This is going to be a long one. You have been warned.
This whole thing is tied up to what is Stonehearth, at least what its creator thinks it should be. Is it a sandbox build game/toy with party combat/RPG elements? Is it an RTS/RPG hybrid with a heavy dose of build components?
The distinction is important from both technical and aesthetic reasons. With the game heavily geared toward one over the other, taking the game into the opposite direction would mean a stronger feeling of multiplayer features being a bolt-on, meaning less fun. Not to mention a major rework of the technical undercarriage.
Stonehearth geared toward its build side is going to feel a bit contrived if the multiplayer mode focus on multiplayer competitive combats and vice versa.
At the moment, I would say the build side predominates. This means any form of competitive combats are out. This leaves collaborative build and combat options being significantly more promising.
Between the two, I would say collaborative build looks more in line with the existing feature set. There are a total of 4 combat classes vs 10 build/support classes not counting the worker. Combat commands are limited to go, fight, and defend location.
Now the game is still in alpha. The current feature sets might not be where the game will end up or what its creator has envisioned. If Radiant introduces 4 new combat classes tomorrow together with lots of combat options, then maybe the head-to-head combat might be viable.
I have not touched the RPG side, since it’s a lot less developed in my view. As it is, the RPG side is there mostly to add a bit of replay value. Play with different party mix with stats and traits, that sort of things. It also serves as a choose-your-own-challenge mechanic. Try playing hard mode with 1 mind 1 body 1 spirit toons and all pessimist trait. Finally it provides a narrative illusion about playing with distinct toons rather than nameless automatons.
Personally though, I’d like Radiant to go into the multiplayer RPG dirrction. Not because it is easier, but because it is the only