When ESO launch, zones were restricted by your character's alliance. Once you completed the main story quest, the other zones would begin to open to you. Eventually, zenimax removed these restrictions so that any character from level one could visit any zone, and begin any alliance or zone-based quest line. With the addition of Morrowind, a new tutorial was introduced, meaning that any new characters and players (who owned Morrowind) would start with the new tutorial and begin in Morrowind instead of their alliance starting zone. Now that Summerset is out, a tutorial for it has been added and characters begin in Summerset. With a new tutorial and other dlc zones added, many new players find themselves incredibly confused on where to start, reasonably so, as the game essentially pops them down in what would be considered current end-game content story-wise. While it is possible to jump into an dlc questline and understand the story well enough, but for those of us who are sticklers for doing things "in order" it's all but impossible to figure out what order to do the quests in without online aid, and even then it can be tough to decipher all the posts, guides, and "main quests". This is my attempt to help new players understand where they should start, based on what story they want to experience first, and what order quests should be done in. I'll try to define and explain what each quest line is as well.
Alliance Zone Main Quests
There are three Alliances in Eso, the Daggerfall Covenant (DC), the Aldmeri Dominion (AD), and the Ebonheart Pact (EP). Typically, which alliance your character belongs to is determined by race. Bretons, Orcs, and Redguards belong to DC; High Elves (Altmer), Wood Elves (Bosmer), and Khajiit belong to AD; Nords, Dark Elves (Dunmer), and Argonians belong to EP. Imperials are a race playable through a paid for upgrade and you can choose which alliance each Imperial Character belongs to. You can also purchase an upgrade that allows you to pick any alliance for any race. If you don't own any "Expansion" Dlc (Morrowind, Summerset, or future dlc) then you'll begin in the original tutorial which will start you on the Main Questline of the base game. The tutorial will then drop you off in your starting zone. The starting zones for the alliances are as follows
DC- Glenumbra/Stros M'kai
AD- Auridon/Khenarthi's Roost
EP- Stonefalls/Bleakrock Isle
Originally, before the "Tamriel One" Update that removed the restrictions on where characters could go when, your alliance zone main quest would get you enough xp so that you'd hit the level requirement for your next Main quest mission. This meant that you played through the zone questline and Main questline side by side, and they would both reach their climax at the same time. Now that the main quest doesn't have level requirements, you can just run through the entire questline. In my opinion, the story is still most satisfying when the zone quest and main quest are done side by side. The zone questline and main questline will both have you entering the same zone for separate story purposes, but those purposes (and your traveling to that zone) are meant to entertwine and conveniently happen at the same time. I will include a guide on how to play through these quests in the old way later on when I cover the Main Quest.
If you have expansion DLC, your tutorial will be the most recently added tutorial that you own, and you will begin in that dlc zone. If you wish to start with the original Alliance Zone quests, check your alliance, and go to the location listed above. You will need to go to a certain city and find a certain NPC who will give you the questline. The reason I've listed two locations for each alliance is because at one point, the zone quests started in each of those locations. Now, both starting points exist. The First location will simply give you a quest that sends you to the second location to begin the actual zone questline, or you can go straight to the second location. If you want the "full" experience, which is literally just an npc telling you to "go to (second location)" then go to the first location.
If you're in DC, go to Glenumbra and go to the city Daggerfall. Just inside the southern gate of Daggerfall you will find and NPC named Mihayya. Speak to her and she will give you the quest, "The Broken Spearhead". This is the first quest in the DC questline. It will lead you to Stros M'kai.
If you're in AD, go to Auridon and the city Vuhlkel Guard. An NPC, Captain Temouille, who you'll find on one of the ships in the port, will give you the quest, "Storm on the Horizon". This will take you to Khenarthi's Roost and begin the Questline.
If you're in EP, you'll want to go to Stonefalls, to the city of Davon's Watch. The NPC named Riurik, near the entrance to Sadreno's house will give you the quest, "A Beginning at Bleakrock". This will send you on your way to Bleakrock Isle and begin the zone quest for you.
