When it comes to MMORPGs, it’s always good to know if the current iteration is worth picking up. Some games outlive their fame, and others just need an update or two to make them perfect. Elder Scrolls Online is no exception — whether you’re a potential new player or a veteran on hiatus, you should know where the game stands before you jump in.

The thing is, the answer varies. Depending on the content you want to play, the current iteration of ESO may or may not be for you. In this article, we’re breaking down what ESO looks like in 2022 and giving you the details you need to make your decision.

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State of ESO in 2022

As an MMO, ESO offers a very different experience than previous Elder Scrolls games. You’re frequently surrounded by other players running around on their respective quests, making the game feel active and social. Sometimes, you’ll even come together with these other players to take down harder enemies like world bosses and dungeons.

Despite the differences, ESO retains the essence of what makes the franchise so great. I’ve been playing it for years now, and have been through its enjoyable ups and frustrating downs. You’ll likely find a lot of negative opinions about the current state of the game in the ESO subreddit, but they don’t capture how a lot of the community truly feels.

ESO Deadlands - latest update
Artwork from ESO’s Latest DLC, Deadlands / Image: ZeniMax Online Studios

You can play the game pretty much however you want. You can do strictly solo PVE, venture into multiplayer PVP, focus on aspects like housing and trading, and much more! Some players will simply fish for hours (either to make money or just relax), others explore the striking beauty of the game’s many zones, and others still make their way through the countless zone quests for the interesting dialogue and in-game choices they offer. There’s no one way to play the game, and you can change things up at any time.

ESO’s in a pretty great place in terms of PVE content. PVP content and the usual RNG grind, however, can be frustrating for many players. New additions in the form of guaranteed new item drops and the Armory system (which lets you quickly customize your character) have made the game a lot better overall.

In short, there’s plenty to love about ESO, but plenty that might convince you to stay away. With the general state of the game in mind, let’s get into the real pros and cons.

Does ESO Release New Content Frequently?

ESO has been out since 2014, but is always releasing new content. These releases range from new zones to explore to new solo/group content to try out. The most recent releases were Blackwood and the Deadlands, along with the looming threat of Mehrunes Dagon taking over the world.

While the updates offered some great content, they felt a bit too reminiscent of the base game’s main storyline. Luckily, ESO has another upcoming release that promises to focus more on the politics and warring alliances we know and love. The global reveal for this content will come on January 27, 3PM EST.

Screenshot of new area in Deadlands DLC in ESO
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

New content also frequently includes new armor sets. Unlike other MMOs, ESO lets you make the best of a certain armor set. You can use your favorite set for a long time, even as the meta changes with new updates. You outlevel your gear at the start, but ESO puts a cap on it — at CP160, all items you get will be set to CP160. You’ll never outlevel them again, meaning they’ll be viable even when you’re CP3600! You can switch things up more often if you want to push your numbers and get the best possible DPS, but it’s not necessary.

Of course, this is different for PVP sets. New sets can sometimes be pretty overpowered, leading to a spike in usage that in turn leads to a severe nerf to stop the set from dominating all PVP content.

Screenshot of new area in Deadlands DLC in ESO 2
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

Verdict

  • Pros: There’s always new content to explore, and frequent updates help to make all classes more evenly viable.
  • Cons: Some item sets become less useful as newer, better ones arrive, but at least you’ll never outlevel them.

Is ESO Worth Playing for PVE Solo Content?

Interesting quests are one of the strongest traits of Elder Scrolls games, and ESO is no different. There are plenty of great quests that often ask you to make difficult choices. While these choices do determine the fates of various people in the game, it’s important to note that your decision doesn’t affect how you’re treated in other quests. Sometimes you sacrifice a character just to have them reappear as part of a different questline!

The new Blackwood and Deadlands content is really fun to play through. Fargrave is very beautiful and worth exploring thoroughly, and it’s fun to communicate with (mostly) friendly Daedra. The Deadlands area can feel…well, dead, with long stretches of area that looks mostly the same. If you’re big on the Oblivion-style hellscapes, then you’ll certainly enjoy the Deadlands. The landscapes leave something to be desired, but the epic creatures roaming around certainly spice it up a bit.

Screenshot of Tufeh NPC in ESO
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

As a whole, most solo content (aside from solo arenas) is very easy to get through. All enemies scale with you, so you’ll never get an enemy that’s too overwhelming. A Level 10 player can theoretically do the same damage as a CP600 player, provided they have the same armor and CPs equipped.

Unfortunately, this means that the combat aspect of questing can bore veteran players. I can mostly delete any enemy that comes my way during a quest with a single skill or two, which takes away from the immersion. However, the quests are written so well that I never tire of doing them, even if I feel immortal while blasting through the “bosses” that stand in my way.

Now, soloing world bosses, dungeons, and arenas can be quite difficult, depending on your level and build. You’ll mostly want to ensure you have access to all the skills you need, and that you’ve golded out your items with all the proper traits and enchantments. You’ll have a rough time on veteran content, so having some good food/potions on hand is a must. Be ready for a huge difficulty increase, and get comfortable blasting through soul gems as you revive yourself.

