So, I've decided to give Solaris a second go (mostly to get some observations, which would otherwise would have taken me to make an array of tests for myself)
Firstly, I have to say that during my first look at Solaris, I dropped off right before what would be the inciting incident of the narrative - almost half of current missions are given over to an integrated tutorial (which is good as that) that in regards to the story doesn't work (yet) as either prologue or exposition - none of the events are really connected in a meaningful way (okay, can make the connection to events that in hindsight were concurrent but its just not good enough IMO), which then in turn leads to some developments not working (e.g. Ross' "foxhole devotion" to Federation crew).
Once the inciting incident happed, things got at least interesting enough to follow on basis of curiosity - yet to still not exactly worth connecting to. Woolie Wool said it best, I think.
Now, I've had my issues with the aethetics and I think, I can now resolve them into detail.
Some of it is technical in nature, I think: Ships made to make uses of FSO's capabilities with PBR maps always look terribily busy if they are not in direct focus to me and it really makes me unable to fully appricate any such ship as a whole.
The other issue is that, when the Federation and the Combine ships, the way you break up surfaces don't work for me - its too frequent (proably to create a layer of detail that isn't there) and too much difference between (even if it in the realm of shades of grey). Most of the ship actually look much better with surfaces intact IMO (yeah, its a bad thing to say that the ships look better without their maps in PCS but that's where this is leading me)
I am glad that since I first played it, there appear to have been some improvements in the area of weapon effects - stuff seems to be a good deal more visible now.
That comes together nicely with the improvements to survivability - you still need to be on your toes but you no longer get instantly disintegrated if you are caught out of position once.
This is decent, bordering on good, start - even if it is not my cup of tea in many regards.