Learn all about the BEST Starting Weapons in ESO including the best skills to focus on early in the game!
Introduction to Weapons in The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online has six distinct weapon types, each with its own associated skill lines including: Destruction Staff, Restoration Staff, Two Hander, Dual Wield, One Hand and Shield and Bow.
Some weapons are designed for up-close and personal melee combat, while others are purely ranged. Certain weapons also replenish either Stamina or Magicka on heavy attacks, which can have a significant impact on your character’s resource efficiency and overall power.
The aim of this guide is to provide an overview of each weapon type’s strengths and weaknesses so that you can make an informed decision about which weapon to use when starting the game. It is important to make this decision early on, as leveling up a weapon skill line takes time and effort. Even if you reset your skill points, you cannot spend them all on a weapon skill line that you have not yet unlocked, so it is best to decide early on to avoid any unnecessary regrinding in the future.
The Best Starting Weapons in ESO
We’ve analyzed all 6 weapon types in ESO in terms of their offense, defense, healing and utility and ranked them for you below. The best starting weapons on this list can be used by any type of build, whether it be DPS, Tank, Healing, Solo or PVP while those ranked lower on this list are more niche and usable by fewer builds for specific roles only.
1. Destruction Staff
The destruction staff is the Number One recommended weapon for new players in ESO due to its massive range of applications and ease of use. Players looking to build a magicka-based or ranged character during the early stages of gameplay will be well-served choosing a Destruction Staff.
The Destruction Staff restores magicka on heavy attacks, relies on magicka to cast abilities and includes a variety of potent ranged skills, allowing you to stay clear of enemy damage while doing damage yourself from a safe distance. This includes single-target (ST), area-of-effect (AOE), and damage-over-time (DOT) options. As a result, the Destruction Staff is the ideal weapon for dealing damage in ESO.
For example, Force Shock is a straightforward single-target DPS skill that deals damage based on your staff’s elemental type (fire, shock or frost). Its morphs allow it to be more versatile at interrupting enemy casting, stunning, or dealing more damage to multiple enemies with status effects.
Skills like Elemental Blockade also offer consistent damage but with great utility thrown in as well – this is one of the best skills in ESO to use for firing off your weapon’s glyph effect which results in huge buff or debuffs depending on your glyph type. Elemental Drain does no damage to speak of, but improves ALL of your damage by debuffing enemy armor while also helping your sustain.
Finally, the Destruction Staff will be your go to weapon for AOE (Area Of Effect) mass destruction with skills like Impulse, a bread-and-butter AOE damage spell that acts as a great finisher as it deals more damage to creatures based on their missing health and Elemental Rage, the Destruction Staff ultimate skill, which can quickly eliminate BIG groups of enemies with tons of damage over time.
As you can see, the Destruction Staff is the goto weapon for pure Carnage in ESO if you want to focus on the damage aspects of your build with some extra utility thrown in that also make it useful for tanks and healers. It’s highly recommended as a primary Weapon option especially for new players as it will help you progress through the game and gain levels faster than some of the other weapons in this list.
The main downside of the Destruction Staff is that it offers limited healing and defense options, so be prepared to make use of other healing skills, especially from your class skill lines if you plan on using this weapon.
2. Two Hander
Following closely behind the Destruction Staff, a Two Handed weapon provides amazing options for playing the game solo right from the start as it has skills that provide damage shields, healing and gap closers that keep you alive while bringing the pain to the enemy. Speaking of pain, the DPS (Damage Per Second) on Two Handed weapons is simply awesome! A thing to note is that Two Handed skills rely on stamina, with damage output scaling in proportion to your highest offensive stats and replenishing stamina on heavy attacks.
The main advantage of using Two Hander as a primary or secondary weapon in ESO is its overall balance and utility. Skills like Rally provide sustain and healing while the Brawler skill gives access to a powerful damage shield that will improve your survival. On the offensive side, Stampede allows you to quickly close the distance between you and an enemy and Reverse Slice provides bonus damage against enemies with low health.
