In Elder Scrolls Online, skill and strategy are the name of the game. You can create a good build out of just about any class and race combination, provided you know what you’re doing. That said, there are some combos that are better suited for their jobs. When tanking, for example, some classes will simply make the job easier, even increasing your group’s overall damage by offering essential buffs. Here, we take a look at ESO’s best tank classes and rank them accordingly.
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With the Flames of Ambition DLC and Update 32 in the mix, the meta’s been a little shaken up. Now is a great time to create a new character or bring out an old toon that fits the current standings. In this article, we’ll be covering the best tanks in ESO for PVE. We’ll start with a tier list of the best classes (and races) for tanking in ESO, then break down their rankings in the current patch.
Let’s dive in!
ESO Tank Class Tier List
There are two major considerations for this tanking tier list: survivability and buffs. We’ve ranked our choices based on how easy it is for them to stay alive and manage ads while maintaining taunt on priority targets, and on how well they buff their groups and increase overall damage output. With these qualities in mind, here’s our tier list for the best classes for tanking in ESO:
|D Tier||Nightblade, Sorcerer|
ESO Tank Race Tier List
Race is also an important consideration — each race offers different bonuses that can make or break your overall build. Here’s our tier list for the best races for tanking in ESO:
|B Tier||Orc, Khajiit, Dark Elf|
|C Tier||Argonian, Redguard, Wood Elf|
|D Tier||High Elf|
All ESO Classes Ranked Worst to Best by PvE Tanking Potential
Now that we’ve established our tier lists, let’s jump into our breakdown of ESO’s best tanking classes. We’ll start with our lower-tier picks and move on to the #1 best class for tanking in ESO, highlighting what makes each one good (or not-so-good) at their role.
Sorcerer – D Tier
Sorcerers are functional tanks, being fairly good at maintaining their health and keeping themselves well shielded. The issue with Sorcerer tanks is that they don’t offer much utility for their group. You can certainly play a Sorcerer tank and get great scores, but you’ll miss out on giving your group as many and diverse buffs that other tanking classes have to offer.
Sorcerers didn’t see much love in the most recent patch, simply fixing an issue with Lightning Splash when it comes to class specific changes.
One of the main skills that can be used for a Sorcerer tank is the Unstable Clannfear. This daedric companion offers a lot as it can gain aggro and tank some hits decently well with its activatable heal that gives both you and the clannfear some health back.
Restraining Prison is the main crowd control ability that Sorcerer tanks would be likely to use, as it immobilizes a fairly large area in front of you (radius 18 meters) and hitting enemies gives you Major Vitality, increasing healing received by 16%. Starting off at 2 seconds if you hit an enemy, the Major Vitality duration can be increased 1 second up to 6 times for every additional enemy hit. Finally Hardened Ward gives out a very strong shield for you and your pets that caps at 60% of your max health, which for a Sorcerer tank can get to being around 30,000.
Nightblade – D Tier
Nightblades have gained some benefits from patch 32, the major one being that Dark Cloak had its healing increased by 61% per tick, and the Minor Protection gained from it to 10 seconds rather than the old 6 seconds. Unfortunately for Nightblade tanks, the usual great pairing with also being a vampire has lost some of its sparkle. Due to patch 32’s changes to Mistform, it only works now to prevent enemy player attacks. It now has no effect on reducing PVE attacks due to it being so overpowered as a fix-all strategy, making the vampire tank path less viable.
Siphoning skills help to make Nightblade tanks viable, as they activate some very useful passives for Nightblades. The Transfer passive gives 2 ultimate whenever you use a Siphoning skill, while Magicka Flood increases your max magicka by 8% by simply having one slotted. Sap Essence is one of the strong skills from this tree that deals damage in an AOE, heals you and your allies, and gives you Major Brutality and Sorcery on top of that all.
The Shadow Barrier passive is the source of a Nightblade tank’s Major Resolve, which requires you to simply activate one of your shadow abilities. The duration increases for each piece of heavy armor equipped, so it’ll be easy to maintain 100% uptime with it due to the regular usage of Shadow skills you’ll use. Dark Cloak is a solid skill to use to activate this passive, as it gives you a great heal over time scaled off of maximum health and also gives Minor Protection for 10 seconds, reducing damage taken by 5%.
