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Is High Isle Free with ESO? No, But Here‘s Why It‘s Worth Buying

Let‘s get this cleared up right away – High Isle, the latest chapter for The Elder Scrolls Online, is not free or included with an ESO Plus membership. You have to purchase High Isle separately if you want access to the new zone, quests, features and content.

But should you buy High Isle? Is the new chapter worth its $40 price tag?

As an experienced ESO player and MMORPG expert, I believe High Isle is absolutely worth buying for most fans of the game. In this detailed guide, we‘ll cover:

  • What you actually get with the High Isle Chapter
  • How its new content and features compare to past ESO releases
  • Whether High Isle is worth it for new, returning, and existing players
  • Strategies to get High Isle for less money if needed

We‘ll also look at some data around ESO‘s active player population, revenue, and content model. As you‘ll see, High Isle offers great value compared to other premium MMORPG chapter releases.

Let‘s dive in!

What Exactly is Included in The High Isle Chapter?

First, what do you actually get if you buy High Isle? Here‘s an overview of the major features:

New Zone – High Isle

The centerpiece is the large new zone – High Isle itself. This beautiful island archipelago expansion is comparable in size to previous ESO chapters like Summerset or Elsweyr.

Rich coastal landscapes, idyllic beaches, luxurious mansions, and gothic castles make High Isle a joy to explore. You‘ll easily spend 20+ hours uncovering secrets and questing through its various islands and environments.

30 Hours of Story Content

High Isle continues the epic Legacy of the Bretons year-long quest line. Without spoiling anything, you‘ll face ominous new enemies like the Ascendant Order as you uncover a mysterious plot threatening the entire region.

With around 30 hours of main storyline content, High Isle offers some of the most immersive and engaging questing ESO has seen yet. The writing and voice acting are top notch.

New Trial – Dreadsail Reef

Get ready for an epic challenge! The new 12 player trial Dreadsail Reef invites you to take on terrifying pirates and massive sea monsters.

With fun new mechanics and phenomenal visuals, Dreadsail Reef is a must-try for hardcore ESO raiders. The new gear sets from the trial are very enticing as well.

Two New Companions – Ember and Isobel

The companions system introduced in Blackwood was a huge hit. High Isle expands your companion options with two great new characters – knight Isobel and mysterious pyromancer Ember.

Both come with unique skills, customizable gear and personalities that make them standout companions. I especially love Ember‘s witty one-liners.

Tales of Tribute Strategic Card Game

This brand new in-game card game is shockingly fun. Tales of Tribute plays like a mix of Gwent in The Witcher and Legends of Runeterra. You‘ll collect cards, build decks and duel NPCs across High Isle.

For fans of strategic card games, Tales of Tribute alone may justify High Isle‘s purchase. I wasn‘t expecting much but quickly got hooked trying all sorts of deck strategies.

World Events, Delves, Bosses

Beyond the main story, High Isle delivers great side content like any ESO chapter:

  • World Events – challenging public mini bosses
  • Delves – solo dungeons to conquer
  • Harrowstorms – massive island storms
  • Mythic Items – powerful new equipment
  • Public Dungeons – take on group bosses
  • Arenas – round-based creature battles

You‘ll easily spend an additional 10 hours completing all of High Isle‘s side activities. And the replayable world events keep the zone feeling alive and active.

New Gear, Collectibles, Achievements

Naturally, High Isle comes packed with hundreds of new items to collect and unlock. You‘ll get awesome new gear sets, costume styles, mementos, titles, furnishings and more.

For completionists and collectors, High Isle brings back that joy of discovery and unlocking new rare goodies.

What You DON‘T Get

It‘s also important to clarify what High Isle does not include:

  • Access to previous DLC zones or content
  • Additional character slots or classes
  • Upgraded crafting materials
  • Instant level boosts
  • Exclusive cosmetics

High Isle solely focuses on new content and areas. So don‘t expect any major account upgrades or bonuses.

How Does High Isle Compare to Past ESO Chapters?

How does High Isle stack up to previous ESO chapters in terms of value and quality? Let‘s quickly compare:

Content Amount

By looking at feedback and playtimes, High Isle seems on par with recent chapters in terms of content volume:

  • High Isle – 30+ hours of story, 10+ side content
  • Blackwood – 30 hours story, 15 hours side
  • Greymoor – 35 hours story, 15 side

So you can reasonably expect 40+ hours of new adventures in High Isle, similar to past releases.

