Racial Bonus Comparison

Which race is the right one for your character?

Which race is the right one for your character?

Greetings ESO fan community. Following the loosening of the standing NDA for media and select fan sites we are able to continue our series of articles detailing various game features of The Elder Scrolls Online. One of the most important choices you will make when beginning your journey into Tamriel is which of the 10 iconic Elder Scrolls races you will choose for your character. Each race has their own personality and aesthetic appeal, but for many of you the most important feature of the racial decision involves the unique passive abilities that you will have access to through your chosen race. Read on as we break down the details on the racial options in ESO so you can begin making an informed decision regarding your intended character!

 

Attention: This article is now slightly out of date. Please refer to our main Racial Comparison page for current analysis of the ESO racials.

 

Racial Ability Basics

First, you should be aware of the basic structure of racial abilities in ESO. Every race receives the same number of possible racial passives, the first of which is given to every new character for free. This first ability is a 15% bonus to experience gained while leveling a specific weapon or armor skill line. This ability is in-line with the lore and background of the race and it’s cultural preferences, however should not be a big factor in determining the “best” race for you. Everyone will end up with 50 in their weapon and armor skills in the long run, so while this is a useful benefit to have while leveling, these first-tier passives offer no long-run utility.

The following three passives per race each have three ranks, which increase in power as you invest skill points into them. Not all racial passives can be unlocked at first. In fact, your character in ESO has an entire “racial” skill line that progresses at approximately alongside your character levels. Only the first rank of the first passive will be available to you starting at level 5. The progression structure for the passive abilities is as follows:

  • Level 0 – Free experience bonus
  • Level 5 – Passive 1, rank 1
  • Level 10 – Passive 2, rank 1
  • Level 15 – Passive 1, rank 2
  • Level 20 – Passive 2, rank 2
  • Level 25 – Passive 3, rank 1
  • Level 30 – Passive 1, rank 3
  • Level 35 – Passive 3, rank 2
  • Level 40 – Passive 2, rank 3
  • Level 50 – Passive 3, rank 3

Each additional rank in your racial passives will increase the effectiveness of the bonus it yields. At this time (because of the level 1-15 restriction in beta) we can only confirm the accuracy of the first rank of each passive ability. The scaling of further ranks is (at this time) speculation based on the way in which passive 1 progresses to its second rank at level 15. This information will be mirrored on a static page under the Game Info tab here on Tamriel Foundry, and that page will be routinely updated to remain as accurate as possible.

 

The Ten Races

Altmer

  • Destruction Talent (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the Destruction Staff skill line by 15%.
  • Spellcharge (3 ranks) – Increases Magicka Recovery while in combat by (3/6/9)%.
  • Gift of Magnus (3 ranks) – Increases maximum Magicka by (4/7/10)%.
  • Elemental Talent (3 ranks) – Increases damage with Cold, Fire, or Shock effects by (2/4/6)%.

Bosmer

  • Archery Expertise (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the Bow skill line by 15%.
  • Vigor (3 ranks) – Increases Stamina Recovery while in combat by (3/6/9)%.
  • Resist Affliction (3 ranks) – Increases Poison and Disease resistance by (7/14/21). Increases maximum Stamina by (1/2/3)%.
  • Stealthy (3 ranks) – Improve Stealth radius by (1/2/3) meters. Increases damage done while stealthed by (3/6/9)%.

Khajiit

  • Medium Armor Expertise (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the Medium Armor skill line by 15%.
  • Robust (3 ranks) – Increases Health regeneration while in combat by (5/10/15)%.
  • Stealthy (3 ranks) – Improve Stealth radius by (1/2/3) meters. Increases damage done while stealthed by (3/6/9)%.
  • Carnage (3 ranks) – Increases Critical rating for melee attacks by (2/4/6)%

Breton

  • Light Armor Affinity (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the Light Armor skill line by 15%.
  • Gift of Magnus (3 ranks) – Increases maximum Magicka by (4/7/10)%.
  • Spell Resistance (3 ranks) – Increases Spell Resistance by (32/64/96).
  • Magicka Mastery (3 ranks) – Reduces the Magicka cost of spells by (1/2/3)%.

Orsimer

  • Heavy Armor Expertise (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the Heavy Armor skill line by 15%.
  • Brawny (3 ranks) – Increases maximum Health and maximum Stamina by (2/4/6)%.
  • Robust (3 ranks) – Increases Health regeneration while in combat by (5/10/15)%.
  • Swift (3 ranks) – Reduces sprint cost by (4/8/12)% and increases sprint speed by (3/6/9)%.

