After all of the changes that the recent Firesong update brought to the game’s combat, I’ve done a deep dive to find out what works and what doesn’t in PvE gameplay. After playing all of the classes – analyzing their strengths and weaknesses and taking into consideration their ease of play.
This post has been updated for ESO Update 36 Firesong
Solo PvE Tier List
S Tier Classes
A Tier Classes
B Tier Classes
C Tier Classes
The first major change that is important to go over and understand is the hybridization of Magicka and Stamina. Previously ESO used the resource pool you chose for your character (meaning, you put more attribute points into either magicka or stamina) to determine the effectiveness of ability skills. Meaning if you used magicka to cast an ability, the game would look at ONLY your magicka stats, max magicka, spell damage, spell critical.
Now the game dynamically looks at what’s highest and doesn’t tie magicka to magicka skills only. So, if you’re a Magicka based user in the game today and you use the ability Razor Caltrops which is AOE stamina damage ability, it will still be very effective for you. This opened the doors for a lot of mix and match abilities and skills but overall, this change has benefitted Stamina builds enormously.
You see Stamina builds have now gained access to all the powerful magicka damage and healing abilities and could use their off stat, magicka, for hard hitting dots while saving their main resource pool for spammables and additional hard hitting dots.
Some Magicka classes benefited, but after playing the various classes non-stop it’s easy to see that there is definitely a Stamina dominate meta in ESO currently. These hybridization changes in addition to the powerful dual wield and two-handed weapons outperforming any other weapons in the game. But does that automatically mean a stamina class will be number one?
Changes to Damage Over Time
Next up is the damage over times rework, in which the intent of the developers was to standardize the length of time that DoT abilities last. However, the result in game is that now we have sticky and non-sticky dots, which can be hard to understand. The core change to DoTs is that most damage over time effects doubled in duration and doubled in frequency.
For example, let’s take for instance Noxious Breath for the Dragonknight. This ability is a hard hitting conal AoE debuff and damage that previously lasted for around 12 seconds with passives included. This originally would tick or apply damage every 1 second. In the current game patch, this ability now lasts 24 seconds and ticks every 2 seconds. While this makes the rotation easier, the increased duration also means that you become more reliant on your main spammable. The result of these changes mean that classes with powerful main spammables and in-class executes really shine during this patch because of the changes to DoTs.
- Expect one or more in class DoTs to be longer lasting, but not as effective
- Expect classes with powerful executes and great main spammables to shine
- Expect classes and builds that utilize both resources pools to dominate
These three primary points will set the stage for this ESO Solo PvE Tier List.
It’s also important to note that I’m assuming you’re an average player watching this; doing overland content, veteran dungeons, an occasional trial or hard mode. I’m not assuming you are gods gift to the game, know it all, 1% parse warrior who is #1 on the VMA leaderboard. Keep this in mind, when I ran through the testing, on vet dungeons solo and arenas, I used a mix and match of more basic gear setups without the super fancy mythics and 1% speed runs.
#12 Magicka Dragonknight | C-
- Amazing area damage
- DoT focused class
- Easier rotation
- No execute and weird main spammable
- Bad self-healing
The Magicka Dragonknight is an incredibly dominate PvP class and that’s the issue. The main changes the developers continue to make are influenced heavily by PvP – for example, the Combustion passive which was your main sustain loop received a nerf. The Burning Embers heal which acted as a mini PvE Pale Order, was also nerfed. And now Molten Whip, our main spammable, has undergone a confusing change where its cost is half magicka and half stamina.
Remember my point from above about how classes with powerful main spammables and executes are dominate? Well in PvE the Magicak DK has neither, and now that your DoTs last 24 seconds, you’re sitting there spamming your main attack Molten Whip which drains your magicka and stamina, so you can’t reliably use your off-stat pool and it leaves you with a husk of what the Magicak Dragonknight was before.
The pros of the Dragonknight are that it looks cool and dominates in PvP. It’s the typical DoT class and the rotation is much easier this patch, but the stamina counterpart performs much better, while Magicka Dragonknights feel extremely weak without carry sets like False Gods and Pale Order.
