eso pve build guide
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ESO PVE Build Guide

How to Build your Character for PVE Gameplay in ESO! A look at the basics of building your character for PVE in The Elder Scrolls Online. The little details you have to take into consideration when creating a successful PVE Build for Solo or Group content. This ESO PVE Build Guide will help you understand what the best options are, depending on your role and focus. What you need to do and the best practices to create a successful PVE Build. If you are trying to figure out which Class to play in ESO, you can read my ESO Class Guide or ESO Best Solo Class Guide. For the Best Race for your Build, take a look at my ESO Race Guide.

Table of Contents

Attributes – ESO PVE Build Guide

Attributes are very important for your Build and determine the skills you can use effectively as well as the identity of your character/build. While Hybrid Builds are a lot more popular now, creating a pure Stamina or Magicka Build is still the way to go. Even Hybrid Builds will benefit more from a pure one Attribute setup that is using both types of skills.

eso pve build guide

Depending on whether you are creating a Stamina or Magicka build, putting all points to Stamina or Magicka respectively, is the best option. That is especially true for the role of DPS, since you will be able to use more Stamina or Magicka Skills and have a better sustain.

Tanks on the other hand can use a more mixed setup with success. It is quite common to divide your attributes into all three options as a tank. However you should not put more than six(6) – ten(10) points into Health. Aiming for a Health pool of around forty(40)-forty five(45) thousand Health is more than enough for a Tank in ESO.

This is because Tanks do not have mass aggro in The Elder Scrolls Online and need Magicka and Stamina to crowd control and taunt strong enemies. Finally Healers, like DPS, should put their attribute points in Magicka or Stamina, depending on their skills.

Armor Sets – ESO PVE Build Guide

Armor Sets are very important for your Build and should complement your main attribute and skills. When you are new to ESO, focusing on extra Attributes and recovery is a good way to start building your character. So as a Magicka DPS character you should pick Armor Sets that boost your Magicka or Magicka recovery along with other things. Stamina DPS characters should choose Armor Sets that boost Stamina. Of course Magicka and Stamina are not the only important stats you should be looking for but they do help a lot and the distinction between Armor Sets is clear.

When you have more in-game experience you can start focusing on more offensive stats for your Armor Sets. Stats like Critical Chance, Critical Damage, Spell and Weapon Damage will give a nice boost to your overall DPS. You can take a look at my Best Stamina DPS and Best Magicka DPS Sets Guides to help you understand what some great Sets look like in ESO. With the recent Hybridization process of Armor Sets however there are also several Hybrid Sets for DPS that both types of Builds can use.

Another important factor when picking a Set for your DPS character, is the buffs it provides and your Build’s purpose. For Group Gameplay, focusing on DPS and getting buffs like Slayer, should be your priority. Some examples include Bahsei’s Mania, Arms of Relequen or Mantle of Siroria. For Solo gameplay you should be focusing on sustain and survivability instead. Some great examples of Solo Sets are False God’s Devotion and Vicious Serpent.

Tanks and Healers in ESO are support roles. Which means their goal is to offer support to their group and boost Damage. This is why some of the best Tank Sets debuff enemies like Turning Tide or provide the Courage buff to your group increasing damage, like Claw of Yolnahkriin. You can use Sets that boost your personal Health or provide only yourself with a shield as a Tank if you wish but those are considered “selfish” Sets since they do not provide anything to your group. Playing with a group as a Tank in ESO is about providing Support to your group first and foremost!

The same applies to Healers as well. While your main job is to keep your party alive, you should also be providing support to your party members by buffing them or debuffing the enemy. Some of the Best Healer Sets in ESO provide damage buffs to your group. Some examples include Vestment of Olorime, Spell Power Cure, Jorvuld’s Guidance and Hollowfang Thirst.

You can do several combinations of Armor Sets. Wearing Two Full Sets(5 pieces) and a full Monster Set or using a Mythic Item, Ability Altering Weapons etc. As long as your Build works and you perform your role efficiently, any combination is good to go.

Armor Passive Skills – Build your Character for PVE ESO

Armor in ESO offers passive skills that affect your Build and play style! Light, Medium and Heavy Armor offer bonuses and penalties, that determine how effective you will be in specific content. These are some of the most important Armor passives you should take into consideration before picking the weight of your Armor and your Sets.