Templar – C Tier
Templars have seen some love in recent patches and gained more tank viability due to them. Patch 32 has not changed much for them in terms of tanking, focusing more on better healing and damage tweaks. Changes to Living Dark and Restoring Focus have been the skills that have made Templar tanking much more viable.
Living Dark makes Templar tanks much tankier, as it heals based off of spell damage of max health depending upon which would give stronger healing. Whenever taking damage from a direct damage attack, this skill slows that enemy by 60% for 3 seconds and heals you. Occuring every half a second, you can get some serious healing from just this ability, making it much harder to take down a Templar tank.
Restoring Focus is the Major Resolve skill for Templars, and it also gives great stamina and healing while within the rune that lasts for 20 seconds. By standing in the rune, you gain a solid 242 stamina every second. To put this in perspective, general recovery stats only apply every 2 seconds, meaning this will feel more like having an additional 484 standard stamina recovery. The health it gives is also based on max health now, which makes sustaining a tank’s health much easier when you can stand in the rune.
Warden – B Tier
Depending upon the group make-up, Warden tanks function as either a B or an A tier tank. Without another Warden on the team, Warden Tanks give class locked bonuses out which would elevate them to A tier of the best class for tanks in ESO. With a likely Warden healer or even DPS, their class exclusive passives are redundant, bumping them down to B tier.
Patch 32 didn’t change much for Wardens, other than fixing their Emerald Moss passive that had not been working with all of the Green Balance skills. As Green Balance is more focused towards healing, tanks are relatively unaffected by this, but Budding Seeds is definitely more effective now.
The Maturation passive is the main reason why Warden tanking is so useful, as Minor Toughness is a very strong buff to have in your group. Whenever you heal yourself or an ally, you give them Minor Toughness for 20 seconds, increasing their maximum health by 10%. This acts as a more efficient Ebon Armory bonus, giving your allies on average around 2000 extra health and yourself 3500-5000 depending on your health pool. This will require you to actively heal yourself and others, but it can be done using any heal, so Echoing Vigor or other Green Balance heals will work, along with armor bonuses like Battalion Defender. Ice Fortress is the other reason that would push Warden tanks into the A tier if no other warden is on the team, as it gives your whole group Major Resolve.
The Bull Netch is a wonderful skill that ensures Wardens maintain their stamina pool. It restores 4416 stamina over 25 seconds, and gives Major Brutality and Sorcery, increasing weapon and spell damage by 20%. This ability is so useful due to the way blocking works in ESO. You won’t regenerate stamina from stamina recovery while blocking, but because this is a separate bonus from your usual stamina regeneration, you’ll still regain the stamina! Another very efficient skill for Warden tanks is Shimmering Shield, which makes them a very strong pick for fights with a lot of high damage projectiles. The shield absorbs upwards of around 30000 damage from three projectiles, and has a nice bonus of giving magicka and Major Heroism for 6 seconds after being hit.
Wardens who are masters of nature do very well with frost magic, and as ice staves are a staple of all tanks, makes them even more effective. The Chilled status effect is the main reason as to why Tanks use ice staves, as it applies Minor Maim which reduces enemy damage done by 5%. The passive Glacial Presence increases the chance of applying Chilled to enemies with Winter’s Embrace Abilities by 200%, and enemies or allies who have recently been chilled take 10% more critical damage and healing from Wardens.
This makes their crowd control abilities Gripping Shards and ultimate Permafrost very effective in placing Minor Maim on enemies with a high uptime. Gripping Shards immobilizes enemies within 6 meters for 3 seconds, and slows them by 30% as well for 3 seconds. Permafrost is a solid ultimate but is certainly not as great as it used to be with the Major Protection nerf. Permafrost will create a 10 meter storm around you that applies the chilled status effect, slows enemies by 70%, and gives Major Protection to you and your group within the storm. The reduction in damage from Major Protection is only 10% (it used to be 30%), but this is still very helpful in lowering the damage of enemies attacks when you and your group are under heavy fire.
