I have played this and run it now.
I absolutely loved it on my playthrough, although some of the "reality show drama" our PCs got up to did distract a little from the details being discovered.
We had a Dwarf at the table. Other PCs were attempting to negotiate an arrranged marriage for him into the clan. Also, our Skittermander PC was convinced the Ghast producer had the hots for him and kept trying, and failing, to flirt with her.
When I ran this as the GM, my players mostly seemed to enjoy the extra RP elements of the scenario. That being said, this scenario could be a good learning experience on how to improve layout for maps, npc stats, and adventure details.
Why is that map for the final goblin encounter between the flooded temple map and the stats for the monsters in the flooded temple? That is the most egregious example, but I found myself having to flip back and forth in the pages during several encounters. Additionally, it would have been nice to have been given info on where the camera crew would be in the encounters beyond the first one.
I spent the entire time expecting one thing, only to have the scenario surprise me by going against my expectations. I loved the creepy vibe of the investigation and felt the combats were well designed.
Please, please, please include tactics for starship combat roles like this in every scenario. As the GM having to run all of the starship roles, this little bit of guidance is hugely helpful.
The whole scenario seems like a setup for an encounter with an Aliens style xenomorph, only to have the rug pulled from under you when it's actually an undead. Then, once you think you have it figured out, the Xorn is another twist. I appreciate the author's inclusion of the force batons as most 1-2 characters are unlikely to have a weapon fusion yet. That said, a Technomancer with magic missile will be the MVP in the drift dead fight.
I look forward to discovering future info on the Bulwark.
This scenario had a perfect premise for the Wayfinders, first contact with a new species. Unfortunately, it is marred by a couple plot points and combat issues.
Played and ran this one in the 1-2 tier.
The starship combat was clunky/tedious in this one.
As a player, we took the Pegasus a d despite focusing fire on the drone platform, we spent over 4 hours in this encounter. Part of this was bad rolls and new player familiarity with starship combat.
When I GM'd this, I stressed the orbital defenses in the briefing and they took the Drake. Despite their limited actions, I found it extra laborious to drone the 4 drones and the platform. I managed to get the combat down to 1.5 hours, but that was with only doing helm and gunnery checks. No pilot maneuvers or stunts.
Neither as a player not as a GM did we have to use the Husks to save the party versus the Sand Brute.
Neither group of aliens was phased at all about a group of aliens showing up on their doorstep with no prior knowledge of other sentient races. The aliens had multiple castings of share language available to make communication easy, negating the benefit of the Wayfinder's translator unit.
Lastly, discovering the secret about the Ghibrani history is discovered, even if the PCs manage to offend both sects. They're allowed to just waltz into the taboo zone, regardless of their actions to that point. It felt a little contrived.
If you buy the Alien Archive expecting it to be just like the Bestiary 1 was for Pathfinder, you're going to disappoint yourself.
The AA has monsters to fight, yes. But, also new races to play. New equipment is here for PCs and NPCs alike. The monster building rules are stream-lined and easy to grasp. I'm a huge fan of the way the Monster Summoning rules are future proofed to allow expansion in later releases without making the spells over-powered. I love the expanded monster entries and really enjoyed the artwork.
With AA, Paizo has been true to their word about wanting to give players the option to play as most of the aliens they would normally fight.
Do I want this book to be longer? Of course! But, I see this as a great first step in expanding the Starfinder universe and eagerly look forward to the Pact Worlds book.
The Acquisitives task WILL run long if you're not proactive as the GM.
The Wayfinders task is easy to end up being just a few skill checks and done in 5 minutes (especially if it's done last and the above ran long).
The not so good:
Overall, this scenario tends to run long. Partly it's one of the tasks, and partly it's getting players accustomed to new rules. I would not recommend it for a 4 hour slot without an experienced GM.
The Dataphiles mission leaves the PCs with a lot of agency on "how" to resolve it, without giving the players much info on how they might go about it. It can end up with the GM reading a list of options and the skill checks involved to the players. That's not bad, but it's not ideal.
Fitch is not quite as awesome as Ziggy, but is a close second.
Each of the tasks has a unique mission and feel. It doesn't feel like "generic fetch quests #1-4".