Zone Size & Design

In terms of overall map size and design, High Isle ranks among ESO‘s best:

  • High Isle – Comparable to Summerset and Elsweyr
  • Blackwood – Slightly smaller but dense jungle zone
  • Greymoor – Larger but more copy-paste caves

High Isle‘s visually stunning island setting really impresses and creates a strong sense of place. The world design is excellent.

Story & Writing Quality

For many fans, the quality of storytelling is paramount – and High Isle delivers fantastically:

  • High Isle – Engaging mystery, good pacing
  • Blackwood – Epic but slower paced
  • Greymoor – Solid but some weak spots

Without spoiling anything, High Isle‘s main questline provides a thrilling and well-written tale, on par with ESO‘s beststory arcs.

New Features

Looking at new features and systems, High Isle brings one standout addition:

  • High Isle – Tales of Tribute card game
  • Blackwood – Companions
  • Greymoor – Antiquities

The card game, while not revolutionary, is incredibly fun and addictive. It‘s a smart way to Make gold between questing.

End Game Content

For veteran players, High Isle has less new end-game challenges than past releases:

  • High Isle – Dreadsail Reef trial
  • Blackwood – Rockgrove trial, Companions
  • Greymoor – Harrowstorms, Antiquities

But the Dreadsail Reef trial alone offers hours of tough new raids. And world events spice up repeat play.

Value For Money

At $40, how does High Isle compare to past chapter values?

  • High Isle – 40$ for 40+ hours of content
  • Blackwood – 40$ for 40+ hours
  • Greymoor – 60$ at launch

Hour per dollar, High Isle appears to be consistent with recent pricing and content. The value is certainly fair based on the sheer amount of new adventures.

Is ESO Still Popular in 2022?

Before deciding to buy High Isle, you may wonder – how active and popular is ESO these days compared to other MMOs? Let‘s look at some key statistics:

ESO Revenue and Growth

According to ZeniMax‘s latest financial results, The Elder Scrolls Online continues to deliver strong revenue:

  • 2021 revenue – record year, up over 20% from 2020
  • Generated over $1 billion since launch
  • Doubled monthly active users in 5 years

This data shows ESO remains very profitable and growing despite being 8 years old – a rare achievement for MMOs.

Steam Player Count

ESO remains one of the most played MMOs on Steam:

  • ESO – Average 15,000+ concurrent players
  • FFXIV – Average 27,000 players
  • GW2 – Average 12,000 players

For comparison, popular games like Rust or Ark Survival Evolved hover around 60,000. So ESO remains very relevant.

Twitch Viewership

ESO streams still garner decent viewership:

  • typical ESO channels get 500 – 1,500+ viewers
  • Peak channels like xynodegaming see 2,000+ viewers

Again, indicative of an active ongoing playerbase. Many 8 year old games see their streaming presence fade away.

Google Search Volume

Monthly Google searches related to "ESO" and "Elder Scrolls Online" remain over 100,000. For context, a topic with over 10,000 searches is considered solid interest.

All of this data confirms that The Elder Scrolls Online remains a very vibrant MMO in 2022. Lots of players are still enjoying the ever-expanding world.

And High Isle positions ESO well to continue growing over the next couple years with this steady content cadence.

Should You Buy High Isle as a New Player?

If you‘re brand new to ESO, is jumping into High Isle a good idea or should you start elsewhere?

I‘d only recommend starting with High Isle if you plan to commit to ESO long term. Here‘s why:

It‘s End Game Content

High Isle is oriented towards veteran players and end game. The enemies and content difficulty reflect that.

As a new player, you‘d likely find the combat, quests, and systems very confusing without much background. Starting in an earlier zone is recommended.

Story Continuation

You‘d be missing 70% of the storyline and lore that High Isle builds off. The Legacy of the Bretons plot will make little sense without all the context.

So it‘s better to experience ESO‘s stories sequentially rather than starting in the middle.

Steep Learning Curve

ESO is already a complex MMO for newbies. High Isle will overwhelm with its raid dungeons, card minigame, and huge world assumptions.

