12 must-have add-ons for The Elder Scrolls Online

Fus Roh Mod

It's only been a week since the release of The Elder Scrolls Online (be sure to check out our regularly updated review diary for hands-on impressions thus far), and more than 100 player-made add-ons are available for the game. For the unaware, these are mods that slightly alter the game's UI without affecting the game's content. A lot of people, myself included, swear by them, as they're great ways to customize and enhance the MMO experience.

TESO developer Zenimax Online is embracing player-made add-ons, and we'll no doubt see hundreds more make their way to the web in the coming months. But how do you know which of the 100+ available are genuinely useful versus the ones that are valuable only to the most niche corners of TESO's playerbase? I've tested dozens of them myself. Here are the 12 best add-ons for The Elder Scrolls Online I've found so far.

But first

Before you start downloading and installing every mod in existence, remember: Though none of these add-ons affect TESO's content, they do affect the way you interface with its world. Many of these are convenient changes for the MMO side of Elder Scrolls Online, and could negatively impact your experience with the game if immersion is your number-one priority. Install at your own risk.

Speaking of installation, here's how to apply add-ons to TESO: First, download the add-on you'd like to use from sites like Curse or ESOUI. Next, extract the add-on folder from the downloaded zipped file. Finally, drop the unzipped folder into the add-on folder in your TESO directory. This is typically located in My Documents > Elder Scrolls Online > live > Addons. Bam, all set! Now, onto the add-ons--and don't forget to expand the images of each slide for a closer look at what's on offer.

Foundry Tactical Combat

For starters, might I suggest a basic UI mod that enhances player and target unit frames. Foundry Tactical Combat is a minimal but stylish alternative to TESO's default Skyrim-esque health, mana, and stamina bars. In addition to the unit frame enhancements, FTC also provides well-placed (and extremely useful!) buff tracking notifications, as well as a scrolling combat text feature (which can be toggled on and off) for those really into number crunching.

While I appreciated TESO's nods to the traditional TES interface style, Foundry Tactical Combat was more in line with the setup I typically look for in other MMOs. It does take up a bit more screen space, which may bother some, but I've been really enjoying it so far.

ZrMiniMap

Next up, a minimap mod. By default, TESO employs a Skyrim-esque compass for navigation in an attempt to increase immersion; the only way you can view the world map without an add-on is via a hotkey. ZrMiniMap adds a minimap to the screen, which is present at all times.

You have a few different customization options at your disposal here. You can move the map to wherever you'd like on the screen or adjust its size, and you can even tweak the scale of the map pins that denote the world's key locations. If you'd prefer to remove the default compass altogether, that's also an option. I was nervous at first that a minimap would decrease my enjoyment of exploration, but I found I was constantly checking my map anyways, which ultimately became more distracting than having a minimap on screen. No regrets here.

Skyshards

The next map tweak comes in the form of the SkyShards add-on. A quick primer: SkyShards are magic crystals you'll find during your travels in Tamriel; grab three of them, and you'll earn an additional skill point, further increasing your character's power. This add-on shows the locations of all SkyShards on your map, making them much easier to find and ensuring you won't miss out on any skill points.

Of course, some people won't want this mod for immersion's sake. Personally, I enjoy the min/maxing of character stats, and would much rather have the peace of mind that I found all the SkyShards in Tamriel than experience the brief moments of unexpected joy that come with finding them on my own.

HarvestMap

The third and final map add-on, HarvestMap is a crafting-material gatherer's dream come true. Those that have installed gatherer add-ons in other MMOs already know how valuable such a mod can be--hell, if you're really into crafting, it's practically mandatory.

HarvestMap adds pins to your map for every resource node you find in Tamriel. Ore, wood, cooking mats, and even locked chests will be forever imprinted on your map, making farming significantly easier once you know a few reliable spawn points.

Multi-Quest Tracker

This one's pretty self explanatory. In its vanilla form, TESO only allows you to keep track of one quest at a time, forcing you to cycle through the available objectives by pushing a button. With Multi-Quest Tracker, you can have several objectives on-screen at a given time.

The tracker can be placed anywhere on the screen, and its font, font size, and color are all customizable. I found this add-on to be a useful way of remembering which quests I even had active, even if they weren't all located in the same zone. Again, it does take up more space on the screen, but I was more than willing to sacrifice a little bit of room.

Wykkyd's Framework

There's no one particular feature that makes Wykkyd's Framework worth installing; rather, it's more of a foundation that's required to allow some other add-ons to work. In this bundle comes a variety of features, all of which can be customized and toggled on and off. Perhaps one of its more alluring aspects is the fact that it provides 48 bindable macros, which you might find useful for--as the add-on description puts it--the "execution of multiple chat commands, emotes and/or Add-on commands."

Other neat additions include the ability to have your character auto sheath his/her weapon out of combat, a customizable background for your chat window, NPC subtitles, loot notification, and more. Lot's of cool things to dig through on this one.

Wykkyd's Outfitter (requires Wykkyd's Framework)

Once you reach level 15, you're granted the ability to swap between hotbars and equipment sets. Problem is, doing so is sort of a pain. Wykkyd's Outfitter makes the process significantly easier, and is a must-have add-on for anyone that regularly switches between multiple playstyles.

With the push of a button, which can be bound via the Wykkyd's Framework macros feature, you can transition your DPS Templar to a healing Templar in no time flat. Once you get used to the simplicity of Wykkyd's Outfitter, there's no going back.

insJunkYard

The Elder Scrolls, as a series, is notorious for the sheer amount of items (junk included) you can loot, and TESO is no different. Here's the thing: Sometimes it's tough to tell which items are useful and which are nothing more than vendor trash. Even more frustrating is the fact that there is an inventory slot dedicated to junk items--yet you have to manually mark specific items as such on an individual basis in order for future items of that type to automatically end up in the junk zone when looted.

insJunkYard is a heavenly add-on that does all the heavy lifting for you. Using a pre-loaded set of data, it automatically transfers vendor trash into the junk slot of your inventory. Better yet, it automatically sells that junk whenever you visit a vendor. It features plenty of configurable options in case you'd prefer it not do these things on its own (which seems silly, considering disabling these features would defeat the entire purpose of the add-on).