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Elder Scrolls Online, like a lot of MMO's, can be daunting at first. The game throws a lot of decisions at you right away with only minimal explanations. Here's a short guide to help you get started on your journey.
What class should I pick?Don't let the unusual names for ESO's character classes fool you. They're pretty similar to classes you've seen in many other MMO's. Here's a rough summary of each:
What's the best race for my class?Because of how adaptable each class is, it's tough to single out one race as being the objective "best" choice for each. Check the tooltips for each race at character creation, as they'll mention what sort of bonuses each race can receive. Then pick one that sounds like it will probably conform with your plans for that class. For example, if you plan to make your Dragon Knight into a tank, Orc might be a good choice thanks to their bonuses to health and heavy armor.
Most importantly, though, pick a race that you don't mind looking at. You could end up staring at this character for dozens upon dozens of hours. If you think Argonians look stupid, don't pick one solely because they've got a Healing bonus.
Which alliance should I join?If you didn't pre-order the game, your choice of alliance is restricted based on race. That makes the decision much easier. However, everyone who bought the game prior to launch doesn't have that limitation. The latter group will spend more time staring at the character creation screen
My usual MMO advice is to pick whatever alliance does the best in PvP. However, that's tough to determine at this point in the game's life. Furthermore, each faction will perform differently across different campaigns (more on that later).
I just picked Daggerfall Covenant because their name sounded coolest. That's about as intellectual as you need to be with the decision. There are no concrete advantages or disadvantages to any.
What skills should I buy?I'd recommend using your first three skill points to unlock the first skill in each of your class lines, regardless of your long-term plans for the character. Put these three abilities on your hotbar, along with the Soul Trap ability (unlocked at start on Soul Magic skill line) and a skill for a preferred weapon type.
You have to advance the first ability in a skill line to a certain point before being able to unlock additional ones with skill points. You advance your skills by killing mobs, completing quests, discovering new areas and so on. The skills on your hotbar advance quicker so the sooner you fill all five hotkey spots, the better. You'll advance in several skill lines at the same time and unlock a lot of new options for spending any new skill points you receive.
Because of how skills advance through use, I'd also recommend wearing all three types of armor (Light, Medium, and Heavy) at the same time. Yes, you'll look less fashionable. Yes, you may end up wearing just one type at level 50. However, while you're leveling, wearing a mix of different types of armor allows you to advance the Light, Medium and Heavy Armor skills all at once. When you finally decide on one type of armor or another at level, you'll have unlocked passive abilities in those skill lines that can make your life easier.
How can I train my crafting and gathering skills?You actually have access to every tradeskill as soon as you create your character. You won't need to purchase these skills from a trainer.
Crafting materials can be gathered out in the wilderness. Maple logs, iron ore veins and jute flowers can be used for woodworking, blacksmithing and tailoring respectively. Rawhide for leatherworking can be looted from wolves and other wild animals. Cooking and brewing ingredients can be found in barrels, crates and other containers. Various ingredients for alchemy recipes such as weeds and roots are spread throughout nature as well. You don't need any special equipment to harvest these materials.
Additional crafting material can be gained by breaking down unwanted items. For example, you can use Extraction on an iron axe to get ingots. Piles of these scraps can then be refined into workable material. This process also gives you gems and other items that can be used to improve the quality of your crafted equipment.
These crafting stations, by the way, are generally located in towns. Nearby vendors can sell additional materials that you might need for your creation. For example, you have to have a style stone that conforms to your race to make an item.
How do I use lockpicks?Elder Scrolls Online, like the single-player Elder Scrolls games, has a lockpicking mini-game. There's a crucial difference this time around, though: there's a timer. The duration of the timer will depend on how advanced the lock is.
To open the lock, you have to push down each tumbler to a specific height. Select a tumbler and click to start pushing. When it starts shaking, release the mouse button. If you did it right, the tumbler will stay depressed and you can move onto the next one. Rinse and repeat until all the tumblers have been opened. If you fail, you'll have to wait a few seconds to try again.
It's a good idea to keep a large supply of lockpicks on hand. You can buy them from vendors or find them in chests, drawers and other containers. You'll find a bunch in the opening tutorial zone's containers. You'll want spares because if you push down on a pin too long, there's a chance they'll break.
Your lockpicking skill advances every time that you level. However, the chests in later zones tend to be harder than the ones in the beginner zones. It's best to start practicing early.
Where's the PvP?The three player factions in Elder Scrolls Online fight for control of Cyrodiil, a province in the middle of the world map. You can get there once you hit level 10. Just open up the Alliance War section of the menu. The players in the three-way war are divided into several smaller divisions called campaigns. After selecting a campaign, you'll be able to jump into the fray.
The PvP isn't separated into level divisions. You'll be playing against characters that range from level 10 to 50. However, everyone below level 50 has been boosted to level cap in Cyrodiil. That should give them at least a fighting chance in the battles. They're still at a disadvantage against true level 50 characters though because they haven't unlocked as many skills or bonuses.
Can I play with a controller?The PC and Mac versions don't officially support gamepads now. However, you can get them to work with third-party programs. Read our in-depth guide for one of these applications.
My inventory is full already. How do I get bigger bags?Bag merchants in major cities will sell you extra inventory slots for gold. The first upgrade, from 50 to 60, costs about 400 gold. The price jumps up to 2000 gold if you want to go from 60 to 70.
If your bags are filled to the brim, there's a better solution: use the bank. Your personal bank, also accessible at major cities, provides 60 slots of storage as well. More importantly, it's free.
I'd recommend dumping all of the crafting materials you find in your bank account. There's no reason to keep them in your bag. When you're crafting, you can access the materials on your person and in your bank.