The article below is just a basic introduction to the topic. For something more advanced, written by pros and a fantastic leveling guide, my recommendation would be this Elder Scrolls Online Leveling Guide. I could not find any other guide that comes even close in terms of the impact it had on me.
The Elder Scrolls Online is intentionally different than many of the other massively multiplayer online role playing games out today. This is apparent from the outset of a player’s journey. As a result, much of the conventional wisdom gained through years of playing these types of games is not relevant to this new and different experience. Some of the tried and true tactics, however, are absolutely relevant.
To begin with, there is a distinct absence of “kill ten of this monster, then return to me” quests and quest givers. This will be a bit of a departure for many massively multiplayer online role playing game veterans, as simple “kill quests” as they are often called make the bulk of the leveling experience in most gaming environments.
Instead, the developers of The Elder Scrolls Online have purposely designed the beginning levels as a mechanism to draw players into the game world and the lore behind it. Therefore, many of the quests that new players will encounter involve listening to stories and interacting with citizens of the world. Finding certain non-player characters and hearing how they contribute to the current situation is paramount. Players will find themselves understanding more about the world as a result, but will develop at a slower pace in the initial leveling sequence.
Another major difference in the leveling mechanism is exploration.
Since the world of The Elder Scrolls Online is such an expansive and immersive creation, a premium is placed on physically exploring the surroundings. While questing is always the quickest way to achieve higher player levels, exploration is always much more lucrative than simply grinding experience by killing monsters and beasts. Even at lower levels, when players are most vulnerable, exploration is a completely viable option for leveling.
This combines to create a more open structure than most initial leveling mechanisms in this type of game. Players have the ability and the freedom to level up in a number of different ways. Also, given the game’s take on character advancement, it is more beneficial to think of following a number of guidelines instead of a specific leveling path.
One tip is to loot everything possible. In most games, low level loot is more of an annoyance than a necessity. This is not the case in The Elder Scrolls Online. Since players will need to utilize a wide variety of different weapon and armor types to keep their skills current, looting everything possible allows players to have these options earlier than if they did not. It is always much easier to keep weapon and armor skills current than it is to purchase a different set at a high level and train the skill up from zero. Also, crafting and lockpicking skills require tools and items, most of which can be found scattered throughout the world if players are diligent.
Another tip is to combine armor types and skills. Certain types of armor boost magic ability while others will boost stamina. In the early levels, having a boost to both can be very useful, instead of specializing in a specialized area. This also applies to skill selection. Players should take skills that utilize both stamina and magic power when first starting out, since this effectively grants two resource pools to do battle with. Eventually, players will move into a specialization, but that is a long way away from level 1.
Additionally, it is a good idea to utilize grouping early and often. In most online role playing games, the early levels can absolutely be blazed through solo. While this is also possible in The Elder Scrolls Online, it is certainly not an optimal way to play. Named monsters throughout the world and public dungeons provide access to higher level gear, and there is an experience bonus when involved in a group. Therefore, the game truly pushes players into the grouping mechanic from early in the experience.
Research is another important component to the early game in The Elder Scrolls Online. This is due to the mechanic that exists regarding time requirements behind the research function. Research is the means by which players learn the ability to craft certain items and item traits. When researching an item is broken and a period of time is spent. The time spent is significant, and the timer continues while offline. For example, the first time a sword is researched, the time might be six hours. The next research step will take 12 hours, then 24 hours, and so on. By beginning early, players will maximize their offline time as they progress towards more powerful crafting options in the higher levels.
Finally, the most important tip in the first 10 levels is to play around with your character! Since there are so many paths to develop a character in The Elder Scrolls Online, players need to figure out what play style and development suits them. The first 10 levels is the absolute best time to do that.
If a player decides that a certain race or class would suit them better than their current selection, it is much easier to reroll a character from level 11 than it is from a much higher point with a larger time investment. So, players should use this time to fully explore and play around with the wide variety of options available with all of the character choices.
The article above is just a basic introduction to the topic. For something more advanced, written by pros and a fantastic leveling guide, my recommendation would be this Elder Scrolls Online Leveling Guide. I could not find any other guide that comes even close in terms of the impact it had on me.