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How to Choose a Race in the Elder Scrolls Online

In the Elder Scrolls Online, there are 10 total playable races. Note that the Imperial race is only available as a special bonus for those who pre-order the Imperial version of the game. The Imperial race can choose any of the three existing allegiances and will start in the same starting areas as other players of those factions.

Races are generally bound to their respective faction. However, those who pre-ordered the digital edition or the digital imperial edition of the game are able to choose any faction with any race that they prefer. Those picking up the game through other sources do not get to pick their faction and instead must stick to the default allegiance for their race.



The races belonging to each of the game’s three alliances are:

  •Aldmeri Dominion: Altmer, Bosmer and Khajiit.

  •Daggerfall Covenant: Breton, Orsimer and Redguard.

  •Ebonheart Pact: Argonian, Dunmer and Nord.

Every race has 4 passive abilities which give them unique flavor and abilities. Some of these passives are shared between races. The first passive bonus for each race is automatically available at level one without requiring a skill point to be spent. It grants a 15% experience bonus when training a specific weapon or armor skill line. The specific skill line each race earns a bonus towards is in-line with the lore, background, and cultural preferences of each race. The subsequent three passives in each racial tree each have three ranks, which increase in power as you invest additional skill points into them. Not all racial passives can be unlocked right away.

Altmer (High Elf)

Altmer are a race of High Elves. They look similar to humans but with slightly Elven features. Their abilities focus on magicka and bonuses related to the Destruction staff, making them natural caste.

  •Destruction Talent-Increases experience gain with the Destruction Staff Skill Line by 15%.

  •Spellcharge-Increases Magicka Recovery while in combat by 3/6/9%.

  •Gift of Magnus-Increases Maximum Magicka by 4/7/10%.

  •Elemental Talent-Increases damage with Cold, Fire or Shock effects by 2/3/4%.

Bosmer (Wood Elf)

The Wood Elf looks more human than the other two Elf races. However, they excel in archery, stamina and stealth. This makes them one of the best races for the Nightblade class, although their stamina works well with almost any DPS class, including Templar and Dragon Knight. Dragon Knights can also wield virtually any weapon, so the archer buff will go well with them.

  •Archery Expertise-Increases experience gain with Bow Skill Line by 15%.

  •Vigor-Increases Stamina Recovery while in combat by 3/6/9%.

  •Resist Affliction-Increases Poison and Disease Resistance by 375/750/1125. Increases Maximum Stamina by 1/2/3%.*

  •Stealthy-Decrease Stealth radius by 1/2/3 meters. Increases damage done while Stealthed by 3/6/10%.




Khajiit are a race of feline-like humanoids. They look like a hybrid of a panther and a human. Their bonuses focus on medium armor, stamina, and stealth, making them the perfect race for a melee-oriented Rogue class.

Medium Armor Expertise-Increases experience gain with the Medium Armor Skill Line by 15%.

Robust-Increases Health Recovery while in combat by 10/20/30%.

Stealthy-Decrease Stealth radius by 1/2/3 meters. Increases damage done while Stealthed by 3/6/10%.

Carnage-Increases Weapon Critical by 2/4/6%.


The Breton are the most human looking of the many races available in The Elder Scrolls Online. They excel in spellcraft and swordplay, with bonuses to magicka, spell resistance, light armor and conjuration magic. The best classes to take advantage of the Breton's traits would be Templar for swordplay and spellcraft, Sorcerer for spellcraft, magicka, conjuration magic and spell resistance for defensive purposes. Breton's also aren't bad for Dragonknights due to their swordplay buff.

  •Light Armor Affinity-Increases experience gain with the Light Armor Skill Line by 15%

  •Gift of Magnus-Increases Maximum Magicka by 4/7/10%.

  •Spell Resistance-Increases Spell Resistance by 100/200/300.*

  •Magicka Mastery-Reduces the Magicka Cost of Spells by 1/2/3%.

