I've played enough games now to qualify, at least by my own standards, on giving feedback about the various phases and aspects of the game, and I thought I should start with the early game. I almost exclusively play on extreme difficulty, unless I am trying out some things, in which case I sometimes fire up a regular game.
But first, a disclaimer: Things that happen in extreme diff games are so outside of the normal gameplay loop that it renders most feedback useless. For this reason, I am limiting the feedback only to things that enhance the overall gameplay and regular games.
To begin with, I will start with cash. One of the first events that happen is supporting the militia, which requires a lot of credits. You start with around 500, but that is not enough to nationalize the recycler and to do the event. More on the former later.
I've tried starting games with the interior council and foreign councils to try and make money from trade and taxes, but it just doesn't work. The biggest spender always ends up being the worker wages, and staying positive on money until late in the game is outright impossible with taxes. Consider that interior council is one of the later councils most people will get, especially if surrounded by enemies, and income almost entirely relies on selling rare metals.
There's not many things you can do with credits, but when you don't have them, and you need them, the consequences can be catastrophic. I personally think that private assets should generate more money.
Why private assets? Well, assuming that the alternative fix is to do something about how taxes work, then it still requires an interior council, and doesn't actually do anything for the early game. It has to be private assets.
Buffing private assets also rewards the player for investing in the private economy, and also makes use of the public budget slider which has remained unused for literally every one of my games. Simply because throwing money into a hole does nothing. Except the +1 to happiness, but that is achieved with a single credit on public budget.
NATIONALIZING RECYCLER AND RECYCLER UPGRADES
Every game starts with the player nationalizing the recycler. There is literally no other way to start the early game. If you do not do it, you will not have money, and you will never have enough fuel or metal. Coupled with the fact that on reg+ games you are not guaranteed to find metal, this is your only source of income. And even so, the recycler is massively inadequate.
This will be a short section because there is not much to be done with nationalizing the asset; it just has to happen. But there is something that can be done to the recycler to improve cash flow and its use.
I think recyclers should have a chance to recover machinery or high tech parts. I think because major regimes start on ruins exclusively, that this should be the one advantage they have over every other regime. Prosperity brought on by recovering GR relics and stuff. Not artifacts, just machinery and high tech parts. At the very least, machinery because most buildsings, recycler included, requires machinery for construction. And getting your hands on those without a recycler is a bit of a difficult prospect.
It might even be beneficial to start the game with the recycler nationalized, as a way to demonstrate how the government came into power; IE monopoly on machinery and tech.
I hate starting games with leaders that completely oppose my regime profile. If I start with full Fist profile, I really don't want my SHQ commander to be Heart +++ or Fist ---. This is a game ending start. Literally, I lost the game on the first turn. Even if I fire him, he is still going to rebel; the only thing I can do is assassinate him, or retire him, but that requires a council.
I think there needs to be a check to prevent leaders from generating with total opposition to the regime active profile.
Likewise, if I start with a profile that has nothing to do with commerce or private economy, getting a cult that does that is punishing. Unlike leaders, cults cannot be rerolled with a new game start. I think that's a massive weakness, as it can render a playstyle unusable. I'd really prefer to be able to choose the cult I start with, right after selecting profiles.
At the very least, I'd like to have the ability to eradicate a cult, kind of like the Syndicate. That would be the ultimate solution.
I literally turned it off because it offers absolutely nothing to the gameplay. It is just annoying. I tried working with them, and it was lackluster.
Same thing as above. I still keep it on, because it lets me increase profiles I need later in the game, but that's not really how an element of a game should work, in my opinion.
I think the game needs a focused discovery option. Not everyone knows how the research tree works, and they're inevitably doomed to play their game out with literally no power for 60+ turns. I really think you should have the ability to tell your economic council to focus on discovering techs from a certain category.
That's it for now.