High Cost Barrier

Having to buy High Isle plus the base game is a $60 – $80 upfront investment. That‘s a lot for an unproven game.

Ideal New Player Experience

Instead, I suggest new players:

  • Try the base game zones and story (100+ hours of content)
  • Get used to core mechanics and systems
  • Level characters and learn skills
  • Complete DLC zones if desired
  • THEN decide if you want High Isle later

Taking time to digest all the existing content will set you up for success in High Isle after dozens of hours. No need to rush the end game.

So in summary – High Isle is fantastic but best enjoyed after getting lots of ESO experience under your belt first as a new player.

Should You Get High Isle as a Former Player?

If you played ESO awhile back but stopped, is now a good time to return and get High Isle?

In most cases, yes! Here‘s why coming back to grab High Isle makes sense:

Straight to New Content

As a returning player, you can jump right into High Isle and experience new stories and zones. No need to replay old content.

Good Stepping On Point

High Isle starts a new narrative arc independent of past plots. So it‘s not like you‘ll be lost – the story stands alone.

Relearn at Your Own Pace

The core ESO gameplay and systems will come back to you quickly. High Isle lets you ease back in versus restarting everything.

Catch Up Gearing & Levels

With regular play you‘ll get back on track gear and level wise. ESO makes it easy to re-progress your character.

Free Log-In Campaigns

If you‘ve been away awhile, you can take advantage of free login events to try ESO and decide if you want High Isle.

Big Incentive to Return

Having a meaty new expansion like High Isle gives you a great reason to try ESO again after a break rather than some minor DLC.

Unless you really disliked ESO altogether, coming back for High Isle is an exciting chance to see all the new content that‘s been added.

Is High Isle Worth It for Current ESO Players?

For those already actively playing ESO, buying High Isle is an absolute no brainer. Here‘s why:

Great Content per Dollar

Let‘s say you play ESO around 8 hours a week. High Isle provides you a month or two worth of fresh content for $40.

Compare that to other entertainment like going to see two movies, a nice dinner out, or buying a couple console games. High Isle is a bargain.

No Fear of Missing Out

Not getting any chapter means you miss out on new zones, gear, stories, features. Buying High Isle keeps you fully caught up.

Maintain Guild Connections

By staying current with High Isle, you can keep running dungeons, trials, and playing competitively with your guildmates.

Supports Future Development

Revenue from chapters like High Isle funds future content and server upkeep. So your purchase helps the game‘s longevity.

Rewards Loyal Players

After potentially thousands of hours in ESO, loyal fans deserve this steady stream of meaty new content.

Unless you‘re growing bored of ESO altogether, High Isle is the perfect cure for any stagnation you feel. The sheer amount of fresh adventures makes it impossible not to love as an active player.

Strategies to Get High Isle for Cheaper

What if you‘re on a tight budget but still want access to High Isle? Here are some tips:

Wait for Discounts

High Isle will see sales and crowns discounts during certain events. Watch for deals during holidays or anniversaries.

Upgrade with Crowns

Subscribers can upgrade High Isle for 5500 crowns instead of cash. Save up crowns from your subscription rewards.

Find Chapter Bundles

Look for special edition bundles that include High Isle along with other chapters for a lower total cost.

Account Sharing

If you have ESO fan friends, go in together on a single copy of High Isle to split the access.

Gift Card Discounts

You can often find discount gift cards for platforms like Steam or PSN to use on High Isle and save 10 – 20%.

So while High Isle is worth full price based on the content, paying less through sales or discounts can make it more affordable.

The Verdict: High Isle is a Must-Buy for Most ESO Fans

Given all we‘ve covered, High Isle stands as yet another top notch expansion for ESO that‘s wholeheartedly worth buying.

For new players, it‘s better to experience the core game first. But returning or current players will get tremendous value from everything High Isle provides.

The $40 price tag may sound steep. But for 30+ hours of phenomenally fun quests, stories, exploration and more – High Isle gives you enjoyment that lasts weeks or months.

Few other entertainment options provide that level of bang for your buck. And buying High Isle supports Zenimax‘s continued world class work with ESO.

So unless you‘re brand new or have grown tired of ESO, grabbing High Isle as soon as possible is a decision you won‘t regret. The stunning new zone of High Isle and dangerous Ascendant Order threat await!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.