First, some background.
I do some work as a game reviewer and editor, but these comments are intended for the devs and the community here.
1. Performance issues. Obviously, this is still beta software and the game is still pretty rough. Performance, even on an awesome gaming rig sporting 64GB RAM is quite bad. No surprise there.
2. Weak unit design. For those that are old enough to remember, one of the main criticisms of Total Annihilation and, to some extent, its spiritual successor, Supreme Commander, was that the units generally lacked character. While the the unit abilities were well known to grognards and that was enough for them, for the average player it was far too easy to get them all confused. In short, the units all looked the same - like generic, boring robots with slight variations in theme. Bottom line: units with very different abilities should look and feel different, and right now AOTS suffers in that regard.
3. Outdated game fundamentals. In the early days of RTS games, the technology simply wasn't there to do many of the things that are possible today, so some fairly onerous compromises had to be made. Rather than open-world, sandbox-type battles like those offered in a game like, say, Supreme Commander, those older titles relied on simplistic strategy fundamentals such as control points.
So I was quite surprised to see this outmoded design rear its ugly head in what is being billed as the next generation of big, bad, "uber RTS." There's a reason you rarely see those control points used nowadays: they suck. Sorry, but they do. Instead of big battlefields where you can really get some strategy going as well as basic tactics (like a modern, open-world RTS should), the control point design sabotages the whole thing and has the unfortunate effect of turning every match into an interminable grind. In its current form, AOTS suffers badly in this regard. So badly, in fact, that like the original version of Sins of a Solar Empire, it feels like a glorified game of whack-a-mole meets capture the flag.
Fortunately, there is still time to overhaul that aspect of the game and go with something that feels dynamic, open, and fluid. And fighting for control points feels anything but dynamic, open, and fluid!
4. Interface needs a lot of polish. This is a beta and I'm sure the devs still have much to do, but it's still worth mentioning. Yet at the risk of sounding redundant, in an RTS game the human player is at a tremendous natural disadvantage because the player has to labor to tediously move around the map, hindered by only being able to give one order at at time. Unlike the computer that "sees" everywhere at once and can simultaneously control all its units, we only have one mouse, one monitor, etc. And so it's critical that the human player have access to the most advanced, streamlined, and powerful interface that game can offer. That means lots of options (window in window, tactical icons when zoomed out, etc.) to help the player compensate for his/her natural disadvantages. In its current state, the AOTS interface is too limited for a big, pure, combat-oriented RTS.
5. Weak AI. Again, it's a beta. But right now the AI is difficult to beat, not because it's particularly clever (it's not), but because it's relentless and can successfully overwhelm the player. Again, this goes back to the inherent problems with the whole whack-a-mole control point design. Get rid of that and then we can see what the AI is really capable of.
6. Airpower is useless. In its current form, the airpower available in AOTS serves no real purpose. The AI doesn't even make use of its own airpower capabilities, so there's barely any reason to even waste resources on it. Plus it's fairly ineffective anyway, so it just feels like an afterthought. That said, given the game's current whack-a-mole design deficiencies, an aggressive AI with capable airpower would likely be unbeatable unless the devs crippled it behind the scenes. It would just attack everywhere at once and the player would be easily overwhelmed and frustrated.
7. Only one faction. I understand there is at least one more planned. How different will it be? Fundamentally different, or just more of the same with a couple unique units thrown in? If that's what it's going to be, gamers have seen all that before and may quickly tire of robots vs. robots vs. some other robots with different colors...
8. Overall design lacks character. Yes, it's a beta. And yet there's probably enough here to see where the game is headed. And right now it's not all good news. Take a look at the truly classic RTS games and you'll note each of them had something that set it apart and made it unique. Starcraft had very different factions and a top-notch backstory. Homeworld was the first game to really offer big, tactical space battles in an RTS format. Supreme Commander offered gigantic 81x81km maps with massive unit selection, uber units, and a cutting edge (for its time) interface.
What, exactly, is it that AOTS is going to offer in order to set it apart from competitors such as Planetary Annihilation: Titans or Total War: Warhammer? It doesn't look as if it's a game that going to be driven by its backstory like Starcraft, and the battles seem fairly limited and small compared to Supreme Commander.
9. No "special" units. Yes, there are some tech 2 units, but there's nothing equivalent to the massive starships in the latest version of Sins of a Solar Empire or SupCom's soul-crushing experimentals. Too, there's no type of up-gradable commander unit. This was something that helped even the odds against the AI in SupCom as it allowed the human player to micromanage one unit that could have a big effect on gameplay, rather than just relying on the tedious design of older RTS games which required spawning hordes of lesser units everywhere at once.
If all of this sounds harsh, that because it's meant to. None of us needs to come here and recount all the things that work, as that stuff is generally obvious to the devs. What IS of value to the devs is hard, cold, thoughtful feedback. In short, what isn't working and how it can be improved. I love big, combat-oriented RTS games, and I thought from watching the dev videos that AOTS might be a worthy successor to seize the crown Supreme Commander inherited from Total Annihilation. But while there does seem to be some real potential here, I question a few of the basic design choices that were made early on. IMHO, ATOS doesn't just need more polish and some performance tweaks, the devs need to take a hard look at the game's core fundamentals because some significant changes may be warranted to get this to be the game they want it to be.
The RTS genre doesn't need a prettier version of whack-a-mole, it needs a bigger, BETTER version of games like Homeworld or Supreme Commander. AOTS is pretty far from that right now.
I made a lot of comparisons to other RTS games here, and that was intentional. Furthermore, I hope these comments and opinions are of some help to the devs and will be taken in the vein in which they are intended.