First of all, I am thankful that I am in the Beta and am eager for this game to be fully released after stuff is worked out. I want this game to succeed, along with the fine folks on the Discord, and just wanted to put my initial review on a place where the VB devs move around. If this thread isn't appropriate, please feel free to delete it.
This will be split into Pros and Cons. I'm approaching this as the kind of player I am and what I think will make up a majority of the player-base: casual folks who want something quick to play in between breaks.
As a disclaimer for folks in the future, this is during the Beta in August 2021, so this may not be the final, playable product.
-The Story folder: It is a great idea to keep Belles' tales and the Campaign separate from the Sortie map. It seems to be a great way to also add limited time / seasonal events (i.e. Halloween, Christmas, etc) in a way that doesn't distract from the Sortie map.
-The Belles overall: There is a lot of variety when it comes to ship-girls and some that are frankly surprising to me. For example, I never expected to see freaking Schleswig-Holstein in a ship-girl game. She is a deep pull for Second World War naval history.
-The gameplay: It reminds me a lot of Kantai Collection and I think that will help it stick out against its nearby rival - Azur Lane. The graphics are colorful and the banter between the Belles and the Morganas keeps things lively.
-The Grind: This is a big one for me and makes up a few points.
Getting Belle Vestures takes a long time, especially since they are unique per Belle and some require hundreds of Vestures to get (i.e. battleships). Players, especially those into naval games, usually want to get the battleships and aircraft carriers - the flashy flagships of yesteryear, so this could be a turn-off to them since the grind takes a while overall. Maybe the grind could be sped up a bit? I would suggest maybe increasing the drops of Vestures (i.e. one per battle completion with a bonus for completing the map) and/or streamlining them so multiple Vestures can work for multiple ships.
Leveling also is a big long for both Belles and the HQ. Maybe it could be slightly buffed? Others on the Discord also talked a bit of resource regeneration, so maybe that could be sped up as well. Some folks said they were running multiple fleets and were running out of material pretty quickly.
Tying into the grind is the fact that your warships can be knocked out for a substantial amount of time (by phone game standards, at least: 30+ minutes) if their equipment is damaged. If a player doesn't have a steady amount of Belles, then that stops the game for them because they don't have a substantial fleet to conduct operations. Speeding up the rate of folks getting ship-girls could alleviate that since players will have enough ships to sub in replacements for those who get knocked out.
-Having multiple ways of getting more equipment. It seems thus far that you can only get new weapons and stuff through the Commissary. Maybe these things can also be drops in story missions and the sorties to give players more of an opportunity to obtain loot.
As mentioned previously, I want this game to succeed and I think it has all the pieces to help it stick out against the competition: a focus on story, the proper language for ship-girls, the Belles themselves, the setting of "real world" history and even the fact that it is a Western-made ship-girl game. That said, the grind is what gets to me. I tried to think of a solution that alleviates that without making it too easy to get stuff and plays with the already-existing game mechanics.
Once again, thank you for the invite and I wish you guys the best with making Victory Belles the best game it can be.