Yeah, the wooden explorer meeples do look pretty cool, even if they are put to shame by the plastic bits.
As to the game, what's it about and how does it work? Well, in some ways it's a Fallout boardgame. Sure, there's only a little direct conflict, but it is there, and you're managing a vault, trying to build it up, fill it with survivors, find equipment, and resolve some persistent problems.
Now, it looks like a worker placement game, and it is, but it's tricky. During the campaign they called it worker displacement. Why? Well, at night your heroes camp out where they're at and move the next day. They have to move, can't go far, and can't stop where there's another of your heroes. Each location has a limited amount of stuff, so if you move to a place where there's a weaker hero(strength is indicated by number), you can basically beat some goods out of your opponent if they don't have ammo to make up the difference.
There's also the vault you build and fill. Survivors in the airlock keep out radiation, but filling built rooms both gets you points and some special abilities. Here's another spot where the collector's pieces will shine a lot more, the retail has some very nice cardboard bits(very thick and easy to punch).
There's quite a bit of resource management in the game, as EVERYTHING needs some resource. Food and water for your survivors, metal, wood, and chips for rooms and equipment. Resolving an event requires a lot of whatever it's asking for. The main board has spots to collect water, bullets, metal, and chips.
Food? Well, there's some(very small)amount of canned food on the wrecked ship, which stores well. OR you can go hunting(at one of 3 locations) and each time you kill that type of prey, you get more meat. If you can get to the ship, you can also get a survivor that may go straight to a built room.
This is a great mix of theme and mechanics, and the only thing that feels light is the direct conflict. The conflict is still more than most similar games have, and it does work. I don't know when the retail edition will hit shelves, but I'm guessing it might be in the running for next year's Dragon Awards.
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.