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Top 5 Tips for Increasing Your DPS in ESO

So, you want to do big damage in the Elder Scrolls Online huh?  I’ve complied a massive amount of tips and tricks that can not only increasing your damage but your understanding of the game’s mechanics.   This guide is going to explain material left out of most build pages.  This will also not be class specific so you can take this information to whatever the situation or the context.  Like how do you setup your bar properly to add DPS?  How do people infinitely sustain resources?  And a no BS explanation on light attack weaving and how to start doing this easily.  Let’s start with my first and VERY important tip and that’s damage over time or DoTs, why are they important and which do you choose?

Table of Contents
  • #5 Understanding Damage over Time
  • #4 Bar Setup That Makes SENSE
  • #3 Rotations that WORK
  • #2 How-to Resource Sustain
  • #1 Light Attack Weaving

Video Guide

Written Guide:

#5 Understanding Damage over Time
Most people look at a build page, whether from me or another content creator and have zero clue why the build cast and or maintains certain damage over time abilities.  The simplest why I can explain this to you is understanding Elder Scrolls Online has a one second global cooldown system.  In general, when an ability is cast, you’ll have a one second animation before you can cast another ability.  This is excluding channeled abilities which may have one or more schedule before finishing.

Think of your classic main spammable abilities:
  • Nightblade: Surprise Attack
  • Ranged Magicka: Crushing Shock
  • Stamina Melee: Shrouded Dagger

All of which have one-second-long animation before the next ability can be used.  The idea here is that you want to use the most damage producing attack every time you have a global cooldown available.  Here’s an experiment to illustrate this and how you can use this premise to change your builds.

Let’s say a single cast of Surprise Attack on a stamina Nightblade hits for 10,000 non critical strike.  Now what if we cast a damage over time ability like Twisting Path, which cost one second in terms of time (GCD)?  This will produce around 30,000 DPS after the entire duration of the ability and only cost you one second, same as Surprise Attack.  This is the premise behind casting damage over time (DoT) effects.
When determining to cast a DoT You’ll want one of two things happening.  One, it does more damage, over the duration of the ability than your main spammable and/or two, it provides some buff to you or the group that amplifies damage significantly.  An example of number two is the skill Solar Barrage from the Magicka Templar.  Yes, it does some decent damage, but the skill gives the empower buff boosting your light and heavy attack damage by 40% over its duration.  Maintaining this skill becomes a priority not because its damage necessarily, but the buff Empower boosting your overall DPS!

Let’s do an experiment on a 3 million HP dummy to illustrate this point clearly.  The first parse will do just jabs spam (Puncturing Sweeps).  Second will do one damage over time Vampire's Bane.  And third will do another DoT Degeneration from the Mages Guild.  (see video for specifics):
  • TEST 1: Base just Jabs = 32,833
  • TEST 2: 1x DoT Vampire's Bane then Jabs = 35,499 (8.11% increase)
  • TEST 3: 2X DoTs, Vamp + Degeneration = 36,466 (11.06% increase)

Keep in mind these damage over times are contextual and another bonus tip.  If you’re in a trial and someone is providing like a Necromancer using the skill Empowering Grasp, you might switch Solar Barrage skill out for Ritual of Retribution to increase overall damage.  Or if you’re playing solo and no one is providing major breech, you might swap in Elemental Drain skill from the destruction staff skill line in, because the armor reduction of 5948 provides a huge boost to overall DPS and would our perform Solar Barrage.

You can and should do experiments on your build to form your own opinions and build modification for the context of play you enjoy: solo, group content like four player arenas/dungeons or trials.  Sit with your build and experiment over and over on various target dummies.  Does using Unstable Wall of Fire actually increase my DPS or is it a lost?  Run the exact same setup, plus or minus one ability and see, not from me or another creator but for you, is it worth running.  Then you can make these adjustments throughout each and every build gaining a better understanding of the why, not just copy and paste.

#4 Bar Setup That Makes SENSE
“Deltia why do you run Barb Trap instead of Channeled Acceleration for most of your solo builds?”
it’s due to the passive benefit slotting the skill provides. The reason most folks run Channeled Acceleration is for the minor force buff giving 10% critical damage for an enormous amount of time of 36 seconds. This is ideal for solo arenas or certain dungeons with short boss fights.  But what if we could get the same buff with MEGA damage increase, we can and that’s the Fighter’s Guild ability Barb Trap.

