Matt Bird writes all sorts of nonsense, but he dedicates a large chunk of his time to writing game walkthroughs.
Welcome to the world of The Elder Scrolls Online! The world of Tamriel is beset by danger, as usual, and it's up to you to free it from the machinations of a Daedric Prince who's feeling rather soul-greedy. First, though, you'll have to free yourself from the demon's foul jail . . .
As with every Elder Scrolls iteration (and any MMO, for that matter), The Elder Scrolls Online begins with the simple act of character creation. There are a wide number of particulars, but they boil down to a few general categories:
- Faction: Which of the three do you choose? Your faction determines your overall allegiance as far as quests and various multiplayer interactions are concerned. Your faction also determines which species you can choose.
- Class: Are you a fighter? A thief? A mage? Or something of a blend? Which you choose will greatly influence how your character handles in battle. Don't be afraid to experiment with a test character or two before settling on a favoured class.
- Appearance: How do you look to the rest of the world? This part is purely aesthetic, so go nuts.
All done? Then it's time to plunge into the world. Activate your character . . . and bewail your fate, as you begin the game in a dungeon. Joy!
Soul Shriven in Coldharbour
- What a perilous situation this be. Take your quest's suggestion seriously and have a look around your paltry cell. Approaching the door will trigger the appearance of the Prophet; chat with him a bit to learn a little of his situation, then wait for another prisoner to run up and open your cell. Freedom!
- You're now in a larger antechamber that's filled with torture devices of various shapes and sizes. Upon leaving your cell, look to your left. There are two iron maidens you can pop open. Inside you'll find a Foul Hide, some Plump Worms, and some run-of-the-mill Worms. Foul Hides are vendor trash; Plump Worms serve as ingredients for food (ew); Worms are used as bait for fishing. You're best not to pick up everything you find in The Elder Scrolls Online, as you do have an inventory limit. You're empty now, though, so why not?
- Follow the other escaping prisoners. In the next room, you'll see another iron maiden on your right, again carrying a few gross tidbits of vendor trash to steal. There are plenty of doors along the way, but they can't be opened. Boo.
- Proceed through here 'til you reach several cages. In this room, you'll find a table littered with weapons to steal. You're only meant to grab the weapons best suited to your class, but you can grab them all. They include a Cast-Off Iron Maul, Maple Ice Staff, Iron Shield, and Iron Sword. Equipping these via the Inventory screen will trigger a small tutorial on combat.
- Before leaving this room, check the suspended cages on your left and right. Most contain more useless vendor trash, but the first cage on the right holds a Lockpick. You can use Lockpicks to, well, y'know. Pick locks. Always handy.
- Head through the door, following the other prisoners.
The Bleeding Forge
- Battle! A Skeleton will dash up and attack you here. Bash it to pieces. No need to get fancy, though if you equipped a shield this is a good place to grow accustomed to pulling it up when enemies are attacking.
- Check the cart and the wheelbarrows lining the Bleeding Forge. They look innocuous enough, but each carries items you can snag. Most of them carry low-level crafting items and vendor trash, though one also has another Lockpick, always handy. Don't forget to loot the Skeleton you just defeated, as well (a good policy for the remainder of the game).
- Another door, another battle. This time you're facing a Skeleton Archer. Rush up and batter the thing until it dies. This will boost you up a level! Huzzah. Raise your stats as you see fit, though as a general rule you should stick with stat boosts that will actually benefit your class. Fighters will want Stamina, for example, while magic users benefit more from Magicka. Health is kinda helpful for everyone.
- Loot the barrows in this room. You'll also want to check the piles of skulls for items. Nothing terribly special hereabouts.
- Standing halfway down the room is Lyris Titanborn, whose name should sound familiar. (And voice. Is that you, Commander Shepard?) Talk to her and she'll join your party for a little while.
The Wailing Prison
- Sweet, sweet outdoors. Talk to Lyris and she'll give you your next objective: destroying a Coldharbour Sentinel. Sounds easy enough. You're now amid other players, so feel free to interact. (Though don't kill steal. That's mean.)
- This area is filled with small camps. You can explore the tents to find crates, bags, barrels and boxes filled with generally useless items. Steal to your heart's content.
- You'll also find two new enemies in this area, the simple Feral Shriven and the slightly-tougher Flame Atronach. Shriven just attack you mindlessly until they die; Flame Atronachs do basically the same, but will also explode upon defeat. Back up a bit to avoid taking extra damage. This is a decent place to do some early-game grinding, if you want to get used to the combat system, though don't bother lingering here for long. The returns just aren't worth the bother.
- (Annoyed by the enemies sneaking up on you while you're fiddling with the menu in this area? There are two sure safe places to retreat. The first is to stay at the top of the stairs where you came in. The second, further in, is at the west end of the shimmering blue river. Enemies will not spawn in either place.)
- Make your way across the river and to the southern end of the map. You're looking for a long hill that winds upward to a plateau surrounded in cages. There's a massive blue eye up here; this is the Coldharbour Sentinel you're meant to destroy. Easily done.
- After the eye is toast, make your way back down the slop and check the set of stairs south of the river. Up here is a warded door leading to the Prophet. It is quite blocked. Sigh.
- Talk to Lyris. She'll recommend you talk to Cadwell, a nutty dude who likes living here. He's sitting by a fire to the east of the blocked door. Chat with Cadwell and he'll point out your next destination. You can keep talking to him to learn more of his weird, laid-back history, as well.
- Pull out your map again. If you follow the river to its termination point in the far southeast you'll see a small arrow pointing into the mountains. This is where you need to go. Make your way downstream, slaying Atronachs as you go, and you'll eventually find a door.
- What a fun area. Surprisingly less dangerous than the outdoors, the Undercroft is filled with floor traps that do rather minimal damage to you. Sprint across them when they're down. You'll occasionally run into Feral Shriven, but they're rather uncommon.
- Pull out your map. Your destination is in the southeast, and with some muddling, you can get there rather easily by following the passages. Don't be afraid to stray, however—there are a ton of treasure chests down here, including a number of caches in dead ends, and if you get lucky you may score some new equipment to boost your defense or offense. (Hopefully, there aren't too many other people running through here at the same time.)
- Eventually, you'll be on the hunt for a ladder. Climb up when you find it and follow Lyris in the next area.
- The Prophet's room is brimming with urns. They don't contain a heck of a lot of use on average, but there also won't be any other players hunting about, so . . .
- Talk to Lyris after hunting about. That done, disable the two Daedric Anchor Pinions on either side of the spinning cell. Return to Lyris to complete the exchange, then talk to the Prophet to receive your next task.
- Almost done. Head east out of this room, up the only set of stairs available.
The Anchor Mooring
- Semi-cut scene. Take out the Skeleton Pyromancer and Cryomancer, then go after the Bone Child. The Prophet will protect you, so feel free to hack at them relentlessly with no thought of your own safety. You'll be fine as long as he's in range.
- Scour the room for urns and chests (I found this place particularly rife with Lockpicks, but maybe I was just lucky), then speak to the Prophet. He'll send you through the motions, and soon enough you'll be zipped out of this hellish place . . .
- . . . and off to a nice little shack in some mystery city. Escape complete! Keep talking to the Prophet for some more plot details, as well as a Sealed Urn and a Skill Point for your trouble. Seems like a good beginning to an adventure, no?