“Deltia, how do you level so fast?” This is a question I often get and FINALLY got around to make a guide on leveling. There’s so many ways to experience or XP but only a few ways to blaze through the levels. This guide highlights XP basics, talks about how I level, and shows you the ultra fast way of grinding if your inclined to do so. Then let’s get started on our ESO Leveling Guide.
Video guide coming soon
Table of Contents
What Gives XP?
There’s so many things that reward XP in Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) it’s staggering. I’m going to list out my all that I know in order from least to most effective and explain each.
- Exploring – Have you ever wondered around to hear that “whoosh “sound and text pop up on your screen saying “DOCKS DISCOVERED?” Well this is exploration XP and isn’t the most effective but does add up over time. Personally, I don’t go out of my way to find all the locations since I’ve unlocked them all on my main character Deltia. If you’re trying to level for speed, find what you need and move on. If you’re a completionist and want EVERYTHING unlocked, check out the addon Undiscovered. It’s super helpful for finding every nook and cranny.
- TIP – A useful way to make the most out of exploration XP is to craft a set of gear (level 1 doesn’t matter) with ALL exploration trait. This rewards higher XP while equipped. What I’ll do when entering a new zone is throw all this gear on, go exploring and unlock every location and pick up all the relevant quest in the area. This method if done per zone can add up to some serious XP.
- Player vs. Player (PvP) – While PvP is a blast, it’s a slow way to level. Generally killing one player is equal to a mob kill (NPC enemy) though they are much harder to kill and take more time. You’ll get some rewards for taking Keeps, achievements, but generally this isn’t the best place to spend your time if you’re looking for fast results. I typically save Cyrodiil for end-game or to test my character.
- TIP – While PvP itself is slow XP, there are many questing areas, delves, dolmens and more in Cyrodiil. In fact, there are four daily questing hubs that each have 10 quest per location. That’s literally 40 quest that can be every day. So if you’re looking for some XP prior to hitting a new zone, come out here and quest for a bit to unlock every ounce of XP.
- Killing mobs – Next up is simply killing enemies. While this alone doesn’t net much XP, killing 10,000 will. While questing, I’ll continually kill mobs in my way to earn a steady stream of XP. FYI, killing mobs and grinding are two separate things. We’ll talk about grinding later which is the least fun, but most effective way to level.
- TIP – The harder the enemy the more XP they reward for kills. Don’t avoid those elite mobs if you can help it. Gather a bunch of them up and nuke them down while leveling for fast rewards. I recommend a area damage build or AoE while leveling so you can take down many enemies quickly. This combined with exploration and quest turn in generate some decent XP over time.
- Questing – “Go kill 10 rats and bring me their hide for a reward.” While ESO does a great job with quest design, voice acting, etc, the good ol’ mechanic of kill stuff and turn in is still there. There are many types of quest that have their own level or rewards, but the general concept is this; the longer and more complex the quest, the higher the reward will be at the end. For instance, if you get a quest to travel to an area and talk to a guard, that’ll reward significant less XP than a four part quest to kill an enemy of the state.
- TIP – After personally completing the game and leveling alts, I like to only complete the quest that are part of the main story, Mages Guild, Fighters Guild, and faction story. These generate the best XP over time, have some monster rewards, and generally are easy to get through. I’ve spent many hours doing all sorts of other quest, and they seem lack luster in terms of netting huge amounts of XP.
- Dungeons – Regardless if you do Non-Veteran or Veteran mode dungeon, each has great rewards for completing initially. For instance, one can complete Fungal Grotto at level 15 then again at Veteran Rank level 5. Both will give a skill point, relevant rewards, and good XP. The reason this is so effective for leveling is it combines all the above in a quick easy format that can be repeated. You’ll have some exploration, a quest, mobs, and an achievement at the end. In summary, do dungeons they are well worth it.
- TIP – If you’re struggling to complete the dungeon do one of two things; The Cheesy Way invite a buddy who’s much higher level than you and roll through the dungeon just to get the quest complete and the skill point. Non-cheesy use the group finder, zone chat, guild chat, or some method of gaining new party members. Don’t just skip these dungeons because you’ll regret it later when you come back as a VR 14 in a lowbie area with little to no incentive other than a skill point.
