I've put in another 5-10 hours of play. My feelings are much the same. Great potential and hope for the future, but significant work still needed on details. Where b4 focused on settlements, I suggest that b5 could focus on integrity. On making game mechanics internally consistent, so that they feel like a natural part of the FE world, so that the world feels believable, and gameplay is intuitive for all.
On Big Monsters:
Lots of others have posted on this, with lots of good ideas. I've been part of that. I just want to bring it up again, because those big monsters are an important part of the world. So I want to vote for the importance of this issue.
Awkward and non-intuitive. I can upgrade weapons and armor, but it seems that I can only do that for the regular units. Sometimes, I earn a unit from a quest, and those units appear to be non-upgradeable. Also, I can't figure out how to upgrade unit size. Say I have a party (3 troops) of militia, and I'd like to upgrade them to a group (5 troops). I can't figure out how to do that, but I feel like it ought to be possible.
Both the costs and mechanisms of equipment upgrades feel inconsistent. If I'm to believe that leather boots really are leather boots, and not just some abstract idea in a gamer's head, then they ought to work like physical objects. That is, the cost ought to scale with quantity. If it costs X to buy one pair of leather boots for a hero, then it ought to cost 3x to buy three pairs for a party (3) of militia, a party (3) of scouts, a party (3) of any humanoid, regardless of level. Same for weapons. Unfortunately, at the moment, the costs to upgrade weapons and armor of non-hero units appear arbitrary, and unbelievable. Why should leather boots for a hero cost nearly as much as a whole leather outfit for a three-troop unit? It just doesn't make sense.
As one possible improvement, I suggest using the exact same purchase/equip mechanic for heroes and non-heroes, and just scale prices by the number of troops. Having a common equipment mechanic for *all* units would make the game simpler and easier to learn, without sacrificing any flexibility or interest. It would also help me believe that boots really are boots.
I'd like to see a hero's experience on the unit detail screen.
On the city detail screen, all buildings have a little 'x', which lets me destroy the building. I feel like the same should be true of city enchantments, but it isn't. I know I can cancel city enchantments from govern->enchantments, but it would be nice to have that option from the city detail screen as well.
If I mouseover an enemy, I get a listing of abilities. But there's no easy way to get an explanation of those abilities. When in battle, I'd like to be able to pull up an enemy details screen that lists the unit's stats and abilities, and allows me to understand what the abilities do. I'd also like to know the type of damage dealt by an enemy. e.g. Would it be helpful to cast Stoneskin, or not?
City unrest is not displayed in the ledger. That makes it hard to figure out the consequences of a change in tax rate. Yes, the tax button will give me the civ-wide totals, but it won't tell me how that change will affect individual settlements.
I really dislike the auto-end-turn. For example, say I want to move a unit, then tell an idle city to start building something with a city. If I move that unit, and it is the last unit with movement points, the game auto-skips to the next turn. This means I lose one turn's worth of production in that idle city. I eventually realized that I could turn off auto-end-turn, but it took a while. I suggest having it off by default.
Hills don't look like hills. I was travelling over something that looked like a large mesa, and it was slow going. This was strange, as it *looked* flat. Eventually, I realized that it was all 'hills', but that these 'hills' were adjacent to each other, and the engine had drawn them mashed into each other in such a way that it looked flat. Hills should look hilly, even in groups. I shouldn't have to read the terrain description text to figure out what kind of terrain I'm looking at.
If I mouseover an area that is under the influence of another faction, I'd like that faction's name listed alongside the terrain description. Sometimes, different factions will have similar colors, and it's hard for me to know what's what without labels. Speaking of which, could some factions have 2-3 colors? E.g. stripes / dotted lines? Or textures, like on weather maps. Some lines have rounded bumps, while some have triangular bumps. This would make factions more easily identifiable.
Settlements as super-outposts
I find it odd that there are buildings available to outposts that are not available to settlements. Intuitively, I feel like a settlement ought to be everything that an outpost is, and more. Practically, I feel that resources near settlements are much more vulnerable than resources near outposts. For outposts, I can construct buildings to give nifty bonuses to nearby units, and those bonuses help me protect nearby resources. For cities, I cannot do this. So it's harder to fight battles near a settlement than near an outpost, despite the fact that settlements are more powerful than outposts.
Idling unemployed heroes:
I don't buy the idea that high-level heroes will idle around until someone with the proper tech walks by. Nor would I believe that the world has a finite number of heroes. I'd like to see heroes wandering around, doing stuff independently, if not attached to a faction. I'd also like to see heroes (occasionally) born from my units. Say I have a high-level troop-type unit, one that's been through lots of battles, couldn't it be that one of the individuals in that unit could emerge as a hero?
Doesn't seem to work for me. I can't tell if this is because the mechanic is broken, or just that the effect is invisible. Say I've got 8 research points per turn, and I've got 6 turns to go on a civ tech. If I trade another player for 8 Civ research points, then that should bump me one turn closer to getting that Civ tech. At the moment, it does not. I saw a post suggesting that traded points were distributed randomly among eligible techs. I'd be OK with that, if I could just be sure that it was happening. If the research screen showed # points required, and not just turns, then I might be able to see, that, for example, after the trade, I've now got 1 point towards XX an 2 towards ZZ. Whatever the effect of trading research, it ought to be made clear to the player.
Fertile squares change!!!
I was walking a scouting party around, and found a great place to settle. I took the party back to a settlement, picked up a pioneer, and walked back to that place. All the grain was gone! The land tiles looked exactly as it had, but none of those squares was settleable. I walked back and forth 3-4 times. Eventually, the grain reappeared and I was able to settle.
What happens when a non-hero unit wins loot? e.g. I've had a unit of militia defeat a random wolf, from which I get a wolf pelt, except that I can't find it anywhere.