What Is “The Meta” And Why Does It Matter
One of the most financially rewarding investments in this game is understanding the current or upcoming “meta”. The “meta”, for those who may be unfamiliar with the term, is essentially the most effective way to play the game. The meta is subject to change with every new incremental patch. Those that adhere to the current meta have an easier time accomplishing their task, whether that is doing the most damage per second in a trial, or surviving against the masses in player-versus-player zones. The components that make up the meta include classes, play styles, set pieces and consumables that are “better” than everything else.
So what does this have to do with financial gain? Well, if you have an understanding of the current meta as well as the direction that the meta is going to take, you will subsequently have an understanding of what items are going to be in demand as people strive to adhere to the meta to be “the best” players that they can possibly be.
Example: In a meta that favours certain magicka builds, it would be wise to invest time and money into acquiring and crafting BiS (best in slot) mag sets and consumables that compliment these builds, as they will be in great demand. If you are in the mood to farm for some profitable sets, it would be rational to farm for popular magicka ones, such as Spinners, Bright-Throat’s Boast, and Necropotence, among others, should the meta lean more towards magicka-based builds.
Sometimes new patches end up dramatically shifting the meta so much so that sets that once used to be valued are drastically altered to the point where they are no longer commonly used and therefore no longer in demand. Sometimes this shift in the meta is a result of the nerfing of certain sets, buffing of other sets, and/or the introduction of new sets that are greatly overpowered. By keeping up with this information, you can get an understanding for the kinds of sets that are going to be in demand, and those that are not.
Example: The “Veiled Heritance” armor set from Auridon was once a competitive stamina dps alternative to the “Advancing Yokeda” set from the trial: “Hel Ra Citadel”. The latter set was notoriously time-consuming to farm for, but an essential set to have for endgame PvE. AY’s 5th piece bonus granted stacks of critical damage upon inflicting melee damage, whereas VH’s 5th piece bonus granted stacks of weapon damage upon inflicting any kind of physical damage.
Because critical damage scales greater in a trial environment than weapon damage, AY outperformed VH, but VH served as a great alternative set while players sought after the completion of their AY set by relentlessly farming HRC with Craglorn pugs. Because of this, VH daggers with the meta traits could sell for upwards of 100k gold. After the Scalebreaker patch altered the 5-piece set bonus of VH to only proc upon interrupting an enemy, the set became essentially worthless. Thus, farming for daggers and other set pieces of The Veiled Heritance was no longer a profitable endeavor, the way it once was.
Much like how a shift in the ESO meta can prove to be detrimental for certain playstyles and builds, it can also be of great benefit to others. If the meta shifts towards favoring DoT builds, for example, then DoT sets like “Deadly Strikes” will be in greater demand than usual.
Another example of this shift can be observed when many consumables received hefty nerfs during the Elsweyr update. With popular consumables such as the “Double Bloody Mara” taking a hard nerf, people instead gravitated towards utilizing the “Artaeum Pickled Fish Bowl”, as this food became the new “meta” for PvE mag DPS builds that had previously relied on the Bloody Mara. These changes also made it so that the Artaeum pickled fish bowl provided higher stats than it’s blue bi-stat food counterparts. This rise in demand for pickled fish bowls and the main ingredient used to craft them, clam gall, resulted in a vast increase in the value of both the clam galls and the fish bowls until this food was eventually nerfed in the Blackwood patch.
Anticipate The Meta
You can anticipate and prepare for this shift in the meta by keeping up to date with the patch notes that Zenimax releases once the new patch is live on the PTS (Public Test Server). By reading up on these notes, you can observe the scheduled changes and begin acquiring the items that are guaranteed to sell well once the patch hits the live server as well as make alterations in your “farming routine” to accommodate the more detrimental changes. Preparing your inventory well in advance, before the new patch hits the live server, is more financially rewarding than doing so in the midst of said patch. It is important to keep up with these patch notes as they are released every week to analyze and understand what items are about to be in great demand.
Do keep in mind that the changes made to the ESO Public Test Server each week that are outlined on the patch notes are subject to change. This means that a change to a set in week 1 could be vastly different from a change to the same set in week 5, and said change may not even make it to the live server (ex: Stuhn’s 5-piece penetration bonus changing from 14k in the first week of PTS notes to 5k by the time that it was implemented on the live server for the Greymoor update). That being said, the patch notes often generate a lot of buzz with the ESO community, and changes from week to week can encourage players to buy certain sets that receive buffs on the PTS, so it can still be a worthwhile endeavor to list these hyped up sets before the latest update goes live
For example, let’s expand on the Pickled Fish reference above by means of a theoretical situation: If you had taken a look at the patch notes for the Elsweyr Update and seen that Zenimax was going to nerf certain consumables, you could have anticipated that the Artaeum food would replace the bloody mara food as the meta mag dps consumable, and thus be in demand. You could have started buying all of the clam galls needed to craft this food that were up for sale for no more than 700g a piece before they skyrocketed to over 3k a piece when the changes were implemented on the live server. You could then sell these clam galls for their going price of 3kgold/unit for an impressive profit. Likewise, if you had read the Blackwood patch notes for week 4, you may have been able to infer that the price of clam gall would decrease in light of the nerf to the pickled fish bowl, so selling all of your clam gall for the pre-nerf prices would have been ideal.
This same mentality can be applied to events. If a new desirable gold-quality food is about to be implemented into the game by means of an event, be sure to check out what ingredients are needed to craft said food, and be sure to stock up on them beforehand so that you can be ahead of the game and sell these crafting items later for a much higher price.
Being part of the current ESO meta is synonymous with being in demand. This means that items that favor the meta will sell reliably and quickly if listed at a reasonable price, and they can be sold for fairly handsome prices considering the fact that there is such a demand for them.
Check out our page about the best selling items in ESO for an updated list of some of the items that are popular this current meta.