played the demo, the gameplay has potential but has some problems:
ATB limiting combo variety & Lack of offensive tools
Abilities being tied ATB and their huge cost (50% of your total bar) means you will generally doing the regular and limited Operator/Punisher mode combo string and then chain it with one ability (or two if you save it) and then go back to performing limited combo until it replenishes and repeat, this could be remedied if the cost was lower (like say 20%).
The two systems only have three combo variations, mashing, holding and holding during a mashing string, I feel the lack of combo modifiers like directional imputs will not allow the combat to carry the whole game. Magic also being tied to ATB is unnecesary and reduces your combo options because using either magic and abilities means you won't be able to use the other in the same combo, if the idea was balancing to prevent spamming, magic being tied to MP (which they are in the demo) should have sufficed.
From an action perspective they are garbage, dodge rolling lacks i-frames and it was terrible
, blocking attacks doesn't protect from chip damage (from both firegun attacks and melee). The game needs some type defensive move that protects you from damage when you use it and the game has the move potential move already available in the form of parry but unfortunately it doesn't protect from chip damage
. Punisher mode has two types of parry, one from holding the block button which will trigger a parry move the moment and enemy meele attack hits and another comes from the first frames of animation when Cloud switches to Punisher mode, and like any other action game that has a parry mechanique and that requiere a certain minimum of skill, you should be rewarded by not taking damage when you time the come correctly at the last second. Ideally I would preffer a safe defense/parry that protects me from damage not being tied to just punisher mode and be an universal mechanique available on both modes. The only thing preventing it from making the defensive tools worthless is that dodge rolling is marginally usefull to cancel your combo strings (except for the finisher moves) and move you away from hazzards (although it should cover more distance) and blocking attacks gives you ATB.
Switching from Operator to Punisher is laggy because of the stance switch animation, and while that particular switch stance has a parry attribute during its first frames, it gets in the way and breaks the flow of combo when you're stunlocking enemies with your regular attack string (a situation where you wouldn't need to parry). However, switching from Punisher to Operator is more fluid because the later doesn't have a stance animation like the former (Punisher-Operator are tied by sword swing, unlike Operator-Punisher that's tied by a stance), and it should be changed to this.
I previously said that the defensive tools are marginally not worthless because of some of their utility, like blocking giving you ATB but here's the issue, the game should not be rewarding you from playing poorly (i.e: taking damage) it should reward you for playing well (i.e: perfectly parrying enemy attacks and avoiding damage).
Overall it has potential and there's some good ideas but has issues preventing it from excelling in the action department. Most of what I said are applyable to Barret.