First let me say that I'm not new to the MMO-world, OR to Civ. I've been leading top alliances in strat-based MMOs for well over a year, now. I've also loved playing Civ for some time. I applied to the Alpha, with a group of friends who shared that interest.
I've been playing the Beta now for about 2 days, maybe 3, and I think I'm ready to quit.
I suppose my primary complaint is that this game leaves me wanting to log off and go play real Civ instead. It's close... it has many similar characteristics.... Managing your growing pop, GROWING your pop, creating production, culture, science..... BUT. It very quickly feels like just a Facebook game (NOT a compliment!) designed to make you log constantly.
There are HUGE chunks of time when there's not a thing to do. You can't send your units exploring during this time, like in Civ. You can't chat with other players while watching the game like in an MMO. Yet despite the lack of reward, I'm expected to watch the screen for little floating production/food/culture/science/money bubbles, and click on them to claim my stuff. That they can appear anywhere on my map at any time is its own problem. This means I must scroll the map to look for them (since I can't zoom out to look at it all at once), and the map-moving itself is a tricky process. While the map likes to be moved, and you can't start movement quite easily? It doesn't like to STOP being moved. It is routine to try to 'drop' the map to click something on the screen (for ANY reason) and instead of a successful click, have the map suddenly move instead.
The buttons for tech, culture, etc, are often confusing. Is this MY tech? My Civ's tech? If I want to contribute a Great person to a Wonder for my Civ, do I do that under my Civ? Or under Culture? (Yes, I know the answer. But during game-play, it is confusing to figure out.)
When there are related tasks -- such as generating culture, assigning a (culture-based) person to a wonder, and viewing wonders -- one should not have to go three different, unrelated places to do so.
I enjoy the mini-games, but the limits on those are too strong. Rather than being a way to fill the (prodigious) down-time, they are themselves a source of down-time.
Indeed, it ends up being so much work to play this game that the easiest move becomes to NOT play it -- to walk away for 12 hours, and then spend 15 min playing. Once can't even chat with one's team-mates during that time, as - if they're on - they probably have their screen set to a window that involved doing something IN the game, rather than the chat-window which completely blocks out the game.
Speaking of pacing... When I woke up at 6am, my Civ was being invaded by the Germans. It's now well after 8am, and that battle is still going on. The combat itself has taken over 2 hours. I can see a MARCH-TIME of 2 hours... but COMBAT for 2 hours? Come ON!
And finally, the names. What if I want to play a game without the whole game knowing my real first name? (Not everyone's named Jen and Mike, you know. Some folks DO have names they prefer to keep more private.) Or, for that matter, what if I AM MikeS. How are the folks I like to game with supposed to find me in the mass of other MikeS's? And the city-names? I'm really not sure I could come up with a WORSE way to name them. No one over 14 will think "Jennyburg" sounds like a good city-name.
Usually, if I leave a game, I just leave. I have no great need to tell folks what's wrong -- I'll just go do something I enjoy more.
This is a closed Beta, however, that I was excited to get into. So I feel like I owe some feedback.
I think I'm going to go play some Civ.... You know, in the down-time on my MMO.