Historically, if you needed to create a customized ESXi ISO that included additional ESXi drivers, your only supported option was to use the vSphere Image Builder service, which has a dependency on vCenter Server. If you have an existing vCenter Server, this was not a problem and you could easily create a customized ESXi ISO using either the vSphere UI (example here) or the CLI with PowerCLI (example here).
Where this becomes a real challenge is for a greenfield or brand new deployment, where the default ESXi ISO can not be used as it does not contain the required networking and/or storage drivers for the desired hardware platform. Although this affects some customers who use hardware from the VMware HCL but it definitely has a bigger impact on the VMware Homelab community or anyone just getting started for the very first time.
While discussing this topic with a colleague recently, I actually came to learn about an alternative solution for creating a customized ESXi ISO without the need of vCenter Server! Thanks to fellow team member Blair Fritz, who now works in the VMware Cloud Product Management team, for the awesome tip.