Comparing Racial Passives

Racial passive skills guideIn The Elder Scrolls Online every race has its own skill line. Each of the 10 races has 4 different passive abilities: the first one is automatically unlocked and gives you a bonus on experience gained with a specific weapon or armor skill line, and in the other three abilities you can allocate up to three skill points. While racial bonuses in general don’t provide any overly substantial benefit to your class or build, those of you who want to maximize the effectiveness of your character will surely be interested to pick the right race to go with your class.

Below we’ll provide a list of all racial passive skills and give you a basic overview of them. If you want to easily compare racial passives and find out which race is the most optimal for your build keep on scrolling, or click one of the convenient links below to jump to a particular section!

Comparison Table

The table below should give you the necessary info at a glance. Do note that simply because a race is low rated for a particular playstyle it doesn’t mean you can’t play it! The table only provides a visual representation of which builds and roles particular racial bonuses are beneficial for. If you truly don’t care about squeezing every last bit of power on your character then just ignore it all and pick whatever race appeals to you, either by visuals or their background story.

In endgame some of these bonuses have very little impact as well due to overcharge mechanics (soft caps on character stats). With enchants, traits, mundus stones and other ways to buff your character you can easily reach max health, magicka or stamina, and the table doesn’t take it into account.

  Mage Tank Healer Melee DPS Archer
Breton

 ★★★★★ 

 ★★★☆☆ 

 ★★★★★ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

Orc

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★★★ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★☆☆ 

 ★★☆☆☆ 

Redguard

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★★★ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★★★ 

 ★★★☆☆ 

High Elf

 ★★★★★ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★☆☆ 

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

Wood Elf

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★☆☆ 

 ★★★★★ 

Khajiit

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★★★ 

 ★★★★★ 

Argonian

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

Dark Elf

 ★★★★★ 

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

Nord

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★★☆ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

Imperial

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★★★ 

 ☆☆☆☆☆ 

 ★★★★☆ 

 ★☆☆☆☆ 

(download table as image)

Daggerfall Covenant

BretonBreton

  1. Light Armor Affinity – increased experience gain with Light Armor skill line by 15%
  2. Gift of Magnus – increases max magicka by 4%
  3. Spell Resistance – increases spell resistance by 2
  4. Magicka Mastery – reduces the magicka cost of spells by 1%

Bretons are clearly most suited as spellcasters. With bonus experience on Light Armor and two passives that help manage your magicka they are the best race for mages and healers.

OrcOrc

  1. Heavy Armor Expertise – increases XP gain with Heavy Armor skill line by 15%
  2. Brawny – increases max health and max stamina by 2%
  3. Robust – increases health regeneration while in combat by 5%
  4. Swift – reduces sprint cost by 4% and increase sprint speed by 3%

As you’d expect Orcs are best suited for sturdy melee characters, particularly tanks. Having increased health, stamina and health regeneration is very helpful for tanks as well as any melee DPS build. Orsimer characters can also make for decent archers due to greatly useful sprint bonuses.

RedguardRedguard

  1. Shield Affinity – increases experience gained with the One-Handed and Shield skill lines by 15%
  2. Vigor – Increases Stamina Recovery by 3% while in combat
  3. Conditioning – Increases maximum stamina by 4%
  4. Adrenaline Rush – Restores 1 Stamina when you damage an enemy with a melee attack once every 3 seconds

Likely the best or at least second best class for tanks, Redguards gain a number of bonuses for such builds. Tanks actually need quite a lot of stamina to be able to consistently block and interrupt during combat, and there’s no other race that receives more impactful benefits.

The Aldmeri Dominion

High ElfHigh Elf

  1. Destruction Talent – increases XP gain with Destruction Staff skill line by 15%
  2. Spellcharge – increases magicka recovery while in combat by 3%
  3. Gift of Magnus – increases max magicka by 4%
  4. Elemental Talent – increases damage with Cold, Fire or Shock effects by 2%

High Elves (Altmer) are clearly best suited for the Sorcerer class. Destroying your enemies with ranged spells becomes easier with increased magicka, and the last passive is amazing for anyone relying on Storm Calling skill line.

Wood ElfWood Elf

  1. Archery Expertise – increases experience gain with the Bow skill line by 15%
  2. Vigor – increases stamina recovery while in combat by 3%
  3. Resist Affliction – increases poison and disease resistance by 7. Increases maximum stamina by 1%.
  4. Stealthy – improves stealth radius by 1 meter. Increases damage done from stealth by 3%.

Despite having bonuses to Bows and stamina, Wood Elves (Bosmer) are surprisingly not the best race to pick if you intend to play a ranger/archer. In fact they aren’t the best race for any role as other playable races have more useful bonuses, and unless you’re going for the better looks take a look at Orcs and Khajiit for your archery needs.

KhajiitKhajiit

  1. Medium Armor Expertise – increases experience gained with Medium Armor skill line by 15%
  2. Robust – increases health regeneration while in combat by 5%
  3. Stealthy – improves stealth radius by 1 meter. Increases damage done from stealth by 3%.
  4. Carnage – increases Weapon Critical rating.

