A. So, you want something that is familiar, and yet you don't. This game was never promoted as "Skyrim with fiends". The problem with expectations is that often we hear what we want to, rather than what is actually being said.
B. You want a "moment" of discovery before you even step off the boat (literally). While thirty hours of play is not insignificant, I would dare say you have not explored every location in the game. No reviewer can be expected to explore all the content a game has to offer, however MMOs are a different beast. The truly great moments often lie in the social aspect of the game. Discovery is a journey, not a moment in MMOs.
2. "...whether it can justify being one of the most expensive games on PC. Those 'stepping into the light' moments weren't just about showing off fancy new tech; they were a promise. You are going to have an adventure. This is going to be worth your time. It does not seem unjust or unrealistic to hold The Elder Scrolls Online to account along similar lines."
A. The standard edition is $60, with a $15 per month subscription (the first month is included). So, if we played en entire year that would come to $225. Yes, it is not cheap. But, compare this to other games that charge the same up front cost, and then release DLC two or three times per year at $30 - $40 each (eg. Civ 5). It is comparable. If a game is going to judged based on it's "promise" against the cost, you better put in the time to see if it delivers.
3. "The geographical area the game covers is expansive, but don't calibrate your sense of scale against the other games in the series."
A. In a socially focused game, you simply cannot have people spending hours just to get to the same place as their friends. Again, false expectations seem to have interfered with an objective perspective of the game.
4. "A limited draw distance and reliance on repetitive buildings and scenery makes the game feel substantially smaller than it looks on a map."
A. The draw distance is easily adjusted, and quite far at maximum actually. Even if it were not, a game world is more than just how far it is from point A to point B. There are many dungeons, quest instances, and places off the beaten path that create an intricate world.
5. "The tasks you perform fall into familiar categories—kill lists, fetch quests, and simple object finding."
A. The quests you perform all occur in context of a storyline or greater purpose. There are no "Kill 10 rats" checklist type quests as this would have you believe. Quests feel embedded and organic within the game. Completing quest lines in their entirety is extremely rewarding from both a story and physical reward perspective.
6. "One of The Elder Scrolls Online's biggest weaknesses as an MMO is that it often becomes a worse game when large numbers of players are involved in the same activity."
A. This is simply not true. The phasing system the game uses allows for great flexibility in completing quests solo vs. grouped. There is no waiting for something to respawn to allow quest completion.
7. "Narrative isn't necessarily important to an MMO, but The Elder Scrolls Online's tepid writing and lamentable voice acting act to the severe detriment of the game's atmosphere."
A. The voice acting and writing are excellent, and actually a huge improvement over previous Elder Scrolls games. Beyond the quest dialogue, and thousands of pages of written materials which give the world depth. I am guessing these were largely left unread for review purposes, which is a huge disservice to this game.
8. "The crafting system is well thought-out and expansive, but the abundance of materials and lack of a formal trading system means that there isn't much of an economy to participate in."
A. This is massively short changing a strength of the game. The crafting system is so deep, yet highly embracing. There is a feeling of opportunity and growth as a crafter, which fuels exploration.
B. How can a game have an economy at launch? This takes time; sometimes quite a while to develop.
9. "This is an MMORPG of moderate scope with a few good ideas and the resources invested in it seem sufficient to expect new dungeons, daily quests and armour sets to collect at a decent clip for the next couple of months."
A. It is easy to say the game is of "moderate scope", if you have invested little time in the game. It would probably be more accurate to say the review was of moderate scope. This is not intended as a slight to the reviewer, but rather a reframing of the review.