Not entirely sure if it's a step forwards, backwards or sideways, because it's a mixture of all three.
The new UI looks snazzy but functionally it leave a lot to be desired - but it represents a nice step towards a more presentable one once all the issues have been worked out.
I'd rate hangar management as a small step up, but the whole layout feels very inefficient (so much unused/empty space, so many scrollbars)
Player information is still terrible - the vast majority of tooltips is still wrong, although I found a few small fixes; cryptic bars continue to dominate and a lot of description omit important details. (As an example - the Dreadnought Weapon Amplifier.. .er "Onslaught Mode" omits that it both immobilizes and drains all energy from its user for the duration)
Contract reset is awkward for me, essentially I'm limited to 1/day because the reset time
for me is around 2am in the morning - not a very pleasant time to be online.
Match spawn distance is good - especially for lighter ships; but for the 'heavies' this means either arriving too late, too low on energy, or without any ability to seize the initiative in a fight - respawn on death generally goes well (FWIW one improvement I'd suggest is give the player an overhead of the map showing friendly positions and let him pick a spawn point)
Module presentation in combat is good, definitely an improvement - but I can imagine some people think it's a bit too large for their tastes.
But my biggest concern is the number of undocumented changes; patch notes should be complete - not just out of honesty but also as documentation for everyone (devs, testers, support staff) to fall back on later (when old issues inadvertantly rear their head)
Here's my list of what I found so far:
Weapon Amplifier -> Onslaught Mode
Afterburner -> Assault Thrusters
Armor Amplifier -> Armored Lockdown
Flechette Missiles -> Flechette Half-Battery
Weapon Amplifier -> Kinetic Weapon Amplifier
Armor Amplifier -> Kinetic Armor Amplifier
Corvette Target Blink Warp now has a 2.5s charge time - given that this mostly deposits the user in front of the target .... not pretty.
Corvette Heavy Cloak can still be manaually cancelled but .... the damage taken debuff is not removed when you cancel the cloak - so which of the two is incorrect ? The damage taken debuff or the fact you can manually cancel heavy cloak ?
OTHER SMALL CHANGES
Talionis -> Vindicta
Disciples of Jaffa Coating -> Audacity Coating
Navigator's Guild Coating -> Church of Entropy Coating. (mislabel ?)
Faction coatings have been added with a requirement but without enforcing that requirement - and without any explanation of their presence.
Dreadnought could be
But what is, is Dead for naught.