First and foremost: this is a proper beta.
I mean, the Elemental beta felt like an alpha at best and when it went in sale I was almost shocked. This time FE feels like an honest beta, mind well a beta that needs a lot of work but still a beta.
I played around 20 games and I also feel that many problem carried over from Elemental, I will talk here mail about the high level ones, the game philosophy ones.
The player role
The player avatar and the roleplaying element. While I'm a strong backer of the idea of in-game player role in 4X games as I wrote elsewhere here the character seems too much a cheap adventurer, a bully, not someone who is looking for the total world domination (more on this later).
When I think about someone who steers a civilization/race/empire history I think more about the Sid Meyer's Civilization Leaders. Someone with the capability to inspire the player toward building a mighty empire instead of someone who goes around searching for the next brawl.
I don't see why this can't be possible here. It will suffice to have the first helping character as the wandering brawler and let the realm mastermind sit in the center of the developing empire doing what leader should do.
The Leader could even not be the king of the realm: I never managed to have one die and be replaced by his successor and I'm not sure if in Elemental that was possible but it stand to reason that a realm history will span more than one generation of rulers. In that case the link between the player and the character would broke and I, at that moment, question why it was there at all.
The sage immortal helper, the real power behind the throne, the immortal guiding hand behind the history of the realm will not have this problems.
Sometimes he can fake his own dead and take for a few turn the second seat, just for realism sake but the link between the player and his role should never be broken.
The depressing world
I understand the storyline and I can imagine the development advantages of a post apocalyptic world but in Elemental all that brown was just depressing and off-putting. In FE the wasteland is more alive but it still feels like a wasteland.
Is this really needed? is this such a part of the game, the rebuilding of the ecosphere, that can't be changed? For as much encounters can be found here and there it still feels depressing.
The empire seems a good idea, some deserts or other type of wasteland here and there are a good idea but living in a big one is not.
To conquer the world
Maybe I have not understand the point of the game from the Elemental first beta to now but it seems to me that it is basically to conquer the world. Well, from what historical or fictional seeing this come out?
I do not remember anything in any media outside the gaming one where this was the goal of the good guys and the bad guys usually lose.
What a 4X games is all about is writing (or rewriting in semi historical settings) history. To build a mighty empire of a little happy realm and make it stand the test of time.
World conquest is a red herring that push the game in all the wrong directions.
I really like quest and events, they make the world feel alive and they are the key to say: this is not a computer converted board game.
Well the Elemental/FE implementation of quests is disappointing at best. Rats? That was wort a laugh the first time and annoying all the others. It is like the anomalies research messages in GALCIV II: good idea killed by the infinite repeating.
I do not know if there is an evolution of the quests at higher level that I never attained but even at the start of the game quests should be something more involving and made by more than one event chained one with another.
Quests should add to the game, not just be something to do to avoid the fact that the realm building is boring.
The enemies seems a lot like my character: a bunch of brawling bullies not so much different from the leaders of wandering monster/brigand parties that can be found around.
Never in display any high goals, any philosophycal direction, any link to an overall heroic storyline.
Just a bunch of wasteland brigand party leaders who happens to have a better developed lair.
FE feels like a proper beta of a potentially interesting game as Elemental WoM felt like a proper alpha for it. I feel that the real game is still far from here and I do not see the development go in the right direction, more than that I do not feel any directions good or bad, just a consolidation of a bland and generic concept.
I sure badly hope that I am not right.