I've played a few paradox games in the past, Hearts of Iron series in particular, and I've been playing Wargame:EE recently, which is about cold war land warfare, more RTS than simulation. So I was very excited when I saw a paradox game about simulating naval warfare in the future, and on the whole it didn't disappoint.
After almost completing the NATO campaign (the last mission lags way too much, it's just frustrating) there are a few things I want to point out though. Firstly, from the GAME point of view:
1) All of the fighter planes are the same. Really, there is little difference between F-35, F-22, Eurofighter, F-18 and Gripen. They all carry AMRAM missiles and are all equally capable of killing anything in the air. I just set all of my fighters to long range air superiority + some on air refueling, and they do a brilliant job.
2) ASW buoy pattern is not useful The random complex circle where the helicopters drop buoys is useless for detecting subs, it should be possible to just tell them to make a rectangular grid.
3) More in game information would be nice It would do a lot to differentiate between units. Why should I choose JSM over Harpoon? Why should I choose F-22 over F-35? There is just no information in game about their in-game stats (NOT wikipedia stats).
4) Map editor pls
5) B-1B Lancer is massively overpowered It carries 24 strike missiles which go at 1050kph with range of 500nm. That's just click and win really.
6) The last mission is unrealistic. Charging head on into the unknown against two fully operational airbases at very short range. That's very stupid. Rewind the clock 24 hours, give me a squadron of B-1Bs, time to position carriers and do some ASW and recon, then you are talking.
Now, from a SIMULATION / REAL LIFE point of view:
1) After playing this game, I totally understood why the F-35 costs so much and is always delayed and hugely over-budget. It can do absolutely everything (except ASW). Simply amazing. I think it makes all other fighters obsolete.
2) Forget about China, India will be a military superpower. T-50 PAK FA + P-8 Poseidon + Carrier, that's a very good force.
3) Missiles are more important than platforms. There is a lot of press given to whether Royal Navy will get F-35B or F-35C, and about whether US will sell F-22, and things like T-50 and J-20. However, their ability to kill stuff is almost entirely based on the missiles they carry. If a missile with better range / speed / anti jamming can be made, then that is the game changer, not F-35B or C.