ESO Race and Passive Guide
So, you’re wondering what’s up with the racial passives and perks in the Elder Scrolls Online? If you want to know the best selection for tank, healer, damage dealer, or as a new player what you should select? Great! This ESO Race Guide is for you!
This ESO Race Guide will be about the experience I’ve had playing ESO since beta, and my experience playing all of the different races in ESO. How do these races compare to each other based on hours and hours of experience in PvE and PvP? I will break down each race, their strengths, weakness and their best fit per class. I’ll also give you my top three for each role (tank, healer and dps).
Last Updated February 22nd, 2023: I went through and updated the ESO Race and Passive Guide to reflect the changes in the game’s Hybridization. ESO Hybridization means, the game will look at your max stats, regardless if it’s max magicka or stamina, or weapon and spell damage. Thus you end up with a blend of magicka and stamina builds rather than one clearly defined role. And as such, races that have flexibility in this department shine.
What Is The Best ESO Race?
Below is the ESO Race and Passive Guide tier list show casing what I think are the best races per role in the Elder Scrolls Online. Keep in mind, the race doesn’t make the player, but these bonuses do matter if you are trying to squeeze every ounce of performance out of your character.
PvE Damage Dealer Race Ranking
|Stamina DPS||Mag DPS|
|Dark Elf||High Elf|
PvE Healers & Tank Race Ranking
PvP Race Ranking
|Stam PvP||Mag PvP|
How Do Racial Bonuses Work in ESO?
For those of you that don’t know, the Elder Scrolls Online has three factions each with three unique races that add passive bonuses. There is a bonus race, Imperial, which requires a separate crown store purchase or the pre-purchase of the Imperial Edition of the game. Each race has unique racial perks that can be obtained at various levels with skill points.
These passives come in two forms:
- One non-performance based perk such as increased swimming speed for Argonian
- Three performance based bonuses like added max stats, recovery or movement speed just to name a few
You can also make an additional crown store purchase if you wish to use any race on any alliance or faction. So with 10 total races, each with their own unique passives, does race and their bonuses really matter? In this ESO Race guide I will go over why it matters, and also why it doesn’t.
Does Race Matter in ESO?
Yes and no
For 99% of the population that plays the elder scrolls online—race matters very little. Your racial choice is not the reason you’re good or bad at the game
Let me say that again very clearly, your race is not going to determine how good you are at ESO period
That’s up to you, your time dedicated to improving and learning, you’re knowledge of the game and gear, your reaction time, and too many other factors to list off. Take a Khajiit DPS for example, for the 1% playing in the hardest top-tier trials hard modes, yes this makes a difference! But for the vast majority of players, an Argonian DPS will do just fine. So stop worrying so much about race performance, and pick what’s best based on what fits your play style and class best. Thankfully, I’ve played all the races for years in many different in-game situations, and I will give you my input based on my experience in this ESO race guide.
Aldmeri Dominion Races
High Elf (Altmer)
|Highborn||Increases your experience gain with the Destruction Staff skill line by 15%. Increases your experience gained by 1%.|
|Spell Recharge||When you activate an ability, you restore 625 Magicka or Stamina, based on whichever is lowest. This effect can occur once every 6 seconds. When you are using an ability with a channel or cast time, you take 5% less damage.|
|Syrabane’s Boon||Increases your Max Magicka by 2000.|
|Elemental Talent||Increases your Weapon and Spell Damage by 258.|
The first Alliance up is the Aldmeri Dominion, with the first race being Altmer or Highelf. The name says it all as these super tall and slender looking elves take themselves very seriously. Here are some of their strengths and weaknesses:
Strengths: The High Elf possesses the holy trinity for a good magicka race: max stats, high spell damage and high magicka pool for resource sustain. High Elf is a great all around damage dealer race and a perfect choice for a pure magicka class race. However, with hybrid gameplay, I still prefer another race that gives stamina which is needed in 2023.
