I jumped into the multi-player head first last night with the help of a couple friends. One of them has played some and guided us along.
The tutorials did a great job of giving me the basics before we started. We then played a 3vs3 against comps on a 5vs5 map and that resulted in a game that took 4 1/2 hours. We decided to quit without finishing the mop-up since it was 5:30am by then.
I like the zoom feature very much. I've not figured out how to use the info on the left of the screen once it becomes cluttered, except to find a ship that I've lost track of. I had some trouble finding where my allies were in battle at when they asked for help.
I'm concerned that the research tree may contain a large number of items that will have little value, especially in the multi-player environment.
I can't wait to get a little more experience and give it a try against some human opponents. Hopefully, proper map selection will result in games that end in less than 2 hours. I don't think it is feasible to have most online games last any longer than that without someone having to quit.
I was shocked to find that the game loaded and played with a video card way under spec. on a comp that has a 1.9GHZ Athlon processor. I had bought a new card for the game but decided to try it before installing the new card. I was slow to load but once the game started, everything seemed smooth.