I've put about 6 hours into FFE this week, and have come away very pleasantly surprised. I'll state up front that I'm not really a fan of the Monster Hunter games. I figured if anything could make them tolerable for me, it would be a Final Fantasy coat of paint. And so far, that's been mostly correct.
FFE is basically a simplified version of Monster Hunter. I think simplified is good...I was always very interested in the MH games, but could never really wrap my brain (or reflexes) around its layers and layers of complexity. Having a game where I can just go explore, have fun, and battle some large beasties without wanting to throw my DS across the room is exactly what I needed to get me into this subgenre. There really is no story to speak of, and the bulk of the game revolves around taking missions from the main town, killing monsters, gathering their skin/bones, and using the skin/bone to create better materials. You have a huge variety of tools as your disposal to do this. All the standard FF jobs are here: Knight, Ranger, White Mage, Black Mage, Monk, Dark Knight, Onion Knight, Geomancer, etc., and each has a unique set of weapons and skills to play with. As you progress, you can combine skill sets to create a customized whirling dervish of death who can slice, dice, throw spells, drop healing, buff, debuff, and/or all of the above.
In addition to the huge variety of classes, skills can also be "mutated" to create more powerful versions or add additional effects. Want to add an Ice element to your Fire spell? Go for it. Add a Regen to your Cure 1? Sure. It's a cool system, with one big caveat...the game doesn't explain shit. There's a very brief explanation about Crystal Surge, Resonance, and Mutation, but I had to spend a decent amount of time reading Gamefaqs to figure out what the hell was going on. I've started to get a handle on it, but I still only feel like I'm about halfway there in terms of understanding the system. Which is OK...the gameplay is compelling enough to dig in and try and understand it.
Overall, I give FFE a tentative thumbs up. It's not nearly as difficult or as complex as MH (a good thing, IMO), but is still very fun to play. Exploring the world is neat and I can't see messing around with different class and skill combinations getting old anytime soon. I'll be interested to see how it sells, as it may be a little too basic for MH vets and a little too non-RPG (i.e. no story) for FF fans.
The only issues I've seen are the camera sometimes doing crazy things in the middle of battle (especially if you're up against a wall) and the bizarre lack of any 3D. The latter is really strange, I would think they would have built in at least some basic 3D functionality, but there's literally nothing.