This ability not only gives the buff of minor force but it does damage, a lot of damage.  And with the hybridization of stats, it works well on magicka or stamina builds and cost magicka.  The downside is the duration isn’t that long and it does take a second to arm.  But the upsides are in the passives Slayer and Banished the Wicked.

Slayer gives you increase weapon or spell damage by 3% making it great to add on your front bar.  Moreover, the Banished the Wicked passive gives you 3 ultimate whenever you kill an enemy.  During trash pulls you’ll generate an enormous amount of ultimate allowing you, to well you guessed it do more DPS.

Now we can use the Fighter’s Guild Barb Trap on our front bar to boost our ultimate generation and spell/weapon damage.  Let’s throw on another ability that we won’t even activate from the Mage’s Guild Inner Light to boost or critical chance and max magicka by 5% per the ability and another 2% via Magicka Controller.  But why stop there?  Let’s go back to Fighter’s Guild and throw on Flawless Dawnbreaker ultimate on our front bar for another 3% boost.

Then let’s do an experiment running the exact same DoTs on the Magplar.  First example, will remove the abilities that passively boost our damage on a 3 million dummy.  Second, will add them and see how much our DPS improved.
  • TEST 1: No damage amp skills (DPS 43,741)
  • TEST 2: added three damage amp SLOTTABLES (DPS 47,026 - 7.5% increase)

You’ll also want to check your class passives to make sure you’re slotting specific abilities to increase damage. Take the templar for example, if you don’t slot an Aedric Spear ability on your bar, you’re losing out on 10% critical damage via the Piercing Spear passive. Put jabs on the front, spear or something else on the back to optimize your loadout for huge damage.

Now that you know how to evaluate and loadout your bar with damage over time effects which improve your DPS, you fill in the blanks with spaces with skills that passively boost your damage.  Now you’re starting to do big DEEPS!  But we are not done, how do we manage our buffs, debuffs and rotations?  I’m glad you asked, that’s tip number 3!

#3 Rotations that WORK


Think of your rotation to have three phases: buff or prefight, priorities and execute phase (which doesn’t apply to some classes like the magicka Dragonknight).

In the pre-buff phase, you’re casting everything longest to shortest first especially those that do not require a target.  Solo it could be Elemental Drain on a boss, then on a Magicka Templar, Channeled Focus which doesn’t require an enemy, than Solar Barrage which also doesn’t require an enemy.  You continue that sort of ritual each and every fight to get the muscle memory down for an ideal pull.  That way, when you start you have buffs/debuffs activate.  I constantly see people standing around in dungeons right before the tank pulls doing nothing.  But you’ll see good players constantly cycling their pre-buff abilities which do not aggro the boss waiting for a pull.  Thus, when the engagement does happen, now you’ve saved 3-4 cooldowns, thus 3-4 seconds and that’s a lot of damage.  If you get anything from this, pre-buff each and every fight an cycle through your pre-buff ritual longest to shortest constantly and make it muscle memory.

Next you enter the initial phase of combat and this too could be it’s own 20 minute video.  You’ll want to land as much damage in a short window as possible to spike the damage at the start before entering priority phase.  Take a magplar back bar ultimate Shooting Star.  Casting this doesn’t land right away, also giving me a Empower for the next attack.  My pre-buff phase will be done, I’ll hit Shooting Star, then toss a Blazing Spear and immediately light attack.  Now instead of a clunky pull you’ll have three attacks landing almost simultaneous SPIKING your damage huge.

Combat has been initiated now you cycle through your initial cast of all your buffs, DoTs and debuff and manage them until execute phase which can be different for every class.  How I approach priorities and knowing my most damage producing, most group impactful or survivability skill on my front and back bar.  How I approach this with my magplar is Purifying Light, my number one priority on my front bar. Not only does it do great damage, it heals anyone near the target, procs two important dawn’s wrath passives which generate ultimate and increase group spell damage.  Then my number one priority on my back bar is Unstable Wall of Fire paired with a Destruction Staff from Maelstrom Arena.  This will not only do great AoE and single target damage but increase my light attack weaving and proc an infused berserker spell damage enchant even when on my front bar.  Thus, I’m getting a huge damage increase from light attacking and massive spell damage.

