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Elder Scrolls Online: A Complete Guide To Dungeon Crawling

Posted: Sep 16, 2023

Are you ready to dive into the thrilling world of dungeons but feeling a tad overwhelmed? Well, you’ve landed in the perfect spot! Let’s kick things off by demystifying the basics.

What Are Dungeons?

What are dungeons?

They are epic four-player adventures that call for teamwork and coordination. Unlike public instanced areas, you won’t meet other players inside dungeons, except the ones in your group.

Usually, you’d want a balanced team of two damage dealers, a healer, and a tank. But ESO is all about freedom, and you can tackle some dungeons with different team setups depending on skill and level, or if you’re feeling daring, you can even go solo.

Elder Scrolls Online: A Complete Guide To Dungeon Crawling

Dungeon Difficulty - How Hard Are Dungeons?

But you might be wondering, how challenging are they?

Well, that varies. Normal dungeons are a fantastic place to begin, and more become available as you level up. They unlock in order of difficulty, so you’ll progressively face tougher enemies.

A lot of base game dungeons have 2 versions as a continuation of the story. The 2nd version is more difficult than the first version, but they are still very manageable if you complete them as you unlock them.

For the true thrill-seekers, there’s Veteran mode. You unlock this at level 50, and it cranks up the difficulty for your entire group, making enemies tougher.

Be warned, the skill gap from normal to veteran can be pretty big. A mechanic that you didn’t even notice on normal might spell doom on veteran.

How Do I See What Difficulty I’m On?

You can see what difficulty you’re on in the group menu, and when you’re using activity finder, you can pick the difficulty before joining.

Normal DLC Dungeon Difficulty

Normal DLC Dungeons fall somewhere between part 2 normal dungeons, and base game veteran dungeons. They are listed here in the order they were released. And there are typically 4 more added every year.

DLC dungeons are mechanic heavy, but it’s easier to die in veteran dungeons if you’re unprepared or not paying attention.

If you’re in a group of people who know the mechanics, it will feel like any other normal dungeon. But if you are an experienced player who just struggles to memorize mechanics, you might find veteran base game dungeons whose bosses turn and burn easier.

Hard Mode Difficulty

Lastly, there’s Hard Mode, which you can activate on veteran difficulty for the ultimate challenge.

Some dungeons only need you to read a scroll before facing the final boss, while others have unique triggers or multiple hard mode bosses.

But brace yourself. Hard mode means new, tougher mechanics and buffed-up enemies.

What Content Am I Ready For? - Difficulty Tier List

Now, let’s talk about when to take the plunge.

Normal base game dungeons are your starting point. Around level 10, you’ll be ready. As you level up, more dungeons unlock, and as we said earlier, they progressively get harder. Then, there are normal DLC dungeons, varying in difficulty due to mechanics and group coordination.

Veteran dungeons are the next step up. They’re less forgiving and demand better coordination. Some base game dungeons have mechanics that merely tickle a little on normal, but are lethal on veteran.

My advice? For base game veteran dungeons, aim to be at or above CP 160, with two full sets of CP 160 gear. You should understand your skills and the best food buffs for your build. Start exploring monster sets and mythics for that extra edge, and when you’re comfortable and fully set up, start looking at veteran DLC dungeons.

And the pinnacle of toughness is hard mode on veteran difficulty. It lives up to its name, making boss fights even more challenging with new mechanics and beefier enemies. You will need a fully fleshed out build, a strong understanding of your build and abilities, and a good team for this level of content.

How To Access Dungeons?

Now, how do you get into these dungeons? You’ve got options.

You can walk to the dungeon entrance, teleport directly to it using your map, or teleport to a group member if they’re already inside.

Activity Finder Explained

No group? No problem! The Activity Finder is your friend.

When using the Activity Finder, you’ve got choices. You can select a specific dungeon or queue for multiple dungeons of varying difficulties at once.

Elder Scrolls Online Activity Finder

Random Dungeon Rewards

Or, go for the Random Dungeon, which can reward you with more XP, transmutation crystals, ESO Gold and more. Once a day per character, queueing for a random dungeon grants a big daily bonus.

But here’s the catch: you won’t receive a bonus reward for completing a specific dungeon you queued for. And after the initial random daily dungeon, the bonus is reduced for all subsequent randoms.

Consider What You’re Capable Of Before Queueing

Also note that you can be carried through most group content if you have a couple of great players on your team.

But when you’re using the activity finder, it can be inconsiderate to join into veteran content before you are ready, especially if you queue into a group that isn’t capable of carrying you.

Pick Your Role Before Queueing!

Whether using the queue finder or forming a group with friends, knowing your role is the first step!

Before you join the queue, pick the role in the group that you are trying to fill. Let’s look at each of them at a basic level.

Tanking

As a beginner tank, your job is twofold: grab and maintain the focus of enemies by taunting, causing them to attack you and surviving the damage from them.

Doing both of these things keeps the damage dealers and healers in your group safe from direct attacks.

 As you get better at tanking, you can include buffs and debuffs, use skills to stack enemies, and use gear sets that benefit your group. But essentially, your role is making it easier for damage dealers to kill things.

Healing

The Healer is responsible for healing team members, of course,.

But they also provide buffs and debuffs, perform mechanics that would result in a loss of damage if performed by another role, and they can deal damage in low threat scenarios. 