Orsimer (Orc)

Orsimer make great tanks and defensive characters because of their increased Health and Stamina pools. This doesn’t mean they can’t be a damage dealing race. The Swift passive opens the door for interesting gameplay options which take advantage of stacking run speed bonuses or charge attacks.

  •Heavy Armor Expertise-Increases experience gain with the Heavy Armor Skill Line by 15%.

  •Brawny-Increases Maximum Health and Maximum Stamina by 2/4/6%.

  •Robust-Increases Health Recovery while in combat by 10/20/30%.

  •Swift-Reduces Sprint Cost by 4/8/12% and increases Sprint speed by 3/6/10%. Increase damage on Charge attacks by 2/4/6%.


Redguard are a human race that emphasize their physical attributes. Redguards are natural tanks, as their racial abilities focus on one-hand sword and shield and stamina-oriented gameplay. Physical-based playstyles could also benefit from these stamina-related traits.

  •Shield Affinity-Increases experience gain with the One-Handed and Shield Skill Line by 15%.

  •Vigor-Increases Stamina Recovery while in combat by 3/6/9%.

  •Conditioning-Increases Maximum Stamina by 4/7/10%.

  •Adrenaline Rush-Restores 24/48/72 Stamina to player when damaging an enemy with a Melee attack. This can happen no more than once every 5/3/3 seconds.




Argonians are a fantastic race selection for Ebonheart Pact players who are planning to rely heavily on Alchemy and potions or players intent on utilizing the Werewolf skill line. Argonians, thematically, are intended to be excellent healers, but Dunmer are superior in this role. Argonians are also particularly good Nightblades, taking advantage of an excellent synergy with the Catalyst ability.

  •Restoration Expertise-Increases experience gain with the Restoration Skill Line by 15%.

  •Amphibious -Increases-swimming speed by 50% and the effectiveness of potions by 5/10/15%.

  •Argonian Resistance-Increases Maximum Health by 1/2/3% and Poison and Disease Resistance by 375/750/1125.

  •Quick to Mend-Increases Healing received by 2/4/6%.

Dunmer (Dark Elf)

The Dark Elf race looks similar to the other elf races, although as their name suggests, their default skin tone is the darkest of the three Elf races. They focus on high intellect and agility, with bonuses that include dual wielding, fire magic and overall fire resistance. The ideal class for a Dark Elf is the Dragon Knight, primarily because a Dragon Knight uses fire-based magic and can dual-wield. Both of these abilities are buffed when playing as a Dark Elf, which makes them the perfect choice for an aspiring Dragon Knight.

  •Ambidexterity-Increases experience gain with the Dual Wield Skill Line by 15%.

  •Dynamic-Increases Maximum Magicka and Stamina by 2/4/6%.

  •Resist Flame-Increases Flame Resistance by 525/1050/1575. Increases Maximum Magicka by 1/2/3%.

  •Flame Talent-Increases Spell Damage with Fire effects by 3/5/7%.


Nord passives are extremely valuable for aspiring tanks. The Rugged passive which reduces incoming damage is incredibly valuable for endgame damage mitigation, and while their increased Frost Resistance is not particularly useful in current endgame encounters, it will certainly provide a large bonus in future content.

  •Two-Handed Weapon Expertise-Increases experience gain with Two-Handed Weapon Skill Line by 15%.

  •Robust-Increases Health Recovery while in combat by 10/20/30%.

  •Resist Frost-Increases Frost Resistance by 525/1050/1575. Increases Maximum Health by 1/2/3%.

  •Rugged-Reduce incoming damage by 2/4/6%.




Imperials have some strong racial abilities, including abilities that increase max stamina and health. They also get a bonus with one-handed swords, making them natural tanks. It does seem like Imperials get the best racial traits. However, this will not be too much of an advantage due to the soft cap system, where players are limited to the amount of any one stat they can have.

  •Shield Affinity-Increases experience gain with the One-Handed and Shield Line by 15%

  •Tough-Increases Maximum Health by 4/8/12%.

  •Conditioning-Increases Maximum Stamina by 4/7/10%.

  •Red Diamond-Melee attacks have a 10% chance to restore 64/128/192 Health.


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