Weaknesses: the only weakness of the High Elf is it’s lack of stamina pool bonus. Although you do have weapon damage and stamina sustain bonus if you wanted to switch to a stamina DPS
Best Fit: My favorite all-time fit is for Magicka templar or Magplar because you get damage reduction by 5% for channeled abilities. This makes your main spammable sweeps or jabs a match made in heaven.
Wood Elf (Bosmer)
|Acrobat||Increases your experience gain with the Bow skill line by 15%. Decreases your fall damage taken by 10%.|
|Hunter’s Eye||Increases your stealth detection radius by 3 meters. Increases your movement speed by 5% and your Physical and Spell Penetration by 950.|
|Y’ffre’s Endurance||Increases your Stamina Recovery by 258.|
|Resist Affliction||Increases your Max Stamina by 2000 and your Disease and Poison Resistance by 2310.|
Wood Elf is up next and is my least favorite visually, as I’m not a big fan of the small elfs (yes, start the hate comments now). Here are some of their strengths and weaknesses:
Strengths: A well-rounded stamina focused race with max stamina and stamina recovery while increasing movement speed by 5%. The increased movement speed is quite noticeable especially in PvP making it a great choice for a high mobility character in high pressure situations.
Weaknesses: The Wood Elf lacks the weapon damage of the Dunmer and Orc and the critical damage of the Khajiit. And with no real bonus to magicka you’ll be pigeonholed into playing as a stamina DPS
Best Fit: The best fit for Wood Elf is Nightblade because you can use the speed, max stamina and stealth detection to avoid npc or other players. Wood Elf is great for stealthy roleplayers or hard-hitting gankers
|Cutpurse||Increases your experience gain with the Medium Armor skill line by 15%. Increases your chance to successfully pickpocket by 5%.|
|Robustness||Increases your Health, Magicka, and Stamina Recovery by 90.|
|Lunar Blessings||Increase your Maximum Health, Magicka, and Stamina by 915.|
|Feline Ambush||Increases your Critical Damage and Critical Healing by 12%. Decreases your detection radius in Stealth by 3 meters.|
Next up we have our kitty friends Khajiits and one of the coolest looking and favorite races for me to play
Strengths: Khajiit is arguably the best pure damage dealer in the game, both for magicka and stamina due to the increased critical damage bonus. It even puts out some great healing with an increased critical healing bonus. They have well-balanced racial perks with resource recovery and max stats across the board. The Khajiit has fallen out of the meta race currently because ESO put in a critical damage cap of 125%. Meaning, the 12% critical damage bonus will sometimes exceed the 125% in trials or parsing resulting in a dead stat. This is mainly for folks who do trials and parsing with major and minor force. If you primarily do dungeons and PvP this will be the most burst potential possible.
Weakness: Very few weakness on this racial choice as it does well as magicka, stamina, tank, dps and healer. While its definitely a top choice, I still prefer more sustain with racial selections like Redguard for stamina users, and Breton or High Elf for magicka users who struggle with resource sustain
Best Fit: The no brainer fit for Khajiit is Nightblade. By far one of the coolest, hardest hitting play styles in ESO and any other game to be fair
Daggerfall Covenant Races
|Opportunist||Increases your experience gain with the Light Armor skill line by 15%. Increases your Alliance Points gained by 1%.|
|Gift of Magnus||Increases your Max Magicka by 2000.|
|Spell Attunement||Increases your Spell Resistance by 2310. This effect is doubled if you are afflicted with Burning, Chilled, or Concussed. Increases your Magicka Recovery by 130.|
|Magicka Mastery||Reduces the Magicka cost of your abilities by 7%.|
Next faction up is Daggerfall Covenant and the first Race I’ll be going over is the Breton a humanoid looking race
Strengths: Absolutely mind blowing sustain, reduced magicka cost by 7% along with increased resistance, magicka recovery and max stats. If you’re starting up a magicka based character and lack sustain due to lower Champion Points or gear, this makes a great selection!