- Dolmens – Dolmens are a great way to earn XP quickly though their rewards are a “one-time only” type of thing. You’ll get exploration, no quest, but a huge XP tick at the end for completing it. The best part is, regardless if you’re solo or you have 50 players surrounding you, all you need to do is participate to get credit. This means one weapon attack, one heal, or something else once registered will give you credit upon completion. Though once completed e.g. the icon on the map turns white, move on. Completing these Dolmens repeatedly will only regard you Fighters Guild points or if you’re achievement hunting.
- TIP – most of my builds can solo dolmens at later levels. But while leveling, make sure to holler in zone chat “North Crest Dolmen is up.” Give it 30 seconds and people just like you will start flooding the area to take it down. You might as well be helpful and let everyone know that needs it.
- World Bosses – Like Dolmens, World Bosses offer a one-time completion XP reward. You can do them again, but you’ll only net the normal kill XP. Unlike Dolmens however, these can be difficult to solo by yourself. Best way I’ve found is have some sort of knock-back and continue to DPS while keeping the enemy away. Or you can always ask in chat or a guildy to help you.
- TIP – Generally when entering a new zone, I’ll go exploring and find all the important items for later. After that, I grab a buddy or someone in the zone that needs to complete everything just like I do. We roam around from various points killing World Bosses, Dolmens and Delves netting huge XP without completing a single quest.
- Delves – These are essentially one off dungeons that yield similar XP results. They take less time, have a boss inside them that can be soloed, and often times a quest. Make sure to pick up any Skyshard in them as you’ll need every single skill point you can find.
- TIP – Each zone has a Public Dungeon which is essentially a larger version of a delve. Theses work the same way except EACH has a “group challenge.” The challenge will reward you with a massive XP tick along with an extra skill point. You can find if you’ve completed these via your achievement section if your journal. I highly recommend killing bosses and collecting those valuable skill points per zone.
- Grinding – Totally lame but seriously effective. Grinding is finding a spot with a very high density of mobs that has a fast respawn timer. You’ll sit there killing them over and over and over then move on the next zone for best XP results. There’s a bunch of different grinds each per faction and some at end-game. I’ll explain the end-game ones, but I avoided these prior to Veteran Rank since I found leveling fun and fast via my way.
While ESO is a open ended game, there are some zones and restrictions on where you can go. These zones also have a sweet spot for leveling and XP rewards. I’ve listed below the various zones both 1-50 and the Veteran Rank leveling system. My suggestion would be to stay within your zone for leveling then immediately move on after reaching the top level.
NOTE: In order to advance to the Neutral area Coldharbour, you’ll need to complete all the relevant story quest. Every five levels or so, you’ll be prompted by Varen in spirit form. He will say some crazy thing like “Vestige, come to the Harborage, I have important news.” You should listen to him and follow the ol’ crazy blind man back and complete the quest.
- Khenarthi’s Roost [levels 1-5]
- Auridon [levels 5-15]
- Grahtwood [levels 16-23]
- Greenshade [levels 25-30]
- Malabal Tor [levels 31-37]
- Reaper’s March [levels 37-43]
- Stros M’kai & Betnikh [levels 1-5]
- Glenumbra [levels 5-15]
- Stormhaven [levels 16-23]
- Rivenspire [levels 25-30]
- Alik’r Desert [levels 31-37]
- Bangkorai [levels 37-43]
- Bleakrock Isle & Bal Foyen [levels 1-5]
- Stonefalls [levels 5-15]
- Deshaan [levels 16-23]
- Shadowfen [levels 25-30]
- Eastmarch [levels 31-37]
- The Rift [levels 37-43]
- Coldharbour [levels 43-50]
- Cyrodiil [10-50]
VR leveling is a little different. Regardless of your level, you’ll need to complete the main story to unlock Cadwell’s Silver. This allows you to play the other factions story lines, thus gaining more XP and skills. I’ve listed the recommend level you should be at per zone and give some examples on how I do this below. The tricky part is advance past Silver and into the last factions quest line AKA Cadwell’s Gold.