Necromancer – A Tier
Necromancer tanks have really mastered death and rarely fall in tough fights, making them one of ESO’s best tank class candidates outside of the usual DK pick. They fall in the A to A+ category with a mix of skills that keep themselves alive as well as their team. With a great assortment of skills that can be switched in and out depending on the situation and group that they are in, they are a perfect fit for all content.
For a list of our top Necromancer builds, check out our guide here.
Minimal changes for Necromancer in patch 32, so they retain their position as they were. Boneyard now deals more damage which is nice, but not essential for the tank as Necro tanks are more focused on health and buffing their group.
Necromancers have some great class abilities that set them apart from other classes as ideal tank candidates. Spirit Guardian is one of those great abilities that has a unique buff that transfers 10% of the damage a necromancer takes to their wraith-like companion. Its healing is nice too as it will target you or the lowest health ally, helping to keep your group up and running.
As far as crowd control goes, Agony Totem is a great skill to apply fear for 4 seconds while also giving you and your allies Minor Protection, reducing damage taken by 5%. The skill can be synergized with to apply enemies nearby with Minor Vulnerability, increasing their damage taken by 5%.
Beckoning Armor is another great class exclusive for Necromancers that makes managing ads much easier than what other classes have to offer. Other than the essential Major Resolve it gives, ranged enemies attacking you are pulled in by it, making it easier to positioning enemies for your DPS to blast down.
Every Necromancer ultimate can be used on the tank depending upon what the group needs. Glacial Colossus will apply Major Vulnerability to all inside its AOE, making those enemies take 10% more damage for 12 seconds. Ravenous Goliath is a great selfish ultimate that heals and boosts your health by 30,000 for 20 seconds, making tanking a breeze. The damaging AOE that heals for all the damage it deals is a nice touch too. If you are wanting to make a tank focused on having high health, this ultimate makes Necromancers the best option. Finally in situations where group member death is likely to occur, Reanimate is a perfect ultimate for that lovely uno-reverse moment. Resurrecting 3 allies immediately, this skill is a great skill to force your pug and trial groups alike through difficult content.
Dragonknight – S Tier
The absolute best ESO tank class is the Dragonknight. The classic tank, they are a notch above the competition when it comes to tanking. We’ve got a list of great Dragonknight builds here if you’re looking to put together a beast of a tank.
Update 32 has done them very well too, increasing their current viability even further. Their Combustion passive now increases the magicka they restore from flame damage and stamina they restore from poison damage to 1000 rather than the old 500. The Battle Roar passive now restores 50 health, magicka, and stamina per ultimate consumed rather than the old 46. The changes to these passives will make sustain much easier for a DK, and give them a further edge when it comes to tanking.
The main reason why Dragonknights have been the leader in all things tanking for so long is due to their mix of abilities that make them extremely tanky in combat while also increasing their group’s damage by large margins. Stone Giant is one of the skills that set up StamDKs to be so desired in any dungeon or trial group. Once the skill is used, you can throw up to three chunks of debris that deal damage but more importantly apply Stagger to the enemy hit. This increases their damage taken by 65 per stack, maxing out at 195. This increases that enemy’s damage taken from all sources during the 5 seconds the stagger is applied, which increases the damage done in content with 4 players by a good amount, and in trials with 12 people by a significant amount.
As far as sheer tankiness goes, DK’s have access to many skills that make them walls on the battlefield. Igneous Shield and Hardened Armor are strong shields and Green Dragon Blood is a self-heal that keeps DKs from dropping in battle. Magma Shell is the ultimate that really set DKs up as the hardiest of tanks, limiting any incoming damage to only dealing 3% of your maximum health. This ultimate helps to ensure when things are going south in a tough fight that the tank can at least hold their ground and keep aggro while the rest of the team focuses on resurrecting allies and getting back into position.
Join the High Ground
Every class can be an amazing tank in ESO, but some just have more to offer and are easier to excel with. We hope you can use the information from this best tank class for ESO tier list to craft a tank that will make tanking a breeze for you and your teammates. For the latest on Elder Scrolls Online and other ways to make your gaming experiences even better, follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter.