The lights are on
I would like to take a second and clear something up. This game does not have a free-to-play monetization system. Everything is unlocked in game, and there is no, I repeat NO items at launch to purchase for real money. I am disappointed that Jeff repeatedly mislead people to think that this was not the case. That GI let this strange review get through, slamming the game for what Jeff thinks MIGHT happen with the game, is frankly disappointing. I say this again, there is NO free-to-play monetization in the game.
Now, for the game itself, I found it to be entertaining, if a little light on content. There are 3 modes of play on the X360 version. There is the Gardens and Graveyards mode (think Rush from Battlefield), your standard Team Deathmatch mode, and a Horde mode. Each of these are well executed in their own right, but for me, Gardens and Graveyards is the most fun. There is a "Classic" version of each mode as well, which is identical, except that you can not use any unlocks, so everyone is on even footing. This is a neat idea, and removes some frustration when starting out. There is also a "Welcome Mat" mode, but after a round or two, you won't need to play in it.
Everything in the game is unlocked from the card packs. You can buy them with coins you earn by playing, and by levelling a character. Jeff is correct in stating that each card pack has random picks in it, and you never know which character will get the unlocks. What Jeff didn't bother to mention is that when you level a character past lvl 3, you get a card pack for that character specifically. These character specific packs have about 5 cards for that character, unlocking upgrades, customization items and skin unlocks. So if there is one class which you prefer, you will get items for them regularly without even having to spend your coins.
The acheivement unlocks are not terribly difficult. They do get tougher as you get higher in level, but you will have the class abilities unlocked after level 3, and all of the ones up until that point are very easy. After that, you unlock the character card packs I mentioned earlier. If there are particularly irritating challenges, like Jeff's "Kill two scientists with the sunbeam" challenge, you have the option of using a skip card on them, so you don't have to do them. When you use a skip card, you still get credit for having completed that challenge, but don't have to do it. The skip cards drop pretty regularly out of the consumable card packs.
The consumables which you use in matches are attained through card drops, but since they cost 1,000 coins per pack and you get around 5 different consumables (and each of these 5 is usually a 2-3 pack of that item), it becomes a non-issue. Even a poor showing in a round will get you way more than 1,000 coins. At no time have I felt like I needed to be grinding coins in order to become viable on the battlefield. In fact, you will probably with up with an overflowing number of consumables, unless you are very aggressive with them. At that point, you can just spend the coins on the random card packs to unlock character items.
While Jeff is correct in saying that you will have some rounds where you don't unlock challenges for your preferred character, the coin system ensures that no match is ever a waste.
The gameplay is tight, the controls are easy to pick up, the skills are fun, there are dozens of character variations to unlock, and literally hundreds of customization items for the characters. The levels are big, fun, well designed and look fantastic.
What I will certainly say though, is that you are better off getting the X360 version of the game. The X1 and the X360 versions look almost identical, but there are 2 sorta side-modes in the X1 version, both of which I have been told are pointless. The X360 version is $10 cheaper, making this a tidy little package for $29 on X360.
I hope to see more maps and modes in the future (Horde mode from the zombie side anyone?), what is offered currently may be a little light in comparison to AAA map and character offerings, but what is there is well executed and cleanly put together.
I would have to disagree about the XB1 and XB360 versions looking identical. I have both. The XB1 version looks much better and plays at 60fps which adds to the fun factor IMHO.