ESO Evergreen Armor Style

Is ESO Worth Playing in 2023?

So you’ve heard about the Elder Scrolls Online MMO from a friend, maybe you’re a former player, who left the game or thinking about trying out the game. Either way you’re wondering now: Is ESO worth playing in 2023?



Is ESO Worth Playing in 2023?

I’ve been playing ESO since launch and have over 50 end game characters across all servers with thousands of hours in the game.  With all that experience and knowledge, I’m going to give you an honest opinion on whether ESO is worth starting or coming back to in the new year.

For those who might not be familiar: ESO is set in the world of Tamriel, with the events of the game occurring a thousand years before those in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. First launched in 2014, the game will celebrate its ninth anniversary this spring. Each year the game has seen a steady increase in expansions and updated content, meaning that both brand new and returning players will have plenty to do in game. But does quantity mean quality? Let’s take a look.


Story & Setting

The game is set in the year 582 of the Second Era, a period when there was no Emperor on the Ruby Throne. Within this power vacuum the Alliance War broke out between three different alliances: the Ebonheart Pact, the Aldmeri Dominion, and the Daggerfall Covenant. These alliances are important for the player vs player aspect of the game and are more of a background story to the main plot and starting point.   

During this time, Tamriel was also going through the Planemeld. The Planemeld was a massive Daedric invasion that affected the entire universe, not just Tamriel. The Daedric prince Molag Bal was at the heart of the Planemeld and used his Dark Anchors to try and merge Coldharbour, his realm of Oblivion, with the rest of the world.

Along with Molag Bal, the High Elf necromancer Mannimarco is the other antagonist of the main story. He’s an agent of Molag Bal who founded the Order of the Black Worm, also known as the Worm Cult. To please the Daedric prince, Mannimarco and his Worm Cult would sacrifice people to Molag Bal, leaving them as soulless husks seeing out the rest of their days in Coldharbour. And like other TES games, you start out in a prison with a brief tutorial, followed by freedom to go where you want and do what you want.

Consider the story in ESO to be the number one focal point of the game, with hundreds (if not thousands) of fully voice acted quests across a sprawling number of zones. One of the first major choice you will make when starting the game is choosing a class, which we’ll take a look at next.



The most important thing to know up front is that ESO is a game where all classes can fulfill any role.  Like other MMOs, ESO follows the holy trinity of tank, healer and damage dealer.  Unlike other MMOs, however, you’re not locked into one or two roles. You can simply swap skills, morphs, champion points and gear, and boom you’re ready for a different role. ESO has even created a free system for swapping builds called the Armory.

Not being forced into one role was the reason I was attracted to ESO in the first place, I wanted to be able to heal myself as a damage dealer, and you can do exactly that with each and every class and role.  

There are four base game classes in ESO, with an additional two classes locked behind paid DLC.  

The Dragonknight is a fire breathing damage-over-time class that loves playing up close and personal.  As of the making of this video, this is my main and what I love playing the most.  This class currently is nearly S Tier in all categories except healing and is great for those that love aggressive melee playstyles.

Nightblades are stealthy rogue type characters with a unique ability to cloak or turn invisible on demand. I consider Nightblades to be one of the strongest damage dealers and great to play if you love being sneaky. Nightblades are also extraordinarily strong PvP characters and excel at solo play.

Sorcerers are your typical range caster type – they possess incredible speed and use lighting to aid themselves.  They are currently is very strong for beginning or returning players and what I recommend currently if you’re getting back into the game and looking for something strong.  You can expect simplistic gameplay, high damage and mobility.

Consider the Templar class your holy warrior or paladin from other games. Strong healing for themselves or others, with range and melee damage.  The Templar has seen some major changes recently making it significantly weaker than before but is still an all-around, easy to play class.  

Next up are the two DLC purchase required classes.

The Warden is like a gassed-up version of the templar, better healing, utility and damage. You’ll use the power of nature, including pets and ice to aid you in combat. Wardens are extremely strong, and it can be argued they are the best overall class in the game.

The Necromancer uses corpses to aid them in battle creating a very unique and fun playstyle. They are incredibly durable with high damage but come with the downside that they are slow and hard to play.  It requires a lot more complex gameplay to take advantage of this class, but if you can, you’ll be destroying the competition.

A final note: ESO always has a meta class, which usually shifts every 3 or 4 months. What the game does well is keep at least 5 out of the 6 classes close in terms of performance. It’s an MMO, and balance will always be influx, but you can sit back, pick a class you like and ride the wave of patches and be somewhat on an even playing field.

