So, I just built my 6th city and I'm 20% through Industrial. Decided it's time to reflect back on how it's been so far :)
I started playing only when the second beta key was emailed (Tokyo). This means I'm hopelessly behind the leaders but doing well in my own neighbourhood. I've been lucky with neighbours, cause many of them are inactive and others either behind or simply friendly. Plenty of easy luxuries around. Only minimal trouble caused by the early bugs but who didn't have that? :D
At first I actually didn't think I'd stay for long, not being a fan of the "build your village" type of games. But some sort of curiosity kept me going. Maybe it was the ages aspect or just the fact that it's a new game and it's a great opportunity to be able to test it.
I wasn't even put off by the long waiting at the end of every age. I do hope they optimise this in the final version, adding more things to do and forcing you to make more choices and allowing for more different playing styles than "maximise culture and win". Right now I don't see myself playing the actual game if they don't make it nice with sugar and spice ;)
Had a little vacation too, so I'm a bit behind on research and building. Not a big problem for my Basilica-inspired workers but I may be short on research gold soon. After early Renaissance, this hasn't been a problem, but now there's the most expensive Indy researches I need for more culture gain. Didn't have the requirements for Curie's Workshop so I had to pick Louvre instead, so this might be a reason. The research times are pretty crazy too. Observatory isn't making a big diff; hoping Particle Accelerator helps more.
Speaking of wonders, this is another aspect that needs great tweaking. So many of them are completely useless (Bagan Temples, Colosseum) and some very obvious choices, overshadowing all others of its age (Pagoda, once it gets released). For example, wonders that are very effective in the next age but not so useful later would bring an interesting dilemma and make you choose between "live in the moment" or "plan for the future" play styles.
Otherwise, I'm quite hopeful for this game and am definitely staying until the end (of Future age or closed beta, whatever comes first). Also can't wait for the storyline and the introducing of the three societies!