Verdict

  • Pros: There’s plenty of story-driven content, and you get to make interesting choices that let you get the experience you want.
  • Cons: Some open world content is too easy, but can be overwhelming when choosing where to start out.

Is ESO Worth Playing for PVE Group Content?

ESO has a lot of variety when it comes to group content. Whether you’re taking down world bosses, dungeons, arenas, or trials, there’s a little something for everyone. You can even team up with a friend to do quests normally geared towards solo play.

Playing with friends or with guilds ensures that your team always has your back. Content is better with people who play at your pace, whether you’re taking your time or speedrunning. Playing with random people is rewarding in its own right (minus the occasional person who doesn’t work well with others). As a whole, most players are kind and helpful, and won’t blast through a dungeon before you can even receive the quest. 

Screenshot of PvE group content in ESO
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

Playing with different people, as different classes, and at different difficulty levels lets you play out the same content in fresh new ways. ESO offers a large range of difficulties to fit your preferences. Even when playing the same dungeon, veteran hard mode will feel way different than normal, so there’s always room to improve and chase a more difficult battle when you’re ready for it.

DLC content is almost always harder, so here’s how each style falls from easiest to hardest: 

  1. Questing
  2. Normal dungeons/arenas/trials
  3. Normal dlc dungeons/arenas/trials
  4. Veteran dungeons
  5. Veteran dungeons with hardmode
  6. Veteran trials
  7. Veteran trials with hardmode
  8. Trifecta achievements for veteran content (hard mode, no death, speed run)

Verdict

  • Pros: There’s plenty of different content, varying difficulties, and a great community to keep things fresh. 
  • Cons: You’ll occasionally get paired with a player who doesn’t play their role or goes against the group

Is ESO Worth Playing for PVP?

ESO’s creators have been working on optimizing how laggy and unrewarding PVP can feel. The experience you get really depends on your setup. If you have a great internet connection with a well-equipped PC, you’re probably good to go (minus the regular lag in heavy-traffic areas). If you have a bad connection and a less powerful gaming system, PVP might not be for you.

Screenshot of PvP combat in ESO
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

There are several different PVP areas in ESO. Cyrodiil is the largest, with a zone made especially for PVP where the three alliances go toe-to-toe for map superiority. The area is huge, and you can have full-scale wars with multiple zergs (groups of ~12 people) fighting over keeps, resources, and of course, the Elder Scrolls. These large battles can really take a toll on your frame rate, though. Smashing the button to switch weapon bars to no effect eventually leaves you feeling hopeless.

The Imperial City has significantly fewer people than Cyrodiil, but you’ll still find yourself in zergs pretty often. The area is generally less laggy, and it can be fun to grind up Tel Var by killing creatures (or other players).

Battlegrounds are fifteen-minute-or-under battles with three teams of four fighting over various objectives like capture the flag or free-for-all. You can challenge other players to a duel if you’re into single-player PVP, but the content is more group-oriented overall. Battlegrounds runs much more smoothly due to a lower player count, but you’ll still get some lag now and then. If this is a problem, you can always try a one-skill bar build with plenty of AOEs.

Verdict

  • Pros: You can be effective with any class/race, there’s a huge floor-to-ceiling ratio for growing as a player, and you get epic battles at high traffic hours.
  • Cons: Lag and frame drops are difficult to play with, the meta dominates all else, and some players can be toxic.

What about from a Housing and Fashion Perspective?

There are endless choices for customizing your character and house in almost any way you want. There are some restrictions, of course — without ESO+, you’ll only have half the possible furnishing limit. This can be frustrating if you’re not prepared, so here’s a breakdown of the limitations for each size of home:

  • Inn: 15/30
  • Apartment: 50/100
  • Small House: 100/200
  • Medium House: 200/400
  • Large Estate: 300/600
  • Notable Manor: 350/700
Screenshot of a large house in ESO
Image: ZeniMax Online Studios via HGG / Angus Green

It can also be difficult to farm for the blueprints for your housing or motifs for your character. Luckily, you can find most motifs, blueprints, or the already crafted items on guild traders. These can come at some hefty costs, however.

Also, some housing items and many of the costumes can only be bought on the crown store, rather than earned in-game. This can be very frustrating if you want to have access to these special items, but you can fairly easily make use of mixing and matching motifs and housing blueprints to make everything look exactly how you want it to.

You can earn many costumes and skins through in-game achievements, but you won’t be able to earn many mounts. Because there are so few, here’s a quick list of earnable mounts and how to get them:

  • Sorrel Horse — Reach Level 10
  • Sunspire Champion Senche Lion — Earn the Sunspire trial trifecta achievement
  • Dwarven Ebon Wolf — Earn from scrying
  • Any of the current mounts — earn through tickets

Verdict

  • Pros: There’s lots of customization, there are always new items coming into both housing and fashion, there’s a great community.
  • Cons: Some items are crown store exclusives, meaning you have to pay real money to get them, housing/fashion items can cost a lot of in-game gold to get. 

Join the High Ground

Overall, ESO is worth playing in 2022. PVE-wise, it’s extremely rewarding and fun to play. PVP-wise, it can be more frustrating and should only be played if you have the internet and computer to handle it.

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