#11 Magicka Necromancer | C
- Huge AoE
- Good self-healing
- Difficult to play
- Must sacrifice damage or sustain for survival
We return again to my beloved PvP class the Magicka Necromancer, which has different cons than the Dragonknight, but self-healing isn’t one of them. The issue with Magcrow is this: In solo content without carry sets, you have weak sustain. So, you have a choice – Do I use the Hungry Scythe main spammable for survivability? If I do, I’ll hit like a noodle, but survive. Or do I run Elemental Drain or Consuming Trap to help sustain? If I do, I’ll hit even more weakly and have less survivability, but I’ll have better sustain.
When you start stripping off the hard-hitting damage abilities to feed your sustain and survivability this takes away the main pros of the Magicka Necromancer: Big AoE nukes. In addition, whether you play as melee or range the Magcrow has the same issue the Dragonknight, which is no in-class execute ability. These issues can be solved immediately by switching to a stamina-hybrid build and suddenly you’ll feel like a god.
Objectively, the best way to play a Necromancer is as stamina-hybrid, and the same can be said for many of the builds to follow. Throw on dual wield and you get better passives, damage as well as an AoE execute. Use your magicka pool for DoTs and healing and it solves the two issues with the class.
Until something changes with spammables and magicka executes the game really benefits from following a hybrid approach. Unforunately, this leaves some magicka classes in the dust and the Magicka Necromancer is one of them.
#10 Magicka Warden | B-
- Great damage with both AoE and single target
- High mobility
- Decent healing
- Stamina hybrid is much better
- Reliant on pet ultimate for optimal damage
Copy and paste the two previous points about Magicka Dragonknight and Magicka Necromancer and you have the Magicka Warden. A lackluster main spammable that doesn’t heal you nor does it provide AoE damage. There is also no in-class execute ability, which is the trend with these three initial classes.
The main difference is that the Warden has awesome self-healing, mostly through passively casting Animal Companion skills and Green Lotus which allows you to get great healing while playing offensive. This frees up your sustain for more damage and DoTs. The Magden is also much easier to play now, with Deep Fissure specifically lasting 9 seconds in total.
Another downside to the Magden is the reliance on pets for optimal damage, which isn’t something I care for. But otherwise the Magden is an okay solo magicka build that doesn’t need to rely on Pale Order or False Gods to solo pretty much anything in the game.
As you may have guessed the solution for this class is to go teh stamina hybrid route, throw on some dual wield weapons, Spin to Win and you solve all the problems of the class. But then it’s not really a Magicka Warden anymore, either.
#9 Stamina Dragonknight | B
- Great damage over time
- Incredible damage with ultimate
- Main spammable options
- DoTs are currently lack luster
- Lacks great sustain
What the Stamina Dragonknight has over the Magicka DK and others is an AoE execute for when targets reach lower HP. A general rule of thumb is: faster you can execute, the easier the game will be. Even with this ability though, the class is still plagued by weak self-healing. My solution is to throw on Pale Order or use Cinder Storm, the other morph of Eruption. You can also use Burning Embers instead of Venomous Claw. But keep in mind that when you do this your damage drops significantly.
Moreover, on the Stamina Dragonknight your sustain comes through using ultimates. Standard of Might remains one of the highest ultimates in the game for pure raw damage. You’ll see folks parsing huge numbers using it, but as a ground based AoE this ultimate comes with a downside. When you play in actual content and drop a banner, be prepared for the possibility of a mobile boss teleporting across the room and losing all your DPS.
This class and playstyle is utterly dominate in PvP and is currently my favorite. But it has a stark contrast in PvE gameplay, with 24 second long lasting DoTs, I’m sitting there use 5-6 main spammables over and over and over again. While there are choices outside of Molten Whip which are better, I feel every stamina class has something more desirable than current StamDKs and I don’t play it outside of group content.
#8 Stamina Warden | B
- Good survivability
- Simple rotation and skills
- Big damage
- Weak resource sustain
- Pet reliant
The group dominate DPS setup for the Stamina Warden has recently gotten nerfed, really turning off people to this class. But since this is a solo tier list, that won’t be my focus here. In all seriousness, the solo style of this class is good. You have Green Lotus carrying your survivability while also doing damage. The Stamden also has great main spammable choices whether in class, outside skills, range or melee with execute options.