The Main Quest
If you only own the base game, or the base game and non-expansion Dlc (clockwork city, Orsinium, Thieves Guild, Dark brotherhood) you will start in the base game tutorial which is the beginning of the Main Quest of the base game. Once you finish the tutorial you will be able to meet the prophet in his hideout, "The Haborage". You will return to the Prophet to begin each new quest in the main questline. Originally, before the One Tamriel update, these quests were level locked, now they can be played consecutively without break. If you own an expansion dlc and did not get the base game tutorial, to start the main quest you'll want to travel to a major city in mainland Tamriel. Major cities outside of mainland Tamriel may work, but in my opinion it is best to simply travel to your alliance's starting zone and city. You will be approached by a hooded figure who will inform you that their benefactor wishes to meet with you and give you the quest "Soul Shriven in ColdHarbour". Following this quest will lead you to the original tutorial. While the gameplay is the exact same as if it were a tutorial, it will not make you aware of this. So when you find yourself unable to move or use a certain attack, it's because it wants you to perform an action of the tutorial. It's pretty easy to figure out. Once you complete this quest, you'll be sent back to your alliance's starting zone, and will be contacted by the Prophet. If you want to match up the Zone questline and the Main Questline so that they both culminate at the same time, follow this guide. This guide specifies at what point to do each main quest relative to what alliance zone region you are in or entering. If you don't know which region you are in or entering, check the reference below.
Region 4-Alik'r Desert
Region 4-Malabal Tor
Region 5-Reaper's March
Region 5-The Rift
Main Quest Order-
Spoiler warning, this portion of the guide includes quest names that may be considered spoilers.
The Harborage- Complete this quest in your starting zone, before beginning your alliance zone questline
Daughter of Giants- Complete this quest during your time in Region 1.
Chasing Shadows- Complete this quest at the end of Region 1, or beginning of Region 2
Castle of the Worm- Complete this quest during your time in Region 2
The Tharn Speaks- Complete this quest at the end of Region 2, or beginning of Region 3
Halls of Torment- Complete this quest at the end of Region 3
Valley of Blades- Complete this quest during your time in Region 4
Shadow of Sancre Tor- Complete this quest during your time in Region 5
Council of the Five Companions- Complete this quest after Shadow of Sancre Tor
After Council of the Five Companions, complete the Alliance Questline, the final quest of which is "The Final Assault"
God of Schemes- Complete this quest, the final of the main Questline, after completing "The Final Assault"
At the time of writing this guide, there are Seven Story based DLC (Not including dungeon dlcs). Two of these Dlc, The Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood, are standalone and needn't be completed in any order relative to the base game or other dlc. To start these DLC, go to any Outlaws Refuge and find Quen. She will give you a quest that will begin the thieves guild questline and take you to the dlc zone, Hew's Bane; or find Amelie Crowe in any Outlaws Refuge and accept the dark brotherhood beginning quest from her, which will lead you to the dlc zone, The Gold Coast.
The remaining five DLC can of course be done in any order, like all content, but are connected through narrative in a specific order. That order, and how to start each zone (including prologue quests) is as follows:
Orsinium- Accept quest from Struga in starting city and travel to Wrothgar
Morrowind- Accept quest, "The Missing Prophecy" from either Rhea Opacarius or Alessio Guillon in any main city inn for the prologue quest. Speak to Alavesa Arethan in Seyda Neen to begin main questline. Note: if you begin a character after purchasing Morrowind without owning Summerset, your tutorial will be the one for Morrowind, and upon finishing it you will be in Seyda Neen
Clockwork City- Got to any Mages Guild Hall and interact with the Order of the Eye Dispatch item to begin the prologue quest. Find and talk to Eldrasea Deras in the City Center in Mournhold, Treasury in Wayrest, or Treasury in Elden Root to begin the main questline
Summerset- Accept the quest "Through a Veil Darkly" from the crown store and use the Mages Guild Message stone to speak to Vanus Galerion and accept the prologue quest. Speak to Calibar at the Shimmerene wayshrine in Summerset to accept the Main Questline
Murkmire- Approach the "Help Wanted" poster in any of the zone starting cities to begin prologue quest. Speak to Famia Mercius in Lilmoth to begin Main Questline.
The Mages and Fighters Guilds also have their own questlines in game. As far as the story is concerned, these should be done before you finish Region 5 of the Alliance Questline. Originally you could only do one quest for each guild per Region of your alliance, and you would do each quest upon reaching the region it was in. To start the questlines, simply enter each respective guild hall in the starting city of your alliance and speak to the quest giver in the guild hall.
That concludes my story timeline guide. I've noticed a lot of posts from newcomers lately asking how to navigate the story post One Tamriel, especially now that the chapters switch up the tutorial and where you start. If there are any spots I can improve it, please let me know, and let me know if I've missed anything. Not that I consider this definitive at all, but I also think it would be nice if this post, or one like it could be stickied for newcomers, though it's possible I'm completely inept and there already is one. Either way, I hope this guide helps anyone lost on where to go and how to begin the awesome story in ESO.
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