Leveling up in Elder Scrolls Online is not too different from other MMORPGs, although there are some notable exceptions. The biggest thing you will notice is that everything in game has its own individual experience points bar and levels up independently of your character. You can level up each class tree, weapon tree, and even armor trees. These skills tend to level up much faster than your character’s level, but there are many more types of skills to level in ESO.
The methods for earning experience points in ESO are typical of other MMOs. What is most surprising is not the methods for earning experience, but the amount of experience each method offers as well as the amount of time it takes to level up (hint: it is much longer than other MMORPGs).
Players can earn experience points by killing enemies, completing quests, exploring the world, and reading books (not a typo). Here is a little bit about each:
Defeating enemies for experience points has been a staple in the MMORPG niche since its inception. In Elder Scrolls Online, this is still the case, yet not the case. You do not get very much experience points by killing enemies as you happen through the world and attack enemies.
If you sit down and grind in a specific spot, you can get okay (but not great) experience points. However, this seems to change when you are in a group. A 4-person group grinding on enemies will earn EXP at a very fast clip. This can be a good way to catch up in levels if you start falling behind your quests. For whatever reason, grinding in a party offers much, much better experience than solo grinding.
In short, the solo leveler should not expect to earn much EXP from grinding off of enemies. However, a 4-person grinding party can earn XP as fast (if not faster) than any other method in-game.
Questing seems to provide the bulk of experience in The Elder Scrolls Online. Some quest chains have a huge experience points payout upon completion. The only problem with questing in ESO is that it takes forever and many of the quests are easy to miss. Many of the quests offered in the game are easily missed. because new quests often are picked up from NPCs cowering in the hills or NPCs that do not appear until you get close or approach a certain area. Without an in-game guiding system like World of Warcraft, questing in Elder Scrolls online is much more time-consuming.
Exploring zones provides an inordinately large amount of experience points as compared to what it provides in other MMOs. When you come into a new area and your map populates itself with new areas, you earn a big chunk of experience points. However, there are only so many areas to explore in a given zone, so you can only get so much experience points from this method.
Power Leveling, PvP Questing, and Deconstructing Items
Once you hit level 10, you can open up the world PvP menu by hitting the “l” key and joining a Cyrodiil match. Once in the match, go through the tutorial. The tutorial ends with you at the bounty boards where you can pick up PvP quests. One of the bounty board quests tasks you with killing 20 enemy players.
With the quest in hand, join a raid responsible for either defending or attacking a certain point on the map (defending is faster, but there is not always a defensive hot spot) and head to battle. The most important thing is to join a full raid of players so that whenever one of your allies gets a kill near you, so do you. Head to the hotspot where most of the action is and rack up your twenty kills. You can speed up this process by getting Siege Weapons (the meat catapult is great for getting fast kills) and using them to destroy your enemies.
Next time you die (either by getting killed or intentionally), you can respawn near the bounty boards and turn the quest in. Each turn-in delivers not only PvP currency, gold, and PvP rank, but also delivers a significant amount of experience. You can then immediately pick up the quest again and repeat this process. If you are in a defensive hotspot, you can complete this quest and turn it in every few minutes, getting rewards each time! I went from level 11 to 12 in about 30-45 minutes using this tactic.
Even better, after completing this quest, you get a letter in the mail (click the mail icon on the bar at the top of the screen) with a random level-appropriate equipment piece as a bonus reward. You can then deconstruct this for a significant amount of crafting experience (see the crafting section for details). If you do this quest 50 times, you will gain 2 character levels and 6-7 crafting levels. This is a great way to get ahead in experience points if you get a little behind the current quests.