TIP – the key here is to make sure you’re doing the correct quest for Cadwell. Open up your journal and click the second icon which will show you the quest/areas you need to complete per zone. These must ALL be done in order to unlock gold. I’ve done this four times now so I have a good idea of what needs to be done, but if you don’t, keep opening that journal.
Cadwell’s Silver – Ebonheart Pact
- Bleakrock Isle & Bal Foyen [VR 1]
- Stonefalls [VR 1]
- Deshaan [VR 2]
- Shadowfen [VR 3]
- Eastmarch [VR 4]
- The Rift [VR 5]
Cadwell’s Gold – Daggerfall Covenant
- Stros M’kai & Betnikh [VR 6]
- Glenumbra [VR 6]
- Stormhaven [VR 7]
- Rivenspire [VR 8]
- Alik’r Desert [VR 9]
- Bangkorai [VR 10]
Cadwell’s Silver – Aldmeri Dominion
- Khenarthi’s Roost [VR 1]
- Auridon [VR 1]
- Grahtwood [VR 2]
- Greenshade [VR 3]
- Malabal Tor [VR 4]
- Reaper’s March [VR 5]
Cadwell’s Gold – Ebonheart Pact
- Bleakrock Isle & Bal Foyen [VR 6]
- Stonefalls [VR 6]
- Deshaan [VR 7]
- Shadowfen [VR 8]
- Eastmarch [VR 9]
- The Rift [VR 10]
Cadwell’s Silver –
- Stros M’kai & Betnikh [VR 1]
- Glenumbra [VR 1]
- Stormhaven [VR 2]
- Rivenspire [VR 3]
- Alik’r Desert [VR 4]
- Bangkorai [VR 5]
Cadwell’s Gold –
- Khenarthi’s Roost [VR 6]
- Auridon [VR 6]
- Grahtwood [VR 7]
- Greenshade [VR 8]
- Malabal Tor [VR 9]
- Reaper’s March [VR 10]
- Lower Craglorn [VR 10-12]
- Upper Craglorn [VR 12-14]
- Cyrodiil [levels 10-VR 14]
Now that we’ve discussed the basics to leveling, let me give you some ideas on how I spent my time leveling.
Non-Veteran (levels 1 to 50 AKA VR 1)
- Good [Questing] – The simplest way to level while learning the game is questing. I stumbled around aimlessly picking up random quest and running around completing them. On my main, it took me 300 hours to reach VR 10. My second character (Nightblade King Foltest) following this guide, took me around 150. I recommend enjoying the game and going through 1-50 like this the first time. But just know, its dreadfully slow and if you’re serious about reaching end-game, you’ll abandon this form of leveling quickly.
- Better [My way] – My Sorcerer (Aitled) was my third character and I just wanted to reach VR content ASAP. I went from 1-50 in 50 hours and had a blast doing so. Here’s how I did it: Each zone you enter, equip your exploration gear. Go zooming around unlocking all the interesting location, wayshrines, towns, dolmens, world bosses, etc. Complete only the main story quest (Varen’s quest), your faction specific quest (like Queen Ayrenn), Mages Guild, and Fighters Guild. While questing, kill any near Dolmens or World Bosses to fill in the XP gap. Your priority is to move to the next soon ASAP. So, if I entered say Stonefalls at level 30 and it was a level 31-34 zone, I’d go on a questing rampage until I hit 33 or 34 and move on the next zone. You can leave any excess dolmens, world bosses, or even delves behind. I also like to stay one level below my quest. So if the Mages Guild quest ask for level 43, I like to be 42 when I complete it. This seems to be the sweet spot for netting the most XP.
- Best [Grinding] – If you seriously wanted to reach end-game and had no interest in doing any quest, grinding is for you. All you’ll need to do is head to a Public Dungeon for your current zone, group up with ONE other person and start killing. Make sure you’re at the appropriate level per dungeon, e.g. don’t be a level 47 character in a level 30 Group Dungeon. You’ll only want one person with you as this nets the highest rewards. In fact, if you marry that person in-game you’ll earn 10% more XP. Like I said, this is incredibly boring and not how I play, but it’s by far the fastest way to reach end game.
