If you're on a video, don't comment as to which faction you'll be. You'll get hefty praise and criticism alike, from fellow faction members and rival faction members respectively.
The factions and the entire Three Banners War in general have split reactions from fans of the lore. Detractors state that the war was never referred to in any lore prior to this game and decry that it's unbelievable that some of these races would work with each other. The Redguards, Orsimer and Bretons, as well as the Dummer and Nords, have particularly heated territory disputes amongst themselves that still invoke bitter feelings by the time of the original games. The worst point of contention, however, is the idea that the Argonians would team up with the Dunmer, when the latter have been enslaving the former and treating them as little more than animals for centuries. Zenimax's attempts to address these concerns also led to more questions and confusion than answers, such as the term "Transcription Error" being used to explain why Cyrodill isn't a tropical rainforest in this era. Other fans think the lore "experts" are taking things way too seriously, and even think they're missing the point of the games, which they say have only used lore as a basic framework anyway (even if said "basic" framework is one of the most elaborate ones in any videogame franchise ever).
Depending on who you ask, the Phasing System is either the most immersive thing to ever grace an MMORPG, or it's an unnecessary barrier with a complete lack of any kind of way to go back to previous phases, barring you from being able to help friends complete quests that you previously completed.
Changing the game to buy-to-play and adding a cash shop for cosmetic items (costumes, vanity pets, and mounts): An excellent opportunity for those who can't afford or didn't want to pay a monthly subscription, or the start of a poor community and pay-to-win?
The New Life Festival's debut in December 2016 brought about mud balls, a neat little consumable you can throw at other players to muddy them up... at the possibility of getting banned for harassment◊. Some players think it's nonsense that one can be banned for a (somewhat) harmless stunt and blame Zenimax for even putting the option in, while others say the mud ball spammers deserve it if they get told to stop or repeatedly throw mud balls at dye station users (as the mud covers up the character's model, preventing one from seeing armor colors).
Crack Is Cheaper: The top tier player houses in Homestead cost over 10,000 crowns ($100). Yes, you can buy them with in-game gold instead, but get ready to grind out 4,000,000 for months, and that's if you're lucky. The "Count/Countess" title you can earn in-game by owning all three Alliance estates is basically a way of saying "I Am The 1%" both in-game and out.
Literally, in this case. Spider Daedra summon miniature spiders, and have one of the most annoying Damage Over Time abilities in the game, because it's an area-of-effect. Storm Atronachs also get special mention, because not only are they a common headache at Dark Anchors, Sorcerers have an Ultimate ability in Daedra Summoning to summon them on you, too!
Harvesters are absolutely loathed in this game, mainly for having the ability to summon several orbs to heal themselves; it's bad enough that they have large health pools and can deal a high amount of damage. One of their abilities has the potential to One Shot you if you don't interrupt it in time.
The Breton from the trailers, due to his sheer knife-throwing, acrobatic badassery.
Razum-Dar from the Aldmeri Dominion is very popular in his own right, probably because he's the funniest and most engaging NPC in the Dominion.
Naryu Virian from the Ebonheart Pact is so popular that players are demanding she be brought back in a future storyline. She's a member of the Morag Tong, and easily one of the funniest and most amusing characters this side of Razum-Dar. She openly flirts with the player character on occasion (regardless of gender), and of course, she's a total badass who is one of the very few genuinely useful NPC allies you can have in battle. Zenimax is perfectly aware of her popularity, as they've actually stated they might bring her back sometime, and you can actually buy her outfit to wear for yourself in the Crown Store. With the announcement of the Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind expansion pack, they are delivering on this promise: not only is she confirmed to be the deuteragonist of the main storyline, she starred in the reveal trailer, in full cinematic glory.
Game Breaker: The deconstruction mechanic is this for crafting. When using Woodworking, Blacksmithing, and Clothing, you have the option to take pieces of equipment for that craft, and breaking them down into base components and get some crafting EXP in the process. It becomes ridiculously easy to horde loot from defeated enemies and gain tons of ore, wood, hide, and race motif items, as well as easily level up your associated skill. Even better, you can simply steal everything not nailed down in the (respawing) market stalls, not only making it trivial to gather huge amounts of resources with little effort, but allowing you to craft 'clean' items that the guards won't take from you if caught.
Bolstered by the One Tamriel update. Everything in the game now scales to your level, including loot, and even including stolen goods. Now everything that you steal is of an appropriate level for you, meaning that at any point in time you can gain an absolutely massive amount of materials that are exactly what you need for your level, without fear of finding lower quality materials.