Light Armor:

  • Boosts Magicka Recovery
  • Boosts Spell Resistance
  • Boosts Critical Chance
  • Boosts Penetration

Light Armor is a great choice if you wish to boost your Magicka Recovery, Penetration and Critical Chance. You can find more about its pros and cons in my Light Armor Skills Guide.

Medium Armor:

  • Boosts Critical Damage
  • Boosts Stamina Recovery
  • Boosts Weapon and Spell Damage
  • Reduces the Cost of Sneak

Medium Armor is a great option to boost Critical Damage, Weapon and Spell Damage and Stamina Recovery. You can find more about its pros and cons in my Medium Armor Skills Guide.

Heavy Armor:

  • Boosts Armor
  • Boosts Health and Health Recovery
  • Boosts Magicka and Stamina Restore
  • Boosts Healing received

Heavy Armor is the best option to boost your Health, Healing received and Armor. You can find more about its pros and cons in my Heavy Armor Skills Guide.

It is possible to mix and match different types of Armor in order to gain the desired bonuses. For DPS characters, Medium Armor is the best since it increases your overall Damage(especially for Hybrid Builds) but Light Armor can be great as well for Magicka based characters. Light Armor is also the Best for traditional Magicka based Healers, thanks to its Magicka Recovery. Finally Heavy Armor is the best option for Tanking thanks to the boost it provides to Health, Health Recovery and Healing received.

Weapons – ESO PVE Build Guide

Weapons are also very important for your Character in PVE. Picking the right Weapon will allow you to become more efficient and use appropriate skills. Traditionally Magicka based characters are using a Destruction Staff if playing DPS or a Restoration Staff as Healers while Stamina based characters pick a melee weapon, Bow or One Hand and Shield if they play a Tank.

However it is possible to make interesting combinations regardless of your main attribute. Thanks to Hybridization, Magicka Characters can use Dual Wield and Two Handed, which are both melee weapons, to boost their DPS. Likewise, Stamina based characters can also use Staves for the same reason.

Healers rely on a Restoration Staff to keep their party alive while Tanks need One Hand and Shield to taunt and aggro enemies. There are other interesting and weird combinations of weapons you can do but the above are the basics for playing specific roles and tackling certain content. You can start from there and later experiment with other combinations to see what works for you.

Traits – ESO PVE Build Guide

Traits are rather important as well, since they determine your effectiveness with the gear you are using and wearing.

For Weapons Traits, Charged or Precise are the best options right now for DPS main weapons, regardless if you are using Dual Wield or Two Handed Weapons. Infused is the go to Trait for Back bar weapons, so you can boost your enchantments. Infused is also the best option for Tanking weapons. Healers on the other hand can benefit from Powered and Charged, so they can boost their overall healing and status effects application.

For Jewelry Traits, Bloodthirsty is the best option for DPS. Healthy is a good option for Tanks, while Arcane or Infused are good for Healers.

Finally for Body Armor, Divines is the best trait for DPS and Healers so you can boost the effectiveness of your Mundus Stone and be more efficient in PVE. Tanks have a greater variety to choose from depending on your favorite play style. Their Body Armor can be Divines, Sturdy, Infused, Reinforced or a mix of all four!

Enchantments – ESO PVE Build Guide

Enchantments are vital as well for your Build because they complement your Armor, Weapon and Traits! Different enchantments are better for different roles and gameplay. Armor enchantments should focus on boosting your main attribute as a DPS or Healer and provide a boost to every attribute(Prismatic Defense) as a Tank. Jewelry enchantments should boost your Weapon and Spell Damage for DPS and Healers. Healers can also boost their Recovery with them while Tanks should focus on boosting all three Attributes recovery.

Finally for Weapons Enchantments, DPS should use status effects enchants(fire, shock, poison) on their main weapons and Weapon Damage(Berserking) enchants on their back bar weapons. Healers can go with Absorb Magicka/Stamina on their main weapon and a status effect enchant on their back bar. Tanks should focus on debuffing enemies with a Weakening enchant on their main weapon and a Crusher enchant on their back bar.

Important Stats – ESO PVE Build Guide

When building your character for PVE and especially DPS, there are a few important stats you should take into consideration. These are Critical Chance, Critical Damage and Penetration.

Obviously Tanks will want their Physical and Spell Resistance as high as possible as well. Healers will require a good Recovery stat and high Spell or Weapon damage for stronger heals.

Critical Chance

The most important stat for DPS roles right now. There are several Sets that provide it and they are all very valuable. Some examples include Order’s Wrath, Mother’s Sorrow, Medusa and Tzogvin’s Warband. You should try to get as much Critical Chance as possible but try to not overdo it. A Critical Chance stat at around 70%-80% is more than enough.