Weaknesses: Lack of spell damage or critical damage/healing bonus making other races hit and heal harder though you can’t match the Breton’s sustain
Best Fit: Breton Warden healer in PvP and PvE, making you extremely hard to kill, and also allowing you to constantly provide buffs and burst heals for your team
|Wayfarer||Increases your experience gain with the One Hand and Shield skill line by 15%. Increases the duration of any eaten food by 15 minutes.|
|Martial Training||Reduces the cost of your weapon abilities by 8%. Reduces the effectiveness of snares applied to you by 15%.|
|Conditioning||Increases your Max Stamina by 2000.|
|Adrenaline Rush||When you deal damage, you restore 1005 Stamina. This effect can occur once every 5 seconds.|
Next race up is Redguard, another humanoid looking race with god-tier sustain to match the Breton but it shines more as a stamina based toon than magicka
Strengths: Redguard gives increased max stats, reduced cost of weapon abilities and snares, and unmatched adrenaline rush giving you 1005 stamina back every five seconds when you do damage ON TOP OF 8% reduced weapon cost! This is a go-to race for those lacking champion points or gear sets which optimizes sustain like Vicious Ophidian
Weaknesses: One glaring weakness is the lack of weapon damage. The snare reduction is also weak in comparison to Orc and Bosmer speed bonus
Best Fit: Ideally, you’d pick this with a class that relies heavily on weapon skill lines rather than class skill lines. I’d prefer my Necro to be a Redguard using class buffs and Blastbones for damage and my weapon skill lines for everything else
|Craftsman||Increases your experience gain with the Heavy Armor skill line by 15%. Increases your crafting inspiration gained by 10%.|
|Brawny||Increases your Max Stamina by 1000.|
|Unflinching Rage||Increases your Max Health by 1000. When you deal damage, you heal for 2125 Health. This can occur once every 4 seconds.|
|Swift Warrior||Increases your Weapon and Spell Damage by 258. Reduces the cost of Sprint by 12% and increases the Movement Speed bonus of Sprint by 10%.|
The brutish looking orc is next and is a staple in ESO PvP builds
Strengths: This is the exact class you want for PvP because of the speed, weapon damage, max stats. It also provides healing when you do damage, making it an ultra aggressive yet safe play style
Weaknesses: The downside is that you lack sustain and the max stats that other races provide, so you’ll want to pick Orc for something that doesn’t require a lot of help with resource sustain
Best Fit: The stamina Sorcerer Orc is a great selection because you have Dark Deal allowing you to exchange magicka for stamina which gives you an infinite sustain loop. Not to mention abilities like Streak and passives like Minor Expedition making you the fastest player on the battlefield
Ebonheart Pact Races
|Amphibian||Increases your experience gain with the Restoration Staff skill line by 15%. Increases your swimming speed by 50%.|
|Life Mender||Increases your healing done by 6%.|
|Argonian Resistance||Increases your Max Health by 1000 and your Disease and Poison Resistance by 2310.|
|Resourceful||Increases your Max Magicka and Max Stamina by 1000. When you drink a potion, you restore 3125 Health, Magicka, and Stamina.|
Ebonheart Pact is up next and my favorite-looking race are the loveable lizard Argonians!
Strengths: Argonian’s strengths are utterly insane healing, tanky-ness and sustain. They are just so dang hard to kill when fighting against because of their versatility in max stats and sustain, and healing output when you drink a potion.
Weaknesses: The major downside is the lack of specialization, meaning they are very weak at DPS because they have no bonus to weapon or spell damage nor the critical bonus of a Khajiit.