As far as new classes, we don’t know if that’s coming in 2023.  We received an update from Studio Direct Matt Firor foreshadowing the next year of updates, and he stated that one of the most requested features in ESO would be coming in Quarter 2. Could this be a class or a skill line? As of the making of this video we don’t know but stay tuned!



The combat in the Elder Scrolls Online is quite different from the traditional World of Warcraft tab target games. In this game, you’ll have a one second global cooldown on abilities rather than a 1.5 like traditional games, making ability usage much quicker.

This game also gives you two ability bars which you can swap back and forth between freely.  Each bar has 5 abilities along with an ultimate or a ‘super ability’ which has a high impact on the battlefield and needs to be used timely.  You’ll be rotating back and forth from front bar to back at a high level, casting abilities, managing your resources and maintaining focus on your movement.

Speaking of movement, that’s where the combat really shines, combining the best features from action-oriented games.  You have blocking, dodging, sprinting and bashing all consuming your stamina. While you’ll have other abilities that cost stamina or magicka, and sometimes both!

Unlike WoW or other tab target games, this game becomes much more about managing your resources than purely looking at cooldowns. You’ll have to do some of that, but in 2022 ESO saw a massive shift in combat. Most of the high-powered damage or heal over time abilities were changed from a 10 second duration to a longer 20 seconds, making it much easier to manage a decent rotation.

Moreover, Zenimax Online Studios lowered the overall damage of light attacks. Light attack weaving has been in the game since day one and is complex for newer players to understand. The basic premise is this: you have two separate cooldowns – light attack and abilities. The closer you can pair these together, like a heartbeat (thud thud, thud thud) the more damage you do. Since light attacking in between abilities is free with two separate global cool downs, your damage skyrockets when you are weaving in light attacks, making the combat extraordinary fun and nearly impossible to master.

In 2023, you’ll see a reduction in the need to light attack, along with much easier rotations and simplistic gameplay.  Moreover, the High Isle chapter introduced the Mythic one piece item Oakensoul, which locks you into only one bar but gives you a huge boost in survivability and damage. With this ring comes easier gameplay, making some of the harder content much more accessible. Importantly, this mythic does not out compete players using the more difficult two bar rotations, which is great for game balance. Acquiring Oakensoul does require the purchase of the High Isles chapter/DLC, however.

A final note about combat – consider PvE more about managing cooldowns and damage over time and healing over time abilities, while maintaining high up time on buffs to optimize you or your group’s damage. PvP, on the other hand, becomes much more about instinct and reacting quickly. In my opinion ESO blends the best of traditional MMOs with action-oriented games and it’s one of the reasons I’ve played since launch and continue to do so.



Next up we have one of my favorite activities in ESO and that’s leveling.  ESO Leveling goes from 1-50 then is followed by a complex and clunky progression system called Champion Points. The real reason ESO leveling is so fun is because every second you’re dripping with progression.

You can reach new levels at lighting speed, with rewards at each level giving you incentives to keep going. Obtaining new skills, morphing those skills and playing around with your build to feel the power increase quickly.  

Another advantage to this game’s leveling is it REALLY does follow a traditional Elder Scrolls game, where the game begins with a one-hour tutorial and you’re set free to explore the game. Within a couple hours you can hit level 10 and immediately start doing group PvE and PvP.  You can explore and quest, grind zombies, pvp in battlegrounds or farm dungeons! Leveling can really be done however you want to do it and all tracks are simple and easy to understand. 

Overland or zones are the main source of most new players’ leveling experience. Each named zone contains world bosses, the main story quest along with multiple side quests, dolmens, delves, collectables like skyshards and lorebooks and good old mundus stones just like other TES games. There’s simply a lot, and the average new player can feel very overwhelmed when tackling each and every zone.

While ESO doesn’t have the Skyrim golden trail holding your hand telling you were to go, it has improved by adding a zone guide which shows you various activities to complete per zone. Between the story, learning about the skills, collecting skyshards and earning achievements leveling in ESO will have you dripping in dopamine and the game will be very hard to put down.


End Game

So, after all of that leveling, you’ve reached level 50. What’s next? Sadly, this is the downside to ESO: the end-game. It can be a bit confusing. You will see your max level is 50, but immediately after that you start earning champion points. Champion Points is another progression system which has slottable benefits or ‘stars’ which can boost everything from movement speed to increased spell damage to fishing perks.

