I have played NS1 since the very beginning. I recently bought NS2 (somewhere around build 190, give or take a couple of patches). I have now played NS2 for 127 hours (this gives you an idea of how addicting Natural Selection can be). I must preface this by stating that I think overall NS2 is great so far and I have nothing but confidence that whatever the developers decide, it will be a great game. The fact I can play NS2 so much as a Beta is a testament to this.
NS1 was the best Half-Life mod ever created. Nothing can compare to it. The gameplay offers more freedom and variety than any other game I have played. This includes major titles as well.
I love the fact that the developers are trying new things. People were upset about changes made to NS1 as well. I remember when aliens started gaining individual resources and when Combat was introduced. It was quite controversial. It is very important to innovate and so far NS2 has been great. However, this new patch feels like a step in the wrong direction for the following reasons (there may be more than this, but this is what I have noticed):
1) Gorge bile bomb was fine right where it was. It created a balance between a Gorge that created structures and had a very strong attack against structures but relatively weak direct attacks against marines. The variety of play offered by the Gorge is why people play it.
2) Lerk Bile Bomb is a massive failure right now. You have to be in the air to use it, and run out of energy after just 3 attacks. You would need like 10 lerks to have the same effectiveness as a Gorge with bilebomb. I have suggested that it might be beneficial to try giving the lerk spores that shoot like in NS1, but I am always met with insulting criticism saying "Maybe you should get out and go play NS1 then!" I am not saying that NS2 should be NS1 with modern graphics. In fact I like a lot of the new innovations such as the infection/cysts and the increased number of hives. But NS1 worked for a reason, so there must be a balance between innovation and avoiding the tendency to change things just for the sake of change. That said, I think the current spores for Lerk are working at least acceptably well, and it makes sense from an artistic point of view (the lerk becomes more of a dive bomber).
3) Lerk is nothing more than a minor annoyance to marines now.
4) The Skulk in Build 199 was arguably the BEST skulk in the entire game, including NS1. So why did someone say "Hey, we did something really good so lets change it!!!" Now the skulk is the worst it has ever been. It went from best to worst in 1 patch. Skulks feel unacceptably slow. People are even saying that marines are faster than skulks now. I thought the idea of Skulks was that they are very fast, extremely agile and athletic, and kill marines with speed and agility rather than with head-on force. Currently, leap no longer seems to effectively work and I move far too slowly to be of any use. Before this change, skulks felt like the most important Kharaa in the entire game.
5) The Skulk biting sound is so obnoxious, disturbing, and loud that I have to mute my TV to kill extractors. People tend NOT to play games or do things that involve inherently unpleasant sounds. Game music and sounds should be relaxing -- Jeremy Soule is a great example of a composer that can make players return to a game just for the relaxing music (he did the Elder Scrolls games among others). I have heard he did the music from NS1 but I have no idea if that is true. If it is, it explains why I love the NS1 ambient music so much. I believe the soft music of NS1 provided a great background to the gameplay.
6) Certain aspects of NS1 that were great are missing in NS2 right now. For example, marines had more options in terms of strategy. A marine could sneak in through a vent and quietly build siege turrets, taking out a hive before the aliens were even aware of the marines activity. Gorges could do the same with bile bomb. Comm Chairs could be placed anywhere on the map, and I have seen games where aliens win with all hives dead (gorge rebuilds a hive and they win the round). These kinds of victories are the reason many players keep playing the game. To play in THAT kind of round. As it is right now, NS2 has less strategy, more "Lets run in the hive and shoot it down" or "Build an Arc train and go straight, head-on to the hive. There is no alternative strategic variety. This trend can cause it to become Call of Duty with aliens or Counter-Strike or whatever, which is NOT what I personally believe this game should be about.
7) The first-person deaths seem odd and I believe that the third-person deaths were much better.
I like the increased number of hives. However, I wish the game did not end until the entire opposing team was killed. I know many people hated this, but for some reason I liked the idea that the aliens could still win without a hive, or the marines could hide a command chair in a vent or anywhere on the map, rather than be restricted to pre-determined Command Station locations.
I also like the new maps but would still like to see some larger maps like in NS1.
Lastly, I miss the ambience of NS1. The ambient music and sounds that played during the round (the string instruments and horns that played) were great. It really fit the game extremely well. I hope to see this again in NS2.
The idea that the players of a game have no right to question developers is wrong. BioWare did it with their recent Mass Effect 3 when they told their fans to "stop whining," which is causing lots of players to stop buying their games. We know that the development team is small and that this is a Beta so anything can change. We are simply a passionate group of players who have found a VERY special game and we want to see that game grow and be rewarded for its intelligence and ingenuity -- we do NOT want to see that game dumbed down like so many other games we have loved.
So I hope that the final product will have as much, if not more intelligence and strategic variety as the original Natural Selection. The fact that this is done by such a small development team is amazing, and it is a great example of a game developed by gamers rather than by a strictly business organization. Regardless of how the finished product turns out, I am sure it will be great. I have personally waited for this game since NS1 so it is great that one day I googled "Natural Selection 2" and found out that the game was finally being produced. I have nothing but admiration for the developers of this game, and the other players of this game as well. It really is something special.