So, the planet design. It's going to be controversial among Star Control fans, trust me. I'm talking about this:
I get the explanation by the devs. We're supposed to be able to zoom down on these things and go straight into exploration, which is a noble goal that has its obvious merits. There's also a major pitfall here that is making me somewhat worried: It's stylistically very different from Star Control 2's visual design.
SC2 featured a vast galaxy filled with planets that, if not necessarily realistic, came off as believable and grounded in both their visual design and their simulations. Visiting Alpha Centauri was a breathtaking experience the first time because it really felt like it could be the real thing.
These new planets don't share that vibe at all. These look like they come directly out of Spore or some random cartoon, and there's nothing believable (let alone realistic) about them. This gives the impression that Stardock is going for a cartoony vibe for the game itself (and if they don't, the planets will clash even more), which is a very strange decision when none of the previous games went for that style.
There are ways to handle smooth transitions to a planetary surface that doesn't involve going all-out cartoon universe. Are such alternatives completely out of the question at this point? I would be somewhat disappointed to see Star Control 2's grounded atmosphere be abandoned for something so diametrically different as this.
A related question would be: Has Stardock decided to go cartoon style for the entire game, or is it just planets?