So, I'd like to share my initial "14 days worth of having played the game" opinion, both as a game, and as a concept.
The various disclaimers apply - Yes, I know that the game state is heavily in development. Yes, I know many features aren't implemented. No, I'm not new to this.
And to clarify my experience: MMOs include the usuals (WOW, GW/2, W:AR, Warframe, Starwars etc etc) and also old titles... Shadowbane in particular. RTS/MOBA/FPS: all of the usuals here too.
I've been an early-access, alpha and beta tester on a few games, among them Firefall. I'm an IT guy who (Like most folks here, i'm assuming) has been a mid to hardcore gamer for twenty plus years. The rig I'm running this game on is more than a rust bucket (custom i7 8700k, 16Gb DDR4, 1060GPU) so the issues aren't based on poor running or lack of technical proficiency.
Game Concept: Awesome, great.
I like the races, classes, skills, production ideas, combat... all of it. the changes made that I've looked at over the game several year development have made sense, and the look is particularly cool. Design style is a really solid evolution of past titles, and the renders are tight. There was been some thought go in to making a kingdom builder MMO with a significant economy based on PVE, and yet fostering a hardcore PVP playerbase in such a way that the two work in tandem instead of against each other. The lighting, terrain, mob designs, all really hit the right tones with me. I love the blue runetool light reflecting off stone, and grasses.
Execution at this time: Abysmal. Absolutely should not be charged for, even as a pre-alpha.
Please, let me clarify. No part of this game is ready even for soft launch. Skill trees time out randomly, and look basic AF. The older, darker style skill tree looks significantly better than the current iteration. The character animations are smooth, but super long, seemingly uninterruptibile, and their audio tracks are grating. The UI is another issue - windows that can't be over ridden (I want to press esc to clear and get straight back into the gameplay, not have to hammer the escape key 35 times just to get back to usable screen. How about being able to type while autorunning? That doesn't feel like it should be missing at this stage.
Economy: In game economy and item production has the worst balance, just the worst. 25 Ethereal Dust to produce even basic/intermediate items? Even after training nearly exclusively harvesting skills that increase drop rates in the last fortnight, the ED drop rates are still so low that 3 hours of actually boring and repetitive grinding (Taking into account need to make new tools that last longer than 3 swings, which themselves require ED) won't produce enough to make a whole set of armor. This leaves me feeling irritated that I just killed an entire nights gaming only to still be behind the eight ball.
EKs: Loving the concept, but again, hating the execution.
If i misplace a single item, it's a giant PITA to have to run over, loot it, open the menu, bring up the worldbuilder grid, raise, lower and replace the item. Times 12 for the pieces of the wall that i have to go and reset thanks to my useless grid (Which resets every time i go to load a new fence piece from the inventory) because it's failed to help me line up my walls to get a simple large rectangular fence around my lodge. How about a specific architecture "bag" that i can drag all of my architecture gear into and access from the worldbuilder menu so that i'm not killing hours of my night just jumping in and out of menus, huh? How about adding creatures to my EK? Even just for the look if not the harvest value? Nothing in the forums covers it.
Combat: What. The. Hell.
This is animation hell. Animations fail to match floating combat text. The skills make little sense in correlation to what is happening on screen and are considerably less than intuitive. I can see straight away the influences from other titles. But this is a poor emulation of those rather than an evolution.
The PVP and PVE aspects of the game I like.
I like that I have a spirit bank to hide my valuables in, so that suddenly having the crap ganked out of me by someone with 1/8 of my ping (Yes, I'm in New Zealand, I'll never see lower than 180ms) only results in the loss of the few things in my inventory, rather than the 5 hours worth of runetools I spent all that time building aren't just ....gone.
Oh wait. Thats happened twice. Thanks, Obama. Spirit bank doesn't mean jack when my five runetools just got lifted by the fireball throwing git who jumped me.
Overall conclusion: I'm asking myself why I'm bothering. Why anyone would. I have liked some of the things I'm seeing, and I can see the potential here. But this is raw. Not raw like good sushi, raw like carpet burn on your ass raw. Raw like improperly cut puffer fish raw. I say this as I'm going to go in and impulsively check that my skills are still cycling, instead of dropping off for the 3rd time today.
If you want to view this as a whine, feel free. This is only my opinion as a longtime MMO player. Comments are still welcome, as is helpful wisdom from some of the people who have been here far longer than me.