I got 4 plays in on Hobbit over the weekend at MGC and really enjoyed the game and where it's heading. Here's a list of the positives and negatives of my current thoughts on the game.
I'll start with the non-gameplay items.
1. The quality of the display and the animations are sick! This game was sitting directly next to a WOZRR and the quality of the graphics and the way it is utilized made WOZ look outdated. It was a joy just to watch the display waiting in line as others' played.
2. The sounds are a huge step up from WOZ as well. Music and sound effects just sounded way more full and less annoying.
3. The game itself is beautiful all around and the LED's look great as do the LED effects.. Just feels solid and of high quality. The insert lighting doesn't seem as impressive as on WOZ but is still impressive. GI Lighting is a huge step forward. I also liked the look of the trim.
Honestly, There aren't really any negatives in the looks, sound, music dept. especially since the software is nowhere near completion. If I had to pick one thing I didn't really care for the axes on the slingshots.
Now for the gameplay
1. The pop up targets and the way they are implemented is really cool and unlike anything we have ever seen before. They react from even glancing blows from the front or rear and feel completely different from pop up targets on MM or XMen.
2. If you like shooting drop targets than this game is for you. It's definitely more of a shooter's game than a flow game.
3. The central fishtales ramp/captive ball/diverter in the middle is a welcome change from traditional layouts. Ramp shots feel good to hit although they are often blocked by the pop up targets.
1. When you play you honestly forget the the upper right flipper is even there. I did have the Windlace hold the ball in the left outlane (and fired with the fire button on the lockdown bar) which fires the ball towards that flipper for a one-timer but other than that it just doesn't seem that important.
2. Playfield does seem enormous and gameplay isn't that fast or punishing. Ball times are way longer than WOZ and you usually have plenty of time to react to shots. I think it would be a better game as a standard body vs. widebody. The saving grace is the pop-ups in this situation as they actually give you something in that vast openness to shoot for.
3. The entire upper right quadrant of the playfield seems like kind of a waste. There's really just a target and shot into the bumpers and a VUK to shoot. The bag end video screen looked nice but I honestly didn't ever look at it while I was playing. Game could have used a unique toy/target/ramp in this area for sure.
Overall I liked the game though primarily for the fact that it is unique and different and will no doubt have an awesome rule-set to go along with a great theme/art/sound/video package. It's the same reason I like WOZ. I think once it's complete I'll like it more than WOZ since the theme is better and because I prefer having lots of drops/pop-ups to upper playfields. It's a target game with some flow which is nice to see for a change vs. just a fast/flow game like Stern usually releases.
I would most likely never spend $8K plus on a pin but if I came into a windfall of money and could justify spending that kind of cash on a single pin I would buy a Hobbit way before buying a PPS remake or a Stern LE. It just feels like you get more for your money and the long term play-ability will be there with Keefer on software duty. On the contrary if I had to choose between the Hobbit and 2 Stern Pro's I would probably take the 2 Stern Pro's. It would be a tougher decision between Hobbit and TBL for me but I still think I would lean towards Hobbit just because i think it will be the more challenging pin long term. Bottom line is that it's a cool and unique pin and I look forward to playing it more in the future!