If I’m not under pressure, I can add even more DoTs and I setup my bar working left to right from longest to shortest.  This makes it very easy for me to visually scan, and see the timers and cast in the right order.  12 second ritual of ret, 10 second blazing spear, 10 second Unstable Wall of Fire , bar swap.  Front bar, Purifying Light, Barb Trap, sweeps until my DoTs start falling off, bar swap and repeat.  If you get anything from this, I’d start by adding one or more DoTs to your rotation. Experiment with what’s manageable and chunk together left to right your priorities.  Know what’s most important and experiment on the dummy and in content what really works and is worth keeping up.

Last thing before moving on and that’s execute phase.  I’ll be brief here or it’ll be a 45 minute video, but advanced mechanics and longer hard mode dungeons and trials, you’ll let certain DoTs “fall off” because your execute ability gets more powerful the lower HP the boss gets.  Meaning, once a boss enters 25% or so, you’re magplar should be using Radiant Oppression (J-Beam) rather than Puncturing Sweeps to get the most damage.  You’ll be cast buffs/DoTs/Debuffs until certain HP thresholds like 15% or so, the Unstable Wall of Fire ability may not actually increase your DPS because Beam hits so hard at that HP it’s just worth light attacking and hitting J-Beam.  Pretty advance stuff for folks doing parsing and hard mode trials, but worth mentioning.

I feel like I’m on tip number 20, but no it’s two and that’s how to resource sustain?

#2 How-to Resource Sustain
Regardless if you’re magicka or a stamina based build, or well I guess hybrid now adays you need to understand how to sustain and why it’s so important.  When I return to the game after taking a break I didn’t understand food choices and how/why to use different one’s so let’s start there as the fundamentals of DPS sustain.

High Skill Cap = consider these two foods the absolute best for resource sustaining long duration fights like Hardmode trials and parsing.  But it comes at a cost and that’s zero HP.

Lava Foot for stamina users and Ghastly for magicka users gives you your main stat at a massive value and recovery at a massive value but you’ll lack health.  I don’t use this unless running with a bunch of super sweaty PvE try hards that know the fights like the back of their hand.  Reason is, you have zero room for error and sitting at 18,000 you better not stand and one circle or you’ll be a death flopping soul gem.

Great = consider this food expensive but the best all around, with health, recovery and max stats but expensive.
Artaeum Takeaway Broth for stamina users and Clockwork Citrus Filet for magicka are a great way to sustain and get up around 21-23,000 health and have some room for screw ups.

Good = a cheaper alternative is the following drinks with less stats but less hit on your pocket book.
Dubious Camoran Throne for stamina users and Witchmother’s Potent Brew are great alternatives with a little less stats across the board, but can get you started at any level for dirt cheap.

I’m not going to go into the advance stuff like bi-stat food with Bahsei, but this is the general idea, find a food that you can afford and a HP pool that doesn't get you killed over and over.  New DPS players, don’t go 18,000 health, stick to around 22,000 plus or minus a 1,000.  It’s much better than dying over and over with a little less DPS and getting kicked from the group.

There are some weapon choices you can go with that help resource sustain.  For magicka users don’t sleep on lighting staff.  Is this meta backbar set for DPS? No, but it’s much easier to channel a fully charge heavy attack, it does AoE damage and makes a great back bar weapon because of the chance to apply status effect.  When I started over on PC EU, this is what I used on my back bar with a the shield ability harness magicka from the light armor skill line.  When I was OoM or out of magicka, I could go to my back bar, rip off a fully charged heavy and hit a shield if I was under pressure.  You can sit and do this over and over and reliably land the attack, constantly do damage both single target and AoE and not get panicky when OoM.

For stamina based users, consider front barring a Two Handed weapon.  Again, is this meta damage front bar weapon? No that’s dual wield but there’s a juicy passive Battle Rush that gives 30% stamina recovery for 10 seconds after kill a target.  Now image playing solo and constantly keeping this up, combined with a good solid food choice you’ll have much more gas in the tank.

