Test Weekend 4 was incredibly enlightening for me because this was the first simulation of a real gameplay session. 10 hours of PvP open over the weekend is really close to the way I would play any other game that I love -- when I find a game I like, I usually play it as much as I can until I can't stand it anymore. There are really only four games I've played where I've logged thousands of hours consecutively before hitting burnout (and even then, would be able to keep playing through friends playing, or game updates keeping it fresh): SC2, Magic the Gathering, Minecraft, and Path of Exile.
If I had to pick a common thread through these games that pulled me to them the most, it'd have to be their vast space for creativity. There's open space for me to play - really play as a child would - and explore different ways of just... doing stuff. If at any point I feel like I've hit a ceiling, I could just stumble upon a new approach (or watch a video of someone else who stumbled on something cool). I'm never content learning one thing and sticking with it; I always want to push myself more and try new things, and I know I'm not alone with this mindset.
Playing Atlas in consecutive days has given me enough perspective to form a concrete feeling on its current state. Mid-post TLDR: I love the core mechanics and gameplay, but want more stuff everywhere.
Of any previous iterations of Atlas, this current one is my most favorite. I enjoy stock (as opposed to respawn). I enjoy the loop of camps -> fountain -> pressure -> camps. I enjoy the deckpicker. I enjoy the 3v3 aspect (as opposed to lonely 1v1). Community is dope.
But even after one full weekend of playing, I feel I exhausted a majority of my options.
I want more quality and interesting units to choose for my squads, and not just amazing AOE damage units or fragile quick attackers, but interesting special-case subtle units like the Tactician and Transport that get those "Oh my god what DID HE JUST DO" micro scenarios. Old Alder imo had more of these opportunities than any other hero, but with the new game refactor he lost a lot of his appeal to me. However in light of this I played the other heroes a bunch this weekend and now I just want the same potential out of everyone all the time.
I want more objectives on the map. I like camps + fountains + towers to destroy, but there's a lot of time in the game for me to do like... everything. I want to only be doing 2/3 or even 1/2 of all the objectives, so I always feel like there's something else that I should be doing, but wait I need to finish this objective first, and oh my god they're attacking over there we need to defend, but maybe it's worth it to get this objective first kind of moments. (This happened occasionally but there were enough lull moments where I was waiting for camps to spawn and fountains to come up and it was inopportune to push a tower without a Titan Aspect, and I just would love more objectives than these main three).
And finally I can't wait for a large enough playerbase to actually dive into real strategy, instead of a solo-queue mentality akin to 4v4s in SC2 (ie: "I'm going ______ this game!" without an actual decision tree like "we'll push with _____ at 8 min and if they defend we do A and if we do damage we follow up with B"). If I were to play Atlas as my main game, I would probably play it with at least one other friend all the time, if not two to fill out the party, and we'd try different team strategies over many many different games. Of course any game becomes much deeper as players start to push each other and as MMRs raise players try to get any little edge they can, but I still haven't experienced that with Atlas. When the playerbase is sufficient and party play is enabled, I totally expect much of the strategy to really come to fruition and all the mechanics laid down from these previous tests will dictate the direction of unit balance.
I suck at summaries so THE END yay :D