Your armour sets are critical for maximising your damage output in ESO. You need to wear gear that’s going to synergise with your passives and your skills. In the current state of the game, there’s typically a “best in slot” option, with a handful of other options that are not far behind. And the best part is every build can wear a crafted set and achieve top tier dps which reduces the grind significantly.
Right, now what gear should I wear?
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard somebody say “I just need to get item/set X and then…”, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. I hear this ALL the time and I’ve been guilty of it myself. But gear is not going to magically fix your crappy dps. It’s only going to be as good as your rotation.
To illustrate this point, I did some dps tests wearing purple CP150 gear with purple enchants and no set bonuses. Not one. On my stam sorc I got 17.5k and on my mag sorc I got 14.5k (he’s an Argonian, don’t judge!) Granted, this is with max CP, but I’m missing not only the 5pc set bonuses that people get so hung up on, I’m also missing a large chunk of my other stats (crit, max resources etc.) from the 2-4pc bonuses and the additional damage from my weapon quality (the damage difference between purple and gold is significant, not to mention CP160).
I think the honest truth here is that lack of gear is just an easy thing to blame. Nobody will take you on trials, or you’ve farmed Dungeon X 50 times and haven’t had the helm drop in the right trait… It’s out of your control so it’s okay if you suck. And gear definitely matters, but not as much as people think. So yes, you should be trying to get the best gear that you can, but it’s far more important that you nail your rotation because, in the words of Iron Man…
No, seriously, what should I wear?
Since the Horns of the Reach update the gaps between best-in-slot and all the runner ups is a lot smaller. With CP, mundus stones and weapon traits you can balance whatever sets you’re able to obtain and there’s a crafted set for both magicka and stamina that’s totally viable for endgame.
Alcast covered this really well in his article on endgame gear but let me simply his article into a few lines; pick the best two endgame sets you can get your hands on and then balance your build accordingly. There are dungeon/trial sets (account bound), overworld sets (can be bought) and crafted sets that are all capable of doing vet trial worthy dps now. If you’re wearing any one of the sets in Alcast’s article and aren’t doing at least 20k dps there’s a serious issue with your rotation and upgrading to best-in-slot isn’t going to fix it.
If you really have no idea where to start, get yourself a set of Hunding’s Rage if you’re stamina, or Law of Julianos if you’re magicka. Both are crafted so they should be super easy to get. Put these with any other 5pc (stamina or magicka as appropriate) and you’ll be set. Another gear set might be better, but we’re talking probably 5-10% increase. The rest is on you!
Don’t stress too much about quality. Get CP160, but just stick with purple as golding out your gear is an extremely expensive exercise and it’s not going to cause a massive jump in your dps (hmm… that line is starting to sound familiar). I would however recommend golding your weapons. It’s only 2-3 items and this actually will have a noticeable impact on your damage. It’s by far the best return on investment in terms of improving your gear. Depending on the set, obtaining purple or gold jewellery can be very difficult, but the difference is not tremendous so wear what you can and work towards updating it.
Traits are still very important. For your armour, you want all Divines if you can get it. Infused is a good second best, particularly on head, chest and leg pieces. For weapons, Infused, Precise and Nirnhoned are all good traits and Sharpened is still decent.
Your gear enchants should all be your primary resource, or perhaps health if you want to boost that a little without having to respec your attribute points. See my article on Character Stats for more on that point. Jewellery should really all be weapon or spell damage (whichever is appropriate for your build), though you can use magicka recovery at the cost of damage if you need more sustain. For stamina builds, your weapons should be enchants such as poison or disease and for magicka use shock or flame enchants. There’s also a weapon enchantment that will boost both your weapon and spell damage. Remember that the same enchant will not stack, so you can’t enchant ALL your weapons with poison, or flame. Many endgame builds use Maelstrom weapons which have a unique enchantment so that’s one less you need to worry about, but in the Clockwork City Update this will change to a set bonus so you’ll be able to enchant these too.
tl;dr stop complaining about not having the gear you ‘need’ and start by using whatever you’ve got available. Get a crafted 5pc and whatever else you’ve got as long as it’s stamina or magicka damage focused.