UPDATE: August 13, 2014
I have been trying to not play too much in an attempt to minimize the amount of replaying the beginning of the game. As a result, I didn't dive too deep into the latest update but I poked around enough to confirm one thing: this game is easily one of the most solid Early Access titles available (in my humblest of opinions).
The positives from my original review still stand and some of the negatives have been resolved. Ammo no longer needs to be equipped to be used; simply have it on your character and you are good to go. I didn't have nearly as many instances where my characters got stuck (in fact I don't recall sticking a single time). There were few instances out in the wastes where a click wouldn't register but I think this was more due to me moving my mouse at the same time as I clicked so this could be user error.
In my short playthrough I encountered one oddity that was so minor it's barely worth mentioning. It doesn't appear all of the item names are in use when making a trade. I found when trading items such as bullets, the log would read "Bojangles traded <blank> with Gidget" where blank was obviously missing the item name. Otherwise, this new update has definitely improved upon an already soild looking title. It faster, smoother, and slightly more violent (I shot a guy and his head and arms came off. I mean, c'mon, what's not to like?).
While I still recommend the game even in its current state, I would suggest holding off for now simply because it is (I have heard) releasing soon. That said, if you don't mind restarting when updates come out and not being able to progress past a certain point due to missing content, I can't really give you any reason to not dive in. It's really shaping up to be something awesome and I can't wait to get my hands on the full thing.
Additional thoughts: There were two instances that sort of threw me off and I'm not sure if this is due to my not paying attention or just a need for tutorial/paying more attention. I wanted to mention them here to potentially help new players or perhaps confirm what others may have felt.
- When leveling, I expected there to be arrows to add or subtract skill points. Instead there were simply light blue boxes with no real indication that you were meant to click the boxes to add points. This may have been the way it was previously but it threw me off at first. Easily solved by slight investigation. It just wasn't obvious how I was meant to allocate points.
- I didn't realize I had completed the first couple of objectives in the beginning and the journal didn't really seem to indicate I had either. I ran around aimlessly for a bit before I thought to radio in my progress at which point I was able to move forward. I'm not sure if this is just a lack of me paying attention when completing some of those objectives or if the game just wants to put an emphasis on the radio as a communication device at all times (they do say in the beginning to radio in often to report progress and while I took this as an indication I needed to radio in to level, it could have had other implications).
Do I recommend shelling out 60 dollars if you're just looking for something new to play? No.
Do I recommend shelling out 60 dollars if this has been on your radar and you just can't wait to get your hands on it? Maybe.
Do I recommend shelling out 60 dollars if you want to see this game evolve, have a hand in seeing HOW this game evolves, and want a taste of what is to come? Definitely.
I was hesitant to spend the asking price on this Beta (Deluxe Edition goodies included but let's be honest, I wanted to play the game). I spent days watching videos on YouTube, reading impressions, looking at Steam reviews, trying to convince myself not to buy it yet. I caved. But I'm glad I did.
The current state of the game is buggy. Sometimes buttons don't seem to activate when clicked, sometimes characters get stuck. Sometimes the game seems to hang while loading. Some thing aren't explained very well (Protip: make sure ammo is EQUIPPED or else you will not be able to reload). But all of this is to be expected in a development build. Have I experienced anything in the game yet that made me ragequit? No. In fact, I had to pull myself away from the game after I bought just to eat.
Combat is your basic turn based affair ala XCOM or Fallout Tactics. All actions use Action Points and can be saved up between turns (to a max) so there is definitely some call for strategy prior to moving yoru characters. Cover can be used and even destroyed to get the upper hand on your opponents which I always find to be a nice touch. There are plenty of opportunities for loot and this is made even more possible by allowing players to lockpick, break doors open with brute force, or blow things up with explosives. The choice is yours. The maps I have played so far have had nice secret areas to explore, mounds of dirt to dig to find goodies, and branching paths that, while the end goal is the same, allow for additional exploration on the players part.
The character creation is also quite well done at the moment. You can choose a group of four based on premade characters ranging from a demolitions expert, melee specialist, sniper, or even a jack of all trades. You can also create your entire team from scratch, putting points into attributes and points into three categories of skills: Combat (assault rifle, energy weapon, pistol, etc), Knowledge (brute force, lockpicking, safecracking, toaster repair (no I'm not joking), etc), and General (surgeon, barter, evasion, field medic, etc). There are a multitude of group dyanmics to play around with here. You can also pick up additional NPCs for your group that you then gain control over in battle and exploration (they sometimes "lose control" and go rogue during combat. I'm not sure what dictates this but it never seems to detract from the action).
All in all, I have actually been extremely impressed with the current state of the game. I went in expecting, to be honest, not much and I was pleasantly surprised. While I agree with many people out there that 60 may be a bit steep, I have absolutely no regrets with my purchase. I am looking forward to playing more and seeing what is offered and I truly believe the end result will be a phenomenal experience and worthy of the price of entry.