Critical Damage

Critical Damage is also very important but capped at 125%. Going above it is a waste of valuable resources. Pick your Sets and Champion Points carefully. For example Fighting Finesse and Backstabber from Warfare, both boost Critical Damage and can get you over the cap. Depending on the Build you might want to replace them with something else, like Wrathful Strikes, Thaumaturge, Biting Aura or Exploiter.

eso pve build guide

The base Critical Damage in ESO is 50%. You can add more to that with one of the many sources of Critical Damage in ESO. The easiest to get come from Buffs like Minor and Major Force or Brittle(10% and 20%), Fighting Finesse(8%), Backstabber(10%) and the Shadow Mundus(11%-17%).

Several Armor Sets can also boost Critical Damage. A good example is the Harpooner’s Wading Kilt(10%) Set. There are also Weapon and Class Passives that affect Critical Damage. So depending on your character’s class and their passives you should be careful of not going over the cap.

Templar and Nightblade get a 10% extra Critical Damage from their passives. Warden also gets a boost to Critical Damage depending on how many Animal Companion skills they are using. That means that you will not build them the same way as other Classes, in order to avoid going over the cap. Likewise Khajiit gets a 12% from its racial passives.


Another stat with a cap in PVE. When building your character you should aim for a 18,2k Penetration stat. Going above it is again a waste of valuable resources. However this is calculated with Group Buffs active. You should aim for a 5k-7k Penetration stat before Group buffs kick in. A few sources of Penetration include:

  • Minor Breach – 2974
  • Major Breach – 5948
  • Infused Crusher – 2108
  • Roar of Alkosh – 6000

There are other sources that affect Penetration, like Armor Sets, Monster Sets, Mundus, Armor Passives. Focus on your Penetration Stat based on how organized your group is. For Solo gameplay you should focus on higher Penetration numbers.

Physical and Spell Resistance(Armor)

Resistances are easier to get thanks to Armor Sets, Skills and Champion Points. However there is a 32k cap here as well. No reason to go above it for PVE.

Recovery – Spell/Weapon Damage

Easier to get from Armor Sets, Passives and Skills. Important for Healers mostly but recovery can be helpful for every role and especially new players.

Mundus – ESO PVE Build Guide

Picking the right Mundus is vital for PVE. Mundus can also help you with the above stats. The Lover boosts Penetration so it is better for Solo gameplay. The Thief will boost your Critical Chance and is the best option for PVE DPS right now. The Shadow boosts your Critical Damage and is better to avoid it at the moment because of how easy it is to reach the 125% cap from other sources.

The Apprentice and The Warrior can boost your Spell and Weapon damage. They are helpful for Healers. Finally The Atronach and The Serpent will boost Magicka and Stamina Recovery. They are a great option for the Support roles of Tank and Healer but they can also assist newer players.

Skills – ESO PVE Build Guide

Skills offer different Morphs, that can be Stamina or Magicka based(Health also sometimes). Choose the skills that fit your main attribute and Build purpose. If your character is Magicka based then it makes sense to focus on having more magicka based skills. It is common to utilize a couple skills of the opposite attribute however. Every character has access to two skill bars. Each bar can have five(5) skills and one(1) Ultimate skill. So in total you can have up to twelve(12) skills you can use in combat.

eso pve build guide

DPS Skills

Your skills distribution as a DPS should include:

  • Buffs & Debuffs
  • A few DOTs/AOE Skills
  • One Spammable
  • One Execute, if possible

Buffs and Debuffs are skills that either boost your stats, like Spell and Weapon Damage or reduce the stats of your enemies. Buff abilities can be active or passive. You have to activate manually active buffs and use resources to get their effect. Passive buffs only need to be slotted to work. A good example of an active buff is Blue Betty from the Warden Class. Bird of Prey, Camouflaged Hunter and Inner Light are nice examples of passive buffs.

Debuff skills are usually active damage skills that deal damage while debuffing an enemy. Deep Fissure is an example of that type of skills.

Barbed Trap from Fighters Guild line is a vital skill for almost every DPS PVE Build. This is because it provides the Minor Force buff. There are alternatives to the skill, like Medusa and Tzogvin’s Warband Sets as well as the Accelerate and Morphs Psijic Order line skill. For solo gameplay you can also add a Shield and a few self heals skills. Examples of Self Heal skills are Lotus Blossom for the Warden Class or Siphoning Strikes and Morphs for the Nightblade. Self Heal Skills heal you when you perform certain actions, like attacking enemies and will help you remain alive!

