Given this is a beta and feedback will hopefully improve the game, here are my opinions and possible recommendations on the game and it's current state. I have BFGA 1, and played it minorly, but never picked it up, mainly because the MP was dead by the time I got there. For all intents and purposes, aside from knowing what the buttons do, I am a new player.
Game and Fleet feel
Let me preface this with the fact that I am mainly an imperial navy player. My preferred playstyle is using a balanced fleet, a mixture of a single battleship, maybe a grand cruiser, several heavy cruisers and some light cruisers to screen. 2-3 escorts round this out as spotters and cappers.
I have found this fleet generally does horribly against fleets made up of a single type of ship of a heavier class, which is often what a lot of players jump to for their first fleet. I suspect this is due to the ability for the other fleet to bring to bear more firepower while the balanced fleet does not have enough speed itself to run around capping (if your lights run away, your heavies become outgunned), nor enough fire power to focus down the enemy capitals.
This seems slightly counter intuitive, and I initially found this very off putting. You can play around this by building fleets that 'cheese' the other way, many small ships that make them HAVE to split up or lose via control, but it almost seems like your game is decided by whether or not your opponent has decided to build a fleet a certain way. As it is, it feels like building a balanced fleet allows you to not die horribly in every situation, but lose to any specialised other fleet of similar skill (understandably so!, if the balanced fleet had a mixture of long short and medium ranged capabilities, a fleet built for shorter ranged combat SHOULD be able beat them if they can bring their ships to their necessary conditions).
The main issue being, to bring about necessary conditions appears to be too easy/difficult. This may be due to terrain. An ork player can simply just run me down, and I will have little ability to kite away.
There are multiple solutions that have been bandied about in the forums. Here are some suggestions from others
1) A capped fleet, where only a certain amount of ships are allowed. While my initial thought in my first hour or two was to cap certain ship amounts, I actually do not agree with this any more. Player choice should be allowed, and variety should be rewarded. Limiting choice just makes every fleet feel or play the same and while this is the simplest solution, I do not feel this is the best.
2) Terrain: Perhaps addition of more terrain and necessity to maneuver would make engagements feel like there is more input than fleet composition.
3) A 'call in' system:: If your fleet is called in on a point basis based on points gathered. So, for example, you can initially play with 400 points (arbitrary), and as the game progresses, call in more ships. This means if you play with your giant battleship right off the bat, you'll outgun everything, but likely lose in capping points, or alternatively, if you only call in escorts and light cruisers, you may not have the capability to actually stand up to any enemy attack. I believe this may encourage a more 'balanced' composition, or at the very least, encourage a flexible fleet list to allow you to react as necessary.
4) A deployment phase: Yes, yes, I know we have one already. Maybe in some way we can deploy in turns, one person puts down a ship, the next, so on and so forth.
5) Drop identification and detection range of larger ships: Necessitate (even further) the need for escorts. Your large ships will need your small ships to spot
At the moment, the game seems to encourage specialisation. Nova cannon spam is multitudes more useful than just a single nova cannon. If you build long range, go FULL long range, etc etc. If this is how the game wants to play, that is fair, but I would prefer a more generalist approach.
Faction balance and OPINIONS
Balance is always a tetchy issue. The following are all opinions, and truth be told, I'm sure there are many who will point and say 'just do this'. You may be right. In no real order
Space Marines: I don't play these guys. I don't intend to really play these guys. But these guys need help. To me, their niche is close ranged combat with boarding parties to help even the odds. Their numbers are too little and ships too immobile to really do any fancy fleet maneuvers. Boarding is too weak to actually make any meaningful impact. Don't get me wrong, critically injuring engines, generators, all those things are very useful to the fight, but there just doesn't seem to be enough meat in the fleet to actually capitalise on this.
Matching them up against any fleet that isn't IN, their ships are out maneuvered by Eldar, getting into CQC with orks is suicide, by the time they get to Tau ships to get close and fight, they've been shredded, and nids will eat SM alive when boarding their few ships.
In addition, hulking the enemy ships, while really satisfying, is not worth the investment, mostly due to scuttle. I LIKE the idea of scuttle, it lets the player whose ship is scuttled still do something instead of just 'oh they got close ship is gone in 10 seconds), but the range is WAAAY too big. I would settle for something like half the range of a boarding party to prevent just indiscriminate blobbing.
