Picking Your Way to Riches in Elder Scrolls Online

The act of lockpicking in Elder Scrolls titles has varied from game to game throughout the life of the series, and the mini-game continues to evolve in The Elder Scrolls Online.

While this system is completely new, it is very reminiscent of the lockpicking mechanism in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. If you’ve played that game you’ll feel right at home looting the various chests around Tamriel in ESO. But while similar, a new element has been added to picking locks in ESO that has not been present in other Elder Scrolls games: a countdown timer.

When you encounter a chest for the first time it may seem a little overwhelming. You’re presented with a view of the pins inside the lock and your pick hovered slightly above one of those pins. You’ll also notice that countdown timer menacingly taunting you with the threat that you won’t be able to loot the chest if you don’t successfully access the chest in time. Unless you’re prepared, or are a really quick learner, you’ll probably miss out on your first chest (but don’t worry, you can try it again later after a brief refresh).

So here’s what you need to know in order to be prepared when you encounter your first Tamrielic goody bin.

First of all, relax. Don’t let that countdown timer stress you out. Assuming you have multiple lockpicks, you’ll have enough time to break a pick or two and still get the chest opened in time. Early-level chests seem to all have a 25-second timer, although it’s probably safe to assume those times will grow shorter later in the game on the more difficult locks.

The lockpicking mechanism from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is very similar to the mini-game in The Elder Scrolls Online.

The trick to lockpicking in ESO is to press down on your left mouse button just until the pin begins to wobble ever-so-slightly. Assuming you’ve timed it correctly it will stick in place and you can move to the next pin. Repeat this process for each of the five pins and the chest will unlock.

It’s very simple, it’s not complicated, but with the countdown timer it will provide enough of a challenge to keep players pressing, especially as they progress into higher-level locks later in the game.

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Brian covers gaming news for the Quest Gaming Network. You can follow him on Twitter at silentfury007, where he also occasionally rambles about music.

14 Responses to “Picking Your Way to Riches in Elder Scrolls Online” Subscribe

  1. Dave MG February 9, 2014 at 3:35 pm #
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    Cool I’m happy Evarwin did not do the video lol

    • Brian Armstrong February 9, 2014 at 7:22 pm #
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      Hahaha! Buuuuurrrrnnn! Although point of fact, did you notice Mori just BARELY got it in time! ;)

  2. Mistress LeBeau February 9, 2014 at 3:37 pm #
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    This is a GREAT guide, man!

    I usually pride myself on being the best lock-picker in QGN, but the first time I tried it in ESO, I damn near threw a hissy-fit. Full-on TANTRUM.

    …but then I tried again during THIS beta & was opening all ranges of locks. Once you ignore the timer, you’re all set. I am once again the master thief I’ve always been.

    • Brian Armstrong February 9, 2014 at 7:21 pm #
      Avatar of Brian Armstrong

      Haha, yes I guess we have to now down to the master, huh? :)

  3. Sara Schmiedebush February 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm #
    Avatar of Sara Schmiedebush

    I really like the lock picking in the game, having people all around the chest trying for it plus the timer adds to the fun.

  4. Shank February 10, 2014 at 12:35 am #
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    The lockpicking in ESO is by far my favorite lockpicking system of the franchise. It’s the perfect blend of tension, skill, and patience. I pride myself on actually being a pretty good lockpick in this game. Cheers ZOS.

  5. Trollogrefey February 10, 2014 at 5:20 pm #

    To me, it’s bad that it is similar to Oblivion’s (even though I am not in the beta) but I can see why: Skyrim’s can require lot’s of patience and time while oblivions is ultimately faster but harder to master. but overall, great article.

  6. Dave February 11, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    I still can’t do it with any proficiency! I like the twisty ones better. Or maybe no timer with weaker picks.

  7. Darlgon February 15, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    Just to clarify your text:

    “The trick to lockpicking in ESO is to press down on your left mouse button just until the pin begins to wobble ever-so-slightly. ” THEN you quickly right click to lock the tumbler in place.

    • Brian Armstrong February 15, 2014 at 6:30 pm #
      Avatar of Brian Armstrong

      I’ve never had to right click….?

      • Joe April 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

        Correct, you don’t have to right click at all. I even opened 3 master chest last night just to let you know my skill lvl.

  8. Joe April 3, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    You’ll discover that you will have to take 2 stabs at most of the pins unless you’re really good at guessing. Why? Because it’s difficult to stop fast enough when you see the pin begin wiggling. So make sure to make note of the wiggle spot so you can stop the pin just short of that spot!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Elder Scrolls Online Beta - MMORPG Breakdown. | Quest Gaming Network - February 10, 2014

    […] The Ebonheart Pact, The Daggerfall Covenant, and even a few looks into game mechanics like our lockpicking guide as well as a peek into crafting mechanics. Do all these things really cover what makes an massively […]

  2. Elder Scrolls Online Beta - MMORPG Breakdown. | Elder Scrolls Off The Record I An Elder Scrolls Online Podcast - February 15, 2014

    […] The Ebonheart Pact, The Daggerfall Covenant, and even a few looks into game mechanics like our lockpicking guide as well as a peek into crafting mechanics. Do all these things really cover what makes an massively […]

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