To anyone who have doubts about purchasing or not Early Access version at this point, i would strongly recommend to wait until final release, and getting some reviews by approved and trusted sources.
At this point of Early Access devs are not going to implement any serious changes in the gameplay process, basically limiting your feedback to bug reporting, not to mention that Ubisoft has its own team of testers assigned to this task.
The game is controversial at best, so for many RPG fans it can become a serious dissapointment and a crash of expectations. My advice is: be patient and wait until it is released and reviewed by RPG gaming community.
For some reason, many have been misguided, considering the game is still at alpha stage, and yet to pass through long development process. While LE studio considers otherwise, and here i will quote Thomas, LE technical lead:
<LE-Thomas> Question: will we get christmas update with more content? xD like lets say, new areas and quests?
<LE-Thomas> Answer: Sorry, the team is currently working on finalizing the game. There will be no more content updates to the game until the release. Until early 2014 is not a long time left anymore. ;)
This was stated during the third developers chat session. Obviously they will release the game in its current state. This simply adds more reason not to purchase Early Access version.
Also a HUGE WARNING NOTE.
This adressed to all M&M VI, VII and VIII fans. In case you're one of them, check all the information about the game twice or even thrice as meticulosly, before making a decision. This game is based on M&M IV: Clouds of Xeen & M&M V: Darkside of Xeen. It has very illusive resemblance, if any at all, with M&M games staring from Mandate of Heaven.
This been added at the 29th of november:
Ok, now i will give some general info to familiarize you with some aspects of this project, i find rather questionable and controversial. Starting with:
1) Size of the game world.
M&MX is told to be consisted of 4 Acts, with Act 1 available during the Early Access. Act 1 location (including both Sorpigal by the sea and Peninsula maps) feels to be half the size of, for ex., Castle Ironfist location (from M&MVI). Act 1 offers us five dungeons, those being: Spider cave in Sorpigal; Lighthouse, Bandit Hideout, Catle Portmeyor and Cursed Ruins (which is not available in the Early Access phase) scattered all over peninsula map. Also we have two caves, each holding a single Cyclop monster inside and an empty puzzle cave. The size of these dungeons are medium, and it won't be much of an exaggeration to say that Castle Darkmoor (MMVI) would be able to contain all of them within itself.
Now, to make an approximate estimation of the overall world size, you can take a look at the "World Map" picture, where i marked the borders of the area Act 1 occupies.http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/24/8j6k.png
2) Character creation and development
M&MX creators offer us 4 races to depict our party members from. Those being: human, elf, dwarf and orc. The difference between them lies in starting stats, certain level of mastery they can advance to in different skills, names of the classes for each race to choose from, appearences, and minor starting race-dependant bonus, like elf having +5 evade, +10 earth resistance from the beggining.http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/34/c2om.png
Only three classes are at our disposal to choose from for each race. Basically we are given three same classes for each race, being: warrior, archer, mage (so it goes like: Human Warrior, Human Mage, Human Archer/Elf Warrior, Elf Mage, Elf Archer, etc.). The difference between them is: how they are named, ex: Mercenary (HW) against Barbarian (OW); their promotions; level of mastery they can achieve in a certain skill and appearences.http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/7/tily.pnghttp://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/89/wzi5.pnghttp://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/46/5g0q.pnghttp://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/15/nkwx.png
2.3 Class promotions.
Each class has a promotion to be achieved through the game. There will be only one, against two in the later M&M games. It will give one additional ability to the character, no other bonuses are know about at the current moment.http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/543/81ab.png
2.4 Character customization.
After choosing a race and class it is time to customize character appearences. You have a wide variety of two drawn pictures for each gender (one male body/one female body), each in turn having two faces you can switch between (giving us four different portraits to sum it up).http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/844/vi97.png
Developers have cropped all non-combat related skills like: trap find/disarm, repair, trade, identify (there will be a spell), diplomacy, perception...any other player-world interraction skill you can think of. Leaving three groups: weapon mastery skills, magic mastery skills and misc combat related skills like dual-wielding, dodge, evade, skill adding crit chance to a spell based attack, etc.http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/837/y8jg.png
Developers decided not to implement magic system from the later M&M games, where you were able to learn every spell at basic level, and advancing in magic mastery upgraded effects of each spell differently, based on the spell itself. Now it is more standard "magic mastery of certain level requirement for each spell". You can learn certain spells at basic level, certain at expert and so on. Spell effect doesn't change while you advance in magic mastery.
The following picture will show you all Air magic school spells (basic to GM), that will be available in the game. http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/199/yo0c.png
There will be no Item Enchant spell, in case anybody is wondering.
We will have combined inventory now, each item occupying one slot. Also no paper-dolls (items won't be shown on player's picture being dressed) Equiping this or that item won't alter character picture in any way.http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/593/n50l.png
3) Character/world interaction.
Due to absence of non-combat related skills, player gaming experience is limited mostly to combat, opening objects (chests, barrels), getting buffs (one buff statue in Sorpigal, one in Peninsula). There is one quest in the first act, which implies on giving the freedom of choice to a player (you can kill or let go bandit leader), other than this, there are no player-choise driven situations.
This is what it is all about. Judging from absence of non-combat related skills, lack of player-world interaction besides engaging your enemies, and answers from developers themselves, LE are trying to create combat oriented game (tile- and turnbased gameplay fits this concept idealy). Unfortunately they are not succeeding here either. Combat is rather standard and despite the looks of it, doesn't provide you with enough tactical depth you would anticipate. Poor variety of character classes, lack of significant race dependant perks/abilities, standard skill set, absence of really valuable effects of tactical (not damage dealing) spells, ect. make the game unable to offer reach and thrilling combat experience. Not to go deep: you cann't aim anything in case it is not standing in the adjacent tile.
This meaning: if you have two or more opponents approaching you, apart in two or three tiles, you won't be able to target specific one to use a spell on or attack from distance (with an arrow, for ex.). Those attacks will be delivered randomly (or you may use area damage spell) to any enemy standing in the same tile. This was mentioned a hundred times to de