Khajiit are the best race for archery, and very effective for assassins as well. Medium armor is preferred for both of those playstyles, and increased critical damage does apply to ranged attacks as well. As assassins Khajiit player benefit greatly from both health regeneration and improved stealth.

The Ebonheart Pact

ArgoniansArgonian

  1. Restoration Expertise – increases XP gain with Restoration skill line by 15%
  2. Amphibious – increases swimming speed by 50% and the effectiveness of potions by 5%
  3. Argonian Resistance – increases maximum health by 1% and Poison and Disease resistance by 7
  4. Quick to Mend – increases healing received by 2%

It would seem Argonian passives were designed with healers in mind, yet there’s no real synergy or a major benefit from these skills. If you’re looking to maximize your racial bonuses then picking Argonians isn’t the best of choices for any build.

Dark ElvesDark Elf

  1. Ambidexterity – increases XP gain with Dual Wield skill line by 15%
  2. Dynamic – increases maximum magicka and stamina by 2%
  3. Resist Flame – increases fire resistance by 31. Increases maximum magicka by 1%
  4. Flame Talent – increases spell power with fire effects by 1

The Dunmer are clearly best suited for fire-based damage dealers, especially Ardent Flame Dragonknights, but also Sorcerers. Besides that there aren’t really any bonuses which would suit other builds.

NordsNord

  1. Two Handed Weapon Expertise – increases experience gain with Two-Handed Weapon skill line 15% faster
  2. Robust – increases health regeneration while in combat by 5%
  3. Resist Frost – increases cold resistance by 10. Increases maximum health by 1%
  4. Rugged – increases armor by 2.

Nords are clearly aimed for tanking builds, and they certainly excel at that. Increased health, health regeneration and armor rating are all very useful stats for a fully fledged tank, and Nords are quite possibly the best choice for that role.


ImperialImperial

  1. Shield Affinity – increases experience gained with One-handed and Shield skill line by 15%
  2. Tough – Increases max health by 4%
  3. Conditioning – Increases max stamina by 4%
  4. Red Diamond – Melee attacks have a 10% chance to restore 2 health.

The Imperial race is available if you pre-ordered ESO, and they passives are very strong for tanks and melee DPS builds. The increased max health and stamina is very useful for both aforementioned builds, as is the health restore on attacks.


Once again, the first passive bonus for every race (increased experience with skill line) is automatically unlocked at level 1 and you can’t allocate any additional points into it. It’s also the least impactful bonus, as you will eventually level up all weapon and armor skills anyway.

The other 3 passive bonuses each have 3 ranks/levels. The passives can’t be immediately unlocked, but will eventually become unlockable as you level up and gain more experience in your racial skill line. First unlockable passive ability is available when your race skill line is Rank 5 (about the time your character is level 5), the second is available at rank 10 and third at rank 25.

You can further upgrade a particular passive to level 2 and 3 for every 10 ranks in your racial skill line. Note that we didn’t include exact increases of bonuses you gain on ranks 2 and 3 of the passive abilities: needless to say the bonuses become higher if you further skill into these passives.

Create the perfect character

Racial bonuses are just one of many ways you can customize and get the most out of your character. Learn about gear choices, enchants, traits, weapon skills, class builds, spell rotations, and dozens of other game mechanics and secret tips you simply must know.

Read Complete ESO Strategy Guide Here »

We do hope the comparison of racial bonuses was useful and will help make your race decision easier. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions be sure to voice them below!

Published 1136 days ago This entry was posted in Game Info, Guides and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Comparing Racial Passives

  1. Paulo Aponte says:

    I don’t like how wood elves don’t exceed in not even one category, I personally thinks they should be the strongest archer or atleast make each race exceed in one class

    • admin says:

      The passives aren’t bad regardless, so if you want to play them you won’t miss out on too much. But I agree it would make more sense for Wood Elves to excel in archery.

    • zace says:

      i actually believe that khajiit and wood elf are about equal while cats have a bit more crit and a slight damage boost from stealth the wood elves have more stam regen in turn more ability uses = more damage but they have same stealth and wood elf does lvl bows faster

      • Quaffio says:

        How are Khajiit better at bows? Nothing they have says they are better a bows. They have increase MELEE crit, not bow crit. Both Khajiit and Wood Elves have the same passive for stealth as well. And stamina regen > health regen for DPS. I think the OP needs to go and take a better look at the stats here. Wood Elves are clearly better than Khajiit when it comes to archery.

  2. John Jinnings says:

    I am very disappointed that there are several races that aren’t the best at ANYTHING.

    The Argonians should be the best healers but they aren’t. The wood elves also should be the best archers but they aren’t the best at anything. Dark elves are good for fire (though not excellent) and beyond that they are pretty much second rate choices for everything else too. High elves should be the best casters but it looks like they are edged out by Britons.

    It seems that there are too many races that excel at tanking, you have several ok choices for melee DPS (but one clear winner) and not enough for casting. There is only one race that makes a really good healer, so it’s probably gonna make a lot of people roll a Briton Templar.

    For a game that touts it’s “pick anything you want” they definitely didn’t spread out the roles for races very well.