Every Class in the game has its own Spammable ability. Some are better than other. It is possible to use spammable skills from weapon lines, like Elemental Weapon, Rapid Strikes or Wrecking Blow. A spammable ability is a low cost skill that you can use several times in your rotation.

Execute abilities are also quite important and can help you finish enemies faster. Executioner, Whirling Blades, Assassin’s Blade and Morphs, Mages’ Fury and Morphs are examples of execute abilities. You start using your execute when the enemy’s Health is low (20%-35%) for the best results.

DPS Rotation

Your rotation as a DPS should look like this: Buff Yourself/Debuff enemies, drop your AOE/DOT skills, use your spammable until you have to reapply buffs/debuffs/DOTs and repeat. Use your Ultimate when ready and your Execute when the enemy’s health is low. A good and well executed Rotation with proper balance of skills can make all the difference for DPS. You can find detailed rotations for every PVE Build in my PVE Builds Guides!

Tank Skills

Tanks on the other hand require at least one taunt ability to be effective. Skills like Puncture and Morphs or Inner Fire and Morphs are vital for every tank. Skills that boost their defense and help with crowd control are also very important for the role.

Healer Skills

As expected Heals are very important for Healers! Which makes the entire Restoration Staff line vital for the role. Healers can also use support skills that boost the damage of the group along with their sets. An example of this is the Aggressive Horn Ultimate.

One extra thing to remember is that some ESO Classes have unique identity skills that you must incorporate into your rotation to be effective. Such skills include the Grim Focus & Morphs for the Nightblade Class or Scorch & Morphs skills for the Warden!

Passive Skills

Passive Skills are very important for every build in PVE. You should invest skill points to them as soon as possible. The Passive skills every Build should have include:

Champion Points – ESO PVE Build Guide

Champion Points will shape your Build and help you fulfill your role efficiently. There are three constellations with passive and active perks to choose from.

  • Warfare, focusing on combat and Traits that help you play as a Tank, Healer or DPS.
  • Fitness, focusing on Defense, attributes and recovery boosts.
  • Craft, focusing on bonuses to your every day life activities in ESO, like Crafting, Stealing, Fishing, Traveling and more.

Picking the right active perks will determine how effective your build will be. You can find more details on the Champion Points System by reading my Champion Points Guide.

One Bar Builds – Build your Character for PVE ESO

Playing with an One Bar Build is a viable and fun way to experience everything ESO has to offer! Most of the points(Armor, Stats, Skills) presented above affect normal Two Bar Builds and One Bar Builds equally! However One Bar Builds have a few important differences from normal Builds that make them feel unique.

First of all with one only bar for skills, there is not enough space for everything you need. You will have to sacrifice buffs and debuffs abilities to get enough damage skills and clear content. This is why the Oakensoul Ring Mythic Set is a must have item for One Bar Builds! The Oakensoul Ring offers a plethora of Minor and Major Buffs that cover all of your needs and allow you to focus more on offense! The introduction of the Oakensoul Ring is actually what made One Bar Builds more mainstream and successful in ESO.

While it is possible to play an One Bar Build as a Light Attack Weaving Build, most of them work better as Heavy Attack Builds! Getting the Empower buff from Oakensoul Ring also helps with this direction. Heavy Attack Builds rely on Heavy Attacks from a Lightning Staff mostly to deal damage and support their other abilities. Because of this they do not need a spammable ability either. Their Heavy Attacks work as a spammable between skill casts.

Finally an One Bar Build can wear Armor that is not generally meant for the role it is fulfilling. So it is quite common to see One Bar Heavy Attack Builds running around with Heavy Armor for extra survivability. Especially since they do not need to build their recovery stats!

Food and Potions – ESO PVE Build Guide

Finally Food and Potions are vital for your success in PVE! You should pick foods/drinks that boost your main attribute and assist you in combat.

For most encounters the basic Magicka or Stamina Potions will be enough. For more challenging content though you should use crafted Potions that offer several buffs. These potions can be Essence of Spell or Weapon Power for DPS/Healers and Tri-Stat Essence of Health for Tanks. There are several more potions you can make and use depending on your needs but these are the most common. You can find the recipes for many important Potions and Poisons in my ESO Alchemy Guide.

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