Best Fit: The best fit for Argonian is a Magicka Templar healer, especially in PvP situations
So try it out! Give this lizard a sword and shield or a restoration staff and heavy armor and you have a god tier PvP healer that will be hard as hell to kill
Dark Elf (Dunmer)
|Ashlander||Increases your experience gain with the Dual Wield skill line by 15%. Reduces your damage taken from environmental lava by 50%.|
|Dynamic||Increases your Max Magicka and Max Stamina by 1910.|
|Resist Flame||Increases your Flame Resistance by 4620.|
|Ruination||Increases your Weapon and Spell Damage by 258.|
Dunmer or Dark Elf is up next and what I consider one of the best overall races in ESO
Strengths: The Dunmer is unique in having max magicka, stamina and weapon and spell damage. Therefore, you do not need to constantly spend 3000 crowns for a race change and can simply swap back and forth because stamina and magicka play styles. That’s exactly what I do on my Necro, some days I’m smashing blastbones on stam DPS, and the other days I’m healing. Dunmer has great versatility along with decreased flame damage, making it a great overall choice especially if you don’t know what style you want to play at end game quite yet
Weaknesses: The major downside is sustain as you do not have any passive directly affecting management of resources. Although, you can remedy that flaw with consumables, your mundus stone, gear and champion points
Best Fit: Magicka Dunmer Dragonknight is the god tier standard because it has everything you could want for a class that focuses on ultimate generation and flame damage
|Reveler||Increases your experience gain with the Two Handed skill line by 15%. Increases the duration of any consumed drink by 15 minutes.|
|Resist Frost||Increases your Max Health by 1000 and Frost Resistance by 4620.|
|Stalwart||Increases your Max Stamina by 1500. When you take damage, you gain 5 Ultimate. This effect can occur once every 10 seconds.|
|Rugged||Increases your Physical and Spell Resistance by 2600.|
Nord and board is my slogan when I play a Nord and it says it all right there! These humanoid looking characters are your typical meatheads in ESO and love them or hate them, they look like they’re straight outta skyrim
Strengths: Nords are sturdy as they come, giving you resistances, max stamina and health along with ultimate gains when taking damage. They are truly made for tanking and one of the most sturdy and defensive races in the game
Weaknesses: The major downside is you lack the massive stat pool of other races and resource sustain
Best Fit: The best overall fit is a stamina based Dragonknight (DK) tank and what I’ve personally been using since day one of ESO. The DK battle roar passive along with Nord stalwart passive synergizes so well, giving you back resources when you use an ultimate and rewarding you with even more ultimate when taking damage. This makes Nord DK one of the most interesting, unique and fun play styles in the game
ESO Race Guide Bonus Races
|Diplomat||Increases your experience gain with the One Hand and Shield skill line by 15%. Increases your gold gained by 1%|
|Tough||Increases your Max Health by 2000.|
|Imperial Mettle||Increases your Max Stamina by 2000.|
|Red Diamond||Reduces the cost of all your abilities by 6%.|
Imperial is our last race, and it requires a separate purchase in the crown store to use. This humanoid looking race is one of my favorite appearance wise and I rock a female on PC NA Stamplar and love it!
Strengths: This race is deceptively strong due to massive max stat pool of health and stamina and an utterly insane reduction in ALL of your ability cost by 6%. That means ALL abilities, regardless of if its magicka, stamina, or health based, are reduced. Truly remarkable for newer players or classes that rely heavily on both stat pools
Weaknesses: The obvious major downside is the lack of weapon/spell damage that other races provide, and without the uniqueness of other races like Nord or Wood Elf
Best Fit: You’ll want to pair an Imperial on something that uses both stat pools frequently and relies heavily on max health like the stamina Warden. You constantly cast magicka buffs in PvP while playing a stamina character and your healing from arctic blast is based on max health making it a great selection for hard core PvPers.
Summary for ESO Race Guide
I hope you got something out of this ESO race guide, as I poured my heart and soul into ESO for years on end and truly have played all of these races in many different scenarios. Again, in ESO, race matters, but not as much as your enjoyment and fun with it! So, if you like Argonian because of the tail, play it, who gives a damn what anyone else thinks or says! Get gud if that’s your goal or just play and have fun because that’s what it’s really all about
Thanks for reading our ESO Race and Passive Guide! Below are helpful links if you are looking to connect and watch live.