WHAT IS ESO?
ESO is a massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) and takes place in the world of Tamriel. If you have played an Elder Scrolls game in the past, like Skyrim, Oblivion or Morrowind, you will be familiar with the lore and you will find familiar areas from those games in ESO. If this is your first Elder Scrolls game, you are in for a treat. Beautiful locations, awesome story telling, and outstanding voice acting lead to one of the best single player campaigns in any MMORPG. You can even run with groups of friends through the vast majority of the content, from stories in each zone to dungeons and trials, or you can try to become the emperor of Tamriel in the player versus player zone of Cyrodil.
No matter how you decide to take on the world, there is something out there for everyone. Below you will find a wealth of information to get you started, including a beginner guide from Adam(The Brah) to help walk you through some of the basics. Make sure to check out the other beginner guides on the site, and hop on over to Discord to join the growing community of new and veteran players who can help you on your journey through this awesome game.
THE BASE GAME
ESO is buy to play, meaning that once you have purchased any version of the game, you own it and will be able to complete everything available in that version with no extra cost. Currently, the game is available on PC, Xbox, Playstation and Google Stadia and the base game comes with the Morrowind expansion that was released in 2017.
EXPANSIONS AND DLC’S
There are several expansions that have been released throughout the years for ESO, the most recent being the Greymoor expansion that came out in June 2020, and it can be a bit confusing when you first purchase the game to figure out what you have access to. Zenimax Online Studios (ZoS) typically releases one expansion a year, bringing new zones and content to the world. The first of these was Morrowind, followed by Summerset in 2018, Elsweyr in 2019 and Greymoor in 2020. As stated above, if you purchase the base game only, you will have access to the Morrowind expansion, but you will not have access to the other expansions or any of the DLCs unless you purchase those separately.
DLCs for ESO consist of various new elements for the game itself, including new zones, dungeons and trials. These can be purchased in the crown store(more on that below) or on the ESO website as a separate cost. There are typically 2-3 DLCs every year, usually themed around the expansion for that year to make for an immersive story experience.
Below you will find a list of all current expansions and DLCs listed by when they released and including a brief description of what each brought to the game.
- Morrowind (2017) – This expansion brought the island of Vvardenfell to the game, along with the Warden class, new PvP Battlegrounds modes, the Halls of Fabrication trial and the Morag Tong Style motif. If you buy the base game, you have this expansion included.
- Summerset (2018) – This expansion brought the island of Summerset and the Artaeum zone to ESO. It also introduced jewelry crafting and the psijic skill line as well as the Cloudrest trial. To access this expansion you will need to purchase it or have ESO+(more on that below).
- Elsweyr (2019) – This expansion brought northern Elsweyr to the world, along with dragons. The necromancer class was introduced, along with the Sunspire trial. Just like Summerset, you will need to either purchase this expansion or have ESO+ to access it.
- Greymoor (2020) – This expansion brings players back to Skyrim, more precisely northwestern Skyrim. It also introduces the antiquities skill line and the Kyne’s Aegis trial. As the most recent expansion, this one can only be accessed if you purchase it.
DLC’S (PURCHASED OR ACCESSED WITH ESO+)
- The Imperial City (2015) – This DLC introduced the Imperial City along with a new dungeon, The Imperial City Sewers, and the new PvP currency of Tel Var Stones.
- Orsinium (2015) – This DLC brought the land of Wrothgar to ESO, as well as the Maelstrom Arena solo challenge.
- Thieves Guild (2016) – This DLC introduced the thieves guild skill line and the Abah’s Landing zone.
- Dark Brotherhood (2016) – This DLC introduced the Dark Brotherhood to ESO, including a new skill line and changes to the poison crafting in game. This is also where the veteran progression system was replaced with the current champion points system.
- Shadows of the Hist (2016) – This was a dungeon DLC that brought Cradle of Shadows and Ruins of Mazzatun to ESO.
- Horns of the Reach (2017) – This DLC brought two new dungeons to the game, Bloodroot Forge and Falkreath Hold.
- Clockwork City (2017) – This DLC brought the Clockwork City zone to ESO.
- Dragon Bones (2018) – The Dragon Bones DLC brought two new dungeons to the game, Fang Lair and Scalecaller Peak.
- Wolfhunter (2018) – This DLC brought two new dungeons to ESO, Moonhunter Keep and March of the Sacrifices.
- Murkmire (2018) – This DLC brings the Murkmire zone to ESO, along with the Blackrose Prison dungeon.
- Wrathstone (2019) – Two new dungeons to start the year of the dragon, Frostvault and Depths of Malatar.
- Dragonhold (2019) – Completing the year of the dragon, this DLC adds the southern Elsweyr zone.
- Harrowstorm (2020) – Dark Heart of Skyrim kicked off with this DLC. Brought two new Dungeons, Unhallowed Grave and Icereach.
- Stonethorn (2020) – Continuing the Dark Heart Story and comes with two of Adam’s favorite dungeons, Castle Thorn and Stone Garden.
- Markarth (2020) – This finished out the Dark Heart of Skyrim year long adventure. This gave us the Item Set Collection System (sticker book), the new Reach zone. and the new single player Arena, Vateshran Hollows.
- Flames of Ambition (2021) – This brought the first DLC of the Gates of Oblivion adventure. This included The Cauldron DLC Dungeon and the Black Drake Villa DLC Dungeon. Update 29 also brought a complete Champion Point System overhaul.
WHAT IS ESO+?
ESO Plus is the subscription service for ESO that provides some quality of life improvements and grants access to all DLC as well as all expansions except the most recent one. You do not have to sign up for this extra service, but it does grant some pretty cool benefits and if you play often and have the ability to get it, it is well worth the cost of $14.99/month.