The key point here is this: you won’t start collecting relevant gear until after you reach end game because the ESO level cap is 50, but the gear cap is champion point 160. Champion points go all the way to 3,600 but are limited in terms of combat effectiveness due to the slottable choices being only 4 per constellation. At around CP800 you start feeling powerful and around 1,500 there’s almost no other benefit besides convenience in resetting unlocked slottable stars. So don’t let that 3,600 number fool you, the max amount of champion points doesn’t really affect your performance because you can only slot 4 per constellation and there are minimal passive bonuses.  

Keep in mind that this is the ESO grind for both gear and champion points and I’m not necessarily a fan of the system. Overall, it doesn’t feel very rewarding or fun, and it is unnecessarily complex for newer players to the game. To their credit, the developers have adjusted the rate at which you can earn CP, which is now on a curve where the fewer champions points you have, the faster you can gain them. 


PvE Content

Next up is PvE content and where ESO shines! ESO is predominantly a PvE game with emphasis on story, exploration and single player accessible content. The end-game has grown to an enormous amount of group activities that will keep players busy for years. Here’s a brief rundown of the type of PvE and what to expect.


The Overland content in the Elder Scrolls Online is massive, with what seems like countless zones to explore, quest, delves, world events and more.  This is where the majority of ESO development time has been spent over years and if you love traditional Elder Scrolls games, exploring the map and getting lost in the story, this will be for you. Moreover, the base game, without any expansions or DLC, has enough story and to keep a new player busy for months. All of the additional DLC content, which players can have immediate access to with an ESO+ subscription, will keep them busy for many more.

There is a downside with all of that overland content, which is that it’s very easy to complete. That huge bad guy boss that was going to destroy Tamriel? Well, unfortunately a player like me can one shot it with an ultimate and have zero difficulty. This is in direct contrast to games like New World where overland is brutality hard no matter how experienced you are.

Another issue I have with the overland is the stories, which for the most part, are not instanced based like in Star Wars: The Old Republic. For those who are really seeking immersion in their game, this will really break you out of it. But I’ll say this, I’ve never played a game with such expansive and robust overland content. 


Four player arenas like Dragonstar in Upper Craglorn and Blackrose Prison in Murkmire are high octane fun. Each version comes in two modes, Normal and Veteran. They have leaderboards, incredible gear to collect and are very difficult to complete, especially if you’re going for a “no death” achievement.  There’s plenty of achievements and score pushing to do along with relevant gear sets to collect years after launch.  Arenas are all about action and combat, with quick spawns and lots of AoE and challenging bosses.

This content is what I enjoy the most, a more intimate four players vs massive group content. But even solo players have their own challenging arenas!  

The two current Solo arenas Maelstrom in Wrothgar and Vateshran Hollows in Markarth. Both provide a proving ground for solo players looking to hone their skill in combat without the benefit of a tank or a healer. Solo arenas also come in two versions of Normal and Veteran. Just like the four player arenas, there are tons of great gear, achievements and the ability to improve one’s combat. You might be able to memorize the bosses and mechanics, but sometimes you just have to react to randomly spawned mobs and adjust on the fly making it a joy to repeat the content over and over.


Dungeons are four player, instanced based content, each with their own internal story. They are the bread-and-butter PvE content in ESO with over 45 available dungeons and you can expect to see at least two new dungeons added to the game per year. Dungeons now have three modes: Normal, Veteran and Hard Mode. This means that the average player who is new to the game and may have very limited skill can access the Normal content, complete it and collect some gear. While the end game PvEers have endless things to do including working towards better gear drops, titles and dyes.  

The big downside to ESO dungeons is players who are brand new in game will have zero idea which ones are hard and which are for beginners. Generally, in ESO the base game dungeons (such as Fungal Grotto or Wayrest Sewers) are easier, with fewer, if any, mechanics to manage. The DLC dungeons can be much harder, where the newest dungeons can provide a challenge even on normal mode. But ESO does not have gear scores, so in the Dungeon Finder UI it ends up with a somewhat alphabetized list of dungeons and no real indication on which ones are challenging or not.  

The dungeon matchmaking system also has several long-lasting bugs making getting into a group obnoxious. Lastly, it feels like 99% of the player base plays DPS, so expect a one hour wait time as a DPS in a random dungeon que unless you have a premade group. However, once you start running through the dungeons, it’ll be a rush and invigorating to start trying to complete trifecta runs, no death, speed and hard mode.


Lastly, we have Trials, which are the 12-player large scale PvE content. Most of your best-in-slot gear comes from trials, along with the best collectables for completing the harder content. The downside to trials is there is no group finder. Overall, I find ESO to be a very solo friendly game with a crowd that reflects this. Thus, trials guilds come and go like the wind and can be difficult to find for the average or new players. If you’re a new player and looking for a trial group, the game also doesn’t tell you that the general chat in Craglorn is the place to be.

