Hey Dorateen, I've played through Hearkenwold 1 this weekend, and despite initial prejudice of mine against vanilla designs with large areas, it turned out to be pretty good and a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to playing the second part now, and your one-week-challenge design as well. I'll attach a text file with some playtesting notes below (spoilers!), mostly concerning the most evident typos I found, as well as one bug, one suggestion and a description of the quests I got stuck on. I might also write a review later on. I share some of the criticism mentioned in this thread, mainly regarding "rookie mistakes", although it seems the design has already been improved due to the feedback you got - and in some cases apparently "disimproved" a bit as well, which goes to show you probably can't please everyone.
I was surprised to find how powerful my low level spells were, even against the bigger opponents that I didn't expect to fall victim to Sleep spells and such, and in part I guess that might have been caused by your fixes, after other players complained about magic resistance. This is no complaint from me though - I actually loved the new version in this regard! I enjoy tactical combat, but contrary to others here, I really appreciated the balance you've found between adventure, exploration and combat. I thought the amount of combat was just right, and the effectiveness of the low level crowd control spells made the fights more fun and less tedious than I probably would have found them in the first version. And I didn't think combat was too easy because of that either, to me it was just right - slightly challenging at times, but never frustratingly hard.
On the other hand, it seems in the earlier version all trees were passable and due to the feedback you got, you made some (but not all) of them impassable, which leads to an inconsistency that makes it almost obligatory now to use Area View most of the time, because in 3D view you can't reliably tell anymore which walls or tress will be passable and which will block your path, since the same walls/trees can have different properties now. I didn't like that as much, as I prefer the colorful 3D view to the gray in gray Area View myself. With all the issues concerning large, partially empty feeling areas, the required "lawn mowing" of maps, the changing backdrops and such, I wonder whether the outdoor exploration might have been more fun in FRUA if it had been handled via overland maps, with the frequency of events a bit more condensed.