Reading it and playing it a little, DnD Next comes across as yet another variant of classic D&D. Something you would expect from a D20/OSR publisher. While that may seem like faint praise I think that is a good thing after the debacle of 4th edition.
Because of that they may just have a shot of regaining their market lead versus Pathfinder. Not because the system is more innovative, etc. Because rather they seem to be focused on making a system that is as quick to setup and play as classic DnD but with new school options. By and large they I feel they succeeded with that in the playtest.
However this same focus means that the rules themselves really doesn't have any more (or less) to offer than any other variant of classic D&D. It not worse nor it is better.
It will make a big difference in going against Pathfinder. Again with the 4th edition debacle in mind they will probably take a soft line with this and it will come out more in the reviews and actual play reports. In addition there is a good chance that supplemental products (adventures, settings) will be far more useful than d20/Pathfinder products. You can see this by their consistent use of restating older modules for use in the playtest. A good test of the above goals.
What unknown is the presentation of the rules, adventures, supplements, and settings. If there going to a major problem it will be here. There was nothing about the design of 4e that required to be a 24/7 High Fantasy RPG focused on combat scenarios. But because Wizards chose to present it that way for much of its product life it condemned DnD 4e to be a one note RPG.
I am awaiting to see what kind of third party program they come out with. If it something that I can work this then I will be more active in playing the game and following what they do. If it is not then I wish them the best luck and hope that the supplements will be useful enough for me to buy.
The Whole of Fantasy and Dungeons & Dragons
1 hour ago