In Secret World there was a custom channel to talk to people. It was used all the time, making the game feel far more "lively" even though it was more focused on singleplayer (despite being online lol).
However, yesterday and today...chat is so quiet. It isn't peak time, but I tried FFXIV before quitting and it was so much more lively in chat and there was way more people around in the city I started in. I'm in daggerfall (one of the capital cities), and it feels...honestly it felt like Skyrim had more life to it with all the npcs talking and roaming around. I and my two friends are literally the only ones talking in zone chat. Then for an entire hour, only two people were randomly talking back and forth.
The game itself is amazing though so far, as far as Elder Scrolls games go. Its way better than vanilla Skyrim and looks much nicer than Skyrim without mods. Its nice to see "people" doing stuff, even though most people seem to not say anything lol. Its just weird it feels like most of the people act like NPCs of Skyrim, and run around like its Skyrim without the social aspects. But I think we might go to FFXIV (which I already bought+new expansion), despite me really hating the stupid server lock thing that they could have added a queue instead like normal high quality MMOs do lol.
Honestly, I get a Twilight Zone feel of the game...or feels like I just entered the Matrix. A bunch of lifeless people running around "stealing" our kills (even though its shared), saying nothing, not wanting to group and most of the time the chat is pretty dead except maybe a couple people or 3...the game really personally creeps me out.
Its probably better at peak, but I played FFXIV at a really odd hour PST time on a server I could actually log on to, and it was considered a "dead" server in google search results, and it still felt very lively and people all over.
It doesn't help ESO community is pretty junk. Ask a question and you get treated really badly. In FFXIV and GW2 people are far more helpful and nicer.
So to sum it up...
ESO is pretty good as far as singleplayer MMOs go (TSW/SWTOR/GW1)...but the community is very quiet, doesn't group (no one would want to group with us, and were even told there is no point in grouping except for group content? But its an MMO, it should all be group content, not a singleplayer MMO where no one wants to group at all?) and quite a few people are rather rude from what I've personally encountered. Yes WoW you don't group leveling...wait...except...you can do dungeon finder from level 10 to max level and group 100% of the time if you want after level 10...and people say that is a solo MMO, but has more grouping than ESO...very disappointed in that regard.
Ah well...it IS a good game, don't take it wrong. Its just the community is pretty unfriendly and the game is so quiet, except maybe at peak it wouldn't be, but again, FFXIV I played at 2 AM EST time and it still had people talking and grouping up and what not. I was a low level and got asked a lot to group. I personally play MMOs to be social and group and make friends, or if I want to play a singleplayer game...there is Fallout 3/NV/Skyrim/Oblivion or fallout 4 lol...way better for singleplayer