Animation Cancelling. Borders on Game Breaker. Done by exploiting the 'animation priority', nimble-fingered players have found that rapidly chaining together a light attack, an ability, and then a bash in that order cancels the animation of the previous action and leads right into the next one, effectively allowing you to spam abilities and dish out insane amounts of DPS by negating the game's version of a global cooldown. In the hands of a destruction staff user with Elemental Drain, this can be a deadly combination, because you will never run out of Magicka. ZoS themselves have admitted that they never thought this was possible, but because it's technically not an exploit, they aren't sure what to do about it. Cue Player Versus Player enthusiasts starting an Internet Backdraft.
When the Wild Hunt crates came out with the first furnishing items, players discovered a glitch in the Crown Store's "preview" mode that became highly popular: if you preview a pet or mount, then a furnishing, and then make your character walk, it will show the pet you looked at in the place of your character, and you can run around Tamriel as a wolf pup or senche cub or similar creature.
Hype Backlash: Given that the game was heavily advertised for a few years, and had its admittingly epic looking cutscenes shown, many fans felt ready for an Elder Scroll MMO. When the game came out, that hype turned into Internet Backdraft for the game's issues and the fact that it has considerable differences from a main-series game.
The initial subscription fee caused this, since it meant players had to pay to play the game they just bought, in addition to the monthly subscription fee.
The Imperials being both in the game, and only available if you buy the Collector's edition caused a massive issue with fans. Prior to release, the developers had outright promised that in exchange for the subscription, there would be no additional fees. Many people felt burned by the fact that before the game was even released, they were already going back on their promise and locking features behind additional payment.
Early on, the lack of money, auction houses, or good player economy really made a problem with players because gold was so hard to come by and there was no real economy for players to work with. This was alleviated by adding guild stores and the Justice System (which made gold MUCH easier to come by).
The Steam release of the game. Zenimax announced several times on the official ESO forum that the existing version of the game is not compatible with Steam and can only be added as a non-Steam game, and only new accounts would get the benefits of having it on Steam, such as the trading cards. They also released a special dog vanity pet (one of the most asked-for pets) for new accounts made on the Steam version - and new accounts only; it wasn't a code that could be applied to existing accounts if one were to purchase a second version of the game.
Changing the game to buy-to-play and adding a cash shop. Many players dislike the idea of a cash shop in particular, fearing that it might mean pay-to-win (and if not, you still have to pay to get "all" content in the game).
Crown Crates. Initially announced as basically being consumables plus a chance to get items that are no longer in the Crown Store with few or no exclusives, and that if you got a duplicate item you'd get credits that could be used later to purchase an item that you want. Turns out Crates are 400 Crowns, with roughly 2/3 of them being crate-exclusive items (meaning you can't just buy it in the store, you have to try your luck). It's a VERY slim chance to get actually desirable items: the "good" items are in the Legendary and Apex tiers, but based on users tracking drop rates, Legendary rewards are only a 3% chance of dropping, and Apex-tier are only 1%. You can get "Crown Gems" (which can later be used to purchase the items outright) for duplicate items or for trading in consumables, but the exchange rate is paltry: consumable cards (which you'll get roughly 70% of the time) only give you one gem for the card, meaning that you can spend 400 Crowns on a crate and only get 4 gems for it. The price of the non-consumable rewards with the resulting gems (depending on the tier) are 16, 40, 100, and a whopping 400 gems for the apex tier. To top it off, it was Ensemble Darkhorse Pacrooti that they chose to "run" it, a character who specifically complained about being swindled. Backlash ensued.
"The Elk", which quickly became ESO's equivalent of Oblivion's Horse Armor DLC among the fans. Fans were aware that the Elk mount was coming since it had been datamined, and many people were excited for it. Mounts typically cost 900 to the more common 1800 in the store, with limited-time mounts almost always being 2,500 Crowns. When the Great Elk Mount was released, it cost 4,500 Crowns. The most expensive mount previously was the Dro'Mathra Senche, which was 4,000, and featured unique glowing markings, glowing pawprints when it ran, and unique animations including the summoning animation. The elk re-used the horse skeleton and animations and it also did not have the "visual upgrades" that most mounts give you when you've leveled up your riding skills enough. Again, this mount is the most expensive at the equivalent of $45 USD, more than double the price of the DLCs (which have actual content), and has less features than the other mounts in the game.
The Homestead Update. Arguably the single-most requested feature since the game launch, the update was slated to bring player housing to the game at long last. Of course, once it made to the test server, it quickly came to light that there were extremely restrictive caps on the amount of players visiting each home at a time: eight for medium houses, eight for large houses, twelve for manors, and twenty-four for estates, and it wasn't even possible to learn these caps until after you purchased the home. Cue several angry threads on the forums, some of which even accused Zenimax of doing it on purpose for the sake of increasing demand for even more expensive guild halls later on down the line.
