Sunshine Daydream's Guide to ESO

Guide to Starting Out in ESO

The most important knowledge for a new player is this: the only things about your character that cannot be changed is your Class and your Alliance (with Greymoor you can change your Alliance with an Alliance Change Token if you own Any Race, Any Alliance).

Most options can be changed at the cost of in-game gold, however some changes (specifically race, name, appearance & alliance) must be purchased with crowns.

After choosing your alliance and class, weighing various cultural options and perfecting your character's appearance, then completing the basic tutorial, what's your next step? This document may answer that question and can guide your first hours in The Elder Scrolls Online.

This guide to Starting Out in ESO covers:

Establishing Your Basic Setup

Press [ESC] to bring up the Settings menu.

Look over the many settings that can be adjusted and ensure they are set to your preferences.

Adjust Camera settings as you see fit. Third person view centered on your character (Horizontal Position of 0) is what I prefer and might be especially beneficial if prone to motion-sickness or dizziness.

If you adjust keybinds to mimic your favorite game it will make you feel at home faster. Grab Votan's Keybinder addon if you want to make these changes just once rather than repeating the process on each new character. I came from DDO and I can't tell you how much more comfy I felt after remapping [T] to toggle Cursor-Mode/Mouse-Look and [.] to Rotate the Selected Quest.

Access the Social Options to adjust text size and/or customize chat colors. Especially consider making different guilds different colors to make tracking conversations easier when multiple guilds are active. This section also contains Leaderboard Notifications and the ability to toggle the Profanity Filter on/off (many things which make no sense to be filtered are, so think hard on this choice even if profanity offends you; the confusion may offend you more).

Basic Social interactions:

Essential Addons

There are many addons available to customize this game. If you join ESOUI and favorite the addons that you use, you'll get an email notification whenever the addon author publishes an update to download/install. We find these addons essential:

This is a shortened list, pared down to what we would absolutely dread not having access to and we strongly suggest getting these for immediate use. We also publish a lengthier list of worthy addons to consider after doing some exploring on your own and when you have more of a feel for the game and their utility; our other recommendations can be found here.

Addons are installed within your "My Documents" folder. The exact structure resembles

C:\My Documents\Elder Scrolls Online\live\AddOns\(NameOfAddOn)

Attributes & Skills

Various skill lines (including ones that prior to Morrowind were always visible) need unlocking to become visible and to be trained. Soon after creating a character, unlock those you can if you like to see it all and plan ahead. Upon character creation, you will now see your 3 class skill lines and little else; even cultural/racial skill lines now appear only after reaching character level 5.

Only 5 active ability slots are in play at any given time although you gain access to a second ability bar at character level 15 through weapon-swapping. As you learn the game you might include at least one skill that uses your off-focus resource pool for when your main resource is low and vice-versa. At top level one should focus as fully as possible on Stamina-based skills or Magicka-based skills, but early on it might help as you always be ready while learning about resource management.

Skill and/or attribute points can be reset in Rimmen in Elsweyr, Alinor in Summerset, Vivec City in Vvardenfell or in the Capital Cities (Elden Root in Grahtwood, Wayrest in Stormhaven, or Mournhold in Deshaan) at a cost of 50 gold per point spent so don't fret over making wrong choices or changing your mind. Use the Shrine to Auriel (or the Shrine of Warrior-Poet in Vvardenfell) to reset attribute points and/or the Shrine to Stendarr (or the Shrine of Father of Mysteries in Vvardenfell) to reset either all skill points or just their morphs.

Attribute points which can be placed in Health, Stamina, or Magicka are gained as you level your character. An extra point is gained every 5 levels and another extra point every 10 levels. So upon attaining character level 3 (or any level not divisible by 5) you gain one attribute point while upon reaching level 5 (and levels 15, 25, 35, 45) you earn 2 attribute points and at level 10 (and levels 20, 30, 40, 50) you receive 3 attribute points.

More Health lets you endure more damage before dying. More points in Stamina or Magicka affect your resource pool and also boost damage with active abilities (generally whichever attribute the ability costs). Adjust armor enchantments or consume a food to further influence the maximum resource pool of an attribute. Adjust jewelry enchantments or consume a drink to further influence an attribute's rate of resource recovery. Heavy Attacks with staves restore Magicka while Heavy Attacks with other weapons restore Stamina.

