Disclaimer : I bought E:WOM the same year i bought Civ 5 and was bitterly disappointed by both. The negatives of Elemental have already been adressed by other people and i won't reiterate them here but the one positive that i did take out of the game was that the engine was perfect for what the game was trying to do. It had both great art style and fantastic usability for scrolling in and out of locations. Two years later and Stardock have hired talent in all the right places and have had a lot of time to spend on the gameplay. Despite WOM i find myself very excited about Fallen Enchantress but still weary of the possibility it might suck.
1. ITS FUN! This one cannot be emphasised enough, all of the new additions somehow meld together and make this new game a much much better experience.
2.It still needs a lot of work. Not being familiar with the game industry and betas in general I'm not sure exactly how far from complete it is but i would say that currently it is at about 60% done with all the important base elements ready making a good foundation from which to build more content.
3. IT WORKS! I have had a few crashes and the odd bug pop up but its just the type of small stuff you would expect with a beta. Not only does this build not leak but my (frankly rubbish) computer can run it while other programs run in the background and alt tabbing between the two is fine. Also mad props to frog boy on his AI coding as hitting the turn button actually ends the turn when you want - no more having a large book handy while trying to play a game.
A slightly more detailed analysis with suggestions:
The level up mechanic for champions and cities is very well implemented. One little thing i would currently change is after a battle where a champion you control level's up you should get a special music clip played. Also any time your champion/soverign gains experience you should have the experience meter fill up slowly with a sound effect playing (you now the type i mean).
City management needs something. I realise that the game has many elements (aha pun tastic) for you to manage and if you make cities to micro intensive it will ruin other aspects of the game but i feel like right now i don't make enough decisions with my cities. Building placement makes little to no difference and its very unclear how much difference the starting tile bonus makes and whether or not the surrounding tiles in any way affect how the city works. On that note i would like to able to toggle the view where you can view the amount of food/materials each space requires without having to press the settle button on a pioneer - currently i think that is the only way to do it.
The monsters and their various lairs are particularly well done. Their abilities all seem to fit the units and their difficulty level is just right. The unique areas of the world with the special monsters (that big ruin guy for instance) are a highlight and i would really love to see a lot more work put into making loads more of these areas that can spawn in the world, in fact i might make write lots of suggestions for those areas on these forums so exciting are they. The only downside is the lack of variety of said monsters but this is something i am hoping you will build on.
Tactical battles are good but lacking. It seems that units have a kind of zone of control around themselves but it is not immediately obvious how it works. I think it would be nice if you could hover over enemy units to see where they could move to help this situation. Also please please put flanking bonuses in - make it so that it gives a bonus to accuracy and crit damage with a special icon appearing from the area you can flank from. Also to this end when you attack a unit its not always apparent which square you will attack from (like say when your sovereign has 20 movement points....), a good solution to this would be to have a sword indicator like in heores pointing the direction you are attacking from when you right click on the enemy unit.
Currently the world is nicely populated by monsters and resources but not much else (besides the other factions). I think we need lots of neautral locations like observations towers, magical artefact shops, golem factories, magical doors to other sides of the map - that type of stuff.
The research trees seem well balanced but again slightly lacking in content - however each research is very meaningful so this is not to much of a deal. I think it would be nice to flesh it out with say 3/4 more per tree but make them dead end researches that are more powerful but don't lead to anything else - i always like making decisions like that in games.
Near the end of the game it seems very hard to get vision of the whole map, this might be because i play by making one uber party of champions that just ride around doing stuff. I think an observation building which can reveal areas of the map (like a casting action) would help a lot with this - or even better if they just give a very large vision around the city they are built in.
A suggestion which i feel would help make each play through unique is random events. Just do them half as well as you guys did in Gal Civ 2 and they will add a lot to this game.
The last big issue is the lack of a real end game currently. Once you get to the point where you have an unstoppable force there should be more ways to win then caping 5 shards or wiping out all the other factions (or even researching all the diplomatic stuff). In EOM we had the master quest thingy - i had the top level journals researched and never found this so perhaps it has just not been put in yet?
Bugs i noticed:
Air elementals seem to cast that army knockback spell instantly and for some reason it is one of the very few game effects that lags my pc to all hell (if my sovereign casts the same spell its not a problem) - so my army gets almost perma stunned by them and each turn takes about 2 minutes - i think you need to make them take one turn to cast (like the sovereign version) so you can at least counterspell it as well fixing the lag issue.
The explore command doesn't seem to actually do anything right now as when i click a the button on a unit nothing happens.
After building the required upgrade on drake/dragon resources the building seems to disappear from the map and their is never a way to recruit them - they still appear on the cloth map when zoomed out though.
When creating a sovereign if you choose to make a new race it deletes all current changes you had made to your sovereign which is very annoying.