They also need to have good reaction skills and prioritization to dropping health bars.

Damage Dealing

And the Damage dealers, who are responsible for doing damage, keeping themselves alive by avoiding unnecessary damage. And if someone dies, it’s primarily your job to resurrect them. 

It is a common misconception that healers should pick up the dead, but they are actually the last role that should be reviving other players. You should also work on your awareness. Watch for downed players. Hit your synergies. Bash to interrupt spell casting enemies.

Don’t stand in area damage circles! And don’t always rely on your healer to keep you alive.

Stick To Your Role!

Remember, everyone has a role, and it is essential to stick to it.

Fake roles can lead to chaos, especially in veteran dungeons. So, be honest about your role, and prepare for various scenarios.

What Do You Get From Running Dungeons?

But what’s the payoff for all this dungeon crawling?

Skill points!

Well, skill points are a biggie. You get 1 from every dungeon quest!

Gear Drops

Plus, you can snag unique gear sets. You get 1 weapon or jewelry set piece when you beat the last boss of a dungeon, and a body piece from all earlier bosses.

Remember to bind these items as you pick them up if they aren’t in your collection to minimize duplicate item drops!

Drops from bosses are curated. That means that you won’t get duplicates until you have a completed set. And because weapons only drop on the last boss, they take a lot more dungeon runs to complete your collection.

Drops from chests are not curated, so you can get duplicates. But you can also bind the new pieces that drop before the end of the run to decrease the loot pool for the last boss!

Then, there are monster sets. You get the headpiece of each monster set from the last boss in each veteran dungeon, while the shoulder piece can be purchased from NPC vendors at the Undaunted Enclave.

Undaunted Enclave (Pledge) Dailies

Speaking of the Undaunted Enclave, you can find it in each major city of the three alliances.

Elder Scrolls Online Undaunted Enclave

When you hit level 45, you can start accepting pledges by picking up daily quests from the NPCs that are there. Pledges change daily and revolve around defeating specific dungeons.

Completing a Veteran Hard Mode pledge rewards you with 2 keys, while completing a pledge on normal or veteran without hard mode gets you 1 key. These keys are your ticket to buying those coveted monster shoulder set pieces.

Intro To Dungeon Etiquette

Now, you might be wondering if there are any “unwritten rules” for dungeon runs.

Well, sort of. It’s a dynamic world out there. And the more challenging the content or the less experienced the group, the more these rules matter. While you might encounter fantastic groups in the Activity Finder, sometimes it can be a bit rough.

However, there are things that you can do to make your runs smoother.

Queue For The Right Role

First and foremost, queue for the right role and perform it to the best of your ability. But be aware, you might encounter players who are “faking” their roles.

To combat this, prepare for such scenarios. If there’s no healer, do you have a healing skill you can slot to keep yourself alive? Do you have a ring of the pale order that you can equip?

You could even use your armory station to set up a support load out to use just for dungeons. There are way more damage dealers than there are healers or tanks.

Communicate!

Communication is key! If you’re doing a quest or don’t know the mechanics, speak up.

Others in your group might have the answers that you need. And please, respect those who are doing the quest. Most players will wait for you if they know you are on a quest.

Call out chests and heavy sacks if you spot them. It’s a small gesture that many appreciate.

And console players, don’t struggle with that controller. You can connect a mini USB keyboard to your console to type in chat, making communication a breeze.

Avoid Speed Running

While you are running random normal dungeons for transmutation crystals, you might encounter speed runners, or want to speed run yourself.

But just because you can rush, doesn’t mean you should. Check with your team. If most of the team wants to speed run, then go for it, but don’t leave others behind.

Let The Tank Do The Tanking!

Let the tank lead the charge in boss encounters.

After all, you can’t damage them if you’re running from them. And if you’re queueing as a tank, fake or not, have a taunt skill equipped.

Watch Where You Stand

Positioning matters! Avoid standing behind the tank and steer clear of area of effect (AOE) damage zones.

Staying close to the group helps your healer keep you alive.

Mechanics

Keep an eye out for boss mechanics, like red lines signaling a channeled attack that you can interrupt. 

Do Content You’re Capable Of

If you’re not sure what you’re capable of, work your way up the difficulty scale until you do know.

If you’ve tried higher difficulty dungeons and died a lot or felt like you were holding the team back, take a trip to one of the solo arenas, Maelstrom Arena or Vateshran Hollows. Both are good practice for improving yourself since you can’t rely on anyone else.

Elder Scrolls Online Maelstrom Arena

And the best thing about them is that you can practice whenever and however you want, all at your own pace, without worrying about letting your team down. It just takes practice to know your build, rotation, and combat basics, like when to roll, dodge, block, and interrupt.

Don’t Disband The Group!

At the end of every dungeon, let people hand in their quests and share gear if they don’t need it.

If you’re the leader, do not disband the group! Everyone will leave on their own when they are done.

Randoms Are Gonna Random!

Lastly, don’t take unpleasant encounters to heart.

The best way to have control over your experience is to find friends or guild members to do dungeons with. It may require more effort, but it’s worth it and eliminates the randomness of group formation.

Remember, the Elder Scrolls Online community is mostly filled with friendly players who share your passion!

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