Redguard

  • Shield Affinity (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the One-Handed and Shield skill line by 15%.
  • Vigor (3 ranks) – Increases Stamina Recovery while in combat by (3/6/9)%.
  • Conditioning (3 ranks) – Increases maximum Stamina by (4/7/10)%.
  • Adrenaline Rush (3 ranks) – Restores (1/2/3) Stamina to the player when damaging an enemy with a Melee attack. This can occur no more than once every 3 seconds.

Argonian

  • Restoration Expertise (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the Restoration Staff skill line by 15%.
  • Amphibious (3 ranks) – Increases swimming speed by 50% and the effectiveness of potions by (5/10/15)%.
  • Argonian Resistance (3 ranks) – Increases maximum Health by (1/2/3)% and Poison and Disease resistance by (7/14/21).
  • Quick to Mend (3 ranks) – Increases healing received by (2/4/6)%.

Dunmer

  • Ambidexterity (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the Dual Wield skill line by 15%.
  • Dynamic (3 ranks) – Increases maximum Magicka and Stamina by (2/4/6)%.
  • Resist Flame (3 ranks) – Increases Fire resistance by (10/20/30). Increases maximum Magicka by (1/2/3)%.
  • Flame Talent (3 ranks) – Increases Spell Power with fire effects by (1/2/3).

Nord

  • Two-Handed Weapon Expertise (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the Two-Handed Weapon skill line by 15%.
  • Robust (3 ranks) – Increases Health regeneration while in combat by (5/10/15)%.
  • Resist Frost (3 ranks) – Increases Cold resistance by (10/20/30). Increases maximum Health by (1/2/3)%.
  • Rugged (3 ranks) – Increases Armor rating by (2/4/6).

Imperial

  • Shield Affinity (1 rank) – Increases experience gain with the One-Handed and Shield skill line by 15%.
  • Tough (3 ranks) – Increases maximum Health by (4/8/12)%.
  • Conditioning (3 ranks) – Increases maximum Stamina by (4/7/10)%.
  • Red Diamond (3 ranks) – Melee attacks have a (2/4/6)% chance to restore 6 Health.

 

Winning Races by Role

Given the bonuses available to various races, there are some clear winners in terms of races that are most suited to performing various combat roles. Let me be clear, any race can excel in any combat capacity. These racial bonuses are minor benefits that will marginally increase the effectiveness of your character. Players interested in squeezing every ounce of effectiveness out of their builds will likely look towards the following races to optimize their builds.

Tanking

  • Nord – Increases to maximum health, health regeneration, and armor give pretty much everything a tank needs, making Nord (arguably) the ideal race.
  • Redguard – The impressive stamina regeneration of the Redguard make them an attractive option for tanks who need large stamina reserves in order to frequently block, bash, dodge, and break free of crowd control.
  • Orsimer – Increased health and health regeneration will prove a great assistance for tanking characters.

Spellcasting

  • Altmer – Maximum magicka, magicka regeneration, and increased elemental damage makes it hard to argue against Altmer as a superior race for spellcasting, particularly mages focused on damage output.
  • Breton – Like the Altmer, Breton receive increased Magicka pools, as well as the extremely valuable reduced spell cost which is incredibly helpful for healers who need high casting efficiency.
  • Dunmer – While not as universally applicable as Altmer and Breton, Dunmer are an excellent choice for Dragonknights and spellcasters focusing on Fire damage with a double dose of increased Magicka as well as heightened spell power for Fire spells.

Melee DPS

  • Khajiit – Khajiit have one of the most unique and irreplaceable racial bonuses in the game, with increased critical chance and critical damage using melee weapons. Their extra stealthed damage is an added bonus for melee characters with Health regeneration being useful for any frontline skirmisher.
  • Redguard – The remarkable Stamina regeneration of the Redguard will be extremely valuable for characters who want to leverage a lot of weapon abilities in combat, enabling them to use stamina-consuming attacks much more regularly.

Archery

  • Khajiit – Somewhat surprisingly, the Khajiit are a far superior choice to the Bosmer. Their critical bonus applies equally to bow as a “physical” weapon (even though it is not melee), and therefore the racial bonuses of the Khajiit are considerably superior than those of the bosmer.
  • Orsimer – Orcs will (surprisingly) make useful archers in PvP due to their inherent faster sprinting speed, allowing them to more effectively kite enemy players in combat.

The Rest

You may have noticed that we have not mentioned Bosmer, Argonian, or Imperial with regards to being optimal for a certain role. Unfortunately for Bosmer they are almost entirely overshadowed by Khajiit who receive similar but substantially superior bonuses to their woodland allies. Argonians are an excellent choice for lore or roleplaying reasons, but their racial passives offer no compelling reason to choose them above other races for any combat role. Hopefully in the time between now and launch, ZeniMax can adjust the effectiveness of these races slightly to make them more compelling for mechanical reasons.

