ESO Classes Guide

ESO Classes Guide: Must-Knows Before Choosing Your Class

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New players’ biggest decision when starting Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) is their class. Once a class is chosen, players cannot switch with the same character and will have to completely restart if they decide to try something else.

Thankfully, Elder Scrolls Online gives players a lot of freedom within each of the classes to let players mix things up on a single character.

Every class can fill each of the game’s four roles of Tank, Stamina DPS, Magicka DPS, and Healer, as well as letting players use any weapon or armor. It even lets players quickly switch between weapon and skill loadouts on the fly so that they can fill different roles when they feel like it.

This puts the burden of a player’s build entirely on their selected class abilities as well as the stats of their character. Like most Elder Scrolls games players unlock skill points as they level up that can be put into Stamina, Magicka, or Health to increase their maximum values.

It is smart to put some points in all three categories, but players who want to maximize their potential builds will have to be strategic with their skill points.

Bottom Line Up Front Summary: A more detailed look at each of the six classes can be found below, but here are the basics that new players should know about each class: 

  • Dragonknight: Very strong Tank option with many survivability skills, but is not favorable for building as a Healer. 
  • Necromancer: Only available with the Elsweyr expansion. Slightly favors being a Tank or Stamina DPS, but is capable as any role. 
  • Nightblade: Another poor option for players interested in healing, but one of the strongest when it comes to Magicka-focused DPS.
  • Sorcerer: Very strong at Magicka DPS but is very difficult to accomplish a Tank build with.
  • Templar: An extremely strong Healer class as well as a good choice for a Magicka DPS.
  • Warden: Only available with the Morrowind expansion. A good Healer as well as being capable in all other roles. 

How to Pick Which Role is for You

ESO

While MMO veterans are likely very familiar with the differences between the usual roles players can fill, new players can understandably get lost in the various terms and names. For ESO, players only have to concern themselves with the four roles previously mentioned: Tank, Healer, and DPS focusing on either Magicka or Stamina abilities.

While tanking in most MMOs is focused on keeping a boss or horde of enemies taunted to direct all of their attacks to oneself, the role is a bit more complicated in ESO. Doing so is still a big part of the role, but Tank players also have three other core responsibilities.

The first is to buff allies with either certain equipment sets or class skills. The second is to debuff enemies in a similar way. The third, and perhaps most important, is being aware of positioning. Tank players need to ensure that they keep enemies concentrated in the optimal position for their party, especially if other players have area-of-effect abilities active.

Playing a Healer in ESO is a bit more straightforward, although it does give players a lot of options when deciding how to approach their role. A Healer’s only job is to keep other plays alive as well as possible. While certain encounters may favor particular approaches to healing, players are largely free to tailor their skills to their own preferences, whether that be direct healing, area of effect healing, or burst healing.

The DPS role, standing for Damage Per Second, is almost entirely focused on killing enemies. While this may seem like the least important of the roles so far, higher-level content in ESO often features mechanics that require parties to hit particular damage thresholds in a limited amount of time to avoid dying. This makes having a strong DPS player absolutely critical.

Players who want to fill the DPS role also have to decide whether they want to do a Magicka or Stamina build. Which one players choose largely determines the skills that they will be using most frequently, with Magicka DPS builds favoring increasing the player’s spell damage and Stamina builds focusing on weapon damage.

From there, DPS players will want to learn about which target to prioritize in each encounter, as well as how ESO‘s mechanics like armor penetration work.

Dragonknight

Dragonknight

The Dragonknight class in Elder Scrolls Online is a master-at-arms that is trained in the way of the Akaviri. The class features not only abilities utilizing a variety of weaponry, but also fiery magic that can sunder the earth and destroy enemies with explosions. Like all classes in ESO, Dragonknight skills are split across three different trees that players can choose from.

Ardent Flame

The Ardent Flame line is focused on dealing damage to enemies over time with fire magic while also keeping them stuns as much as possible.

