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 (mostly useless), 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 and build.

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, but some can be extremely beneficial as well. Enchants, traits, mundus stones and other ways to buff your character have a substantially larger impact, but racial passives can still make a difference for players looking to do harder endgame content such as Trials.

  Tank Healer Magicka DPS
Stamina DPS















High Elf





Wood Elf















Dark Elf















(download table as image)

Daggerfall Covenant


  1. Opportunist – increased experience gain with Light Armor skill line by 15% and Alliance Points gained by 1%
  2. Gift of Magnus – increases max magicka by 2000
  3. Spell Resistance – increases spell resistance by 2310 and Magicka Recovery by 100
  4. Magicka Mastery – reduces the magicka cost of spells by 7%

Bretons are clearly most suited as spellcasters. While bonus experience on Light Armor has practically no benefit, increased AP gain can be helpful if all you do is PvP. Spell resistances are equally helpful for any playstyle or role, while magicka recovery will clearly mostly help healers and mages.

The main reason why I consider Bretons to be the best healers is their Magicka Mastery passive, reducing the cost of all magicka-based abilities by a whooping 7%. Magicka cost reduction is very difficult to get otherwise, and can help with managing your magicka substantially.


  1. Craftsman – increases XP gain with Heavy Armor skill line by 15% and crafting inspiration gain by 10%.
  2. Brawny – increases max stamina by 2000.
  3. Unflinching Rage – grants 1000 max health and heals you for up to 600 whenever you deal damage with your weapon (4 second cooldown).
  4. Swift Warrior – Increases weapon damage by 258, reduces sprint cost by 12% and increase sprint speed by 10%

Crafting inspiration can be beneficial if you’re creating a crafting alt, but is otherwise not necessary. Max health and stamina makes Orcs ideal for sturdy melee characters, and very beneficial weapon damage solidifies them for stamina-based builds.


  1. Shield Affinity – Increases experience gained with the One-Handed and Shield skill line by 15%, and increases duration of eaten food by 15 minutes.
  2. Martial Training – Reduces the cost of weapon abilities by 8%.
  3. Conditioning – Increases maximum stamina by 2000.
  4. Adrenaline Rush – Restores 950 Stamina when you damage an enemy with a melee attack once every 5 seconds

Redguard’s reduced weapon ability costs, increased stamina and stamina restoration make them ideal for stamina-based DPS but also tanks. Tanks do need quite a lot of stamina to be able to consistently block and interrupt during combat, and Redguards are one of the races which have the most impactful benefits.

The Aldmeri Dominion

High ElfHigh Elf

  1. Destruction Talent – Increases XP gain with Destruction Staff skill line by 15% and character experience gained by 1%.
  2. Spell Recharge – Reduces damage taken by 5% while casting or channeling an ability, and restores 645 stamina or magicka after activating a class ability (once every 6 seconds).
  3. Syrabane’s Boon – Increases max magicka by 2000.
  4. Elemental Talent – Increases Spell Damage by 258.

High Elves (Altmer) are clearly best suited for the Sorcerer class, or other magicka-based damage dealing builds. Destroying your enemies with ranged spells becomes easier with their huge magicka bonuses, and the last passive is clearly only useful for magicka builds.

Wood ElfWood Elf

  1. Acrobat – Increases experience gain with the Bow skill line by 15%, and decreases fall damage taken by 10%.
  2. Y’ffre’s Endurance – Increases stamina recovery by 258.
  3. Resist Affliction – increases poison resistance by 2310 and gain immunity to poisoned effect. Also increases maximum stamina by 2000.
  4. Hunter’s Eye – Increases detection radius in Stealth by 3m, and gain 10% movement speed and 1500 bonus to Physical and Spell Penetration for 6 seconds after using roll dodge.

Poison resistance is not as impactful as you might think, so the only tangible benefit from Resist Affliction is the larger stamina pool bonus. 258 stamina recovery is huge for stamina-based builds, but is the entire Wood Elf (Bosmer) race’s potential is negated with Hunter’s Eye useless bonuses.

For melee DPS or bow builds, there are races with more impactful bonuses.


  1. Medium Armor Expertise – Increases experience gained with Medium Armor skill line by 15%, and increases chance to Pickpocket by 5%.
  2. Robustness – Increases health recovery by 100, and stamina and magicka recovery by 85.
  3. Lunar Blessings – Increases max health, magicka and stamina by 825.
  4. Carnage – Increases critical hit damage and healing by 10%, and reduces detection radius in stealth by 3m.