Necrons: Again, this faction needs major help. Feast or famine, this faction seems to be based on a singlar ability, Star Pulse. It is no fun watching your ships get deleted without any counter play aside from 'don't mass'. It is no fun watching your Star Pulse miss, and now your fleet is ready to just put in the towel. Both things need to be changed, nerf down star pulse, and buff up the other aspects, whether it be their ability to self heal, or an increase in health. I don't agree with giving necrons mobility, I think their faction should be slow, ponderous, and inexorable as the undying zombies they are. Open to suggestions here
Dark Elves: No Fun allowed. Okay, this is definitely only an opinion, and many people will argue this, but the ability to be cloaked, have amazing maneuverability, and great firepower at the cost of a poor health pool is to me, just insane. Heck, the ability to choose a fight is a major deciding factor in most fights. Cap points go a long way in helping against this, I cannot imagine playing against them without it, but still. I have heard comments saying DE are terrible because they actually fight, but with proper detection in the DE fleet to take our enemy observers, As long as the fleet is constantly moving, I do not see how this is an actual issue unless you play DE by pointing, clicking, and watching the ships stand still to shoot. A straight numbers nerf is what I think is necessary.
Imperial Navy: I have assumed the IN as the yard stick in which the devs have built all other fleets, so I have in essence, played them as the yardstick. I don't agree with avenger spam and don't think that should be a thing though.
Chaos: See IN. Feels balanced enough at the games I've played, never felt like it was an impossible challenge, never felt like it was a crushing victory. Any losses, I could see what I could've done to improve
Tau: : Oh boy. I think I can't be too fair. Ease of use appears high, and running straight at them doesn't seem to work well enough. I can see how maybe Tau VS Orks, Tau can get wrecked, but I think tau might be slightly overtuned for how easy they are. Point and shoot. Move away
Tyranids:: I REALLY like the idea that they start stealthed. It allows them a chance to get close, but allows the opposing player an opportunity to screw nids over by attempting to detect them. Suffers from very similar problems as SM as scuttling is just too strong at moment. I want scuttling to do the same amount of damage at 1/2 - 1/3 the range.
Orks:: Haven't played enough against them, can't really comment.
In terms of faction balance, DE are overtuned and probably tau as well. SM needs a boost in same way, necrons need a rework, and scuttling needs to be fixed.
There have been strong opinions on customisation. I am of the camp that has been less vocal, which is I think this is enough (playing in a MP setting). My customisation comes from my fleet composition and guns. Further customisation of skills adds too much micro for fleets of this size to me. I found BFGA 1 customisation in MP fairly overwhelming and unnecessary.
Of course, customisation in SP is a different thing altogether. With balance less important, and i am assuming a similar progression of your fleet in SP, I would probably prefer a customisation similar to BFGA 1 in SP.
The following are a mixture of quality of life changes, personal opinions and bugs
Keep loadouts after a mission, or save them to a fleet. I sometimes forget to repick all those skills each time I queue, especially as half the players drop out in 2v2s.
Hotkeys - Please put them on the tool tips when you mouse over
When you select/double tap a control group, please make it snap to screen rather than drag along til you reach it.
Range for guns!: I know at the moment, I would have to open the ship window, and then mouse over the selected gun to see the range for it. I would prefer this information more easily accessible, maybe if I could just mouse over the ship and hover over it to get the ranges?
Targeting subsystems: Two things here. first, we should not be able to select a red blip and target their subsystems before identifying a ship. It lets you figure out which ships are escorts. Two, please increase the size of the subsystem icons just to make it easier to press. Or hot key it.
Odd bug: In 2v2s, playing as IN and (??) VS Elves and DE - the game froze at beginning, but as soon as battle starts, 'TACTICAL COGACTIVATED' went off, and then everything played at 4x speed. It was hilarious, but I have not seen it since.
I feel 2v2s should have it's point limit bumped up by about 100 points. Just maybe a tiny push upwards.
Ordinance: I have little experience with fighters and bombers. Impact seems low. Torpedoes seem fairly easy to dodge at range, and at short range, well as the IN, I want my broadsides most of the time. I do like the fact that they are limited in number now, rather than just spam off CD
Auto casting : This is going to be contentious, but I don't want it, at least for boarding. Sometimes I specifically maneuver in such a way that I get a very quick pass through your boarding window. I am watching and spending time and action to get through that pass as quickly as I can, whether to drop my own boarders safely and leave, or just to deny you the chance. If I am spending time trying to do that, I don't want an auto cast on the opponent side to negate all that work.
I really do enjoy the game and have been having a lot of fun with it. The best games are ones where they feel like you have a chance or the opponent outmaneuvered or outplayed out. The worse ones are the ones where you sit and wonder how your fleet could have done anything at all to change the outcome.
Thanks for taking the time out for reading, and of course discussion would be great!