The line’s Ultimate ability is the Dragonknight Standard, which allows players to set a standard in the ground, damaging enemies surrounding it. It can also be morphed to either allow players to move it after it is placed or to increase the damage dealt by any allies nearby.

The tree’s active abilities focus on allowing the player to set enemies aflame to deal damage to them over time as well as stunning them. Players can then improve some of their other abilities that have extra effects when used on stunned enemies.

The passive abilities in the skill tree focus on increasing the damage of the player’s burning and poison status effects, slowing enemies down when they are hit by abilities in the tree, and improving the effectiveness of other abilities overall.

Draconic Power

The Draconic Power skill tree holds many of the Dragonknight’s Tank abilities along with some area of effect attacks as well. The tree’s ultimate ability is Dragon Leap, which allows the player to jump towards an enemy, dealing damage to any enemies surrounding them where they land.

The Dragon Leap is great to start encounters and can be morphed to either stun enemies hit by it or to give the player a shield that effectively doubles their health for 6 seconds.

Other abilities throughout the tree focus on boosting the Dragonknight’s survivability with damage resistances, shields, and self-heals. A few other abilities also deal damage and can immobilize the enemies surrounding the player.

The tree’s passive abilities focus on keeping the player alive through increasing block, receiving more healing, better health recovery, and increased spell resistance.

Earthen Heart

Dragonknight players who want to be a Tank will also want to take a look at the Earthen Heart skill tree. The tree’s ultimate ability is Magma Armor, which limits the damage incoming attacks can deal to the player.

Magma Armor can also be morphed to either give nearby allies shields when it is activated or to allow the player to simply ignore the armor of enemies when attacking. The active skills of the Earthen Heart tree allow the player to improve their defenses, control enemies either through certification or reduced movement speed, or even buff allies.

However, Earthen Heart also has a few options for players looking to deal some more damage, while its passive skills focus on giving the player and allies various benefits whenever the player uses a skill from the tree.

Necromancer

Necromancer

The Necromancer class is only available to players who purchase it or the Elsweyr expansion. Necromancers frequently appear throughout the games and lore of The Elder Scrolls and are known for using their powers to raise the dead and make themselves stronger with dark magic.

Their available skills make them proficient in any role, but they are particularly strong as Tanks for Stamina DPS.

Grave Lord

The Grave Lord skill tree focuses on the DPS role through charging the dead with a variety of elements. The skill tree’s ultimate is Frozen Colossus, which summons a massive undead monster that rises out of the ground and slams the ground around it for some devastating damage.

The Frozen Colossus can then be morphed to either deal Disease or Frost damage while also making hit enemies more vulnerable. The Grave Lord’s active skills are a number of different attacks with an undead theme. The tree includes summoning a skeletal mage, sending an exploding skeleton charging at enemies, and throwing flaming skulls.

The skill also has an area of effect skill that damages enemies over time as well as exploding corpses to damage enemies around them. The passive skills in the tree focus on reducing the cost of abilities, increasing the penetration of attacks, and improving the damage dealt overall.

Bone Tyrant

Necromancers who want to fill the Tank role will definitely want to take a look at the Bone Tyrant skill tree. The tree’s Ultimate ability is Bone Goliath Transformation. The skill turns the Necromancer into a terrifying Bone Goliath, increasing their max health and healing the player with successful attacks.

The ability can be morphed into either the Pummeling Goliath, which allows the player to hit multiple enemies with each attack or the Ravenous Goliath, which sees the player constantly damage enemies around them and heal based on the damage.

The active skills of the tree help increase the player’s defense, attack multiple enemies to help keep their attention, some self-healing, and an ability that immobilizes enemies.

The tree has a lot of variety, which makes it great for dabbling in when playing a non-Tank role as well. The Bone Tyrant’s passive skills increase the Necromancer’s max health, and healing received, reduce taken damage, and give the player Stamina and Magicka whenever an enemy near them dies.

Living Death

Living Death is the Necromancer’s primary Healer skill tree. The Ultimate ability is called Reanimate and allows the player to resurrect up to three fallen allies at a time. The ability can then be morphed to either restore a revived player’s Magicka and Stamina as well or to consume up to three enemy corpses as Blastbones as well.