  3. Sirron says:

    Little is said here about the Imperial race so I shall; as I bought that addition of the game. I made an Imperial in the last beta; to test the chart odds (above) I made him a Templar. I did have to recreate him once, but the 2nd build resulted in one bad dude; so much so that I will recreate the build for the release.

  4. Litvan says:

    Any chance of gettin a new comparison after the nerf to the Khajiit racial?

    • admin says:

      Patch 0.182 Notes:

      Removed the critical damage bonus from the Khajiit passive Carnage, and doubled its critical strike chance bonus.

      Not a very significant nerf, if it proves to be otherwise I’ll definitely revise my comparison chart. Still looks like Khajiit will likely be the best for rogues and archers.

  5. Eure says:

    This page is horrible because it takes into account nothing else or end game content. It looks solely at class abilities which can be negated or compensated with armor/enhancement/mundus stones etc. Please do not take this page as a end all be all. Do the math …..for example high Elf wearing 5 piece of light armor is a far better healer than a Breton wearing 5 light armor due to soft caps etc.

    Please do your research!!

    • admin says:

      It’s only a comparison of passives, and yes it’s not the end all be all of picking a race. I personally think everyone should just play whatever race they prefer and not worry about the bonuses — so the post is aimed at everyone else. I do however disagree with your High Elf vs Breton comparison: magicka regeneration is fairly easy to cap, but reduced magicka cost of spells is often harder to come by, at least from what I’ve seen.

  6. kgh says:

    I’m currently playing an Argonian healing templar and honestly have been doing perfectly fine with the build. Just max out magicka regen with enchants and use gear that increases max magicka. Eat a few provision that increase max magicka as well and go alchemy to make your own potions and you will be fine. The 15% faster experience gain is good early on for getting ahead of the curve but i do agree itll be useless come end game.

  7. Cutjack says:

    This review exhibits a serious lack of understanding for the class/skill system in ESO. The author is entrenched in the classic class system of past MMO’s and is either unwilling or unable to see his way out. This isn’t how ESO works. Sure if you want to build your tank or archer this way you can but it’s only a small fraction of the possible builds. So small in fact as to make the whole review insignificant. Take the archer for instance. If use the classic medium armor + bow + stealth cookie cutter template then the review holds up but if you think outside the box and instead build your archer from a sorcerer using light armor + bow + magic ( pets and stuns) all of a sudden the Khajiit falls to the bottom and the Breton moves to the top followed by the Bosmer. To summarize, while the classic roles of tank, healer, and DPS still exist in ESO, there are so many different ways to build those rolls that is makes this review pathetically inadequate.

    • Sykogecko says:

      Take it for what it is: a guide.

      If you are making a hybrid type archer/sorcerer class then you have to take consideration for both roles. Which is it more: a sorcerer or archer. One uses Stamina and the other uses Magicka.

  8. Jonah says:

    I really wish the race benefits were like the other ES games, meaning the bonus is nice but negligible later in the game, the way it is in eso forces people to play races they don’t like just because they are quite a bit stronger in their roles….
    :(

    • admin says:

      The bonuses are somewhat negligible later in the game, so don’t worry about it. Most of the bonuses can be obtained in other ways, and it’s fairly easy to hit overcharge caps. Just play the race you like best!

  9. Hail says:

    Pretty sure the game devs designed the first racial Passives as a guideline for what play style they will undoubtedly excel in. Seems in a number of instances this guide is telling you to abandon all your logic. Wood Elves are clearly appalling at archery, and Argonians couldn’t heal their way out of a paper bag.
    It doesn’t help that this site seems to slate my two personal favourite elder scrolls races. But simply put: Whatever your common sense is telling you: it’s wrong. ‘Abandon all logic ye who enter here.’

    • admin says:

      I’m pretty sure you haven’t read anything in this post, besides looking at the table.

      Do note that simply because a role is low rated for a particular race it doesn’t mean you can’t play it! The table only provides a visual representation of which builds and roles particular racial bonuses are best suited for.

      The table compares racial bonuses, and nothing else. Just because orcs are rated 0/5 as healers, it only means their racial bonuses have no impact on that role, it does not in any way mean you can’t play an orc healer, or whatever else your heart desires.

      If you truly don’t care about squeezing every last bit of power on your character then just ignore it all and pick whatever race appeals to you

      In endgame some of these bonuses have very little impact as well due to overcharge mechanics

      I suppose I should emphasize it further just to make it perfectly clear you can pick whatever race you like if you want, and I have no clue how I possibly “slated” your two personal races. I wasn’t involved in any kind of decision making behind the bonuses, I just provided my opinion here for players who are undecided and want an easy way to compare the power of racial bonuses.

      Once again, please read at least some of the text to give you context as to what the comparison table provides. If you want to play Argonians and Wood Elves, then by all means go for it.

  10. Bloodbane1998 says:

    I’ve been playing as a Wood Elf NightBlade and have had little trouble out killing my Khagjit counterparts. I use a bow for long range and two swords/dagger for close range. Its a very effective class. I think any race is good for any class as long as you got the right gear and the right weapons. Still, a night blade Orc would be pretty weird.

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