I think the system did a great job of making players feel heroic, but not immortal. Easy crits means tanking hordes of enemies is a very bad idea (As the dwarf cleric of our group discovered), but the crazy DPS afforded by Crusader's Strike and Magic Missile at-will were enough to send said hordes scattering in terror.
The dungeon design for the module is a huge change that I don't think got a ton of attention. This module really seems like the type you can just plug into a custom campaign with no problems at all; maybe there are others like that, but the 4e and 3.5e modules I've read have all been pretty linear. If it reflects the publishing style they'll look for in subsequent premades, I'll have to start looking at not homebrewing every single adventure as per my norm XD
I can see similarities to 2e, especially in skills (or lack thereof), but I really think it's a good blend of 4e and 3e as well. Characters are definitely simpler, like in earlier editions. However, the resting mechanics and at-will spells mean sessions last longer (though not as long as with 4e). The consistency in check mechanics for saves, attacks, etc. seem to be headed further down the path that 3e blazed.
The rules are definitely up to speculation, though. Not a lot of rules-lawyering could be possible since so much is expressly put up to the judgement of the DM; this may initially look like a good thing from a storytelling standpoint, but switching DMs could mean essentially switching systems. I think this is the biggest weakness of the system; rather than putting down hard rules and specifying that they can be bent, there just aren't that many hard rules. I'm interested in seeing if and how they plan on meshing these rules into the RPGA; I feel like a convention-based game using these rules as written would be a nightmare of dashed expectations. A good DM, keyed in to their players' playstyles would have none of these problems; then again, a DM like that could probably do just as well with any previous edition.
Also, it seems a lot less boardgame-ey than 4e. Just overall, there's more open-endedness, story and creativity focus, etc. This is all great from a storytelling perspective, but it might alienate more casual players who run the game like a miniatures battle more than a cooperative storytelling adventure. Dunno.
Character creation looks like it'll be fun, and should help force the creation of 3-dimensional characters. BUT since we cannot use such mechanics yet, it is impossible to say if they'll soar or suck. I hope they let background and theme be used independently of class (if they don't, that shiz is getting Houseruled with extreme prejudice); daddy wants a rogue-knight.
Anyway that's my take on the system rules so far. We didn't have a fighter, so I can't comment too much on the earlier discussion except to say this: They brought back Vancian casting AND they buffed Wizards from the standpoint of 3e to now. The fighter/wizard power dichotomy does not seem to be a concern this edition so far, and if it's a problem for you, it looks like you'll probably want to stick with 4e.
|The fact that "D&D Next" is one of the most insipid titles ever doesn't help, too.|