Over there, a confused player!

With the release of The Elder Scrolls Online rapidly approaching many players are wondering which class to pick in this exciting new game. Veteran Elder Scrolls players are used to the open-ended system where you don’t need to pick a specific class, rather your abilities and attacks get stronger the more you use them. This system which you may be familiar with from Morrowind, Oblivion or more recently Skyrim is also present in the online version of the game, but there are even more options for customizing your character.

When you create a character in TESO you must pick an alliance, your race and a class. Races do have certain bonuses, but they are typically minor compared to all other customization options and the best advice you can find about picking a race is to simply play what you like. Classes on the other hand have very specific paths to further advance them and the decision about which class to go for shouldn’t be taken lightly. A Sorcerer can technically smash his enemies in melee combat, but it’s far from optimal so you should know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand. Unless you have a very specific non-traditional class build in mind you should probably stick to classic archetypes.

There are four playable classes in The Elder Scrolls Online, and they include Sorcerer, Templar, Dragonknight and Nightblade. Below you can find basic explanations on which class is best for a particular playstyle which will hopefully help you make the decision easier. Furthermore I’ll explain the three skill trees that are default for every one of these classes and can’t be accessed otherwise.

Sorcerer

Typical mage archetype without too many surprises. A sorcerer is adept in casting spells from range, summoning creatures to fight for him and control the flow of the battle with crowd control spells and debuffs. Picking a Sorcerer gives you access to three different skill lines (basically, skill trees):

  • Storm Calling – abilities in this tree for the most part consist of lightning-based spells that deal damage. There’s also a couple of crowd-control spells and weapon-empowering buffs.
  • Dark Magic – besides several damaging spells, Dark Magic is great if you’re looking for a ton of CC spells like snares and knockbacks. It doesn’t include any defensive spells, but this tree is great for both PvP and PvE fights.
  • Daedric Summoning – the last skill line contains mostly spells that summon dark minions to fight for you, at the cost of making your character somewhat weaker. Going deep into Daedric Summoning will not improve the damage of your own character, but for leveling up fast and other PvE adventures this is the tree to go for.

Templar

Another fairly self-explanatory class, Templar is ESO’s version of a paladin, adept at healing, crowd control, group buffs and even tanking. Best use for a Templar is for his extremely potent restorative abilities, and they are unparalleled in that regard. Templars have access to the following 3 skill lines:

  • Aedric Spear – tree fully focused on offense, Aedric Spear has a multitude of spear-based spells that deal damage and CC your enemies. There’s also a couple of defensive abilities to help you survive in combat.
  • Dawn’s Wrath – another offensive skill tree, but this one is more focused on various debuffs, AoE attacks and group utility.
  • Restoring Light – as it’s name sugests, Restoring Light skill tree is purely focused on healing and cleansing spells. A majority of the spells in this tree are various heals, making this the number one choice for healing in ESO.

Dragonknight

Dragonknight is the preferred class choice for players who enjoy melee combat and tanks. They are undoubtedly the best “warrior” or “barbarian” class in the game, and just as effective when it comes to tanking monsters. Dragonknights also have three different skill lines available, and they are:

  • Ardent Flame – focused on fire-based spells and attacks, Ardent Flame is equally good for PvP and PvE combat, with an array of AoE attacks and crowd controls. The signature ability is Fiery Reach, which pulls a targeted enemy towards you.
  • Draconic Power – channeling their inner dragons, DKs with this skill tree are focused on durability, crowd control and sustain. All of the attacks and abilities either give you health or leech, root or snare enemies or improve your defenses.
  • Earthen Heart – conjuring shields and knocking or slowing down enemies is the specialty of this skill tree. It’s just as useful in player versus player fights as it is in a PvE setting, although most players prefer to go with Earthen Heart for the latter.

Nightblade

Nightblades are the go-to assassins, rogues and archers of Elder Scrolls Online. Skill trees are focused on surprise attacks from stealth, critical hits and evasion, and the skill trees are the following:

  • Assassination – if the name of this tree didn’t give you a hint, it’s focused on killing your enemy, and doing it fast. A couple of healing debuffs, ignoring resistances or boosting your critical strike chance or attacks speed is what this tree is all about. It’ll also help you close distance with a blink-like ability, execute low health monsters or players and increase your defenses.
  • Shadow – if sneaking around and waiting for the right opportunity to strike is your thing, then Shadow is exactly where a majority of your skill points will go. Becoming invisible and permastunning your enemies becomes a breeze, and as if that wasn’t enough you gain an AoE fear and a helpful Shade to distract your opponents.
  • Siphoning – as opposed to Assassination, Siphoning is all about weakening your opponents with debuffs and slowly getting them low with a variety of DoT spells. You also gain the ability to leech stamina, magicka and even health from monsters, and a strong AoE stun.

For a more comprehensive list of spells and skill trees available to every class I suggest you take a look at these guides. They will provide you with a more detailed look into every class and help you gain insight and ideas on how to create an effective character you’re going to enjoy playing.

Elder Scrolls Online stayed somewhat true to its predecessors though, and picking a class doesn’t prevent you from exploring different play styles. Regardless of your class choice you still have several other generic skill trees available to everyone, which include various weapon skills (depending on which weapons you wish to use), crafting (improve particular tradeskills and professions), armor skills (variety of abilities you can use depending on whether you use heavy, medium or light armor), and more. Some skill trees are also gained by joining a Mages or Fighters guilds which can be found in the world, or by becoming a Warewolf or a Vampire.

Weapon skills are probably the most impactful for a majority of classes, as equipping a particular weapon gives you an option to use very specific skill set. For example if you were to equip a Restoration Staff you would gain access to several healing abilities, completely regardless or your choice of class or class’ skill lines. Even a fully-fledged assassin can become a viable healer or a tank with the use of a right weapon or armor, respectively.

Such character customization allows for some very interesting and unorthodox builds, so I encourage you to be creative and experiment. Combine the strengths of various races and classes with other generic skill lines and you can make a very unique character for any type of play style.