All in all there is a Two Hander skill for nearly everything you could need to accomplish on your build which makes the weapon a perfect choice for either a Primary or Secondary option (sometimes both), though keep in mind you must be in melee range to take advantage of most Two Hander abilities so there is some risk vs. reward involved.
3. Dual Wield
Dual Wielding is a strong third option for starting out in ESO that provides very respectable DPS with some room to tinker in the morphs of its base skills to provide additional healing and utility options. Dual Wield also is preferred by many end-game players due to its damage-focused passives, particularly Twin Blade and Blunt, which boosts your Critical Chance stat when equipping daggers.
Dual Wield is a great option for Stamina-based builds that want to focus early on self-healing. In particular Blood Craze and Bloodthirst skills/morphs stand out as must-haves for providing much-needed healing when at lower levels. Both of these skills have Bleed effects that grant you healing while also doing damage helping you to stay alive, whether in Solo or Group content.
Dual Wield is also a fantastic option for group builds that want to quickly clear through packs of enemies with AOE skills like Whirling Blades or Steel Tornado. This pairs especially well with AOE-focused classes like the Warden or Necromancer.
The only real downside to focusing on Dual Wield is that the skill is a bit more damage-focused with fewer options for utility builds. However, Dual Wield still remains one of the most popular weapons for damage dealers in ESO, especially as a primary weapon.
The bow is a solid support weapon in ESO but is more difficult to use as a primary damage-dealing option. Most of its abilities are geared towards damage over time such as Poison Injection and area of effect such as Endless Hail. Many bow skills also apply status effects such as poison or defile, making this weapon a decent option for a utility or status effect-focused build.
The bow is a stamina-based weapon and the only ranged one at that so it does provide some stamina-based builds versatility on their back bar to have the option for ranged combat, however starting out with only a bow as your main weapon ultimately would prove troublesome and sluggish for most players. Somewhat niche, however an important thing to note about the Bow, is that the aforementioned poison abilities do make this weapon one of the best Werewolf killing methods in PVP in conjunction with a good team of primary damage dealers beside you.
5. One Hand and Shield
Yet another weapon type that operates and scales off of Stamina, the One Hand and Shield Skill line is very niche and only recommended to a certain type of player starting out in ESO. If you are looking to be a tank, look no further than your trusty one-handed weapon in conjunction with a shield to bring your dream to life. The “sword and board” playstyle is great for tanking, offering plenty of options for taunting and debuffing enemies such as Pierce Armor and powerful ultimate generation with Heroic Slash.
However, the One Hand and Shield truly lacks in regard to dealing any meaningful damage and especially if you are playing/starting the game solo it would make the leveling experience feel like a truly slow-motion grind. On the other hand, if you are PVP-oriented then the sword and board is viable as it adds extra layers of survivability and protection and your stuns can really come in handy for aiding your team to take out high threat players and better capture objectives or hold your ground.
6. Restoration Staff
The last weapon type on our list and the only other Magicka-based one at that. The Restoration staff, true to its name is fantastic for players who wish to heal their hearts out. However, as a result of that singular focus, it earns a spot at the bottom of this list for starting weapons.
Starting out solo at a low level, this weapon simply will not deal functional damage to allow you to progress through the game or even clear a large group of low-level minions. The only damage for the Restoration staff comes from its basic and heavy attacks and once unlocked, the only damage dealing skill is Force Siphon. Thus, it is recommended that if you want to be a healer, wait to take the restoration staff once you unlock your backbar at level 15 for PVE. You can get away with it on your main bar at level 10 if you plan on doing PVP and putting yourself out there as the healing hero/prime target. Otherwise, the restoration staff is typically a nice ADDITION to a character build but shouldn’t be the starting weapon of any player initiating their journey in the Elder Scrolls Online.
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