There’s a couple of skills you can use, Elemental Drain for magicka users which gives magicka sustain and consuming trap, a universal skill from the soul magicka skill line.  It does decent damage, and when a mob dies you get a flood of resources back and healing.  Consuming trap becomes less relevant in trials but for solo and beginners it’s a life saver.

In group play, you’ll also want to constantly proc and smash synergies.  Activating a synergy restores 4% of your Max Health, Stamina, and Magicka via Undaunted Command Passive. The higher the values, the more resource sustain and with each on a 20 second cool down, you should have plenty of sustain coming in especially the more coordinated the group.  Consider maxing out this skill line a priority along with Undaunted Mettle giving you increase in max stats by 2% per type of armor worn.

You’ll also need to max out medical use passive via the alchemy skill line for the Medical Use Passive.  When using potions, resulting effects last 30% longer.  You combine this with an Spell Power Potion for magicka users and get 47.3 of major intellect increasing magicka recovery by 30%.  With a 45 second cooldown, you’ll be able to keep 100% up time on key buffs including sustain.

Touching on gear briefly, magicka users can use either Overwhelming Surge from Tempest Island or False Gods Devotion from Sunspire trial.  While Stamina users can use Vicious Ophidian from Hel Ra or Sanctum Ophidia.

Combine potions, passives, synergies, gear, skills and weapon choices and you should have easy time sustain increasing time on target and increasing DEEPS.  Now let’s get to the mother of all DPS increases and that’s light attack weaving.

#1 Light Attack Weaving

Before I get another comment about Light Attack Weaving being an exploit, STOP it’s not.  This is part of the games mechanics.  Remember me constantly talking about a global cool down for abilities being a fundamental part of ESO?  Well it’s abilities and light attacks are on separate cooldowns.  Thus you can sync them up like a heart beat essentially getting free damage.  Let me say that clearly again, think of light attack weaving of syncing up to separate global cooldowns almost simultaneously.  You end up clicking your light attack key, then immediately skill, then light attack, immediately skill.  Da da, da da, da da, like a heart beat.  Your character will have this weird animation if you’re syncing it up tightly.  The tighter you can sync up the more DPS you’re doing.

Take a picture of this a parse I did of 91,000 on my magplar.  No this isn’t that good, but the point is your main spammable and your light attack should be both in the top two.  If you’re doing really good, light attack can even be your number one source of damage.
Another tip is to think of light attack weaving as rhythmic, 118 beats per minute which you can find some songs to pair up with.  I also jump a lot in combat, which has a cooldown as well. This helps me get in rhythm of the fight, pair my cooldowns and light attacks easier.   Again it’s the pairing of these two together, getting free DPS using the timing and mechanics of the game to stack two global cooldowns on top of each other.

Final bonus tip that falls in line with light attack weaving is bar swap cancel.  Take a long winded animation like elemental blockade/unstable wall.  You can cast this, and immediately hit your bar swap which will clip/cancel the animation saving time and thus increase your dps.  Then when you’re finished with your rotation on the front bar, do the exact same thing, bar swap as soon as your last front bar ability has finished it’s effect.  You can practice this which doing your pre-buff phase to get it down to muscle memory and adding a TON of DPS.
Well that was A LOT of tips and mechanics explained let me summarize like a good middle school teacher.
  • #5 start experimenting with damage over times, buffs, debuffs and see what really adds DPS or lowers it depending on what you play.  Start by simplifying your build, then add one extra ability at a time to judge the impact.t
  • #4 Setup your bar the most efficient and effective way.  Fill your bar up with damage over times and buffs, then fill in the blanks with damage amplifying abilities that give you a passive bonus.  Make sure to understand your passives and slot abilities on each bar to take advantage.
  • #3 Think of your rotation as three phases: pre-buff out of combat, priorities and executes.  Know what’s the most important and why and slowly add abilities and chunk them together to optimize DPS.
  • #2 Use the proper food for the content you’re playing in, select an appropriate weapon type for your level and max out important passives to take full advantage of DPS and sustain.
  • #1 Last but certainly not least, think of the light attack weaving like a heartbeat, syncing up to abilities together for increased DPS.

Thanks for reading our Top 5 Tips for Increasing Your DPS in ESO.  Please make sure come watch me live on Twitch and interact with me on Twitter!
In-game @deltiasgaming | for Elder Scrolls Online [ESO / TESO] Guides
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