Beginner’s Guide to Improving at PvP

by NirnStorm
12th May 2021

Guide Contents

Looking for some tips or advices about getting started with PvP, or improving your performance in PvP activities? We got you covered!

In this guide I’ll be sharing my top 5 tips for beginners to improve at PvP activities!
Whether you’re a new player to ESO, an experienced veteran who hasn’t delved into PvP too much, or even a PvP player who would like to learn from the experience of others, this guide is just for you!

Note: If you prefer watching videos over reading text, I’ve also made a YouTube video which should be attached to the right side of this guide that you can check out! It has the same content and tips, just provided in a different format!

Prioritize your skills correctly

When getting into a fight, whether in Cyrodiil, battlegrounds or even just a casual duel, a lot of players don’t know how to begin. This is where our first tip comes in.

At the start of a fight or even before, when you know a fight is about to begin, you want to make sure to preemptively cast your buffs and prioritize those correctly. The high-priority buffs and skills are obviously different for each class and build, but I’ll try to generalize those, to help keep it simple:

  • Major resolve is your main defensive buff, as it increases both your physical and spell resistance. You always want to make sure to have this buff active and refresh it before its effect wares off. There are many different skills that activate this buff, but whichever one you use on your build is a high priority skill.
  • Major Sorcery (for magicka builds) or Brutality (for stamina builds) is your main offensive buff, as it increases your spell or weapon damage by 20%, and is very crucial for both your damage dealing and your healing done. Just like Major Resolve, this is a super high priority buff to keep up.

In addition to your high-priority buffs, you also want to make sure to prioritize your heal over time effects – if you have any – or your “re-cast” heals (healing abilities that require a second cast a few seconds later for the heal to occur), as those won’t give you a burst heal on demand, unless you made sure to apply those ahead of time.

Preparing for a fight in Cyrodiil
Preemptively Casting Your Buffs Is Key

Positioning Is Everything

From allowing you to survive tough scenarios, to capitalizing on damage and getting a kill, your positioning in a fight can really make an unimaginable difference – and sometimes win or lose you the whole fight.

There are many different ways to utilize your positioning – and your enemy’s – to your benefit. Here are a few basic ones, to get you started with:

  • When you see a group of enemies approaching, try to start moving away from them while evaluating the encounter. The slight movement towards a safe spot, friendly group, or even a building or a tree to kite around could save your life if the enemies choose to target you.
  • Use such objects (buildings, trees, rock piles, etc.) to break line-of-sight from your enemies while you’re healing up or buffing. This will buy you a few seconds where the enemies have to walk around said objects to target you and start dealing damage to you, as most abilities can’t damage you without clear line-of-sight between the enemy and yourself.
  • Try to walk around the backs of your enemies if they are attacking you from melee range. If you walk through an enemy or around them, many times their abilities will cancel as they are facing the wrong way, and they will have to turn the camera around to target you again. Repeating this process can prevent many hits from damaging you.

While this might seem complex to do, it’s something your brain picks up on and does automatically when you get a bit more experienced – but for starters, just try to mind your position whenever possible, and place yourself further from enemies when at risk of taking a lot of damage, and closer when you feel safer.

It’s very common to see 1vXers or small-scale players in Cyrodiil run away from fights and kite enemies until they get to groups of rocks, or corners of buildings. This is a common practice for the exact same reasoning – it allows the player to move around an object to break the enemies’ line of site and prevent them from damaging the player until they are healed up and ready to retaliate.

Note: To see examples and analysis of such movement techniques, check the attacked video to the side of this guide. In this video I show several clips with advanced movement and explain what I do in real time!

Positioning yourself in a battleground
Your Positioning in a Fight Can Make a Difference

Value your life more than a kill

A very common mistake players tend to make in PvP, is committing too hard to a fight, and trying as hard as possible to kill a low health player, even at the risk of dying, when their health is low.
To avoid making such a mistake, it’s important to simply remember your life should mean more to you, than a kill.

Look at it from a mathematical point of view. If your group has 3 players alive, and the enemy group has 4, if your team value getting a kill more than healing up, and risk dying for each kill, even if each of you manages to get a kill, the last enemy player can finish you all off and get the victory easily.
Instead, if you focus on healing up and only choose to attack and kill enemy players when you’re not risking your life, you’ll have a much higher chance to win the fight, especially if the enemy team doesn’t follow this tip.

While in many PvP games such as shooters sacrificing your own life to get a kill off an enemy team could be worth it, espcially if your own team can capitalize on this move to get a better position or additional kills down the line, due to the very swingy nature of PvP  in ESO and the fast-paced healing that exists in the game, such moves aren’t ideal/ and tend to lose your team more than it gains, especially if your side is outnumbered.

Group of players in the elder scrolls online
Value Your Own & Teammates’ Lives More Than Getting Kills

Burst is often better than pressure

As I mentioned before, healing is very fast paced and very effective in PvP, and thus there are two main methods of killing enemy players despite them healing: Bursting or pressuring them.

Pressuring an enemy means dealing large amounts of damage to them continuously, which out-weigh the amount of healing they can do, until eventually they are killed. This is usually done through stacking many damage-over-time abilities to enemy players, however can be very hard to pull off if the enemy you are fighting is very tanky or has a strong healing power.

Bursting an enemy means combining a lot of different damage methods, such as delayed damage skills, enchantments, and pre-applied debuffs – to take down a huge portion of the enemy’s health down at one moment, and kill them before they get the chance to heal.

Unlike pressuring, which requires your damage power to be stronger than an enemy’s healing power and often takes a long while, bursting enemy players tends to be the more effective route, catching an enemy player by surprise and killing them before they get the chance to react. Some classes are naturally better at creating a big burst than others, but on any class timing your skills correctly to create a good burst that kills your target could be key to winning a fight.

Swinging an attack in Cyrodiil
Timing Your Skills to Create a Burst Could Be Key to Winning a Fight

Don’t be afraid to lose or die

Many newer players in PvP and sometimes even veteran ones tend to be too afraid to die and avoid participating in fights as a result. While this route might seem safer, it often prevents players from practicing, gaining experience and learning to play their classes and builds better.

Always remember there’s no real penalty for dying in PvP other than maybe having to ride for a few seconds or minutes to join the fight again. It’s far better to jump into a fight and practice your technique even if you lose than to stand on a keeps wall and watch other people have all the fun.

Taking that leap and rushing into a fight, or accepting a duel or queueing into a battleground match could sometimes be scary – but after you do it a few times, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable, and quite likely be happy that you tried.

Even if you fail and lose, you always learn something new. You might learn to prioritize healing earlier in the fight, to position yourself differently, or to focus a different target in your next encounter – or at the very least, what your character and build can handle, and what gets it killed.

And remember, you can’t win if you don’t try!

Joining the fight in the elder scrolls online
Risking Losing Or Dying Is Better Than Letting Others Have All The Fun!


Those were my top 5 beginners tips for ESOs PvP!

I hope you enjoyed this guide and learned something new!
If you did, please make sure to share it with your friends and guild members who might benefit from it! Sharing my guides helps me a lot with growing this website and keeping it going.

For more information about PvP activities in ESO and getting started with them, check out my Introduction to PvP guide!

If you have any questions, suggestions, or feedback, please feel free to reach out to me either via my discord server, or by tagging me on Twitter.

Thank you for reading this guide and best of luck to you in your PvP adventures in Tamriel!

About NirnStorm
NirnStorm is a content creator on Twitch and on YouTube. He currently plays and streams mainly The Elder Scrolls Online, with a focus on end-game PvP, and occasionally some different games such as Witcher, Among Us, Apex Legends and many others!