There are three Alliances in Elder Scrolls Online. When you first create a character, you must choose one of the three to join. Your choice of Alliance also limits which races you are able to play, unless you've purchased the Collectors Edition or Adventurer Pack. Your Alliance will affect your starting location (after leaving the tutorial area), as well as the set of zones you will see at the beginning of the game. There are five Zones for each Alliance, in addition to 1-2 starter zones, which may be skipped if you choose. It is possible to visit the zones belonging to the other Alliances by speaking to the Navigators found in each zone's capital. The three Alliances are at war over the Imperial province of Cyrodiil, and if you visit Cyrodiil, you will be facing opposing players from the other two Alliances.
The Aldmeri Dominion consists of the Altmer, Bosmer and Khajiit. They occupy the regions of the Summerset Isles, Valenwood and Elsweyr, in the southwest portion of Tamriel. Their capital city is Elden Root. The playable PvE regions include the starter island of Khenarthi's Roost, along with the zones of Auridon, Grahtwood, Greenshade, Malabal Tor, and Reaper's March.
The Daggerfall Covenant consists of the Bretons, Orcs and Redguards. They occupy the regions of Hammerfell and High Rock, in the northwest portion of Tamriel. Their capital city is Daggerfall. The playable PvE regions include the starter islands of Stros M'Kai and Betnikh, along with the mainland zones of Glenumbra, Stormhaven, Rivenspire, Alik'r Desert, and Bangkorai.
The Ebonheart Pact consists of the Argonians, Dunmer and Nords. They occupy the regions of Black Marsh, Morrowind and Skyrim, in the northeast portion of Tamriel. Their capital city is Mournhold. The playable PvE regions include the starter zones of Bleakrock Isle and Bal Foyen, along with the mainland zones of Stonefalls, Deshaan, Shadowfen, Eastmarch, and The Rift.
- Before the One Tamriel update, you were limited to exploring your own Alliance's zones until you completed the Main Quest or reached Level 50. It was also not possible to communicate directly with members of the other Alliances in chat, unless you knew them by name or belonged to the same player guild.