Armor skill lines are revealed once you wear 3 pieces of a given armor weight; so get your hands on 3 heavy, 3 medium, and 3 light armor pieces as soon as possible. Continue to equip at least one piece of each armor weight to train these skill lines; wearing a light sash (waist), medium bracers (hands), and all other armor pieces in heavy will provide the most protection as you start training all 3 armor skill lines. Tailor your outfit to suit your build's abilities after investing into the armor passive skills, but for now more armor rating can be crucial to surviving these early levels when not many skills are yet unlocked.

Weapon skill lines appear once you make a kill with that weapon type equipped. If you want to see all the weapon skills, seek out a 2-Handed Weapon, two 1-Handed Weapons to Dual Wield, a Shield for use with a 1-Handed Weapon, a Bow, a Destruction Staff (inferno, ice, and/or lightning), and a Restoration Staff. Otherwise, unlock two skill lines, one for each weapon type you hope to build around, as soon as possible and quickly place a skill from each on your only (until level 15) skill bar. As Bowdacious the Benevolent points out:

In the beginning you will have more ability slots than abilities. The key to increasing your ability skill lines (Class and Weapons) is earning experience while the abilities are on the active bar.

Most builds pick from the various class abilities and skill lines. So I recommend when you are new, put an ability from each class section on your ability bar as soon as possible.

Also, if your build uses two different weapon types, grab the second weapon as soon as you can even though you can not swap to it until level 15. Using the weapon a few times will unlock its first ability. Put this second weapon ability in one of the empty slots on your active ability bar and switch back to your primary weapon. This way you can level the second weapon skill line at the same time as the first while you a few slots open on your bar while you level.

Before turning in quests, double-check you're carrying the weapon type and on the skill bar where you need the experience points. The more skills from a given skill line that you have on your ability bar, the faster you will level that skill line.

Join the Mages Guild & Fighters Guild. These guilds offer skill lines within the game and do not count toward the 5 guilds per account limit (that's only for player guilds -- i.e. social or trader guilds). In addition to the skill lines, joining these guilds unlocks special storylines and daily quests at Dark Anchors and in Public Dungeons. Both these must be joined within your home alliance, so travel to Vulkhel Guard in Auridon (AD), Daggerfall in Glenumbra (DC), or Davon's Watch in Stonefalls (EP) early in your adventures to enlist with both the Magister in the Mages Guild and the Hall Steward in the Fighters Guild.

Killing undead and daedra progresses your Fighters Guild training; you'll be doing a lot of this anyway, so it may as well benefit Fighters Guild progress at the same time. While in the Fighters Guild Hall talk with Millenith to become certified as an equipment crafter.

Joining the Mages Guild before you read any of the glowing lore books scattered around Tamriel will aid your early progress with the skill line; while in the Mages Guild Hall talk with Danel Tellano to also become certified as a consumables crafter.

Always read the books on bookshelves or sometimes found in stacks. Not only is the lore of this game immersively entertaining, but some titles boost a skill line by one full skill level!

A final tangental note that doesn't really fit in better anywhere else: choose a Mundus Stone effect, and go make it active. These provide a uniquely classified boost that stacks with all similar boosts and will stay with your character unless you overwrite it by choosing and activating another Mundus Stone.

I advocate playing for the enjoyment of the game, learning at your own pace, and trying out skills for yourself. But if you're looking for a min-max build, try Alcast's builds or Deltia's builds

Inventory & Gold Management

Items in chests and thieves troves (as well as crafting nodes) scale to your level when you interact with them and remain that way even if you depart the area. Thus, it is rude to leave behind the things you don't want as this prevents it from offering gear (or materials) appropriate to the next player to interact with it. It is not difficult to take the junk and sell it to a vendor or destroy it on the spot. This issue has become more common, so I felt a need to mention it here as a Public Service Announcement; now onto the things you really want to know.

