First of all, thanks to Slitherine for the opportunity to test the game! I had completely forgotten about it until I found myself in the mood for some Warhammer 40k. Then, lo and behold, release day is this month and I'm lucky enough to have gotten access in the last wave of testers!
That aside, here's my first impressions from having played around 3 or 4 hours of the game.
- Few issues with the setup process. This was somewhat gratifying, as I'm using Windows 8. Only issue that came up has been reported elsewhere - an error popup when initially attempting to load from the launcher.
- Quick note on the launcher: when selecting a link, the browser that opens is always IE rather than my default browser. Unsure if this is intentional, though I don't think it's a great idea to force the user to use a particular browser.
- The intro cinematic is great - good atmosphere.
- The tutorial: I think so far, my greatest issue with the game is here. As someone who isn't overly familiar with hex-based strategy/wargames (Civilization and a few older games is the most exposure I've had), I had to rely on my knowledge of the subject to guide me through, as opposed to learning from the tutorial. There is a lot of information to communicate in this game - down from the basic gameplay (which I feel is fairly well taught) to the individual stats for units, effects of cover, etc. I feel the latter points are not really explored in the tutorial at all. I'd be happy to hear I've missed something, though! As far as I can tell, there have been no hover-over tooltips, which could be enabled/disabled with a toggle to not bother experienced users. I work as a learning designer and I have a particular interest in tutorials in games. I feel I learned more through playing after the tutorial than I did during the tutorial. Though I understand that learning through experience can be a valid way to teach your player, it also has the inherent flaw that they may misinterpret something - perhaps a weapon is particularly effective against a certain unit type once and it is then considered the most effective tool when others would be superior. It's a weak example, granted, but it's a possible scenario. I do feel the best option here would be tooltip pop-ups that provide brief information (for instance, hover over a lascannon and it will say "effective against x"), but leave enough for the player to figure out on their own.
- This ties into the lacklustre tutorial, although expands into the later game. So far, I've found myself using assumptions from 40k lore/tabletop as opposed to relying on knowledge of the gameplay. For instance, my natural assumption is that a lascannon will be good against vehicles, that rear armour is weaker, flamers will be better against infantry, etc. While I think through results that these assumptions are accurate, there's no way of telling in what is quite an unclear user interface.
- The explosions sound a little close to stock sounds, but this is a minor complaint.
I also look forward to an iOS version, as it will help alleviate my train journey tedium! If an opportunity comes up to test an iOS version, I'd be more than happy to participate.
EDIT: I've just updated the game and noticed some quite big changes (including the inability to load my saves )
I'll report back shortly on whether this changes any of the above!
- My point about the explosions is now entirely null. Much better job on these!
- Something seemed more effective about the tutorial - although this could simply be because I have more experience playing the game now than before. I did notice hover-overs for the names of the unit stats, I'm not sure if I missed these on last playthrough. That said, I still feel they could be better at explaining weapon effects on unit types.