Setting that aside, the trials in ESO are amazing, with over 10 available and the latest being Dreadsail Reef from the High Isle Chapter. One thing the game has done very well in recent years is making the normal mode very easy and accessible. Many players are fearful that they can’t do trials, but on normal mode with a competent tank and a couple high damage dealers, nearly all can be completed pretty easily.

Lastly, another drawback to trials is that they are often a DPS race vs an all-out mechanic based PvE instance. In Destiny 2, the raids require EVERYONE to know what’s going on, not just the tank. In ESO, if you have mind boggling DPS, you can skip nearly all the mechanics and just burn the boss. Typically, at least the tank and a healer need to know what’s going on, but all the DPS can just concentrate on staying out of the red while parsing the boss down. But if you like large scale PvE, ESO has it in spades and it’s made leaps of improvements to accessibility!


Keep in mind that ESO released companions in 2021 with the Blackwood chapter. They have since expanded to four available companions currently, which are a moderate help in combat and more of a passive battle buddy than anything else. I’m not going to go into detail on companions but have builds and guides on my website if you’re interested. I consider them much weaker than companions found in other games like Fallout, Skyrim or SWTOR. While they’ll do a little dps or provide a bit of healing, when it comes to blocking, dodging bashing and sprinting they completely miss the mark in being a competent combat aid. Their addition really ends up being more of a story element.  

Now let’s switch gears and talk about my favorite but neglected aspect of the game, and that’s PvP!


Player Vs Player

Simply put, ESO PvP – when working right – is the most fun I’ve ever had in a multiplayer game. With a sandbox open world in Cyrodiil, instanced based Battlegrounds and a PvE/PvP environment mix in Imperial City, at its best it’s hands down the most exciting combat in any MMO or multiplayer game. The downside is the lack of performance due to archaic servers from 2012 and the lack of any development or incentives.

I’ll keep the server performance issues brief but imagine playing PvP and not being able to use your skill for 1 or 2 seconds – that’s what happens on some servers in ESO. The ESO North American mega server was given a hardware refresh in April of 2022 which saw a massive performance boost. Allegedly this is coming to PC EU and consoles in spring of next year. Moreover, the servers were supposed to be rearchitectured with some base code re-written. But we’ve received very little information on that development, and I suspect this isn’t going according to their original timeline.

Moving onto the different types of PvP in ESO. Consider Cyrodiil to be a part of the core story of the three-banner war, with all three factions fighting for the Ruby Throne. Achieving the rank of Emperor was the greatest feeling in ESO and doing so basically boosts your power by 10-fold and forces you to defend your kingdom until you become dethroned. Cyrodiil is entirely objective based with a 24/7 365 fight for territory, objectives, and kills.  

Battlegrounds are smaller, instanced based fights which pit three teams of four against one another in various modes of combat. These typically run much smoother than Cyrodiil and can be a great way to have fun and test your build against others. However, at the higher levels of matchmaking, the population can start to get tight. You will likely find yourself fighting or on the same team with the same players repeatedly. Moreover, there’s almost zero incentive to play repeatedly outside of enjoyment. PvE and specifically the card game Tales of Tribute has more incentive than Battlegrounds, and this feature has seen almost zero support since launch.

Imperial City is another zone that offers an interesting blend of PvP/PvE, with a combination of daily quests, overworld bosses which drop valuable monster helms and a unique currency to earn called Tel Var Stones. Not to mention an awesome fight with Molag Bal if you can make it to the center of the sewers! 

Lag is rarely seen in this zone, though it’s possible that’s simply because the population inside is usually small. The exceptions to this are the twice-a-year PvP Mayhem events, which offer increased experience points, alliance points and other rewards. This will bring a temporary surge of players into the City and the group fights can be a blast.  But outside of this two event period, it’s usually a dead wasteland of ganker nightblades waiting in the shadows to one shot new players.

Tales of Tribute Card Game

Tales of tribute is a deck builder card game which was added in 2022 and is highly controversial. Some players absolutely love it, and with incredible incentives that slaps Cyrodiil, Battlegrounds and Imperial City in the face, this has been the main focus of ZOS ‘PvP’ if you call it that. I’m an avid Pokémon and Magic The Gathering player and what makes those games fun are the characters, monsters, and the strategy. And if you play online the animations add to that excitement!