For Necromancers filling the Healer role, this Ultimate ability is very important, especially when tackling high-level activities.

The active skills of this tree focus on keeping the Necromancer and allies standing while also having some good skills for Tank and DPS players as well. The Healer skills include reducing healing received to give heals, summoning a skeleton that will heal nearby allies with the lowest health, and consuming corpses to heal.

The tree’s best skill for other roles allows the player to remove negative status effects on themselves. The tree’s passive skills increase the player’s healing, give them extra Ultimate charge when they use abilities, and increase recovery rates.

Nightblade

Nightblade

ESO‘s Nightblade is most akin to Thieves or the Dark Brotherhood that Elder Scrolls fans will be familiar with. Nightblades use a number of deceptive tactics to gain an advantage on enemies, get into trouble, and make their escapes when they find themselves in bad positions. The class does not have many options to fill a Healer role but is very strong for playing as a DPS.

Assassination

The Nighblade’s Assassination skill tree emphasizes dealing high amounts of damage alongside weakening enemies and creating opportunities through debuffs. The tree’s Ultimate ability is Death Stroke, which is a spinning attack that deals damage to an enemy and increases the damage the player deals to that enemy for the next six seconds.

Death Stroke can eventually be morphed to either silence an enemy and restore a player’s Magicka and Stamina when they hit enemies with negative effects, or to prevent the enemy from healing as easily. The skill tree’s active abilities include two different types of attacks that are great for repositioning and taking advantage of enemy openings as well as a number of ways for the player to buff themselves.

The tree also includes an important ability that allows the Nightblade to mark an enemy target, weakening their damage resistances and giving the player health when they are killed. Assassination’s passive skills increase the player’s damage penetration, restore Magicka and Stamina when enemies are killed, and increase their critical damage.

Shadow

Shadow is focused on giving the player options for controlling crowds of enemies to then deal damage to all of them through area of effect abilities. Its Ultimate ability is Consuming Darkness, which creates a shadow ring that slows enemies inside of it by a whopping 70% and reduces the damage the player takes by 10%.

The ability can then be morphed to either allow the player to keep their damage reduction after leaving the ring or to fill the ring with blades so that it deals damage to any enemies inside of it. Shadow’s active skills allow the player to become invisible, create a stretch of shadows that increases the movement speed of allies, and apply status effects to enemies like terrify, blind, and ensnare.

The tree also has a few skills that give the player some more attack options like summoning a shade of themselves. The four passive abilities focus on increasing the player’s stats, increasing the duration of abilities, and increasing damage resistances.

Siphoning

Siphoning is a bit different from the other two trees in that it focuses on dealing damage to enemies over time and providing support to the player and allies. Its Ultimate ability is called Soul Shred. Soul Shred deals damage to nearby enemies and stuns them for four seconds while morphing it can either allow it to heal the player when cast or tethers attacked enemies to the player and siphons health from them.

Investing skill points in the tree will give players plenty of abilities that allow them to steal health or movement speed from an enemy, and heal the player from each attack.

The tree also has a skill that allows the player to heal an ally at the cost of their own health, but it is far from being enough to base a Healer build on. Siphoning’s four passive skills give the player more Ultimate charge for various actions, increase max Magicka, and make the player’s healing more effective.

Sorcerer

Sorcerer

Sorcerers are a class almost entirely focused on casting spells, and can harness elemental powers alongside Daedric forces to dominate the battlefield.

This makes Sorcerer’s excel at Magicka-based DPS while being competent as Healers but not very suitable for filling a Tank role. However, the class does give players some options for how they want to approach dishing out their damage.

Daedric Summoning

Daedric Summoning is a skill tree that focuses on summoning and harnessing Daedra to deal damage and control enemies. Its Ultimate ability is Summon Storm Atronach, which is pretty self-explanatory by name and stuns enemies when it is summoned before attacking them.