Any merchant can repair your gear or purchase any kind of items you wish to sell -- even a chef or brewer! The type of merchant only affects what they can sell to you.

Potions are most effectively used from Quickslots. Press [I] to open Inventory, select the tab for Quickslottable Items, then drag your chosen potions onto the wheel. Hold [Q] while selecting which one should be the active one with your mouse, then close the windows. It's now slotted & ready to be used in combat whenever you Press [Q]; however although prepped and ready for instant use the first time there will be a cooldown after using it from the quickslot.

Your bank space is shared across your account. If items are unlocked you can deconstruct or research traits on items stored within the bank or craft with materials that are in your bank; be sure to lock items there that you don't want to inadvertently lose. The bank starts with 60 item slots (capacity doubled with ESO+ membership) and while 3-4 upgrades on this space will eventually be worthwhile, perhaps it's not worth it just yet; it can wait a while.

Visit the Pack Merchant (found in major cities) to upgrade your inventory space 10 slots at a time. This should be your first expense; purchase 2-3 inventory upgrades here, then save for a mount (more on this soon) and slowly upgrade your inventory further through daily training at the stable. The bag merchant's first upgrade costs 400 gold, the second upgrade costs 2,000 gold, and each available upgrade will continue to cost more gold than the last.

Consider partnering up with someone to bounce mails off each other when inventory fills up while questing. You can have approximately 60 messages in your inbox at a time, each with 6 attachments, and leave them in your inbox until you return to town for a trip to merchants and deconstruction stations. Press the apostrophe key ['] to enter the mail window. Always put something in the subject line like bounce or return so the other person is less likely to accidently detach the enclosed items. This works best if you came to the game with a friend or have gotten to know a guildmate who you are sure is trustworthy. Even then, accidents happen, so don't mail things that you don't want to risk losing.

When all your characters are low level, the best stream of income comes from stealing Treasure Items from containers and selling them to a fence. It also has a side benefit of raising Legerdemain skill level which influences the quality of items your character finds (source: One Tamriel Patch Notes). The only skill that it makes sense to invest in Legerdemain at this early time is the first point in Trafficker which unlocks at Legerdemain 3, nearly doubling how many items you can sell/launder per day will vastly help you progress the skill line faster and make more gold. I find this the most effective method:

  1. Find an area without many guards patrolling nearby and learn the route to the nearest Outlaw Refuge for when you need to flee there in a hurry.
  2. Empty your inventory as much as possible (bank and sell stuff). Also bank most of your gold.
  3. Choose 5-6 types of food/drink ingredients you use (these stack in inventory) and steal/launder only these ingredients with the main goal of progressing Legerdemain and side benefit of being able to make some food/drink; ignore other food/drink ingredients or your inventory will fill before you make any money.
  4. Enter stealth mode by pressing the [CTRL] key.
  5. Search all cabinets, dressers, desks, boxes, barrels, sacks, etc. Steal lockpicks and any and all Treasure Items (these items sell to a fence for 40 gold, 100 gold, 250 gold, or 1500 gold).
  6. You can pickpocket if you like, but you risk bounties and being caught quickly when you're unskilled; I recommend letting this wait until later.
  7. Use (learn) any stolen green/blue recipes & furniture plans you gathered and destroy items with a value of 0 gold. (later, when getting more green/blue items, you also should destroy items worth less than 100 gold).
  8. Head to a Fence in an Outlaw Refuge to launder stolen ingredients and sell treasures.
  9. Launder purple furniture plans & recipes, research their value to other players, then sell in zone chat or at a guild store.

Eventually other wealth-building activities will provide greater returns, but when all the gear you pick up is designed for low levels, the above method which yields treasure items valued independently of your character level is recommended.

Getting Around

Don't go swimming in the orange water; it's not water and it's super hot. It's also not safe to swim in deep water! Take up any doubts with the slaughterfish, not me. :) (private joke, my apologies to everone else for the distraction)

Sprint by holding the [Shift] key, which makes your character move at 130% of your base movement speed. Sprinting uses your stamina resource pool however, so is not suitable for long distances as it may make any fight you land in difficult with diminished resources. Using a mount to travel long distances alleviates that concern, even if your mounted speed is not yet optimized.

