It's hard to tell, but the graphics do look slightly improved on the character models, which now look a bit out of place and better than the monster models.
With the quick development the sequel is getting, though, screenshots aren't going to be the exciting thing about the game. What matters is how they can fine-tune the gameplay, add some important features, and maybe even fix the integration between single player and multiplayer, which was probably the weakest part of the first game (so much so that people are pretty much evenly divided between those who think the singleplayer drags down the multiplayer and those who think the complete opposite.)
Whatever they do, I hope they can give the gameplay a bit broader appeal. I really enjoyed the first game for its total uniqueness as a JRPG, despite the mostly cheesy story, but obviously the game didn't click with a lot of people.
I enjoyed the first game too, there really isn't anything like it this gen. I hope they focus more on the story and combat depth this time.
I hope they do too! Though rather than combat depth, I would say challenge and a more active feel is what they need the most (the ability to dodge would be great). The combat was actually surprisingly deep in terms of slashing/piercing/concussive physical attacks being strong against certain enemies and being boosted by agility/deterity/strength respectively. But the game rarely got hard enough that you had to care, especially in multiplayer. The multiplayer should have gotten to the difficulty of GR7 after two or three starter quests, rather than forcing people to grind for three or four hours before they get to a decent challenge (and making it so most reviewers probably never even play that far into the multiplayer).
I'd like to see them make sure that you never have to play the same mission say... more than twice until you've unlocked a bunch of missions. They should also have way more boss fights and way less running around in some quests, like the first quest, which really sucks -- maybe some quests where you just fight a bunch of tough boss monsters in sequence as a party.
Also, they ought to make it so you can just play the multiplayer if you want. You can already just play the single player, which is great. Making it so you can play the multiplayer on its own as well allows people who don't like to multitask to focus on one aspect at a time, whether it be playing alone or playing with friends. They just need to find a way around unlocking areas by playing through the story, and they're set. I really enjoyed the mix between singleplayer and multiplayer, but there were definitely times where the game made me feel a bit schizophrenic.