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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