To those of you who are not pen and paper gamers turn off now. This is of no interest to you.
If I had to sum it up in one word I'd say it was "Poochie".
It's like the designers have decided it needs to be EXTREME and IN YOUR FACE etc. It's basically computer multi player game mechanics that have been rendered in pen and paper format.
Multiclassing is adios. People start with 20+ hitpoints. NPCs are basically irrelevant, there's a total of 17 skills (all adventurer focussed) with GM's basically told to 'make it up as you go along' for everything else. Saves are now like Armour Class with the GM telling you the player whether or not you made a save which is a tragic rape of one of the core fun principles of D&D of making that vital save. Sure, they get to do it to NPCs or monsters but still, it's annoying.
I get that they're a business. And I get that they have to cater for a new generation of kidz whose gaming to now has always been electronic in nature instead of sitting around a table surrounded by junk food and coke bottles laughing deliriously at some crazy shit that just went down.
But 4th ed feels like a slap in the face of all the greybeards who have been playing it since the 'insert colour here' sets came out in the 70's and early 80's.
Sure there's stuff in 4th ed that looks neat. Magic items are a lot less complicated now. And I like that they simplified some skills and spells etc. There's stuff I may take from 4th ed and jam into my house rules.
But basically as far as the 'would you bother?' test goes I'd say no. Either stick to 3.5 or buy Pathfinder (aka 3.75) which is what paizo is releasing and continuing the 3.5 franchise but with improved rules.
Don't get me wrong. I have done my bit Wizards. I dropped $150 on the table for the three core books. But that's basically all you're getting out of me from now on. You changed the game so much and seemingly created World of Warcraft Lite that it basically shits me.
I'd say the biggest disappointment is their deliberate choice to create a system that cannot be retrofitted over previous material. So they've made sure that the $2000 or so worth of previous product is basically redundant with next to no backwards compatibility to previous editions given the mechanics have changed that much. Oh enterprising GMs will be able to but you'd have to recreate NPCs etc from scratch.
And to the idiot that wrote the two pages of NPC guidance in the DMG where he suggested stating out an NPC is 'too much hard work' and implied hand waving is the way to go you need to _____________ and ____ with a bicycle seat. The vast bulk of GMs out there spend more time preparing for their game than they do playing it. Writing background, modules, world creation, towns etc. They enjoy making up NPCs. And you basically chucked that in their face and called them idiots for doing so.
4th ed seems to have made the game less fun for me and for others and to me at any rate 4th ed seems to have been kitted out not because it was an improvement but so they can market it to a new generation.
Guess what? The average player now is in their mid 30s. The people that played it in their teens 20 years ago. The rules as they stand in 4th ed are not appealing to me, and I'd say most of the people I play with. I'm sure you will make a bucket of money out of the core books - you got my $150, but the internet is a lovely place and people are going to keep modifying the rule sets they like and not invest time and effort in ones they do not. Why would warcrafters want to put down their shiny PCs where the action already happens in real time and play pen and paper anyway?
I think you shot yourselves in the foot long term over this.
But hey my $0.02. And that $0.02 says don't bother.