D&D Next

So, I just got back from PAX East. I managed to get into the play test for the next iteration of Dungeons & Dragons. I did have to sign a non-disclousure agreement, so I can't share any details, but I can say this: This game is definitely Dungeons & Dragons!
By that, I mean it felt like I was playing D&D and not some D&D themed board game or minis game. It had every trope that's normally associated with D&D. Especially the earlier editions (Although, those of you who miss THAC0 should prepare yourselves to continue to feel disenfranchised).
The Good: For this play test, our DM ran us through an old 1e module (Other tables were running more modern modules, but I believe they were using the same pre-gen characters). As such, the game had an overall old-school feeling. If I didn't know better, I would have guessed that I was playing some heavily house-ruled version of 1st edition D&D. I played a 1st level elf wizard. Despite the old-school feeling, my wizard was not completely useless after casting my first spell in combat. My wife played a rogue and had fun doing all the things rogues and thieves have always done in D&D. Overall, it was a blast!
The Bad: The only bad parts of the game were fiddly bits. Details I can't actually get into. These things were not even all that bad. I suspect my 3rd-edition-heavy background is simply making me want to make this more like 3e. Even when it probably shouldn't.
The actual worst part is just the format of the play test. We never got to look at any rules. We got our character sheets and nothing else. Those character sheets were also just 1st level characters. To really get a feel for the game, I would have liked to play a round or two with higher level characters or even better, to spend time generating characters. I understand that that's not what people necessarily want to spend 4 hours doing at a con. The format they use makes sense, but I just hope they understand that the feedback they get from it is not going to be very well informed.
When I play tested 4th edition way back, this was the same problem. We played a quick module with 1st level pre-gen characters. I had a blast. It was exciting and new. 4e is great for one-off dungeon crawls. Where 4e falls down is in longer term playing. Low level combat feels the same as high level. Class powers never really seemed to fit my character concepts. I can't help but feel that if WotC had allowed us to see the rules, play higher level characters and even create a few of our own characters, the feedback they received would have been more constructive.
Conclusion: In the end, it's too early for me to say that WotC has created the 'One edition to rule them all', but I am cautiously optimistic.
Everyone should try this game at least once when it comes out. If you can afford it, buy the core book(s) when they come out. Otherwise, play it at a con or borrow the books from a friend. If you've never played any edition other than X, don't complain that it's not exactly like X. It won't be. Ask yourself this: Can this game be played in a way that's fun and still capture the excitement and imagination that X does? If not, then complain.
"But I'm happy playing X. Why should I upgrade to the next edition?" Good question. If you try it and you don't feel it supports your game style, then don't upgrade. There's no good reason for you to do so. However, if you can make it work, then upgrade! Do it because the hobby needs our support. Do it because, hopefully, WotC will produce new material and tools to support the new edition. When 4e came out, I would have suggested people at least try it, but I wouldn't have been as emphatic about upgrading because it was so different from earlier editions. But the next edition feels familiar and fun. I say give it a try and see for yourself.
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Epic!