I wanted to put in a fair bit of time before giving an in-depth breakdown of the state of the game, given that my first breakdown was fairly vague. Around 130 hours later, I think I can dissect my thoughts fairly (if not concisely).
- Crafting: I've beaten this dead horse a fair bit in other posts, but I'm going to reiterate it here. I've probably had stuff crafting for about two thirds of my playtime, and I can count the results that were worth the one to six hour timer on one hand. We're talking about around sixty hours of production, and a scant handful of good results. Yes, this was with optimizer mats in place. The core concept is great. Most of the system is good. It's the timers. I said it before, and I'll say it again... it's been stated that this isn't an MMO, so please, please, please leave the free to play MMO/mobile gaming timegates at the door. If the timer was 20 minutes for a purple, with the ability to drop it to ten, and then five for greens with the ability to drop it to 1.5-2 minutes? Yeah, that'd be ok. But as it stands, in an hour I will find gear that is better than the result. I might find it in the shop after I've run a couple missions and idly sell instead of salvaging. I'll probably find it in the mission. The proposed "more mats to lower the crafting time" concept doesn't really fix this--especially not given how many mats one generally has on hand at any given time. In addition, there's the issue at play with appealing to casual players (who are, currently, the most likely to leave asinine reviews over something like this). A casual player has about an hour per play session. They want to see real progress, and taking two to four to get a single piece of gear? That's raised a fuss in proper MMOs, in an ARPG that will be... untenable. Especially with competition like Grim Dawn with no crafting queues, blueprints for BIS gear, etc etc... I've beaten this dead horse so hard I think I might have gone Khorne. On to my next point.
- Experience: The PL system has some glaring flaws at the moment. It's great in that it encourages players to party up with newer players. This is good, it breaks some trends that other ARPGs have set that are... detrimental towards playing with others. However. I have literally no incentive to move to higher CR missions until I hit the next power level. The missions take longer due to the modifiers to damage dealt and taken, and only grant a pittance more experience. From an efficiency standpoint (I gag on that phrase but now understand it), there's no reason to spend 25-35 minutes on a mission that'll give 12.5k experience when one can get 7k XP from a 7 minute mission--in the same time you get one and a half times as much experience. My suggestion, then, is to increase the base reward, so that it's worth doing a CR3 zone at PL3 instead of bum-rushing CR1 missions at PL3 (as an example). It's not bad if one can get a group going, since leveling is (relatively) fast with Tarot missions; it's the solo balance that is problematic.
- Weapons: While, largely, Neocore has done wonderful work this build in capturing the feel of a large variety of the weapons present in the 40k setting, there are some that aren't quite there. As I've broken down (at length) in the Shoot and Retreat thread, the Long-las and SP Sniper Rifle are... a little bit too much of an all-in-one fix. With the high burst-fire capability of the former, and the AoE damage output of the latter that frequently outshines its single target damage, they don't even require a second weapon equipped--I spent a good chunk of the last twenty hours using solely my SP sniper rifle, the same one I got as a mission award around level 4; and only changed once I finally had access to the Exitus--which is the only really "thoughtful" weapon in the sniper's pool. It focuses on single-target damage, and while it has two skills tied to it that are passable multi-target, they don't outshine the single-target. And with the implementation of the Exitus, I actually have a reason to swap to the second weapon I carry, and I have to think before I go barreling into a room, rather than treat a sniper rifle as a really long-barreled assault rifle. Given the stress on how this is a more tactical game, I'd be remiss in not further underscoring that point. Meanwhile, in melee... the chainsword's Traumatize skill does not actually stun the target per the tooltip, so one of the biggest reasons one would take a chainsword (stunning a Marauder, for example) isn't viable; making the Eviscerate ability somewhat... lacking.
- Enemies: To start with, Elites are a little... underperforming at the moment. My tank crusader can simply stand in place, ram a chainsword in the knee joint of a Decimator or Hellbrute, and tank all the resulting damage until (several minutes later, so their HP pool isn't too bad) the thing falls over. This becomes more glaring when compared to the Marauder (which I'm becoming more convinced is having some issues this build in general). As a champion that spawns in clumps of up to twelve, it feels clumsy that the health regen is a significant amount larger (measurably) than the champion daemon subtype while also having a massively higher damage output to boot. To wit: with most of my encounters as my tanky crusader, 50% DR is perfectly fine to tank two to four champions (save rocket havocs and Marauders) and big clumps of infantry. Three Marauders pin me in place, however (easier than one would think, as they currently block phase dashes, shield dashes, and jump pack movement), and I have to pop the CD to bring me up to 70%, and my deflect will bump that to around 80%... and through this each one will deal takeaway damage in the 400-1500 range (not crits, raw damage). The only other unit in the game that can deal that much damage through my fully-buffed CD damage reduction is the Decimator, if I dally too long in the pieplate ability and tank that huge explosion. And the Marauders do that each hit. And spawn in large clumps. And have higher health regeneration than most of the (current) bosses. Then there's the odd behavior with the grenade chucking action from the two tarpit melee units. I've noticed that if you move out of range, the grenade will adjust mid-air and hit. This has caused some consternation on my assassin, as it's somewhat irritating to move behind an L junction to avoid eating a molotov cocktail and then... suddenly you're on fire. Kind of odd. On that point, the rocket Havocs fire turns a bit too quickly--like, 90 degrees in an instant quickly. The assassin has very little overall damage mitigation, and things that were mild irritants on the Crusader are brutal on the assassin. As such, I've taken to noticing that a dodge-roll will not save you from the rocket. It simply adjusts course in place and stuns you anyway.
- Skills: Largely, very little negative feedback here. Largely. They tend to feel meaningful as you fill a tree, and it's nice to have some of the bonuses. That said, some of them are... meh? The Vindicare tree has a number of missing skills (I assume the tag means it's not in place, as their effects did not apply), and largely lags behind the Single Target DPS tree in terms of having a real effect on sniper damage output (especially with the "you heal a smidge on every 1-hit kill" skill). 1.5% is a bit low to adjust a damage output when it only applies to one of the four skills on a weapon--it's an inefficient skill selection when Ranged adjusts all four, and Single DPS adjusts two of the skills. Aside from that, very little to say other than "it's largely useful"--high praise for a network of broadly branching passive buffs; the expected monobuild does not happen in Martyr, and for a 40k franchise title that's... unique. That includes the tabletop, at this point, as GW has embraced the Monobuild Philosophy over the last few editions. So, high praise indeed.
All told, there's far less negative to the build than there is positive, and while I'm pretty... verbose when it comes to criticism, it comes from a place of wanting to see the game continue to improve as it clearly is, not a dislike for the game in general (which can be hard to tell when I get critical, apparently). Some of my criticism comes from experience as a lifelong gamer, some from time as a former designer.
Yeah, there are things that need fixing. What alpha doesn't have issues? Largely, this is shaping up to be one of the best I've been a part of (both of the paid founder type and the old breed of closed sign-ups). Neocore has been responsive and clearly takes our feedback into account.
LATE Edit: Until we have tutorials in place, I'd suggest adding a simple plaintext entry to the skill page that outlines that you can refund skillpoints. Just a lil QoL input.
EVEN LATER Edit: Noting an issue with chat, where if you hit enter as a UI window pops it will clear your message and interact with the UI prompt instead. This has been... problematic, as I keep ending up in parties while typing in chat.