The Elder Scrolls Online Leveling Guide
If you’re new to ESO, start here. If you are starting a new character and want the most efficient way to level from 1-50, you will also want to start here. The Elder Scrolls Online is an extremely unique MMORPG and should be approached like any new game you have no idea about. You cannot assume you know everything just because you have played another MMORPG before.
When new players power level, you miss out on the fact that the leveling process is where you gain most of your experience and ability to perform. Lower levels are where the content is most forgiving, and where most of the skill lines begin. This is also the area where you learn to understand the basics and gain valuable skill points. There is NO shortcut for learning.
Do you need crafted gear? Do you need training gear? NO, no you don’t. You CAN but you don’t NEED any of those things. In this tutorial, I’m going to consider BOTH the new player and the more experienced player who is not quite sure how to level up efficiently.
Create Your Character
The Elder Scrolls Online offers 10 races to choose from and each is unique. While you CAN change a character’s race later with a Race Change Token purchased from the Crown Store, I would recommend you review the Race Guide and choose something you think you’d enjoy.
The next choice you need to make in the character creation screen is class. There are six classes in ESO and classes CANNOT be changed later. You can review the Class Guide to make an informed decision.
The Very Beginning
In the very beginning, you will learn important mechanics like how to block, interrupt, light attack, heavy attack, and dodge roll. You will also learn how to collect gear, equip it, and use it. Once you’re out of the tutorial, you’ll be a level 3.
As explained in the video, every level completed rewards you. You want to claim these rewards. You will also be rewarded with Attribute Points and must decide where to put them. Initially, it’s not important as you can change these allocations at any time late. So choose whichever you think will be the most help to you based on your character.
You’ll also see that I was rewarded food. Food gives you big bonuses but for right now which food you choose to use is irrelevant. It only matters much much later when you have an actual build. I always recommend everyone use food.
Power Leveling is Bad
Power leveling creates bad players. The assumption in ESO is that it’s the same as every other MMORPG where your level really makes a difference. In ESO, it does not. What makes a difference is your ability to pay attention to the game’s mechanics. Learning to block, interrupt, light attack, heavy attack, and dodge roll – all that stuff you learned in the tutorial – are going to be with you for the rest of the game.
Skill Lines And Skill Points
You can begin the game with any weapon. It doesn’t matter at this point. You’ll see that you have all three of your class skills started regardless of which class you are and three skill points. You also have the world wkill line of Soul Magic active.
I do have a more in-depth video about skill lines in the Beginner Guide Series.
We currently have no weapon skills and no armor. So let’s ‘buy’ a skill from each of the class skill lines with skill points and assign those to the ability bar. With those assigned, whenever you earn experience points, these skills lines will also gain levels. Ultimately as these abilities level, you can morph them into other abilities. Soul Magic levels up with your progression through the main quest line so it’s a little different than the others.
There are no class restrictions to weapon styles and armor style in The Elder Scrolls Online. It is not linear like many other MMORPGs out there. This is a completely different design. Any class and any race can play any role. There are millions of choices as to how you make your build down to the smallest possible variable.
Since I’m equipped with a two-handed weapon, I only need to kill something like this deer to unlock the two-handed skill line. With this new weapon skill line unlocked, I will now earn experience points that will level this skill line just by holding it. If I slot a skill from this skill line, the experience points I receive from it will increase.
Other Important Major Skill Lines
Before getting started on leveling, we want to activate some other major skill lines so that once we begin earning experience points, everything will increase in unison. In addition to the class, armor, and weapon skill lines, we also want the Fighters Guild, the Mages Guild, and the Undaunted.
The Undaunted skill line gives you passives and bonuses and skills that you will use throughout the game. You level the Undaunted skill line by completing dungeons. I have a very detailed Undaunted Guide.
Fighters Guild passives will help you against undead, daedra, and werewolves, and Mages Guild passives will help you with more magicka stuff. Each of the skill lines has its own unique passives and ultimates. All offer good benefits and you will want them quite early.
Fast Travelling In ESO
An important note about fast traveling in ESO. When a wayshrine is unlocked you can fast travel to it. However this will cost you in-game gold. At the beginning of the game you will have the opportunity to visit a bank and read the Housing Brochure. This quest allows you a one-time chance to get a free room (house) in ESO. You can choose any one of the following by entering into the bar and talking to Felande Demarie. She offers you a return in return for you assistance peacekeeping. This becomes your first house. You can store furnishings there and other things that we will discuss later. But for now it also means that you have a way to quick travel for free from nearly any location in the game back to your home. This will save you a ton of money.
If you have a house, especially this one which is free, it will carry across your whole account. You can travel outside or inside the house for free.
Every area has a wayshrine in each zone that is active to everyone. Other wayshrines must be visited to be unlocked.
Head’s Up Display Not Initially Active
Setting up your Head’s Up Display (HUD) in The Elder Scrolls Online is required. When you first begin the game, it is NOT active. Many players new to ESO or for that matter new to online gaming don’t know about the HUD and it is literally LIFE CHANGING!
You can find very detailed information about all the HUD settings in this recent article.
Zoom Your View In And Out
Something new players do not know is that you can hold down the d-pad and move your right analog stick forward and backward. This will zoom your view in and out. On PC, you can use scroll wheel on your mouse to achieve the same effect.
