Im tired of seeing all the posts by ignorant people who havnt done any real research on this game and are writing it off as another generic, mediocre mmo. So i wrote up this synopsis to inform some of you TES fans that are on the border.
You start the game as a prisoner of Daedric Prince Molag Bal, who has stolen your soul and is trying to drag Tamriel into Coldharbour (his plane of Oblivion) using dark anchors. Molag Bal has an agreement with the imperials of cyrodil to help him and his army of undead conquer tamriel. The main story involves you trying to stop this and get your soul back in the process. All the quest NPC's are fully voice acted and give you dialogue options when talking to them. Some NPC's even help you complete quests. IDK about you but this sounds very rich and similar to the single player games to me.
Basic gameplay mechanics are pretty much the exact same as Skyrim: Right click to attack. Hold right click to power attack. Hold left click to block. Hold left click and tap right click to do a shield bash or stun. Kill-moves are in the game (once your skill with that weapon/spell/ability reaches max level). Very non-intrusive HUD (max of six abilities on the hotbar which disappears when not in combat). Abilities and attacks dont have cooldown, instead they use up stamina and magicka just like in other TES games. Sneak is confirmed. TRUE FIRST PERSON MODE (where you can see your hands) is in the game. There is NO heat-sinking so you actually have to aim at what you are attacking. Classes are very loosely based and any class or race can use any weapon/spell/armor in the game.
There will be a crime system. So you can steal items off of tables in NPC buildings. If caught you either pay a fine or go to jail. Lockpicking is also confirmed.
You can explore the entire continent of Tamriel. You can only explore your faction's territory until you reach max level. Upon reaching max level 50 you can choose to explore and quest in one of the other two factions' territories. The quests in this territory will scale to your max level and be much more difficult, consequently giving you better loot. Once you finish everything in the second territory you can then enter the last faction's territory to explore/quest. Here is where you will find the best loot in the game.
The leveling system is very similar to that of Skyrim. When you level up you can invest one point in either health, magicka, or stamina and once point to use in a skill tree of your choice. There are also runes hidden throughout the world. Find 3 runes and you are granted one skill point to use however you want.
Gamespot isnt the best site to go to for info about ESO. Some good sites are tamrielfoundry.com, elderscrollsforum.com, and obviously elderscrollsonline.com