I just played through the timed beta and I'm not sure what to think. There's a few things improved like zoning and resource management but it just feels like a step back in the franchise for me.
I don't understand why the maps are so freaking small now. How is it that 10 years ago when PC's weren't that powerful the maps are at least 3-4 times the size of the maps in this game? You can't build sprawling cities anymore. It's as though they are forcing you to play the game the way they want you to play it. In SimCity 4 you could section off your city between residential, commercial and industrial and have massive cities. In the new SimCity they want you to only build one type of zone for your city. For me this is the biggest issue of the game, even more a bigger deal then the always on DRM.
And then there's the graphics in the game. I have all settings cranked up to max at 1920x1080 and from far away everything looks pretty good till you zoom in. Once you zoom in everything seems to turn low res and blurry but the strange thing is the buildings far off in the distance look high res and clear.
Overall I'm not all that impressed with all the changes they've made. I feel like they are doing certain things in order to charge for tons of DLC later on. I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if they end up releasing DLC that gives you larger maps to build on. I also wouldn't be surprised if it cost $40 to buy it.
How do you feel after playing the beta?