Your first mount will likely be the horse granted when your first character reaches level 10 in the game. Once you do acquire a mount, press [U] to go into the Collections Menu then select the mount and press [E] to make it your active mount. After that you can press [H] to mount/dismount anytime you are not considered to be in combat. Your character's riding speed when mounted can be improved through daily training at the stable.

Mounts are shared across your account, but stable training is per character. The upgrades cost 250 gold each and whenever you train at the stable you must wait 20 hours before training again. Each day you can choose between gaining Speed while mounted, improving Carry Capacity (one inventory slot per training), or increasing your mount's Stamina.

These lessons at a stable may each be selected up to a total of 60 times, so each character's full stable training (if done daily) will take 6 months to complete. Focus first on a balance of Speed and Capacity (which affects your inventory even when not mounted). Stamina upgrades only affect your ability to stay mounted when your animal is startled by an enemy so should wait until you have a good speed and enough inventory; your mount's Stamina will run out if sprinting, but the beast can continue running anyhow -- at least until hit by an enemy.

The Zones of Tamriel

Tamriel is divided into many zones and each zone has various regions/cities and areas of interest. The zones of Tamriel currently available in ESO are:

PvE Aldmeri Dominion Daggerfall Covenant Ebonheart Pact
0 Khenarthi's Roost Stros M'kai
Bleakrock Isle
Bal Foyen
1 Auridon Glenumbra Stonefalls
2 Grahtwood Stormhaven Deshaan
3 Greenshade Rivenspire Shadowfen
4 Malabal Tor Alik'r Desert Eastmarch
5 Reaper's March Bangkorai The Rift
6 Coldharbour
7 Craglorn
1 Alliance vs. Alliance is ESO's main form of Player vs. Player (PvP). Large scale battles are typical in the zones listed here, Battlegrounds host small-scale (4v4v4) skirmishes, and individual Duels comprise PvP within ESO.
AvA1 Cyrodiil Imperial City
DLCs &
Required DLC Zone Name
Q1 2016 Thieves' Guild Hew's Bane
Q2 2016 Dark Brotherhood Gold Coast
Q2 2017 Morrowind Vvardenfell
Q4 2017 Clockwork City Clockwork City
Q2 2018 Summerset Summerset
Q4 2018 Murkmire Murkmire
Q2 2019 Elsweyr Northern Elsweyr
Q4 2019 Dragonhold Southern Elsweyr
Q2 2020 Greymoor Western Skyrim
Q4 2020 Markarth The Reach
Q2 2021 Blackwood Blackwood
Q4 2021 The Deadlands Fargrave
Q2 2022 High Isle High Isle
Q4 2022 Firesong Galen

Wayshrines & Transitus Shrines

Wayshrines must discovered through exploration before being able to directly select its location as your teleport destination. Each PvE zone has many Wayshrines which serve as the teleportation network for the bulk of Tamriel. Activating a Wayshrine allows you to travel, without cost, to any other previously discovered Wayshrine -- even if a distant PvE zone.

Alternatively you can press [M] to look upon the Map from wherever you are and click upon a known Wayshrine to teleport there, however this method incurs a fee in gold which scales with your character level. After jumping this way or teleporting to another player or a house, the cost of your next teleport also spikes (until it gradually completes its cooldown over several minutes). The only method of teleportation that does not increase the next teleport's cost is Wayshrine-to-Wayshrine.

The Wayshrines in Cyrodiil only serve as a method to leave Cyrodiil and return to the rest of Tamriel. For travel within Cyrodiil the Transitus Shrines function similarly as a teleportion network. However, instead of needing to discover its location to unlock the ability to teleport there, your alliance must own the resource and it must not be under attack. Also, you cannot jump willy-nilly via the Cyrodiil map, but can only begin a jump by clicking on a Transitus Shrine in the game world.

Teleporting to Friends & Guildmates

Many players teleport to friends and guildmates in a zone they wish to go to, hoping the friend/guildie is in the city they wish to travel to. For some locales this works well as most people in Grahtwood are at Elden Root, most in Stormhaven are at Wayrest, or most in Deshaan are in Mournhold for example. In other cases it at least lands you at a Wayshrine to begin a standard free teleport to where you actually desired to travel.