But where the Stamina Warden really shines is in the ability to use magicka skills for healing and damage. This frees up your stamina pool for much easier to manage resource sustain. However, if want to get the optimal damage solo (or in group for that matter) the best way to play Stamden is with active pet abilities. As you may already know, this playstyle is not my favorite and so put the Stamden lower on the list for me.
Even aside from the pets issues, I think the Stam Warden could use some work in resource sustain even with the hybrid magicka skills. Overall, I feel it’s a little underwhelming in comparison to other classes.
#7 Stamina Templar | A-
- The simplest stam DPS in the game
- Great resources sustain
- Massive AoE and healing
- Melee, so survivability can be difficult
- Jabs nerfed, significantly less damage
The Stamina Templar has seen some big changes, specifically the change to our man spammable Biting Jabs. Now the skill lasts 0.8 seconds, instead of a full 1 second, making it easier to weave with light attacks. The ability still doesn’t heal and despite this change in duration it feels significantly weaker overall. I still use Biting Jabs on my solo build, however, because it’s so simple and easy to weave.
The upsides of the Stamplar is in its simplicity – the Templar is a great beginner class because it’s easy to play. It’s very simple to throw on your bar a few Fighters Guild abilities along with Vigor and start whaling on bosses without a complex rotation. The Stamplar can also throw on a couple magicka abilities like Ritual of Retribution and Blazing Spear and hybrid for days with tons of healing and sustain options.
What holds this playstyle back is the nerf to Biting Jabs and the lack of self-healing mains spammable which the magplar has. Overall, the class remains strong but flawed and I still enjoy it.
#6 Stamina Nightblade | A
- Hard hitting class abilities
- Great resource sustain
- Top tier melee damage
- Lacks healing
- Light Attack Dependent
The Stamina Nightblade comes in ahead of the Stamina Templar because of its pure, raw, single target damage. With the proper setup, this thing can burn down solo bosses within seconds, though it’s rotation can be a bit more complex. It has incredible resource sustain, but not the great self-healing that other classes possess down the list.
The major pro (or con, for some players) from this class is the reliance on light attack weaving. Your entire build centers on this, rewarding you with resources and damage. Can be either an absolute monster if you are a weaving pro, or a bit lack luster if you consistently miss. And that’s the problem: If you’re playing in melee it can be difficult to consistently land light attacks in between every global cooldown to take advantage of all the power the Stamina Nightblade has to offer.
But if you can master light attack weaving, the stamblade absolutely wrecks!
#5 Stamina Sorcerer | A
- Insane self-healing
- Big AoE damage
- Pet dependent
- Melee focused
The Stamina Sorcerer is A tier currently this patch due to its sheer mobility, speed and self-healing. The main spammable which was a bit overpowered, Crystal Weapon was nerfed significantly, moving the whole class down from S tier. The sheer self-healing coming from Critical Surge remains one of the reasons I constantly recommend this class for new players. With this ability on your bar you don’t have to get Pale Order or some other mythic to do well. Just slap on Critical Surge and play ultra-fast and aggressive.
The downside of the class is pet reliance, which I’m not a fan of. Throw on two pets, double bar them, and the pets do a lot of work for you. However, they can also die leaving you incredibly vulnerable until you recast and get them focused again. In arenas specifically it can be a nightmare to manage them while they’re dying in lava over and over.
But the Stamina Sorcerer is incredibly mobile with in-class and outside class executes and great spammable options. These combined with the available self-healing ability keeps it in the top tier, making it a great class to pick up solo.
#4 Magicka Templar | A+
- Simplistic and most effective
- Easy gear sets
- Ranged or melee
- Great resource sustain
- Damage and healing nerfed
The Magicka Templar took a massive nerf to their main spammable Puncturing Sweep which I once considered the best ability in the game. Overall the Magplar has seen these nerfs to the class:
- Puncturing Sweep does 21% less damage and last for .8 rather than 1
- Puncturing Sweep healing reduced by 33%
- Purfying Light reduction in healing by 12%
- Burning Light passive, reduced the damage of the proc by 33%
Update 35 striped down a truly overpowered playstyle perhaps ZOS has seen a few of my videos…. But in all seriousness, the Magicka Templar is now just good, no longer top tier. Blazing Spear is outperforming Puncturing Sweep in terms of damage, but if you use that main spammable in solo outside of a parse dummy, it’ll feel clunky, unengaging and lack luster. You still have a class that’s ultra-simplistic with good self-healing with range or melee options and an in-class ultimate.
