Playing on Vet, a few months in (though after several restarts).
It took me a while to get into this, as it’s misleadingly been marketed as an XCOM-like game, and it has a lot of the visual tropes, particularly in the UI. But it’s really nothing like XCOM at all. The ballistic model and LOS make it a thing of its own that you have to actually get some practice in, as if it were a totally new type of game. (Numerous people have remarked on the difference, but it’s mainly in how cover and overwatch behave completely differently from XCOM.) It’s not XCOM, and it’s not even X-Com (though maybe it’s a little bit more like the original in some ways than Firaxis’ reboot), but what it is is very good in its own right - both at the strategic and tactical level.
I see a lot of complaints about the game, and I understand there’s some bad blood for various reasons, but if anyone’s looking in, I’d say just ignore all that and jump in. It’s a good game, with addictive gameplay, and you’d be missing out on an enjoyable experience if you pass it up.
It does seem to have balance issues still, but on the other hand the team do seem to be dedicated to working on it and making it as good as it can be. They certainly don’t seem to be giving up on it. And in terms of core gameplay, the fundamentals are all basically there, and the experience is largely bug free now.
All that said, it’s also a bit of a sad experience because it’s a major case of “close, but no cigar.” It’s very nearly a classic, but a few things hold it back. Sad to say, I think the main problem is the art design. It’s very competent and skilled, and one has to respect it as a huge achievement (designing all the looks of all the things). There’s nothing wrong with it on a technical level, but unfortunately it’s also rather bland and generic-looking. The monsters are generic s-f monsters; Jericho is generic space marines; Synedrion is generic s-f; Anu is generic mutants. The premise of the game needed a real spark of genius in the art area, and the game just doesn’t have it, so no matter how good the gameplay is, it’s never going to feel like an iconic game, because the art style is baked into the game at every level. (The music’s a little bit better, but again not quite as good as it should be.)
But regardless of that, it’s still a fun game to play, and I have no doubt that the team will keep working on it till it’s more or less finished, feature complete, and well balanced.