Press [P] to bring up the Party list, [O] to bring up the Social panel, or [G] to bring up the guild roster. Right-clicking a name allows you to teleport to the wayshrine nearest that player (or, with proper permissions, to their main residence).

Jumping to Houses

If you own a house or the owner has set permissions for you to visit their primary residence, then you can teleport directly within. Note that while these teleports are free, they spike the cost of your next teleport (even if you click on the house icon while using a wayshrine) as if you had teleported to another player or jumped through the Zone Map to a distant Wayshrine.

Exiting an owned residence will place you at its location on the Zone Map (however exiting a preview will place you back where you were). To travel to a house that you own, click the house icon on a Zone Map or select Travel to Residence in the Housing tab of the Collections Menu (accessed by pressing the [U] key). To travel to another player's primary residence, right-click the player's name through any of the methods described earlier, but select Visit Primary Residence instead of the Travel to Player option.

Boatswains can be found on the docks (an Anchor icon on the map) and Navigators can be found in towns (a Caravan icon on the map) although this free form of travel has limited destinations. Generally they can help you travel to the sequentially previous or next zone or to the zone of the same tier in a different alliance. Some travel to DLC zones and a few travel to locations other than the main city in a region; silt-striders for example are specialized to travel from village to village within Vvardenfell.


Access the Quest Journal by pressing [J]. It can hold up to 25 quests, including daily quests at a given time. Don't let it get overfull or it can become confusing which was which or risk not having room for short quests you encounter in delves. While you'll be able to do steps toward completion of any Quest that is in your journal, the currently active quest will have the white pointers while all others will have black pointers; you can change which quest is selected as active at any time.

Red text in a Dialogue Option means a decision will have a lasting impact on how the Quest proceeds and cannot be changed without abandoning and restarting the Quest. Generally it only affects the storyline and does not seem to affect your reward upon completion (with one notable exception: at the end of the Mages Guild storyline).

Before turning in a quest, double-check you're carrying the weapon type and on the skill bar where you need the experience points. The more skills from a given skill line that you have on your ability bar, the faster you will level that skill line.

With the exception of Daily Quests (quest-givers with blue markers) the quests in ESO are not repeatable. Since each character may complete each quest's story only once, if you plan to do a quest with a group then everyone in your party must have never previously completed and turned in the quest. If a character has started a quest but has not turned it in, then that quest can be abandoned within the Quest Journal so as to start it over with the group.

ESO's Main Story (a series of solo quests) is accessed through the Harborage, but there's also a regional story arc which is presented within each zone. The Mages Guild & Fighters Guild also each have their own storyline that progresses through contact with the guild halls in each sequential zone within your alliance. There are also many side quests which are tasks for an individual quest giver but are not part of the chain for that zone's storyline.

Essential Quests progress the regional story arc, lead to a skill point, or are part of Cadwell's Silver/Gold series. These quests tend to have pre-requisites within the zone's story arc quest chain and thus often cannot be directly shared among a group through the Quest Journal. Each character should plan to take these quests directly from the quest giver as listed below.


This topic is covered in quite some depth in Sunshine Daydream's Guide to Crafting, but two things that you need to know on day one are start trait research immediately & get certified for crafting so that you can do daily writs at character level 6.

Already got certified for crafting while joining the Mages Guild & Fighters Guild? If so, great! If not, talk with Millenith at the Fighters Guild to become certified as an equipment crafter and with Danel Tellano in the Mages Guild to become certified as a consumables crafter. Although each will only teach/certify one craft at a time, that doesn't limit you as you can learn the other crafts after completing training on the current one.

Your first interaction with the crafting tables (blacksmithing, clothing, woodworking, alchemy, enchanting, provisioning) will unlock that craft's skill line. Although you should sell Ornate gear to a NPC merchant, anything else you find while questing which you don't wish to use (or after you out-level it) can be deconstructed at crafting tables to help level your crafting skill lines.

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Sunshine Daydream's Guide to ESO

Sunshine Daydream

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