"Transcription Error" has slowly become a popular one. To elaborate, the game developers made a haphazard retcon when making Cyrodiil into an European temperate grassfield as seen in Oblivion instead of the rainforest it was depicted as at that point of time, which the game developers handwaved by essentially calling Pocket Guide to the Empire, the key source of information on Tamriel, false... even though there are numerous books and even firsthand accounts by NPCs that say otherwise.
"Oh, look at that! Two gold coins!" became a popular joke on certain forms and videos where players would loot a boss or quest boss and find more than just a single gold coin.
"Stay moist" is something you'll hear players say occasionally; it's a phrase that Argonian NPCs say. Referenced later on when one of the available player homes was named "Stay-Moist Mansion".
On the official ESO forum, patch notes are almost always called "Natch Potes" (sometimes flanderized as "netch poots◊") - even the devs jokingly call them "natch potes" on a regular basis.
Misblamed: One of the most common complaints about the game is the idea that Bethesda won't have any time or energy to make a new single-player Elder Scrolls game if they're busy with an MMO. That might have some validity... if the game wasn't being developed by Zenimax Online, Bethesda Game Studio's sister studio under the Zenimax LLC group. It's possible gamers were thinking of the Warcraft RTS series which did get put on hold for World of Warcraft. Zenimax LLC deciding to set up a separate company to develop an online Elder Scrolls game was likely done to keep such a situation from happening. Bethesda Game Studios having no experience with MMOs was probably another factor.
Spiders make an obnoxious noise when they detect you.
There was a glitch that occurred at Homestead's launch that caused dog pets to bark continuously whenever their player moved, which quickly got on everyone's nerves.
Nightmare Fuel: The end of the Arrival Trailer has the corrupted Breton and an army of undead take the capital of Cyrodiil by surprise, with Molag Bal's face smiling diabolically in storming clouds in the background.
Paranoia Fuel: During PVP in Cyrodiil. The map itself is huge and there are plenty of places in Cyrodiil to explore, but keep in mind that you can be ambushed by other players at any time... any time.
Pre-Order Bonus: Players who preordered the game got the Explorer's Pack, which gives you the ability to have your character be in any alliance regardless of race, a Scuttler vanity pet, and treasure maps.
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: To an extent, the High Elf race was. After Skyrim where they were both In-Universe and Meta scrappies (or at least those associated with the Thalmor were), a lot of players enjoyed their quests due to the approach the Thalmor go to to win the trust of their allies (such as basically saving one city when it's attacked) and some likeable High Elf NPC's that stand out.
Early on, extremely low money drops. Many enemies only dropped a single gold. Bosses tended to drop only a few more than that. To put this in perspective, before mounts were overhauled to make different horses cosmetic, a passable horse cost about 20,000 gold and a good horse cost about 50,000 gold. If you can't afford a horse? Have fun walking across the map to the next city. It was to the point that if you wanted a horse you had to either grind for hours and hours, or upgrade to a collector's edition, essentially Bribing Your Way to Victory. Much improved by the Justice System, which made gold much easier to come by (common items are 40 gold, rare ones are worth a couple hundred), the price of the cheapest horse being dropped to 10,000, and the overhaul of the mount system, which made stats based on the character rather than the horse itself so that you didn't have to, say, buy a 50,000-gold horse to get a speed bonus (the cheapest horse would work exactly the same way.)
No player houses. Given that previous games offered everything from small shacks to mansions this has upset many players. Zenimax did confirm that housing is coming, they just want to "do it right."
Player housing was officially announced on December 6, 2016, over a year and a half after launch, with the official launch date of the Homestead update being in February 2017. Time will tell if it will be worth the wait, but reaction so far to the trailer and promised features has been overwhelmingly positive. Of course, then came the actual feature on the Test Server, and it came to light that there will be caps on the amount of people able to visit a house at each time; eight for medium houses, eight for large houses, twelve for manors, and twenty-four for estates. And the worst part? On the PTS, it doesn't tell you the cap until AFTER you bought it! Cue a bunch of irate threads on the forums.
Quests progress individually for each player. This makes grouping both tedious and completely pointless. This also means fighting over loot since treasure doesn't respawn for each character in the party.
Because of the way classes are set up, it's entirely possible to have a spec set up that makes you unable to deal sufficient damage to enemies.
The trait system for item creation. 9 different traits can be applied to weapons or armor when forging them. Per item type. For those that want to collect all the traits for all the items, you're looking at 306. Tedious but doable, you say? There's a timer that is required for researching those traits in the first place. Researching a trait for a specific item & slot DOUBLES the research time of the next trait for that item & slot. Starting at 6 hours and going from there, you're looking at a total of sixty three days for mastering every trait ON ONE ITEM.
The Tel Var Stones currency that comes with the Imperial City DLC. Most enemies in the Imperial City only drop a few and the prices for items range into the thousands. If you're killed by a monster, you'll lose 10% of them. But if you're killed by any enemy player, you'll lose ALL of them.
