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Attention: This article is now slightly out of date.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!