So I got to play this yesterday and I found myself really having quite a bit of fun. Its Unreal4 based so it has the usual semi floaty-physics feel of any Unreal game but beyond that it is a lot of fun to run around and do a dungeon-run with an active antagonist player.
The setup is 4 characters (ideally tank, support, dps, dps but that is not enforced) which come in both ranged and melee versions of each. You have a set scenario that you are running through which includes a general map and sequence of objectives, but the specific mobs you face and the nature of the combat is decided by the 5th player who is the Veil Demon AKA Dungeon Master. They both choose enemy types (which is a sort of loot-based equipment for them) as well as use the abilities of this Veil Demon class (there are several) to possess enemies, spawn elite mobs, and lay down damage / traps / whatever.
Character & Abilities
The character classes are built around specific archetypes like Arcane, Hedge, Technology, Dark, Shadow etc. in which there are some specific classes each of which has a bunch of abilities. As you level up each class, however, you unlock the ability to swap out the different abilities you have with other abilities from your basic Archetype. Its sort of GuildWars2 in this sense as you can effectively create your own class by remixing abilities from the other classes within your base archetype.
I played an Arcane Healer which has baseline abilities of:
Healing Wave -- shoots a wave of healing forward to heal yourself and any of your team in front of you. This is straight outta WildStar Medic class.
Single Target Shield -- buffs a teammate with a shield that gives them temporary protection hit points (indicated with the usual white added part of the health bar) and makes all heals they receive increased. This is very Disc Priest from WoW
Single target Cleanse ability that removes any debuffs from your target and provides them with debuff immunity. Your teammates healthbar turns sickly pink when they have a debuff on them so you can easily see when and who to cleanse
Single Target Damage burst which is based on the healing you have done since the last time you used it. Basically every time you heal or shield X amount of damage you get a stack that adds to this ability and when you fire it off it does Y * number of stacks damage. Very handy to use on mini-bosses or to clear out some asshole who is beating the healer (you) down.
Each of these abilities functions on a number of charges plus a refresh timer. So you start with 3 charges of healing wave which cycles every 15 or so seconds so you can fiire it off really quick and do lots of AE healing, but then you have to wait for it to come back. Similarly with the single target shield and cleanse. The damage burst is available pretty much always, but the damage it does is so dependent on how much you have healed that it is functionally timer based.
You also have a 5th Ultimate Ability which charges up as you do damage to the enemies with your base attack (in my case a ranged mana bolt) and is also effected it seemed by effective use of your baseline abilities. It also had charges, but building up the charge was action-based rather than timer based:
5. Big single target heal that has a short (1-2 second) cast time)
Any of those abilities can be swapped out with a similar level of ability from a different class within your Archetype so if you didn't need, for example, the single target cleanse in your group you could swap that out for one of the Elementalist attacks or a different protective barrier or whatever. Really the combinations here are nearly limitless especially as they add in more abilities by adding in additional character classes. The rate of character class addition seems likely to be of a similar pace to MOBAs as they are based around gold you get from completing dungeons plus 'crystals' which seem to be associated with a cash shop. Its worth noting that the classes can all be purchased by both crystals and coins so you need not spend money on crystals to unlock classes.
You can't have a dungeon game without loot and they do give you quite a bit of it. Finishing each dungeon awards you with loot based on how well you did (team goals met vs veil demon goals met) and consist of different items that give an always-active baseline change to your abilities plus a team-level ability option. Loot is Archetype based and there are already items in the game which only make sense if you have been remixing the classes to make your own thing (as they enhance abilities from different classes) so its clear that the whole remix thing is a core aspect of the game.
The team-level ability is where things get especially cool and MOBA-esque. As your team achieves objectives in the dungeon run you gain team levels and those unlock additional passive abilities similar to a traditional MOBA. The nature of the ability choices you have, however, is based on the gear you have equipped! This is a very cool way to make gear very worthwhile in a game that is nevertheless MOBA paced and is an improvement I wish Battleborn had thought of. Your baseline newb gear has some standard upgrade options that are closely tied to your actual vanilla class, but you quickly acquire items which allow you to change this up in fun ways.
For example -- one of the first items I got granted me the option to change my Single Target Shield ability into one that effects the WHOLE TEAM, but with a shorter duration. This was especially clutch as it not only meant I could be reactive to incoming AE damage, but also the heals received by everyone was enhanced right after I shielded everyone.
Some of the gear enhancement options were more basic like 'using a healing potion also cleanses you', but the fun definitely seems to come from these big switches to class-defining abilities.
Different gear had different passive options loaded on them, but some passive options showed up on multiple sets. This is because the order in which your passives come into play is set by the gear slot. The first passive you get is from your primary item, then the next from your secondary etc. I had one item that gave me that AE shield modification for my 4th upgrade but I got another which allowed me to get that AE shield on my second upgrade instead and thus switched it up. (I don't know what would happen if you had the same ability on multiple pieces. I suspect it would just allow you to choose that passive at each possible choice but would lock you out if you already had it... I didn't test this and might later today)
There was ALSO more generic 'crystals' as loot which are more universal modifications like +1.75% AE healing, +2% life steal etc. These can be slotted in addition to your main gear and seemed to be something meant to be more of an alternative advancement. It wasn't necessary to have this secondary type of loot right off the bat, but its handy that they are leaving themselves several ways of advancing your guy through acquiring stuff. Its worth noting that the crystals, unlike the gear, is universal so you can use your +1.75% healing crystal no matter if you are using a Hedge or an Arcane or even a Tech based class.
I'm gonna try out the Veil Demon option later today I think in order to see how fun it is to be 'the bad guy' as I have a strong feeling that the success of the Veil Demon playstyle will make or break this game similar to how things have operated on Evolve or other 4v1 type games. I have hopes that since the adversarial nature is more about total score and less about all-or-nothing victory that the dynamic will be more balanced, but we will see.
All in all I am very impressed with this game in its current Alpha state. It has a level of polish I have not seen among many alphas / early release titles and I am encouraged by the ideas they have for the game. Here's a video someone made of the initial tutorial to give you a better feel of how the game looks. Again the weakest parts, for me, are the UnrealEngine based physics, but your milage may vary.
Without echoing most of what Qhue said, I agree but I did feel like the current gameplay loop was very shallow. If I could slap an example on it, it would be like comparing Dauntless to Monster Hunter.
Played this for a bit. This alpha you have to play random roll. Got Void Demon in 4 out of 5 matches and logged off. Playing Void Demon is not fun. Most of the time you are just waiting on cooldowns. I won 2 of the 3 void demon matches I played. Taking reduced cooldowns on elite basically wins against most people by itself.
Game might be fun, not sure. This alpha is not a great representation of the game.
I actually enjoyed playing Void Demon, but I think it largely depends on which demon and elites you have. The controls as a Void Demon take some getting used to as well which adds to the initial ramp up in difficulty.
I will say that playing AI Void Demon vs human is almost a totally different game. Hopefully the rewards are commensurate with the challenge.