As this is the first preview on preview build #2, I cannot resist commenting...
"if you fail objectives, the game will end abruptly."
- Logic behind this is that the Crown will pull the plug if you don't meet the quotas he has set for the Company. This was the case historically too, as many companies were dissolved due to various reasons. But I would not say its abrupt, as the campaingn missions take from 15 to 50 years, so if you fail it should not come as sudden surprise. You can of course go bankrupt too.
"With the battle engine in its current state everything seems to boil down to hit points and cannons, so the small vessels will be dead meat."
- This is not the case, as playing longer will show. Small vessels are much faster and agile than large ones. If they are not up for a fight, they can run. But even small vessels can in a pack challenge single large vessel. 5 cutters can bring down a frigate if played with skill.
Greater speed also means that on the strategic level small vessels are able to make the journey to India and back in much faster time, although carrying less cargo. The 11 ship types make various play styles possible, which I think is definite strenght.
"ships of the same type don't differ at all, there is no upgrading, aging, etc."
- We actually had "wear&tear" which meant ships suffered automatic hull&sail damage just from sailing around. However, it proved not to be very handy feature. It increased the amount on manual repairs and in any case fleets on automatic trading route will automatically repair themselves when they visit ports, so W&T only resulted in unnecessary micro management and player losing money. As each crewmember and commander is paid a salary, one can think that money covers the W&T as well.
"I found it bewildering to see that ship repairs are completed instantaneously"
- We experimented on this as well. Repair times proved to be pain in the ass if you have any meaningful number of ships. So we cut a corner here for the playabilitys sake. You have to have shipyard in a port in order to be able to repair ships though.
"If sailors were just a bit harder to come by (as in Pirates!), you wouldn't have full complements at the beginning of every battle."
- The scale is different. In Pirates! you handle single ship or small fleet at most, in EIC you can have 20 fleets/100 ships. And limiting the amount of sailors available does don't feel logical, again taking the scale of things into account.
"Which brings us to the problem of the trading interface. I was of the opinion that since the days of Adam and Eve transaction interfaces have been implemented with slider widgets or plus/minus buttons. And very efficiently, that is. But for some reason Nitro thought it would be a great innovation if loading ships was done by drag & drop instead. Brilliant idea. The resulting procedure is frustrating, error prone and leading to an unnecessary workload."
- Experimented with sliders and found drag&drop more fast and easy. It might take a moment to grow on you, but in the end it's faster and more intuitive. It should be noted that you can affect the amount being moved with mouse buttons alone too:
Drag with LMB = moves single unit
RMB = moves 10 units
LMB+RMB = moves the maximum amount possible, be it depended on money, cargo space or the amount of units available.
Doing something differently than the usual approach is always risky as people are used to that old approach, but I think players will like this approach once they get the hang of it.
"huge price differences between Old and New World"
- Africa and East Indies are not part of the New World :-) Just mentioning this as some people have been complaining that there is no Americas in the game.
"One thing I didn't get was if prices change according to supply and demand."
- This is strange. The prices most certainly are dynamic and that fact plays a major part in the game. The amount there is MTI available in the port will define its price.
"One of the things that were completely new to me is that port battles are auto-resolved. But the devs should think whether this is not one of the first things to rework in the future."
Tough reviewer, but then that made his positive comments all the more meaningful.