certain amount of damage from an incoming attack. It does not protect against knockdown or other heavy sorts of attacks. To block, hold the RMB on PC (hold LT on Xbox) (hold down L2 on PS4). 

While holding block, you can interrupt an enemy’s attack by pressing the attack. This is a good counter against regular enemies out in the world and in PVP against real people. “Interrupting” an enemy will cost stamina.

Dodge Roll

The most effective way of avoiding damage in ESO is to dodge roll at the time of impact. The dodge roll does cost large amounts of stamina so keep that in mind during early leveling. To dodge roll on PC double-tap the direction you wish to roll (double tap S to roll backward, etc). Xbox, [LT+A], and PS4 [L2+X] while moving in the direction you wish to roll.

28. You Can Play in First Person and Third Person

Third person and first person is fairly straightforward. The way to change from first to third is located in your settings. Third person can be played from a wide range of angles. Choose to play over the shoulder close up, or take it back with a full zoom out giving you a larger visible area. 

I prefer zooming it all the way out in the settings because you have free range in-game to zoom in and out at your leisure via the scroll wheel. So I like to have maximum scroll zoom so that I don’t have to change my settings every time I want to zoom out to see the beautiful scenery.

29. Champion Points are Account Wide

Champion points are earned after reaching max level 50. After the first time you reach level 50 on a character, the next time you start a new character those points will be available for you to use immediately. Once the new character hits 50, they will contribute to your Champion point levels. 

Gear stops scaling at level 50, champion point 160. Meaning, this is the highest gear point in the game. You can still earn champion points and build your skill trees, but gear will not drop higher than CP 160.

30. Find A Stable to Upgrade Riding Skills ASAP

Riding skills can be easily forgotten about, but they can be very beneficial. Stable NPCs offer three skills to level; movement, riding stamina, and carrying capacity. So whether you want your mount to be more efficient, or if your looking for a little extra bag space, start this process early. 

Riding skills cost 250 gold per skill, and are blocked behind a time wall. After purchasing a riding skill, you will be on a cool down for 20 hours. This is why it is recommended that you get this process started early levels so that you can have more utility late game and not be stunted by that 20-hour timer.

31. Passive Abilities VS Active Abilities

Every skill line has two types of skills; passives and actives. Passive abilities once unlocked will apply stats and utilities to your champion. Active abilities require being slotted in your skill bar to use. Actives are various combat abilities ranging from damage through group healing effects. An active also levels and can be ‘morphed’ into a better skill which will require a second skill point.

32. Where to Level Up Bank and Inventory Storage Space

Bank and inventory storage is super important, especially for the hoarder lifestyle. To upgrade backpack and bank storage space locate a pack merchant. Increasing amounts of gold will be required to upgrade and will increase in correlation with the size of your storage (more space, the more $$$ it will cost you). You can have up to 110 inventory bag slots. 

Bank storage space can be upgraded to over double the cap of inventory space. You can purchase up to 240 slots of bank storage space, but it is extremely expensive. The gold cost of upgrading to max bank storage is approximately 768,500 gold.

33. Benefits of ESO Plus Monthly Membership

Players who love playing ESO, and play frequently, might want to consider purchasing the ESO Plus membership. It is roughly $15 a month, if you pay in chunks rather than monthly you can get that cost down [11.67 a month for 12 months, the total cost of $139.99].

With ESO Plus you get:

  • +10% gold and experience gain
  • 1650 crowns per month 
  • Access to all DLC game packs (not to be confused with the current Chapter)
  • Double Bank Space
  • Double furnishing and collectible space in your personal housing instance
  • Crafting bag that holds unlimited resources 
  • +10% to trait research and crafting inspiration
  • Can dye costumes (exclusive to Plus members)
  • Bonus currency cap for transmutation crystals
  • Crown Store Deals (exclusive to Plus members)

DLC game packs are not the same as the current Chapter. When a new chapter is released, the chapter from the previous year becomes a DLC, and the cycle repeats. For example, Greymoor is 2020’s Chapter. In 2021, Greymoor will move to DLC when a new chapter becomes available. This means, Plus members will eventually have access to all the game content just by purchasing ESO Plus and having patience.

34. Three Types of Quests [Daily, Main Story, Side Story]

Elder Scrolls Online is questing driven. Majority of gameplay available centers around exploring the land, speaking with NPCs, and completing tasks. There are three types of quests players can participate in. First, something we previously mentioned, the Main Story questline.

Second, side missions; there are hours upon hours of side quests. Each zone is filled with stories to explore and adventure. Thirdly, the dailies. These daily quests have blue icons and can be completed (repeated) once per day.

35. Secret Skill Lines [Vampire & Werewolf] 

Personally, I love these two skill lines because they are sort of a secret in the world to be discovered. (This is only half true, you can also buy these two curses in the Crown Store.) While running around and killing things, players can stumble upon vampires and werewolves that can infect them with their supernatural disease. You can also find a player with the curse to ‘bite’ you which will also give you the skill lines. Some players charge gold for this service, but there are plenty willing to help you out for free, just ask around in chat. 

Getting bitten by one of these creatures will imbue your champion with a cursed skill line. Vampires lean toward Magicka type benefits; shadow running, and different stages of vampirism that offer perks towards the actives and passives offered in the skill line. The werewolf curse focuses more on stamina and physical damage and can morph your champion into a massive werewolf. While transformed gain boosts to the perks of both the actives and passive abilities.

36. Buffs with the Same Names don’t Stack

This tip doesn’t need much explanation, its exactly as it sounds. Buffs with the same name will not stack regardless of where the buff comes from. Meaning, if your potion is called “metamorphosis” (not a real buff, just an example) and you have a skill in your skill tree activated that is also called “metamorphosis”, only one of these buffs will activate, not both. I am not sure which buff it prioritizes, I would assume the passive ability over the potion, but regardless, it sees it as a duplicate, not a secondary buff to be applied.

37. Unlock the Rapid Maneuver Skill for Mounted Movement Speed Boosts

Rapid Maneuver is one of those skills that everyone should have in case you find yourself in a pickle while mounted. This skill is an active ability that costs stamina and will affect group members within a 20m radius. The base skill, unmorphed, will grant Major Expedition (increasing movement speed for 30% for 8 seconds). It will also give you Major Gallop which increases mounted movement speed by 30% for 30 seconds. 

This skill is found in the Alliance War Skill tree unlocked by participating in PvP Battlegrounds. Participating in one battleground per day also gives a bonus experience boost similar to participating in a daily random dungeon. New players should consider this skill as well as participating in battlegrounds for that extra daily experience.


When I'm not grinding levels in my favorite MMOs I'm creating or crafting something for fun.

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