Some thoughts about gameplay expectations and technical limitations.
So.. during the game development it is abundantly clear that there are some technical issues that relate and/or result into gameplay problems.
althought SBS quickly sized down in game scalability from 1 world server as an idea to regional (as i would expect with current network latency and the 100% pvp marker) to split regional servers with as far as i know it no regional relation to each other. That ends up in max. 8 kingdoms. this is going to change gameplay considerably. with 8 kingdoms there is far less interaction possible resulting in a game of dukes. (if you are lucky enough to have a few) this will skew gamebalance.
wait. i hear you say... but there are NPC kings (are there when you have more kings then servers?) or NPC dukes.
So lets investigate: There are NPC dukes. The NPC dukes are allied to a king and as NPC not easy to motivate or overtake. So how hard will it be to take their position? if its to easy a king has a problem. Paying 10k for a short reighn is no fun. The other side of the medaillion: they could be so hard to take over that it becomes difficult.
now lets compare it to a king with only player dukes. He has the risk of bieng taken over. or not bieng able to control their actions et all. (making the King ineffective)
so far no real problem. (these problems is what every game has to deal with and cope with)
Now the differention; or why it is hard to believe it will work.
when you go offline... your character will still be active. Suddenly the whole game mechanic changes:
your King or Duke character is suddenly depending on the NPC engine. They might add a kind of 'programming' thing, but that will never be thew same as that hardcore pvp player. So the hardcore PVP player will either be able to best the player in NPC disguise. Now i think that PVP players nearly always are able to beat the best NPC engines - as there has to be a fair chance... or it would be well... unfair.
This principle trickles down into the lower ranks and numbers. The lower the rank the more easy it will be to best the NPC's as they are having lesser equipment, lesser training etc.. Again: otherwise it would be unfair - one player is then forced to wait until the target player is online and active. still not working for a 100% pvp game or it is not 100% pvp.
i could ramble on and on... but in the end it all comes donw to the quality of the NPC engine. And i do not think that it will be that good. (if i look at the game engines around us of the latest AAA games... Even if it might be good or even spectacular, it will not be as good (or even close) to a human player.
This also makes a 10k investment very shakey if things can get stolen. SBS can say that it will be hard for the first year to overcome a king or duke. It still would be a loss of almost 1k per month (or 16 full $60 dollar games) if you only would be surviving there for a year.
in hindsight... i could just as easy invest one time 1000 dolalr and have eyes on a game that already has shown actual -unscripted- gameplay. (unlike CoE)
Cohhcarnage plays Pantheon of the Fallen (invited by the Devs)
https://youtu.be/xYVDrfR6ZsM?t=12m49s (april 2017)
https://youtu.be/c-VljOeRfis (december 2016 - alpha)