As for Imperial, we can only speculate what racial bonuses they may include. My guess (purely speculative) is that they might feature very well rounded bonuses to each of the three attribute pools, possibly with enhanced regeneration of those attributes as well as a way to reflect the “human versatility” which is a popular trope of RPG design.

What race do you think is the best fit for your intended build, and why? Do you agree with our assessment of the winning and losing races for each combat role? Has the relaxation of alliance locks changed your mind at all about what race you may play, or will you be sticking to a race that is native to your political alliance? Lastly, what do you think the Imperial racial bonuses might be given what we know about the nine other races? Let us know in the comment section!

244 responses to “Racial Bonus Comparison”

  1. Profile Photo
    Valkez

    Expert

    Total Posts: 303

    Argonian Nightblade

    And this is why the Imperial shouldnt be behind a paygate.

    Also, the Argonian with restoration bonus? Since when theyve become the most adept healers of Tamriel?

  2. Profile Photo
    BroScottcho

    Adept

    Total Posts: 219

    Orc Sorcerer

    ESOTR

    Nice breakdown, much appreciated.  Can’t wait to see what the Imperial bonuses are which could change my decision.  I am leaning towards Orsimer now but Imperial certainly has me intrigued.

    @Valkez What do you mean “this is why Imperial shouldn’t be behind a paygate”?

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  3. Profile Photo
    Happy

    Expert

    Total Posts: 305

    Bosmer Dragonknight

    Good job on the article :)

    I would not put the argonians atop the tanking tree, but doesn’t the increased healing received and max health make them viable for tanking?

    Dunmer: “Flame Talent (3 ranks) – Increases Spell Power with fire effects by (1/2/3).” Is there supposed to be a % in the end of that sentence?

     

    @BroScottcho seems like it’s just another place to whine about the Imperial Edition.

  4. Member Avatar
    Deaths2Revive

    Adept

    Total Posts: 190

    yay! sorry but im just so happy to get these, but im kinda on the boat with these opinions…

    all the complaints I hear just make me want to complain about those complaints… all the bad things they state theres a decently-better reason for it and if you cant understand, well i guess its just me. its depressing just trying to get opinions I might actually find, Autotelic, it really explains it. :D the motivation to enjoy, instead of being driven.

  5. Profile Photo
    Gladerunner

    Hero

    Total Posts: 4330

    Bosmer Dragonknight

    Bosmer aren’t the ultimate archers…. at anything really?

     

    Get yours from Nodiatus, with a quick RPG quiz. They didn’t have ”Unthrappa Master”, but we can all settle for second best.

    ”What better insult is there… to outlast your enemies…?”

    ”………The greatest insult… is to be ignored…”

  6. Profile Photo
    Valkez

    Expert

    Total Posts: 303

    Argonian Nightblade

    BroScottcho said on February 9, 2014 :

    @Valkez What do you mean “this is why Imperial shouldn’t be behind a paygate”?

    Every race has quite powerful bonuses which definitely give an advantage on certain aspects of combat (made exception of the first passive which is just a skill exp boost), so this just adds onto the “Imperial should be available to everyone” discussion.

  7. Profile Photo
    Atropos

    Administrator

    Total Posts: 3070

    Imperial Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    Happy said on February 9, 2014 :

    Good job on the article

    I would not put the argonians atop the tanking tree, but doesn’t the increased healing received and max health make them viable for tanking?

    Dunmer: “Flame Talent (3 ranks) -Increases Spell Power with fire effects by (1/2/3).” Is there supposed to be a % in the end of that sentence?

    Actually… no. It does seem like this would be a percentage bonus, but in fact, certain bonuses (currently) apply raw attribute values instead of percentages. The passives which apply value bonuses, like Flame Talent, Spell Resistance, Rugged, and elemental resistances scale as your character levels in order to provide a competitive and balanced amount of that stat, so the level 50 values for some of these passives would be different.

    In Flame Talent’s case, it’s adding a static amount of Spell Power, the first rank would grant +1 Spell Power, but this is just the scaled level 1 value, it’s like that at level 50 the passive would grant something along the lines of +50 spell power. We’ll report those exact numbers eventually, but can’t yet because of NDA. In the mean-time, these are just the level 1 versions.

    Founder, creator, and developer of Tamriel Foundry.

    Guildmaster of Entropy Rising.

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  8. Profile Photo
    BroScottcho

    Adept

    Total Posts: 219

    Orc Sorcerer

    ESOTR

    Valkez said on February 9, 2014 :

    BroScottcho said on February 9, 2014 :

    @Valkez What do you mean “this is why Imperial shouldn’t be behind a paygate”?

    Every race has quite powerful bonuses which definitely give an advantage on certain aspects of combat (made exception of the first passive which is just a skill exp boost), so this just adds onto the “Imperial should be available to everyone” discussion.