To Quest Or Not To Quest
There are so many quests in ESO that it can be overwhelming. Main quests have different markers than side quests. Main quests offer big rewards in money, skill points, and typically armor of some sort. Side quests reward money and sometimes armor but not skill points. If you want to begin questing, do the main quests first.
You will need some armor. Yes, of course, you could go to a merchant and spend loads of gold that you don’t have but it’s a waste of time. However you can STEAL some! Wait until their back is turned, crouch, look for the ‘hidden’ notification and help yourself! Don’t get caught. Once you have armor, equip it. When you equip three pieces of a type of armor (light, medium, or heavy) that skill line will open for you. As you wear pieces of armor, you skill in that skill line will increase. The more of the type your wear, the quicker the skill line will increase.
Armor Skill Lines In The Elder Scrolls Online
Armor skill lines offer a few active abilities but more importantly offer excellent passives you don’t want to miss. Each armor type (heavy, medium, and light) has one active ability and a list of passives. Light and heavy armor also have bonuses AND penalties.
Learn more about armor skill lines in these recent articles: light armor, medium armor, and heavy armor.
Dolmens Are Also Known As Dark Anchors
A good xp spot would be a dolmen. As shown in the video, dolmens appear on the map. They are also known as dark anchors. They are world events that are typically meant for groups of players. At this point in the game, soloing a dolmen would be quite difficult. There are three dolmens in each base game area. Some dolmens are on a map rotation so if you arrive at one, you may have to wait until it activates or you can check you map to see which one is active, marked with the crossed swords like the image above. Dolmens provide waves of bosses and ultimately a larger final boss. Once completed, a treasure chest is dropped rewarding you with experience points, loot, and jewelry.
Gaining XP By Exploring
You can also gain xp by exploring. For example, you can run along the beach and just kill random stuff. That can become a bit grindy so you can also do main quests. Main quests reward larger amounts of experience points, more loot, and also skill points.
Level 10 Unlocks The Dungeon Finder
However you choose to level through those first few levels, the magic spot is level 10. Level 10 is when the game really starts happening. When you finally get to level 10, you will now have unlocked lots of different content. Along the way to level 10 you’ve upgraded some skills and some equipment or gear.
One big tip, by the way, is to read your skills. If you don’t read them then you won’t understand them no matter how fun they look.
Whatever gear you pick up along the way is going to be just fine. At this stage of the game, you will out-grow your level of gear very quickly. So whatever you acquire from rewards will work out just fine.
The Dungeon Finder is the main part of how we are going to encourage our character to level up. It will also provide us with enough skill points at the same time. For each dungeon that you complete, as there is also a quest for your first time there, you will earn a ton of experience points and also a skill point.
Dungeons Increase XP Which Unlocks More Dungeons
Initially only a few dungeons will be available to you. As your level increases, more dungeons will be added. Soon all dungeons will be available. Remember, each dungeon has a quest for the first time you enter it. That quest will provide you a skill point.
Time To Explore Cyrodiil
Also at level 10, you unlock the ability to enter Cyrodiil campaigns. Most new players don’t think they want to participate in PVP, especially at a lower level. However, Cyrodiil has areas that are only accessible for those players UNDER level 50. Cyrodiil also offers excellent experience points, skill points, and other rewards like loot and gear. Check out this article on how to get started in Cyrodiil. I also explain a little more in this video.
The key thing is that once you’ve been to Cyrodiil, your Assault and Support skill lines are started. You can increase these by returning to Cyrodiil or Imperial City or doing Daily Battlegrounds – which is also available to you now that you’ve reached level 10.
Random Dailies Bring Huge Rewards
Participating in random Daily Battlegrounds provides excellent experience points even if you lose!
Participating in random Daily Dungeons also provides excellent experience points, loot, and gear.
Training Gear? Gear Sets? The Truth
New players are often told they need training gear or gear sets but to be honest it is not that important at these levels. As you pick up gear, if it’s better than what you’re currently wearing, equip it. While you CAN craft (or obtain crafted gear), you will be leveling so quickly you’ll be out-leveling it and it is just a waste of resources.
At some point, you may want to change traits on items by transmuting them. But that’s for much later down the road. If you are interested in learning more about transmutation now, please see this article on Transmutation.
Level 45 And Becoming Undaunted
As your levels increase, more dungeons will become available to you. At level 45, you can begin your Undaunted Dailies. These will reward you with xp bonuses, Undaunted Keys, and Transmutation Crystals. You can learn everything you need to know in the Undaunted Guide.
Content will begin to become harder. At level 50, champion points will unlock. Any skill points, attribute points, and champion points can be reassigned so don’t worry if you make a mistake. At level 160, the armor caps. This is the time when you want to decide on a build. You can find MANY builds of all different types with the Build Guide.
Beyond Beginner Leveling
As you progress you’ll find even more things to do. There are arenas and trials, and DLC dungeons. All are excellent ways to earn xp.
Some Arenas are group and some are solo. Trials are set up for groups of 12. DLC dungeons are much harder than base game dungeons but I have mechanics guides loaded with tons of helpful advice on every single dungeon in the Mechanics Guide section. I have covered each dungeon, trial, and arena.
I hope this has helped and it wasn’t too boring. There is so much more to cover on other fine points about crafting, researching, etc. and that information will be coming to the website soon. In the meantime, I think you will find this method a strategic and very simple, and efficient way to get your levels, skill points, and loot. With power leveling, you will miss the skills you are going to need and will have to go backwards to get them. This method avoids backtracking.