- TIP – If you’re only grinding to hit end game, don’t repair! My buddy Parfax grinded his Dragonknight and didn’t repair once. Once reaching end-game he had over $70,000 gold!
Veteran (VR 1 to VR 14)
- Slow [Questing] – If you stick to just questing to reach VR 14, you’ll be doing it for a very long time. There’s literally not enough quest to reach this amount of XP and will require you to do dailies in Upper Craglorn or Cyrodiil. This will take you a tremendously long time. I did reach VR 10 this way as I wanted to see all the quest/content but very time consuming. I don’t recommending being a questing robot.
- Decent [The Basics] – This method is similar to “my way” for non-veteran leveling. Since Exploration rewards nearly zero veteran points (VP) I skip the whole exploration thing all together. I turn on my addon Undiscovered, grab a buddy and set out. Usually Grouchy helps me take down all the Delves and collect Skyshards. Then we move on to all the Dolmen’s and world bosses per zone and finish up with the Group Challenge in the Public Dungeon. This alone will get me half a Veteran level then I’m off on my own to quest. I crack open my journal and go to Cadwell’s Almanac. Since Veteran mode doesn’t have a main quest, this is the closes thing. It’ll tell you which areas are needed to complete a specific zones faction specific quest. Generally there are four to five things and I set out for the nearest one. Each one generally links me to the next area and so forth. Once I complete that I’ll be near a Veteran level so it’s time to fill in some XP. There’s three options here, Dungeon, Cyrodiil PvE, or Craglorn. Generally all of these require a small group so I’ll ask for help in the evenings when most people are online. Once I do one or more of those things, bang I reach a Vet level and it’s time to move on to the next zone and do the exact same thing. I do this four about 10 zones completing Caldwell’s Silver and Gold and putting me near VR 10. Then I finish it up with some incredibly boring grinding…
- Good [Grinding] – Right now the game has many grinds that one can partake in. They are all located in Craglorn (both upper and lower). I’ve done them all basically and here’s my worst to best list.
- Spellscar – The worst by far but there’s never a shortage of monsters here. Spellscar is the best place to level skills, just not the best for VP gain. Though if you’re looking for massive mob kills, head here.
- Balamath – This grind use to be my go-to spot though it was nerfed hard. It’s a group delve that can only be completed by four players. I have a video on it here that you can see the loop. It doesn’t reward massive XP anymore (like 1 million an hour) but does have some benefit. You can do this with four friends, it’s always open, zero wait, and a good place to test your DPS.
- The Burial – I haven’t done this one much because you’re doing a lot of traveling and little killing. It’s more active than the rest but somewhere in the middle in terms of effectiveness.
- Upper Crag Bosses – Discovering this one day one of 1.4 was interesting. There’s a group of four or five elite mobs that each reward high XP per kill. What players will do is farm this in a massive loop keeping the mobs respawn times up. Doing one big circle over and over kill the same elite mobs will net major results. The downside is, many other players are in this zone doing the same thing you are. It’s truly first come first serve.
- The Tower – This grind is generally open, very good in terms of XP, and the least boring. You’ll need to ride around a lot and repeatedly kill some bosses over and over. The up side is it can be done by a large group thus a lot of spots are open to join this group. The downside is it’s not the absolute fastest and you can’t really screw around while do it. This is my go-to grind to reach end-game.
- The Thief – The ultimate grind which allowed me to be one of the worlds first VR 13/14. The upside is you kill one boss repeatedly every 20 to 30 seconds. The downsides are huge, it’s hard to get in the group, the boss bugs frequently, and people will camp the area stealing kills. But if you can get into this grind, stay in it. Get out a bucket or a hose for pee, fire up some hot pockets and rock it to VR 14. I was getting 2.5 million an hour and from VR 10 to VR 14 takes five million per level so 20 million XP. Yes that’s about 8 hours to reach it, but hey it’s better than 150 hours of questing right?
And that’s it for the guide. I’ll be providing updates to this as things change over time, but here and now I hope this helps you level!