    I see where you are coming from but we don’t know anything about the Imperial bonus, if they even have one.   Regardless I do agree Imperial should be available to everyone.

    ESO Lodge – Elder Scrolls Online Guild Tools

  9. Member Avatar
    Mahakmar

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 2

    sadly some races seems to be more “win” then some + add in the fact now with preorder play any race any alliance game will become a blur of races-alliances :p   , was thinking going healer but sadly argonian race only got 1 good + there and thats the 15% gain on restoration staff, rest is bad , only good thing about this its few months away for the game, so it seems sword and shield is gonna be the char i end up with

  10. Member Avatar
    Joep101

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 1

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Pantheon

    I really don’t see argonian with a restoration staff. I think they should switch some passives. Breton should get restoration staff, Argonian should get dual wield and dunmer should get light armor. What do you guys think??

  11. Profile Photo
    Phazius

    Master

    Total Posts: 834

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Entropy Rising

    @Mahakmar the better races for healing are the ones with magicka bonus like altmer, breton, or dunmer. Argonians only get increased experiance gain which is negligable in the end.

  12. Profile Photo
    Grimx

    Expert

    Total Posts: 367

    Imperial Dragonknight

    Im definately fit for a redguard!

  13. Profile Photo
    Morkulth

    Expert

    Total Posts: 425

    Altmer Sorcerer

    Entropy Rising

    I definitely think bretons will make the best healers.

  14. Profile Photo
    Lucky13

    Expert

    Total Posts: 465

    Imperial Nightblade

    Pantheon

    Until we know more about the %’s for armor passives, enchanting, provisioning, and in particular diminishing returns, it may be early to recommend min/maxing based on racials.  The devs seem to indicate that diminishing returns plays a powerful role, and Isarii’s reddit suggest that the mass stacking of stats typically used in MMO’s just doesn’t work very well.  If the devs have an idea of what stats make up the ideal for a given type of game play, I wouldn’t be surprised if the stat system composite as a whole has been designed to allow any race to achieve optimize for virtually any role with the right stat/gear allocation.  If I were building a system with broad optimization among races and equipment types, diminishing returns is a powerful tool to use to that end.

  15. Profile Photo
    Ruebs

    Adept

    Total Posts: 173

    Dunmer Templar

    @antropos
    From your experience, how important will Magicka regeneration be? I’m stuck choosing between Altmer and Dunmer for my Dawns Wrath Templar.
    The Dunmers Flame talent will synchronize well with Dawns Wrath’s fire spells… However, Altmer’s awesome magicks regen sounds super tasty.

     

  16. Profile Photo
    Phazius

    Master

    Total Posts: 834

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Entropy Rising

    @Ruebs Magicka regen is important to a point, but templar does have good mana return from its passives. Dunmer might be the better choice because of its interaction with i think its restoring light, the one that gives mana back on skill use, its based on max mana which the Dunmer increases.

  17. Member Avatar
    HAple2769

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 49

    Bosmer Nightblade

    So, we don’t have to put skill points into these?

  18. Profile Photo
    Phazius

    Master

    Total Posts: 834

    Dunmer Dragonknight

    Entropy Rising

    @HAple2769 you still need to spend skill points into racial skill lines, except for the one that gives you increased experiance gain with a weapon or armor.

  19. Profile Photo
    Faulgor

    Scamp

    Total Posts: 8

    Atropos said on February 9, 2014 :

    Actually… no. It does seem like this would be a percentage bonus, but in fact, certain bonuses (currently) apply raw attribute values instead of percentages. The passives which apply value bonuses, like Flame Talent, Spell Resistance, Rugged, and elemental resistances scale as your character levels in order to provide a competitive and balanced amount of that stat, so the level 50 values for some of these passives would be different.

    In Flame Talent’s case, it’s adding a static amount of Spell Power, the first rank would grant +1 Spell Power, but this is just the scaled level 1 value, it’s like that at level 50 the passive would grant something along the lines of +50 spell power. We’ll report those exact numbers eventually, but can’t yet because of NDA. In the mean-time, these are just the level 1 versions.

    Do you have any source for the claim that passives will scale with skill level? Because … well, [redacted].Currently, passives seem pathetically weak throughout the board. There is not even an incentive to waste a skillpoint on them.

  20. Member Avatar
    HAple2769

    Apprentice

    Total Posts: 49

    Bosmer Nightblade

    Ah, okay I see, thanks. Makes for some useful character development RP wise I reckon.

    I’m a bit annoyed at how the Bosmer gets a lower hand. May have to change my original plan (despite how little passives seem to matter, I want to have at least a slight edge in gameplay) and go for someone entirely stamina based, which I don’t mind doing.

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