Crown Crates, as described under Internet Backdraft: instead of being able to purchase some things you want directly from the Crown Store, the only way to get them is to spend a lot of money on the Crown Crates (400 per crate) and only have a small chance of getting it (3% and 1% drop rate for the two highest reward tiers - which are where the tiers containing the items people actually want - and you're at the mercy of whatever item it decides to give you), with a pathetic exchange rate if you want to trade in your consumables for Crown Gems to try and purchase the item outright (one crate might get you 4 gems; items from the highest two tiers cost 100 and 400 gems respectively.)
Homestead introduced Master Writs, crafting writs asking for a weapon with a certain trait, set attached to it, quality and style. What's the "Scrappy" part? The Master Writ has no problem asking you for an item from a crafting set from a DLC you don't have, thus forcing you to buy the DLC or just abandon the quest altogether. And if the trait is one you don't know, well, see above. It is possible to decline the quest it prompts you with and then check it in your inventory to see what it's asking for, and sell it to other players if you can't do it, but it's not at all obvious that this is possible and many a player will accept and abandon several writs until someone else tells them the trick.
Tainted by the Preview: Some fans got increasingly excited for new info and news about the game, whereas other fans got increasingly more disappointed.
Signal Fire Zephyr from the New Life Festival; you have to light all 4 signal fires on the upper level of Bergama within 35 seconds. Doesn't seem too bad on paper, but in practice, it ends up being aggravating as you have to stay by the signal fires for 3 seconds each to count, and you may end up with a guard who decided to patrol your route at that exact moment. It's almost impossible without the Steed Stone perk and a skill that grants Expedition, and even then, good luck.
Doshia in one of the Fighter's Guild quests before she was nerfed. Doshia could be immensely difficult at low levels despite the quest being aimed for low levels. It was highly recommended that you fight her at a level 20+ because if you're any lower she would've absolutely mopped the floor with you. Part of the reason was because many players didn't realize that they needed to kill her healing bubbles in addition to Doshia herself, but she still wasn't an easy boss to any extent.
Gutsripper from the Mage's Guild also stood out as a giant pain in many asses before it got nerfed as well.
Mane Akkhuz-ri and his 2 Dro-m'Athra minions in the Stonefire Machinations quest. This fight is notoriously difficult mainly due to being in such a small and enclosed area with very limited space. To make matters worse, the 2 Dro-m'Athra both have the same high number of health as Mane Akkhuz-ri, making this a very long and damage intensive gank fight.
Praxin in Veteran Spindleclutch. If you didn't think Spiders Are Scary before, you will. The Zerg Rush of little spiders at the beginning is bad enough without the three more waves that follow, and sometimes, it will even bug out causing all of the waves to come at once, essentially making this boss a Luck-Based Mission.
Veteran City of Ash. Oh, where to even begin... in order to get the 100% Completion achievement for this dungeon, you will need to run it at leastthirteen times to get all of the Flame Colossi, and that's not even counting the Nobody Dies achievement, which you basically be a team of That One Player's to get. God help you if you're a vampire.
Veteran Maelstrom Arena. It's a solo-challenge, and it's an eight arena-long marathon where you're up against enemies that hit like a truck and deal a LOT of damage. You can only resurrect 500 times, which sounds like it's plenty... until you find yourself dying every single round. To be fair, this is meant to be the ultimate test of a player's ability, and if you happen to get the title of "The Ultimate Conqueror" for clearing it without dying once, congratulations, you are officially That One Player.
That One Sidequest: The Hidden Harvest quest for the Orsimer DLC requires you to destroy a Briarheart Tree, which sounds easy in theory but it's continuously healed by Briarheart Tree Tenders, which respawn as soon as you kill them. Add in being constantly immobilized and throw in a heaping helping of other enemies and you've got a recipe for an unbeatable quest.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The choice to make the game a MMO instead of a single player game was the biggest criticism amongst its fans. This is, however, a case of Misblaming, as it's being made by a different studio rather than Bethesda Game Studios and therefore does not affect the release of the main-series single-player games.
Unfortunate Implications: On a meta level. On the ESO Live Podcast (skip to 00:35:20), it was admitted by Zenimax that lately, they've been using only one model for new armors instead of two. Previously, they would make two models - one male, one female - for every single piece, to keep the armor consistent with, well, anatomy. Instead, they've been using only male models, and then morphing it to look 'feminine' afterward, as a way of cutting corners. Cue a thread hundreds of replies long blasting Zenimax for cutting corners like this at female characters' (and players') expense, for the sake of Money, Dear Boy. Much like the debacle over Assassin's Creed: Unity, female players feel cheated, and are actually offended that they did this to them but left male characters alone. Zenimax has already responded to the backlash by promising to fix them.