So, I've been playing this A LOT for the past week. I've gotten to Gold Hoarders rank 25, and purchased most of the items currently in the Beta. First of all, I love the atmosphere this game has. The sailing and water physics are spot on, the weather system generates dynamic winds and thunderstorms, dynamic rain and water will build up and slowly fill your ship, waves toss you around, graphics and lighting effects are beautiful, sound design is extremely immersive with creaking wood, rustling bushes, and clacking buckles. It all makes this game very fun to just sail around and explore.
But, I think that's all it has going for it. You WANT to explore, but there's no reason to at all. You can't interact with the world at all, and there is no loot to find or craft. Only cosmetic skins for your clothes, items, and ship. The only things you can find in the world are Bananas, Wood Planks, Cannonballs, and Treasure Chests that you can't open. The gameplay loop of the Beta is to buy a map to a chest, which can either be a series of riddles to the treasure's location, or a picture of a random island that you have to find and navigate to. Sail to the island, either solve the riddles leading to the treasure (these were actually pretty fun for a bit), or use only the picture of the island to navigate to the "X Marks The Spot". You dig up the treasures, and sell them back at the Outposts for gold to buy more maps, and do it all again. It's fun the first few times, until you realize that's all there is. The final version of the game is supposed to have other repetitive tasks to do, but they're all essentially fetch quests. Go there, do this, get that, bring it back, then you get to do it again.
There's also a big emphasis on PvP. Even though there is some (extremely bad) PvE combat, it's just ~3 variants of braindead skeletons, who are minor annoyances at the worst. The real threats are the human pirate players that are sailing around, also looking for treasures, and more often than not, will try to destroy you on sight. For this reason, even though I prefer playing solo, I wouldn't recommend it. 4-player squads, or even 2-man squads can easily wreck a solo player, if you're not experienced enough to navigate the seas. The real fun comes from dicking around with friends, or other random players. You'll get the most out of the game if you entertain yourself, actually roleplay as a pirate, hunt other players and steal their shit.
For me, it's not what I want. I want to interact with the world, or have the world react to me. I ran into a cave, where there was a skeleton, and his skull and rib-cage were filled with a ton of bananas. All I could do was look at it and laugh to myself. Then, found another cave that had a bunch of books and candles in what seemed like a shrine, or something. I wanted to pick up the books, and couldn't. You'll see bottles of potions, or some such, can't touch them. You want to open all the treasure chests you find, and can't. You want to steal other players' ships, but can't, because they act as an infinite respawn point. That's the whole game, look but don't touch. Personally, just seems like a HUGE step backwards for this type of game. Especially when the $60 price tag barges into the conversation.
Everyone wants to make the comparison; No Man's Sky launched with more content, even without multiplayer.
Obviously, this IS just the Closed Beta period, and Rare has decided to hold back a majority of the content, even removing things that were in the previous Alpha testing phase. This decision is probably going to bite them in the ass, now that NDAs are lifted, and a lot of people are streaming and experiencing the game in this state. Knowing what the full game entails, I still don't think it would change anything. The Beta has been datamined, and there will be more stuff, but from the looks of it, there will just be more not very fun things to do, to get no loot, and no real progression, unless you really want that new hat, or socks and shoes, or want to put a lion on the front of your ship, or something.
It's a pirate game with no booty.