I have nothing particularly against 4e D&D (I am currently enjoy playing in a campaign), but I have to say it isn’t D&D. That isn’t a bad thing, it just has changed so much that it is no longer the same game. Which is okay, as I like playing all kinds of games: D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Runequst, etc, etc.
Both v3.0 and v3.5 seemed like a logical evolution from AD&D. You could look at the system and see how things evolved from v2. A cleric was still a cleric, a fighter was still a fighter and so on. But 4E does not seem have that connection. It is a completely new game. This caused my initial negative reaction to it. It called itself D&D, but it wasn’t. Once I got that out of my head and began to play the game not as a D&D game, but rather just a new system that happens to be called 4e, I started to enjoy the game a lot more.
I don’t think I will never migrate to GMing a 4e game, I still prefer the type of game I get in 3.5 for that (dark, gritty, and often pyrrhic for the players). But I can enjoy the occasional 4E game. That being said I have a few observations about 4E.
- It may be a lot easier to GM, but it is no easier for the player. My GM waxes poetic about how easy it is to set up a game. Great, but I don’t find that the construction simplicity carries over to play. This leads to the next point.
- Combat is not fast in 4E. I’m sure some of it is familiarity, but I have found that combats actually seem to take longer in 4E than in 3.5.
- Combat can be a bit repetitive in some cases as each character has a power that dos about the same thing (deals damage) for about the same damage with jazz being the only difference.
- I hate marking. It slows down the game and I think that there could have been a better way of giving the fighter types more style/oomph in combat. It seems to lead to unnecessary bookkeeping in already long combats.
- I hate having to pigeon hole my character into a Paragon path.