Well I have been giving the v3.0 beta a good crack lately. Just wanted to post a few observations.
First off the AI is much better. Their planet builds and fleets are much stronger. A few things I don't like still. They spam so many ships it is just not funny. Current game turn 150 with 2-6 planets each and they all have between 200 and 400 ships. Still there is WAY too much emphasis on pure military for both score and relations and proximity be damned. I've had declarations of war from belligerent AI (over 300 tiles away) who are behind with production, economy and tech simply because they have a few more ships giving them an extremely false sense of superiority. Just as ludicrous, late game I can pump my overall score and military rank from from dead last to first within only a few turns building a handful of ships. Also, why is the AI obsessed with building a SB on the mercs? I have to ring my bazzar so the AI cant squeeze a base in.
A side note for the AI. On godlike difficulty the AI improvement seems to have really snowballed. It may be just the way I play and I need to adapt or drop difficulty down, but it is a real struggle to just keep up now that I am hamstrung by the pop cap. I can go into details if anyone wants but needless to say the AI bonuses are massively amplified by their better game play. I would be interested to know how others fair on the harder difficulties.
Also the new farming system. I have to admit it is great to see the AI making great use of it and populating their planets. But on the negative side it is extremely restrictive. Even more now than ever, unless you have monsantium (for Kimberly's Refuge) it is hard to make large amounts of food. That said, food is now not that important as I seem to hit pop caps everywhere. These limitations on pop make it near impossible to keep up with godlike AI, let alone compete. Pop already had a soft cap with morale so this new dynamic is a huge fail.
Lastly I want to comment on the new economy. Tourism is overpowered now to the max. The more I play, the more it seems I should push my culture growth and economic bonuses to just rush buy everything and trade for tech. Having 20k a turn income is nothing to sneeze at but very easy to achieve without breaking a sweat. Having pop capped means you run full tax with excess morale. A few economic and tourism buildings and a few culture starbases are all you really need to set things in motion. Push it along with economic SB and culture buildings and income becomes insane very quickly. But to be honest, my economy is the only thing that keeps me in the game (not competitive I might add).
So in finishing I am torn about this update. I love the AI but hate the farming/population restrictions. Also, is it a bug or a mistake or by design that the Snarthi get a very early tech (first scavenging tech from memory) that gives a full +1 to mining (1000% more than other comparable techs)?