With the nerf to Oakensoul, Puncturing Sweep, Purfying Light and Burning Light the Magicka Templar just doesn’t feel as powerful or as fun to play if I’m being fully transparent, so I moved it down the list. Consider this still a great option for melee dominate beginners, though.
#3 Stamina Necromancer | S-
- Hard hitting AoE damage
- Good resource sustain
- Group utility ultimate
- Low mobility
- Complex rotation
The Stamina Necromancer feels like a powerd up Magplar now with Ruinous Scythe as the main spammable. It hits hard, sets off-balance, procs status effects and heals you like a mac truck. This is how I was able to solo Vet City of Ash II without any mythic or trials gear, just a basic loadout because the class healing and damage is so strong.
Another upside of the class is hard hitting magicka DoT abilities which solved the earlier problems of resource sustain. The downside is it can be complex and clunky until you get the hang of Blastbones, because you’re essentially casting it after every 2-3 skills. It’s worth the time investment of learning this rotation because the sheer raw damage is worth mastering the complexity.
And another benefit is the freedom in multiple main spammables, where you can make weapon and skill choices which cause the build to feel fully customizable to the individual player. Need more resource? Swap in Mortal Coil. Need more mitigation, swap in Spirit Mendor. Need another DoTs, swap in Skeletal Archer. Completely fine tune your build exactly the way you need, add in some huge AoE nukes, or other impactful skills and it’s a total blast and objectively very powerful.
#2 Magicka Nightblade | S
- Unmatched ultimate generation
- Incredible survivability
- Excels at single target and AoE
- Can be complex to master
- Top end gear difficult to obtain
Let me start by saying what the Magicka Nightblade does well, and that’s everything. You can do mind numbing single target and AoE damage with Sap Essence and Swallow Soul heals you while dealing damage. You have an in-class execute with 28-meter range keeping you at a safe distance which is a huge advantage for most players.
The Magblade also has great resource sustain with skills Elemental Drain in conjunction with the Champion Point star Siphoning Spells combining damage, healing and sustain.
You have the most ultimate generation possible with Soul Harvest giving you back ultimate upon kills, which also stacks with the Fighters Guild passive Banish the Wicked giving even more back if you slot a guild ability on your front bar. All of these things working together nearly allows you roll utlimates back to back.
The Magicka Nightblade also got a buff to Concealed Weapon which is a melee in-class spammable. You can simply leave this on your bar and run Twisting Path on the back bar to take advantage of all the 10% damage buff. This will give you have an ultra-powerful range class that isn’t dependent on stamina skills or a hybrid build.
The downside is the Magblade rotation can be complex to master and is light attack dependent similar to Stamblade. While is not as user friendly as our number 1 position, I still believe Magblade is arguably the best class solo and suggest its worth leveling up to see if it’s for you.
#1 Magicka Sorcerer | S+
- Great damage at range
- Insane survivability
- Extremely simple
- Can be pigeonholed into playing pet only build
The Magicka Sorcerer is everything the Stamina Sorcerer is, but with a bit better survivability and single target damage.
- Mind numbing self-healing while playing offensive with critical surge
- Incredibly simplistic with 2 pet loadout, or no pet loadout setting skills on your bar which just crank up your damage passively
- Easy resource sustain using Razor Caltrops for AoE and applying Major Breach, which frees up magicka pool
- In-class ultimates carry damage and sustain and you get most of your most effective skills early leveling
- Base game gear sets are incredibly powerful and you’re not forced into mythics
- Range heavy single target melt machine perfect for arenas and world bosses
The major downside I see with the sorc is being pigeonholed into playing pet specific builds because the math and effectiveness of the pet loadout is still so strong. I prefer non-pet loadout and more damage over times because it cranks up the action per minute, but I acknowledge that objectively this isn’t the optimal method.
Until Biting Jabs/Puncturing Sweep is reverted, or another hybrid stamina build becomes stronger I firmly believe beginner, intermediate or advanced players in solo ESO can pick up a mag sorc and dominate!
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