Wether you’re brand new to PvE, looking to make the step up to veteran dungeons or considering taking the plunge into your first trial, this post will try to cover all the basics to make sure you have a solid foundation to build from!
Step 1 – Know your role
In Elder Scrolls Online there are 3 main roles that a character can fulfil in PvE; Tanking, Healing and Damage dealing. Whilst it’s very possible (and sometimes essential) to have your character perform 2 or 3 of these jobs simultaneously when you’re playing through all of the quests and the main storyline, this generally won’t work in group play. Because of this, you’ll need to pick a certain role for each of your characters and tailor all of their armour, skills and stats so they provide the maximum benefit to the rest of your group.
In 4-player content you will normally require, 1 Tank, 1 Healer and 2 Damage dealers.
In 12-player content you will normally require 1-2 Tanks, 2 Healers and 8-9 Damage dealers.
A Tank’s job is to keep the attention (“agro”) of the most dangerous enemies in each fight, and do everything in their power to be unkillable. Diverting the majority of the damage away from the other, squishier, members of your team.
A Healer is in charge of keeping the rest of the group (and most importantly, themselves) alive and able to carry on fighting. In addition to keeping everyones health topped up, this also means providing buff’s to your allies and helping them to maintain their stamina and magicka resources.
Damage dealers are primarily tasked with killing stuff as quickly as they can. However, as they outnumber the other roles, they also pick up other responsibility as and when they are needed, such as resurrecting fallen allies and taking care of other specific mechanics that occur in certain fights.
Step 2 – Gearing up
In a game that has several classes and races, dozens of skills and hundreds of different armour sets there obviously isn’t just one answer to the question ‘what is the best gear for me?’. There are many different websites and youtube channels out there that research these specific ‘best in slot’ gear options for each class and role for each and every update, but as this is a ‘getting started’ post, I’ll just lay out some solid, fairly easy to obtain set ups that can help you get to grips with veteran dungeons and normal-difficulty trials.
Just as some general guidelines, you’ll want to aim to have around 18k health and get your max magicka, spell power and spell critical all as high as possible so you can dish out bigger heals. On top of that, any group buffs you can provide are a big bonus, but shouldn’t be your top priority when you’re getting started.
For gear, a divines set of light armour Kagrenac’s Hope is a really solid, craftable option that can be accessed once you have access to the Earth Forge from the Fighters Guild quest line. This can be paired with arcane Willpower jewellery that can be most easily found in guild traders, or as a reward for completing the daily group-finder dungeons. For a monster set (head and shoulder) you can’t go wrong with Troll King (from Blessed Crucible and Glirion’s Undaunted chest) or Rkugamz (Darkshade Caverns I and Maj’s Undaunted chest), you can run two pieces of either set, or one piece of each, as both provide good healing boosts from their 1-piece set bonuses. You can use any weight or trait at first, but should aim to get one in heavy and one in medium armour in either divines or infused traits (preferably divines). For your weapons, you can use a powered Restoration staff and a sharpened Destruction staff, any crafted set will do. As long as your health is high enough, everything should be enchanted to increase your max magicka.
When getting started it is probably safest for tanks to aim for around 30k health and as much stamina as possible. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you cannot regenerate stamina whilst holding block, which you should be doing almost constantly, so investing in stamina recovery is a waste of time. Magicka regeneration on the other hand can be very helpful, so if you can reach 1k recovery you’re off to a really good start. In ESO, physical and spell resistance are limited at around 33k, but as long as you have all of your other stats sorted (and a competent healer!), you shouldn’t need that much. As long as everything else is sorted, crank your resistances up as high as you can, but don’t sweat about hitting the cap.
For your gear, you’ll generally want to wear 2 pieces of the Bloodspawn monster set (Helm from Spindleclutch II and shoulder from Maj’s Undaunted chest) paired with 5-piece of Ebon, 3 jewellery and any 2 other pieces (found in Crypt of Hearts) and five pieces of either Tava’s Favour, or Hist Bark (both are crafted sets). You want to aim for the infused trait on all large armour pieces (head, chest, legs and shield), sturdy on the small pieces (hands, feet, waist, shoulder) and to start off, defending traits on your swords. You can either go for all 7 pieces of heavy armour to make yourself tankier, or if you have reached level 9 in your Undaunted skill line, swap out two of your small armour pieces for a light and a medium armour piece, to get larger pools of health, stamina and magicka. For a Tank, your enchantments will vary a lot based on your characters race and which second armour set you wear, too just play around with attribute points and enchantments until your stats hit the guidelines mentioned above.