BENEFITS OF ESO+ INCLUDE:
- 1650 crowns each month to spend in the crown store
- Access to the craft bag, which gives you nearly unlimited storage for crafting materials
- Access to all DLC in the game
- Special deals and free items in the crown store
- 10% experience boost for leveling and crafting
- 10% more gold from sources in game
- Double bank space and double the amount of items that can be placed in player homes
- Double the number of transmutation crystals you can have at one time
- Check out the video below for more information on ESO plus and how it works.
CREATING A CHARACTER
Before you jump into ESO and start dominating enemies and saving Tamriel, you will need to create a character fit for the many titles you will be earning. There are 9 races to choose from (10 if you purchase the Imperial race in the crown store), each with their own unique traits and bonuses, as well as 3 alliances and 5 classes (6 if you own the Elsweyr expansion). Add to all of that the amount of detail that can be added to the character appearance as well as coming up with just the right name, and you can spend hours coming up with just the right character to match your personality and play style. This section will provide you with some of the basics to get you started, and more content will be added in the future to go into detail for each aspect.
There are 9 playable races in the ESO base game, with the Imperial race available to add from the crown store bringing the total to 10. For the sake of this guide we will be taking a quick look at the base game races only.
Each race is tied to one of the 3 in game alliances by default, though you are able to purchase the “Any Race/Any Alliance” addon in the crown store, removing this tie and allowing you to choose your alliance and race as separate selections. By default these are the alliance/race choices:
- Daggerfall Covenant – Breton, Orsimer (Orc) and Redguard
- Aldmeri Dominion – Altmer (High Elves), Bosmer (Wood Elves) and Khajiit
- Ebonheart Pact – Argonian, Dunmer (Dark Elves) and Nord
Once you have selected your race, you will be tied to that race and alliance for that character unless you want to spend crowns to change your race and or alliance. Each race has passives that make them better in some roles than others, but with the right set up you will be able to run any race as any role in the game. Additionally, the alliance only plays a small part in PvE content and you will be able to group up with friends in other alliances to run dungeons, trials and story missions. The only time alliance has a big impact is if you go to Cyrodil or Imperial City to run PvP content. Check out the ESO Race Guide for a deeper dive into races in ESO.
There are 5 classes available to play in the base game for ESO, with a sixth class available if you have the Elseweyr expansion. Each class has its own feel and class skills, and some classes are much easier to learn and play than others. Because of the way skills work in ESO, you can play any role in the game with any class, but some will be harder to set up and manage. Picking the right class for you is important on your first character since you will be learning the game for the first time. Check out the class guide on the right and the basic class descriptions below to help you decide which class is best for you.
- Dragonnight – This class is centered around fire and poison. Known to be very tanky and hard to kill, just like the dragons of legend.
- Sorcerer – These are the masters of magic in ESO. They can summon daedric pets to fight by their side and call down lighting to destroy their enemies.
- Nightblade – Darkness and shadows are the nightblades best friends. They sneak up behind unknowing enemies and take them down before they even know what happened.
- Templar – Templars have the power of light at their fingertips and can call down the sun itself to burn their enemies. Vampires think twice before going near a Templar.
- Warden – Using the forces of nature as their ally, Wardens can take on anything. After all, no one wants to mess with you when you have a grizzly bear helping you fight.
- Necromancer (Elsweyr DLC) – Where some see a rotting corpse, the Necromancer sees an ally. Raise the dead to fight by your side and don’t let anything stand in your way. Just be careful using some of those skills in a town, the townsfolk aren’t exactly happy to see their ancestor who has been dead for 300 years walking down the street.
STARTING THE GAME
Where you start the game will depend on which version of the game you bought. Each expansion has it’s own tutorial missions to start out, walking you through the basics of how to fight and how the general mechanics work. Once you complete the tutorial, you will be dropped into the massive world in the starting zone based on your version. For instance, if you own the Greymoor expansion, you will be dropped into Skyrim with no direction other than a quest marker. This is where the game truly begins.
ESO is a massive game, and it allows you to explore the entire world at your own pace and learn as you go. This can be really overwhelming when you first start playing, because with no real indication of where you are supposed to go, you can quickly wind up in fights you are not ready for and struggling to beat what appears to be early game content. What the game does not tell you is that while you can technically play through expansion zones as a low level character, there is a system set up to help you grow and progress in a more natural way. It all starts with a hooded figure.
Upon completing your tutorial mission, you will get a mission titled “Speak to the Hooded Figure”. This mission is the first mission in the base game, and it is a great place to start if you are picking up ESO for the first time. The location of the hooded figure varies based on the faction you chose in character creation. If you chose Aldmeri Dominion you will need to go to Vulkhel Guard in Auridon, if you chose Ebonhart Pact you will need to go to Davons Watch in Stonefalls and if you chose Daggerfall Covenant you will need to go to Daggerfall in Glenumbra. When you arrive in the correct city, go to the map icon for the mission and you will find a secretive hooded figure who tells you that you need to speak to their benefactor. No spoilers, but the story is very well done and you will gain experience and skill points as you progress through it.
Outside of the main quest there are also zone specific quests to complete in each zone. These will tie together as you complete them, moving you from one zone to the next within each faction, and you can do them in any order. Each zone also contains lots of side quests, indicated by characters with a black arrow over their head, and some of these can be just as detailed as the overall zone quests and can provide you with some really cool rewards and special set pieces that you can only get from doing them.
At this point you have gotten started in the world of ESO, but there is so much more to learn! Before you go too far, head over to beginner tips to help you start your journey off on the right foot.