I realize that, since getting the core rulebooks for 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, I haven’t really said much about them. I’m still reading the Player’s Handbook, and haven’t really read either the Dungeon Master’s Guide or the Monster Manual an any detail yet, but my initial impressions are, as expected, incredibly positive. The artwork and layout is fantastic and incredibly attractive. Everything seems to be located in the place that makes the most sense, and makes it easiest to find. And the classes and races are really, really good.
That isn’t to say that they’re perfect. I’ve stumbled across some editing mistakes, and while most of them aren’t really a big deal and don’t make any of the rules unclear, occasionally you’ll find one that does and will require errata of some sort. A particular ranger power, for example, is listed as doing [W] damage, with no preceding number. It’s an encounter power, so it probably doesn’t do 1[W] damage, and I’d probably peg it at 2[W] myself, but I’d like to know for sure what it’s supposed to do (for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, [W] stands for “weapon dice”, so a power that does 2[W] damage when used with a 1d8 longsword would deal 2d8 damage on a hit).
What strikes me most is how different the classes are from each other, even within the same role. A fighter and a paladin, while both defenders, are both very different types of defenders. The fighter defends by getting right up in your face and saying “you could attack someone else, but I really wouldn’t recommend it”. The paladin, on the other hand, provides a lot of defense bonuses and healing, and has several powers that allow him to share an ally’s damage when that ally is hit, or to take all of the damage entirely. Same role, different play styles. Very nice.
Anyway, this isn’t really intended to be a full review, just my initial impressions so far. I will be reviewing the books as I read them, though, so stay tuned.