Creating your character is the first decision that you must make when playing The Elder Scrolls Online. Although you are presented with a wide variety of options for altering your character's appearance, the only decision that has an actual effect on your gameplay is your faction, usually determined by your race. Your character's capabilities are more strongly affected by how you choose to play the game (and by choices made when you level up) than by your initial character creation.
The factors that you must decide upon are:
- Your Race
- Determines the racial skill line.
- Your Gender
- Your Appearance
- While largely governed by your choices of gender and race, you can also fine-tune most aspects of your character's physical appearance. These choices have no effect upon gameplay.
- Your Class
- Although many abilities are available to all characters or to specific races, there are a number of class specific abilities to take into consideration.
- Your Faction
There are nine possible races to choose from: Altmer (or High Elf), Argonian, Bosmer (or Wood Elf), Breton, Dunmer (or Dark Elf), Khajiit, Nord, Orc, and Redguard (a tenth, Imperial, is available only with the Imperial Edition). Personal preference can also play an important role in this decision, since your character's race controls your character's appearance. The objective considerations are:
- Each race has its own skill line.
Full details on these characteristics are provided on each individual race page; a table summarizing skills and special abilities can be found on the race summary page.
Many aspects of your character's appearance can be customized. There is a wide variety of aspects you can tweak and they come under various sections:
- Body Type
- Two subsections. One is a triangular slider with three options of Muscular, Large, and Thin. This is the main factor in your character's body shape. The second is Height. Although both of these factors are largely tied to race, with Altmer being the tallest, Orcs being the bulkiest, and Bosmer being the smallest in either regard, these sliders allow players to differentiate their characters from other members of the same race.
- Two subsections of Skin Color and Body Markings. Your options are dependent on your race (there are some shared options and some unique options for each race). Although each race has a larger selection of possible skin colors than in Skyrim, the overall range has been reduced for some races. For example, Nords and Bretons have a large number of subtly different skin tones to choose from, but they will remain fairly light-skinned no matter which a player chooses.
- Upper Body
- Six subsections of Torso Size, Chest Size, Gut Size, Waist Size, Arm Size, and Hand Size. The triangular body type slider will also affect each of these body parts, so these individual sliders allow the fine-tuning of body proportions within the selected body type.
- Lower Body
- At least four subsections of Hip Size, Posterior Dimensions, Leg Size, and Feet Size. Again, these work in conjunction with the body type slider to control the proportions of each body part.
- Face Type
- One subsection; a triangular slider with three options of Heroic, Soft, and Angular. This is the main factor in your character's face.
- Voice Type
- One subsection; your choice of voice for generic sounds.
- Two subsections of Hair Style and Hair Color. These options are dependent on race but also on gender, with some unique hairstyles per race, notably for Argonians and Khajiit. You will have a maximum of 24 hairstyles to choose from no matter what choices you have made up until this point.
- At least three subsections of Age, Adornments, and Head Markings.
- Seven subsections of Forehead Slope, Cheekbone Size, Cheekbone Height, Jaw Size, Chin Size, Chin Height, and Neck Size.
- At least four subsections of Eye Color, Eye Size, Eye Angle, and Eye Separation. Eye color has unique options for several races, such as all black eyes for Bosmer or red eyes for Dunmer.
- The Dragonknight class is best suited for tanking oriented characters due to the Draconic Power and Earthen Heart skill lines, although the Ardent Flame skill line does provide some rather literal firepower.
- Nightblades are best suited for characters with a stealth focus, reflected by its skill lines of Assassination, Shadow, and Siphoning.
- Sorcerers are the most magically focused class, and have access to Dark Magic, Daedric Summoning, and Storm Calling.
- The Templar class has both decent magical and melee capabilities. Their Aedric Spear skill line is focused on improving their melee abilities, while the Restoring Light and Dawn's Wrath skill lines primarily augment their magical powers.
There are three available factions: the Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant, and the Ebonheart Pact. Faction alignment is usually determined by race with the exception of Imperials who can be aligned with any faction. Players with the Explorer's Pack can choose to play any faction with any race.
- The character creation process has more options for appearance than previous Elder Scrolls games.
- Attributes (as seen in Oblivion) do not exist, meaning that your choice of race has fewer implications, and that gender does not affect gameplay.
- You cannot alter your appearance after creation, but there are plans to release more hairstyles, adornments, body markings, etc. later on. Whether there will be an option to change your appearance in-game (such as through the Surgery quest in Skyrim) is unknown.
- The Imperial race is only available with the Imperial Edition of the game.
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