Racial abilities / passives / skills have a profound impact in The Elder Scrolls Online because they are more defining of your capabilities than your class, interesting enough. Not a lot is explained on the character creation screen, so here is the skills for each of the races and what they’re best at.
Every race gets 15% additional experience with one weapon line, in addition to generally one or more stat boosts, and then a special skill of some kind.
Light Armor Affinity (15% exp gain with Light Armor), Gift of Magnus (4% Max Magicka), Spell Resistance (2 Spell Resistance), Magicka Mastery (1% Cost Reduction of Magicka Spells).
Bretons are good for just about anything, their racials don’t add up to much and there isn’t a lot of really good stuff up there. The free extra Magicka is pretty rad, I guess. You’ll start with 8 extra points and get 4 extra points every 100 Magicka you have… which I mean, isn’t a ton.
Heavy Armor Expertise (15% exp gain with Heavy Armor), Brawny (Max Health and Max Stamina increase by 2%), Robust (Increases Health Regeneration in combat by 5%), and Swift (Sprint cost reduction and speed increase by 3%).
Orcs have some really good racials, primarily Brawny which will give you 2 extra health and stamina every 100 points and Swift which makes Sprinting a little bit easier.
Shield Affinity (15% exp gain with One Handed and Shield), Vigor (3% Stamina recovery in combat), Conditioning (4% Max Stamina), and Adrenaline Rush (1 Stamina on-hit with melee weapons every 3 seconds).
Redguards make excellent tanks and melee DPS. The Stamina regeneration is actually really good and the 4% additional Stamina isn’t bad. If you plan on going for melee DPS then Redguard is for you.
Destruction Talent (15% exp gain with Destruction Staves), Spellcharge (3% Magicka recovery in combat), Gift of Magnus (4% Max Magicka), Elemental Talents (2% additional damage with Cold, Fire, or Shock effects).
You might think that this is specifically for spell casters, but not realistically. Everyone uses Magicka in some capacity or has the option to, so the additional Magicka and recovery is good for pretty much everyone. While the additional effect damage applies to everyone but healers, pretty much.
Archery Expertise (15% exp gain with Bows), Vigor (3% Stamina recovery while in combat), Resist Affliction (poison and disease resistance by 8, max Stamina by 1%), and Stealthy (1 meter additional Stealth radius and 3% more Stealth damage).
These are some ok racials, very generalized. Nightblades can use the additional stealth damage a little bit better than others.
Medium Armor Expertise (15% exp gain with medium armor), Robust (5% Health regeneration in combat), Stealthy (1 meter additional Stealth radius and 3% more Stealth damage), and Carnage (1% critical rating for melee and 5% critical damage).
These are some very strong racials, specifically Carnage which is a huge DPS boost.
Restoration Expertise (15% exp gain with Restoration Staves), Amphibious (Swimming Speed by 50%, 5% potion effectiveness), Argonian Resistance (Max Health by 1%, Poison / Disease resistance by 8), and Quick to Mend (2% additional healing).
Great tanks and good in PvP for moving through water or just in general whenever you have to be in water the movement speed is crazy important.
Dark Elf Skills
Ambidexterity (15% exp gain with Dual Wield), Dynamic (increases maximum Magicka and Stamina by 2%), Resist Flame (Fire Resistance by 11, 1% maximum Magicka), and Flame Talent (Increases Spell Power with fire effects by 1).
This is good in general for everyone and casters.
Two Handed Weapon Expertise (15% exp gain with Two-Handed Weapons), Robust (5% health regeneration while in combat), Resist Frost (11 Cold Resistance, 1% maximum health), and Rugged (2 Armor).
Rather bleh skills, nothing really interesting at all here.
Shield Affinity (15% exp gain with One Handed and Shield), Tough (4% Max Health), Conditioning (4% Max Stamina), Red Diamond (Melee Attacks have a 10% chance to restore 2 Health).
Imperials are great tanks and great for everything. I think they’re one of the better races when it comes to skills, for sure. Extra health, stamina, and a melee life leech. What isn’t to like?
Well that’s all the race skill lines and a summary!