TEScO game director Matt Firor talked to Digital Spy recently, and this is what he said.
"We are still working on this system, but as it stands right now, we have first and third-person support, just like in any other Elder Scrolls game. The only difference is that you don't see your hands and weapons in first-person mode."
Does that matter? I’ve let this one revolve about my brain for a bit, and have decided that it rather does, actually.
The thing is that The Elder Scrolls series doesn’t just go deep, or wide - both things that TEScO demonstrably does too, rendering full continents to explore and blurring class skills to the point of near-infinite possibility. It also goes in close. By Oblivion, TES had become as much about the granular - about darting out of sight at the last possible second or shooting a precious stone from its perch - as it had the grand and sweeping.
Nothing about an invisible bow precludes the possibility of gem-shooting, of course, but to me a bodyless first-person camera in a fantasy world doesn’t evoke Skyrim - it speaks of Everquest, and of MMO tradition.
Anyway. To hear Firor tell it, The Elder Scrolls Online isn’t really designed to be played in first-person.
"The main difference here is that in an online RPG, enemies can spawn in a 360 degree radius around you, especially in PvP,” he continued. “So third-person view mode, if you use it, will give you a far greater ability to see enemies behind you.
"In many situations, this will be the difference between living and not surviving a combat sequence."
Am I being too precious about this? TES Online looks bloody marvellous in many other respects, after all.