For Damage Dealers…
Damage Dealers (also called DPS – Damage per second), unlike tanks and healers come in one of two flavours, Magic and Stamina. In ESO your damage is calculated by a combination of several different character stats, either max magicka, spell damage, spell critical and spell penetration (for magicka DPS) or max stamina, weapon damage, weapon critical and physical penetration (for Stam DPS). Your choice of weapon and your desired method of play will determine which of these stats you need to invest in and what gear sets you should be wearing, for example, if you want to use a flame staff and play as a mage, you’ll need gear that boosts the magic stats, whereas if you want a bow and daggers, you’ll be running stamina gear instead. Once you’ve decided which of these two paths you want to take as a damage dealer, these are some easy setups that will help you get started.
For Magicka DPS…
For your feet, legs, chest, waist and hands, Julianos is a simple yet effective option. It’s a craftable set from Wrothgar (a DLC zone), but can be traded if you don’t have access to the area. You will want it all in the divines trait and in light armour, enchanted with max magicka glyphs. Seducers is another crafted set that is effective when you’re getting started and can be made in either Grahtwood, Stormhaven or Deshaan, and can be used on your head, shoulder and weapons (usually 1 lighting and 1 inferno destruction staff). Like your Julianos set, the head and shoulder should also have the divines trait, but you will want 1 piece of medium armour and 1 piece of heavy armour here (instead of light) to take advantage of the Undaunted Mettle passive skill. Both weapons should have the sharpened trait. In addition to these two crafted sets you should try and obtain 3 pieces of Willpower jewellery (two rings and a necklace) with the arcane trait to give yourself a really nice damage boost. This can be obtained either as a reward from the daily group-finder dungeons, in the Imperial City vaults (another DLC zone), or through guild traders. Ideally all armour pieces should be enchanted for additional max magicka, and weapons and jewellery for max spell damage.
For Stamina DPS…
Both Nightmother’s Gaze and Hunding’s Rage are very effective and easy to obtain crafted sets for stamina DPS characters and are perfect for getting started with PvE content, they can both be crafted in either Reaper’s March, Bangkorai or the Rift. However, Nightmother’s Gaze is a strange set as the 5-piece set bonus provides a bonus to not only yourself, but to your entire group. Unfortunately, this bonus does not stack multiple times if it’s used by more than 1 member of a group, so this powerful bonus will be wasted if several people are all wearing 5-pieces. Therefore, If you create a helmet, chest, shoulders, gloves and belt of medium armour Nightmother’s gaze, and a belt, legs, shoes, two daggers and a bow in medium armour Hunding’s Rage, you can simply swap your belt if another player is already providing your group with the 5-piece Nightmother’s bonus. The armour pieces of both sets should all have the divines trait and be enchanted for extra max stamina, weapons should all be in the sharpened trait and have weapon damage enchants. Finally, for your jewellery you should try and collect 3 pieces of the Agility set (2 rings, 1 necklace), all with the robust trait and enchanted for max weapon damage. These can be obtained either as a reward from the daily group-finder dungeons, in the Imperial City vaults (a DLC zone), or through guild traders.
Step 3 – Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you have yourself kitted out with a good set of gear, the most important thing you can do is practice with your character. Once you’ve hit level 50 the best places to truly test out your character in preparation for trials are ESO’s veteran dungeons. This is especially the case in the games DLC dungeons and many of the ‘version II’ dungeons, which tend to have a stronger emphasis on following specific mechanics during boss fights. The level of group coordination required here is broadly similar to what you would expect to find in trials, but have the added benefit of only requiring 4 players, which makes them far easier to find groups for, and practice regularly. Asking in the guild text-chat is a quick and easy way to get a group and to try these dungeons out.
Once you’re reasonably comfortable with keeping your buff abilities, and HOTs or DOTs (Heal over time/damage over time abilities) active whilst following the in-game mechanics in dungeons, you’re more than ready to get started with the guilds trial training groups. These generally run on Thursday evening’s, working slowly through a normal-difficulty trial, with the group leader explaining mechanics and organising the group before each fight, and are open to all guild members.