New Player Guide: Questing & Exploration

Last Updated: 31/07/2017

Tamriel is a big place, and there's plenty of adventures to be had once you get into the game. You can find information on some of the activities (and mischief) you can get up to in The Elder Scrolls Online below.

Quests and Objective Tracking

If a quest is available nearby, you'll notice a tracking icon on your compass and over the quest-giver's head. The icon looks like downward-pointing arrow:

All you have to do is speak with the NPC to obtain the quest. Note that black icons are for non-repeatable quests, whereas blue icons signify repeatable (daily or weekly) quests.

You can access your quest journal by pressing “ J" if on PC/Mac, or by navigating to the Main Menu, then Journal if on console. From the journal, you can:

  • Review your active quests
  • Set a quest as your focus (objectives appear on the compass and in quest tracker)
  • Share quests with group members
  • Abandon quests
  • Look at Lore Library
  • Check Achievements
  • Check Leaderboards

To cycle through your active quests while adventuring, press " T" if on PC/Mac or "D-pad right" if on Xbox One or PlayStation®4.

In ESO, you won't find quests only in towns, so get out there and explore to find them all!


There are lots of reasons to step off the beaten path in ESO. Scattered throughout Tamriel, you'll find:

  • Points of interest with challenging enemies
  • Treasure chests with locks you can pick
  • Dark Anchors threatening to pull Tamriel into Coldharbour
  • Mundus Stones that grant special buffs
  • Skyshards you can collect to earn skill points
  • Lore books
  • Treasure maps that lead to hidden chests
  • Crafting resources
  • Public and instanced group dungeons
  • And more!


You may encounter locked items, such as treasure chests or doors, as you explore Tamriel. If you have lockpicks, you can attempt to pick the lock. Be warned that this is a timed activity—you need to successfully pick the lock before the timer bar empties!

To pick a lock:

  1. Position the lockpick over a tumbler
  2. On PC/Mac, click and hold the left mouse until the tumbler tightens (note the visual and audio cues)
  3. On consoles, hold "RT" if on Xbox One or "R2" if on PlayStation®4 until the tumbler begins to tighten
  4. If you're successful, the tumbler stays locked down when you release
  5. Position the lockpick over the next tumbler and repeat

You also have the option to attempt to force the lock. 

Lockpicks can also occasionally break if you fail to force a lock, or unsuccessfully try to set a tumbler. Some locks are more difficult to pick than others as well, so practice on every chest you come across!

Fast Travel

Wayshrines can be found all over Tamriel. These shrines activate when you approach them and allow you to travel quickly between them.

You can travel from anywhere on the map to a Wayshrine you've visited before by selecting the Wayshrine icon on your map and paying a small fee in gold. You can travel between Wayshrines with no fee if you approach a Wayshrine and interact with it.


Mounts, which allow you to travel more quickly, range in price starting at 10,000 gold in any major city.

Once you have a mount, you can summon it by pressing “ H" if on PC/Mac, holding the "Menu" button if on Xbox One, or by holding down the "Touch pad" button if on PlayStation®4.

If you visit a stable master, you can increase your riding skill. Each day, you can upgrade one of your riding skills for a small amount of gold. This includes:

  • Speed - Improves your speed while mounted.
  • Stamina - Improves how long your mount can sprint for and how likely you are to be dismounted when hit.
  • Carry Capacity - Improves your invetory space.

Upgrading your riding skills improves your riding on all of your owned mounts, and is not specific to any one unique ride. Note that while your riding skills are character based, your mounts are available for all characters on your account.

If you would like to change your mount, you can do so from the Collections menu.

The Justice System

If you choose, you can participate in a variety of criminal actives in Tamriel including thievery and murder!


To steal, crouch and approach your target. When you can steal, a red prompt will appear to let you know you are in position and how likely it is you will succeed. You can steal almost anything that isn't bolted down, including weapons, armors, food, and drink, and you can steal from NPCs themselves or containers. Keep in mind while pickpocketing an NPC, your chance to succeed will periodically increase and decrease. Don't be seen!

Assault and Murder

You can attack NPCs unprovoked and it is possible to loot the corpse of somebody you have killed, but be warned: If your crime is witnessed, you'll have to deal with the local guards! Also keep in mind that an assault will be reported immediately by the NPC you're attempting to assault (would you expect anything less?)


If you are witnessed committing a crime, you will receive a bounty on your head. When you have a bounty, guards will attempt to hold you accountable by demanding you pay a sum and give up your stolen goods!

There are three bounty levels:

  • Disreputable – The guards will generally ignore you unless you approach them.
  • Notorious – You'll be chased down by the guards, who enlist other guards to assist in the pursuit.
  • Fugitive – You are “Kill On Sight" to the guards. Run!

To lower your bounty, you can either wait for it to decay over time, find a fence that can assist you in paying it off, or approach a guard and pay the fine. Fences can be found in an Outlaws Refuge.

Outlaws Refuge

Outlaws Refuges are a series of hideaways found in most major cities, giving you a place to escape from the local guards. There you can find some helpful NPCs that provide the following services:

  • Fences – Help you launder your ill-gotten gains.
  • Moneylenders – Help you store items.
  • Merchants – Buy and sell items.
  • Guild traders - Buy and sell Guild store items.
  • Quest-giver NPCs - Offer you Thieves Guild quests.

Legerdemain Skill Line

The Legerdemain Skill Line has abilities that will make you an even more effective criminal mastermind, and gains levels as you participate in criminal activities including successfully pickpocketing, lockpicking chests and doors, selling stolen goods, and laundering items. 


As you explore, you'll come across fishing holes in bodies of water. If you have any bait (obtained from vendors or by looting some creatures), you can interact with these locations to select your bait and begin fishing. The bait you use determines the types of fish you can obtain, and the bait you can use is based on the body of water you're fishing from. 

Don't forget that if you ever have additional gameplay questions, you should navigate to the in-game Help menu for more information on the game's features and mechanics. In addition, you can visit the Players Helping Players section in the official ESO forums to talk to the ESO community or check out any of the player-made guides right here.