The ability can then be morphed to either buff the Storm Atronach’s stats or to give it a very powerful area of effect attack for taking on crowds. Daedric Summoning active’s abilities include summoning a familiar or winged twilight to help the player in combat, cursing an enemy to deal damage to them, and summoning powerful orbs and Daedric armor.

The tree offers players a few different ways to go about supporting themselves while requiring them to rely on weapon skills for more damaging offensive skills. The tree’s passive abilities give the player some more Magicka when a summon ends, reduce the cost of the player’s Ultimate, and help increase health while a summon is active.

Dark Magic

Dark Magic is the Sorcerer’s support skill tree that allows them to control enemies slightly while also healing allies and removing negative status effects. Its Ultimate is Negate Magic, which creates a sphere of magic impression to dispel enemy effects.

It also stuns enemies for a total of 12 seconds and can be morphed to either damage enemies every half second or to heal the player and allies every half second instead. The abilities that players will find throughout the tree can summon crystals that damage nearby enemies, immobilize or imprison enemies, heal themselves, or even place mines on the battlefield.

Most of Dark Magic’s support options come from morphing Negate Magic and Dark Exchange. Its passive abilities focus on reducing the cost of abilities, healing the player from successful hits with abilities, and increasing the Spell Critical for nearby allies whenever the player uses an ability.

Storm Calling

The Storm Calling tree, on the other hand, is focused almost entirely on DPS with an emphasis on area of effect skills. The tree gives players access to the Overload Ultimate, which changes the player’s light and heavy attacks to be stronger and lightning-charged.

From there, it can be morphed to either increase the range of the attacks or to recharge the player’s Magicka with each successful attack. Active abilities in the skill tree offer a number of ways to deal damage to enemies, from calling down lightning strikes to transforming into a living avatar of electricity.

The tree also includes abilities to increase the player’s damage, heal from critical strikes, and dash forward through enemies to stun them. Storm Calling’s passive abilities give the player increased damage and Magicka recovery in a number of ways.

Templar

Templar

The Templar is extremely effective in the role of Healer or Magicka DPS but is quite capable as a Tank as well. Templars are able to call upon the power of light as well as the sun to channel them into a variety of abilities as they travel around Tamriel to ensure that order and justice are universal across the continent.

Aedric Spear

The Aedric Spear is a DPS skill tree that focuses on dealing damage, interrupting enemy actions, and delivering stuns. The tree’s Ultimate is Radial Sweep, which sees the Templar swinging a spear of light around themselves to deal damage to all nearby enemies.

Radial Sweep can get more powerful by morphing it to either increase its damage and strengthen the player’s light attack damage or to deal extra damage to damage right in front of the player. Active abilities in the Aedric Spear tree deliver a variety of different attacks that can stun enemies, slow their movement speed, knock them backward, or interrupt and stun them.

The tree also has the Sun Shield ability that gives the player a shield while damaging nearby enemies over time as well. The tree’s passive abilities increase the Templar’s critical damage, protection, and damage from their weapon and abilities.

Dawn’s Wrath

Dawn’s Wrath is a support line that focuses on giving debuffs and conditions. Its Ultimate is called Nova and calls down a piece of the sun to damage a group of enemies and decrease the damage they deal by 10%. Nova can be morphed to either stun for longer and deal more damage or to continue lowering the damage of enemies even when they leave the affected area.

The skill tree’s active abilities then damage enemies while simultaneously bestowing buffs to the player that increase future attacks or debuff the enemy. Many of the abilities deal damage over time, which is boosted by the passive abilities of Dawn’s Wrath that increase ability duration, generate more Ultimate charge, and reduce ability costs.

Restoring Light

For Templars who want to heal themselves or allies, the Restoring Light skill tree has plenty of options worth checking out. The tree’s Ultimate is Rite of Passage, which heals the caster and allies over four seconds. The player is unable to move while casting it but is made immune to all enemy control effects while they do so. It can be morphed to either reduce the damage the player takes afterward or to double its duration and healing.

Restoring Light’s main abilities feature healing for the player and allies, buffing the player’s stats, helping allies restore Magicka, and increasing damage resistances.

