OK, so I've just put in some playtime after the new update, and here are my first impressions.
I can tell a lot of work has gone into this and quite frankly I like it!
The Alpha AK:
The new rifle is easily my favorite. I'm a sucker for the AK family of rifles and I adore the new Alpha AK. It's easily my new favorite weapon in the game.
My main gripe about the cosmetics being too expensive is long gone! They are now IMHO reasonably priced and feel very achievable. I no longer feel like I have to grind through hours just to unlock a camo. THANK YOU NWI!
Quality of Life:
I couldn't help but notice some really thoughtful QoL improvements, like the scopes etc being highlighted in the selection menu. God, you've saved me a lot of eyestrain. I'm also very happy to see the drum magazine finally getting a world model.
I like the new stances and models on the menu and in the customization screen. They're so much improved. Now they look like actual people instead of Ken, Achmed and Barbie dolls. Hahaha.
I appreciate the new graphics options and as of this moment, I have yet to tweak my graphics to gain optimal performance.
That said, I was playing at a decent 20-25 FPS before the update and now I'm getting between 15-20 FPS. The game is still playable, mind you, but just barely. I suspect that as I tweak the graphics settings and as updates roll along, performance will improve. So I'm not overly worried. I've read a lot of people complaining about how their performance has "dropped from 100 to 50 FPS! OMG yadda yadda yadda!" I don't know what the fuss is all about. Yes, the frame rates have suffered a bit, but the game is playable as it is and I am hopeful that it will improve. If you're having FPS issues, try tweaking your graphics settings. (I will leave my system specs below for reference).
For me, for all intents and purposes, the stutters are GONE.
Final thoughts: Sandstorm is improved and better off. I'll play a hundred or so hours more and give my impressions on the gameplay changes and whatnot.
Intel Core i5-3317U
Radeon HD 8700/8800