The Elder Scrolls:Inside ESO Dungeons

Gather your allies and learn more about player roles and enemy behaviors in The Elder Scrolls Online’s dungeons.

In lieu of our regular Ask Us Anything feature this week, we want to take you inside ESO’s dungeons and give you a peek at what you and your party can expect. After you read this article, we want your questions about dungeons for our next Ask Us Anything—send them to and we’ll take a look.

There are lots of activities you’ll be able to participate in on your own in ESO, but you’ll also have the chance to explore dungeons, which are designed to be challenges for groups of allies. Dungeons are organized; you’ll need three other party members to stand a chance, and the four of you will have a version of the dungeon (and its bosses and loot) all to yourselves. We’ll be taking a closer look at the mechanics you’ll see in dungeons in this article.

Player Roles
In many MMORPGs, players are locked into performing one role in a group, whether they focus on damaging enemies (DPS, or Damage Per Second), keeping their allies in the fight (healing), or drawing the attention of enemies away from more vulnerable characters (tanking). These roles are still important for a successful dungeon group in The Elder Scrolls Online, but our open-ended skill system gives you much more flexibility. With the right combination of weapons and abilities, you can change your role on the fly to support your group’s needs.

For example, let’s say your group’s healer goes down during a boss battle. In many games, it would be impossible to recover at this point. However, you were prepared for just such a situation! You swap your two-handed sword out right in the middle of combat for a restoration staff, which activates your second hotbar (where you’ve cleverly slotted some healing abilities). Now, you can keep the party going.

That’s not the end of the differences you’ll notice in ESO dungeons. Here are some tips that will prepare you for success, no matter what role (or combination of roles) you choose:


•Monsters will attack you. Don’t panic, and don’t expect your tank to handle every enemy alone. You have a great toolbox to mitigate damage—you can interrupt, block, and dodge while dealing damage.
•Focusing on one enemy at a time is helpful. Coordinate with your group and try to damage the same enemy, then move on to another. The longer the fight goes on, the more danger your party is in of running out of magicka and stamina.
•Area of Effect (AoE) abilities are effective, but can be very dangerous. When you damage multiple enemies at once, you risk getting their attention and straining your healer. Be cautious when employing AoE attacks.
•Be careful with your attacks! Avoid attacking monsters in the back lines of a pack (more details in the next section). Even getting too close to them can cause them to engage in the fight and threaten to overwhelm your party.

•Make sure your party has at least one player that can heal the group. The more players that bring healing abilities, the less need there is for a dedicated healer. Coordinate with your group—you might even find that, with the right abilities, each player can manage his or her own health.
•Magicka potions can be a great boon, but make sure you choose when to use them carefully. Potions cannot be used in quick succession.
•The tank won’t be the only party member taking damage. This is intended, and you will need to watch the other party members carefully.
•You’ll take damage, too! Remember that you can interrupt, block, and dodge. Crowd control abilities that stun, slow, or otherwise incapacitate enemies can be extremely useful for healers, and so can damaging abilities.

•You won’t need to get every enemy’s attention. Every player can take a few hits from standard attacks, and they have lots of ways to take care of themselves. Many healing abilities affect an area, so your healer (if you only have one) should be able to take care of several party members.
•In a fight with a large group of enemies, a tank’s ability to control the fight is critical. Stun the healers, interrupt the spellcasters—you’re the best party member for the job, because your stuns and interrupts will tend to get those enemies to attack you back.
•You do need to stay engaged with tougher monsters, like bosses. They hit much harder, and your damage mitigation and extra health will keep you alive where other characters might die.

Monster Behaviors
What enemies attack which member of your party and why? When we set out to design the behavior system for enemies in dungeons, we overwhelmingly felt that we needed something different than a traditional threat system where, by design, only one player (the tank) should be receiving direct attacks from an enemy. We also realized that we couldn’t throw everything associated with a traditional threat system out—not only because that’s what many players know and understand, but also because it complements our role system well.

Another goal we have for combat in ESO is that we want to push you away from staring at the UI, instead engaging you in the game world through enemy animations, visual effects, and telegraphs to show you where danger is in the world.

Here are some of the key behaviors you’ll see from enemies in dungeons that should give you a better idea of what you can expect:

•Enemies in any room in a dungeon are all aware of each other. When one is attacked, the others are alerted and prepare to fight back. We call this “pack mentality.”
•By default, a pack of monsters spreads out, and each enemy chooses a target. Player actions can change their targets to some extent. For example, taunt abilities force an enemy to attack you for a fixed duration. Attacking an enemy that hasn’t been attacked recently can also cause its focus to switch to you.
•Pack monsters don’t all attack at once. Some immediately join the fight, but others prepare in the back lines before moving in. If you get too close to backline enemies, or if you attack them, they’ll join the battle.
•In general, enemies target the closest player that is attacking them. If they aren’t being attacked, different enemy types choose targets differently. For example, a ranged enemy is more likely to target a ranged player than a melee enemy is.
Dungeons represent some of the toughest challenges in The Elder Scrolls Online, and they add yet another adventure you can choose to experience as you explore Tamriel. We hope this peek behind the portcullis helped give you some insight about dungeon design, and we’re excited to see how you choose to tackle these dangerous delves in your own groups. Make sure to share this with your prospective party members so they’ll be prepared, too!

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