Khajiit are clearly intended to be sneaky thieves, however in my opinion their passives give a little bit of everything, making them sub-par for stamina builds. Tanks might benefit most from increases to all three main stats, but there are other races better suited for tanks or stamina DPS builds.

The Ebonheart Pact


  1. Restoration Expertise – Increases XP gain with Restoration skill line by 15%, and swimming speed by 50%.
  2. Resourceful – Increases max magicka by 1000, and restores 4000 Health, Magicka and Stamina whenever you drink a potion.
  3. Argonian’s Resistance – Gain immunity to diseased status effect, increases Poison and Disease resistances by 2310, and increased max health by 1000.
  4. Life Mender – Increases healing done by 6%.

Argonian passives were clearly designed with healers in mind, and they excel at this role. However, there are other races which can be equally good for healers, and have more varied bonuses in case you want to switch it up a little. I would only recommend Argonian healers if you intend to do endgame raids.

Dark ElvesDark Elf

  1. Ambidexterity – increases XP gain with Dual Wield skill line by 15%, and damage taken from environmental lava by 50%.
  2. Dynamic – Increases maximum magicka and stamina by 1875.
  3. Resist Flame – Increases fire resistance by 2310 and grants immunity to burning status effect. Also increases maximum health by 600.
  4. Ruination – Increases your Weapon and Spell damage by 258.

Dark Elves (Dunmer) make for excellent damage dealers with both stamina and magicka builds. Fire resistance bonuses can be helpful for frequent dungeon-dwellers but especially Vampires, while the minor health bonus is good for everyone. A decent amount of both magicka and stamina provided by Dynamic passive is excellent regardless of your build choice.

Ruination passive has both Weapon and Spell damage bonuses, solidifying Dunmer race as a clear-cut damage dealer.


  1. Reveler – Increases experience gain with Two-Handed Weapon skill line 15% faster, and duration of any consumed drink by 15%.
  2. Stalwart – Increases max stamina by 1500, and you gain 5 Ultimate each time you take damage (once every 10 seconds).
  3. Resist Frost – Increases cold resistance by 2310, gain immunity to the Chilled status effect, and increases maximum health by 1000.
  4. Rugged – Increases your Physical and Spell resistances by 3960.

Nords are clearly aimed for tanking builds, and they certainly excel at that. Increased health, stamina and resistances are all very useful stats for a fully fledged tank, and Nords are definitely one of the best choices for that role.


  1. Diplomat – Increases experience gained with One-handed and Shield skill line by 15%, and gold gained by 1%.
  2. Tough – Increases max health by 2000.
  3. Imperial Mettle – Increases max stamina by 2000.
  4. Red Diamond – Melee attacks restore 333 health, magicka and stamina once every 5 seconds. Also reduces cost of all abilities by 3%.

The Imperial race is available if you pre-ordered ESO or purchased the Imperial Pack in the Crown Store, 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 resource 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 all the bonuses mentioned above are for max rank passives.

Any race in any alliance

You can purchase a Crown Store item which enables you to play any race in any alliance. Normally each of the three alliances has only three races available, but by purchasing the pack you can create any race in any alliance without restrictions.

Imperial upgrade, allowing you to play Imperial race, is purchased separately.

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 3773 days ago This entry was posted in Game Info, Guides and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 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!

    • Zandon 16 says:

      Yes I don’t understand are they racial bonuses or is it another class

  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.

      • 8th_house says:

        Bro its all good. You had to know you were gonna get spurgs when ya made an mmo site. Just ignore them. You did a good job.

  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.

  11. Zandon 16 says:

    I think there should be a spear weapon

    • says:

      Completely agree. Spears, throwing weapons, crossbows, fist weapons, spellbooks, wands could all result in excellent viable weapon alternatives.

      After so many years the combat has gotten very stale for old players and adding several new weapon skill lines would significantly increase the number of available builds for all classes, far more than adding a new class.

  12. Zandon 16 says:

    I don’t like the way Argonians are changed the guide says they are guerilla warfare experts but are healers??? I like the way Argonians are in Morrowind bonus to alchemy and spears because spears are good guerilla warfare weapons

  13. Zandon 16 says:

    There should really be more classes an archer/ranger a wizard of someone who is good at magic damage and not specifically elemental damage and a more tanky tank not a dragonknight

  14. Zandon 16 says:

    Can you use weapon skill lines without having to use the weapon?

  15. Zandon 16 says:

    The racial bonuses should be more powerful

Leave a Reply to Eure Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>