The tree’s abilities are best mixed with those of another tree or weapon skill tree to get some damage output alongside the healing. Restoring Light’s passive abilities helps increase how much the player can heal, increases Ultimate point gain, and speeds up the player’s resurrections.

Warden

Warden

Wardens are warriors in tune with nature that harness their power from surrounding wildlife and plants. The class is only available to players who purchase it or ESO‘s Morrowind expansion and is proficient in all roles with a natural affinity for the Healer role.

Animal Companions

Animal Companions features a number of summons and offensive abilities that focus on being an effective DPS. The Ultimate of Animal Companions is Feral Guardian and summons a grizzly bear that slices enemies in front of it with its claws, dealing damage and momentarily stunning them.

Morphing allows players to decide between the ability of the grizzly to respawn after it is killed or increasing its damage output. Active abilities in the Animal Companions tree include calling on a Cliff Racer to attack an enemy, summoning swarms of smaller bugs to attack and debuff targets, and buffing the player’s movement speed and abilities.

The Animal Companions tree differs from the other summoning classes as most of its summons don’t stick around after the ability is cast, but it still offers some solid damage output. The tree’s passive abilities heal the player when one of their summonses is killed, increase Magicka and Stamina recovery, and increase damage.

Green Balance

Green Balance is then focused primarily on healing the player and allies. Its Ultimate is Secluded Grove, which creates a forest that heals any allies inside of it. It can be morphed to either give the Warden more Ultimate charge when it heals an ally or to continue healing players even after they leave the area it was cast in.

Active skills in the tree then heal players through mushrooms that heal in a cone in front of the player, flowers and vines that heal over time, heal the player with light attacks, and help the Warden move across the field toward allies.

Green Balance’s passive abilities increase the player’s healing output, return Magicka when the player heals others, and increase the max health of whomever the Warden heals.

Winter’s Embrace

Wardens who want to fill the Tank role will become very familiar with the Winter’s Embrace skill tree.

It comes with the Ultimate Sleet Storm that surrounds the player with a storm that deals damage to nearby enemies and gives the player 10% more damage reduction. It can be morphed to either increase the Warden’s max Magicka or to snare and apply the Chilled status to hit enemies.

The tree’s active abilities increase the damage resistance of the Warden and nearby allies, attack groups of enemies, teleports enemies to the Warden, and heal them. Interestingly, some of the Warden’s abilities scale depending on their maximum health, which is unique to the class and helps prioritize the health stat for those players.

The tree’s passive abilities increase the chance of applying Chilled to enemies, increase damage, and give the Warden more resistance to attacks and snares.

FAQs

Question: What is the Best Class in Elder Scrolls Online?

Answer: While players may want to get off on the right foot by selecting the best class in the game, all of them are perfectly viable and effective in the game’s activities.
Players who want to climb to the top of PvP may want to optimize their builds, but players focused on PvE content should feel free to approach characters however they wish.

Question: What is the Best Class for Solo Play in Elder Scrolls Online?

Answer: Players who are going to be journeying around Tamriel by themselves may want to opt for either a Templar or Sorcerer build. Templars are able to heal themselves and mitigate damage enough to survive just about any battle while Sorcerers can use summons to take hits for them while outputting very solid damage from a distance.

Question: Can You Change Your Class?

Answer: Unfortunately, you are not able to change your class in Elder Scrolls Online. The only way to experience a different class is to make a new character and start from scratch.

ESO Classes Guide: Conclusion

Selecting a class at the start of Elder Scrolls Online can definitely feel overwhelming, especially for new players who don’t entirely know what to expect.

Luckily, every class can perform well enough to be used throughout the game, even for endgame content. The ability to use any armor and weapon also ensures that players can tailor each class to work for their particular playstyle as well.

This means that new players should just pick the class that sounds either the coolest or the most fun to them. Then they can either adapt their playstyle to work with their friends or take whatever abilities look good to them. There are also plenty of builds the community has made for each and every class out there, but players can always put those into action later on.

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