Think of Tales of Tribute as the exact opposite. It is a very slow-paced deck builder which doesn’t include much fighting and nearly zero animations.  Nothing against those that designed it, but the system is overall complex, with zero flash and I haven’t touched it since the PTS.

Let me be completely blunt with you.  If you’re looking for a predominantly PvP game, I would not play ESO. World of Warcraft would be a good choice if you’re looking for serious competition. New World would be a good choice if you like massive overland fights, and Guild Wars 2 would be a good choice with similarities to ESO. The lack of server fixes, over-promising and under delivering in the aspect of PvP remains one of the reasons many people have left the game. I imagine the ship has sailed on ESO adding more PvP features, but I hope to rewind this back someday and look at how wrong I was!


Cosmetics, Housing, and Monetization

ESO is a buy-to-play game with a cheap base cost of around $20, though you can get it on sale much cheaper. There is also the option of a monthly subscription which costs around $15. The sub nets you a ton of perks including a crafting bag which holds an endless amount of material, a small XP boost and so on. But the main benefit is that all the DLC content that you would normally have to buy separately with crowns (the in-game currency) are all unlocked and available. But we aren’t done yet! In addition to base game cost and a subscription, you’ll most likely have to spend around 30-60$ for the latest expansion – or, as ESO calls them, chapters. As you can see, this game starts to become a money pit quickly.

Let’s talk about the over monetization of the game, which has been a major point of concern within the community. Unlike other games like Final Fantasy or World of Warcraft, there are very few earnable mounts and cosmetics in comparison to what can be found in their cash shop, the crown store.

Even free quest starters or event activities always start here. They want you to jump in and get your appetite wet and go nuts at all the amazing items available. But what players will find is that all that cool swag is locked behind the dreaded loot crates. These haven’t been outlawed yet, so acquiring nearly every beautiful mount, cool costume or incredible housing item revolves RNG gambling on loot crates.

ESO eventually put the Endeavor system in place, which is a way you can earn cosmetics through gameplay. It will take a long time to earn the most valuable mounts (personally, it took me one year of nearly daily play time to earn enough for an apex mount), but I suppose at least the mechanic is there.



ESO housing is so in depth and so detailed it could legitimately be its own game. Think of it like ESO Legos. Housing provides you some utility by allowing you to store, organize and collect items within your house. You can show off and flex all of your trophies, achievements, pets, mounts, you name it. It’s a total flex zone!  

What’s the downside of housing? It costs a lot of gold and a lot of time and materials if you are crafting all your furnishings. And if you really want the largest home or the best-looking items, then you’ll be spending a lot of real money. Some houses cost literally $150, which is more than the combined cost of the base game, collector’s edition of the latest chapter, and a subscription. In order to get relevant useful items like mundus stones, then you’re looking at another $300. Housing is one of the most treasured parts of the game and can also be one of the most predatory, and I don’t participate.

Another part of the reason why I don’t participate in creating a house is that there’s nothing in the system which makes your character or your account more powerful. Unlike New World, there’s no power boost – it’s purely cosmetic and convenient. There are lots of players who love this aspect of gameplay and so many creative people who have used it to make some amazing homes. It’s not for me, but if this is your thing you can do plenty with the furnishings available through crafting and the homes available for in-game gold.


Is ESO Worth Playing?

Let’s bring all of this information back together to answer the original question: Is ESO Worth Playing in 2023?  100%! It’s my favorite MMO and multiplayer game of all time and after playing off and on since beta I still love it. I don’t think ESO is perfect – one entire and popular aspect of the game, which is PvP has been completely neglected and degraded. And the champion point end game system misses the mark in progression for me. 

The game has evolved into a solo friendly, questing and exploration game and that isn’t all bad. I wish ESO would shift their cosmetic model from loot crates to earnable activities. I wish PvP and the servers would eventually get the attention it needs across all of the servers. And I wish there would be a new class or weapon skill line, but we see what the rest of 2023 brings! I honestly think it’s very worth trying if you’re new – the base game is expansive enough to have plenty to do, even you don’t unlock any of the DLC content. 

I’ve always wanted Skyrim with friends, and now there’s an addon for that. But every time I go back to Skyrim it’s just not ESO, my home for the Elder Scrolls. The combat, memories, friends and the daily activities are just so fun to do. Despite its flaws, I still love the game – it isn’t perfect but either am I.


Additional Guides:

If you’re looking for a one-bar PvE builds click HERE, one-bar PvP builds HERE or one-bar Werewolves builds HERE. Also, consider watching me on TWITCH where you can ask me questions about my current builds.