I have not been the biggest fan of D&D, and played my first games of D&D with 3.0 just a year before 3.5 came out. When 4th edition was announced I started reading about it and became quite excited. I am more of a miniatures gamer than a roleplayer traditionally and, the rules in fourth edition are very much to my liking. I find the game is just a better fit for my style of gaming.
A post over on Stargazer’s World yesterday asks the question, “What is the future of D&D”? I was going to post a comment there, but it turned out to be long winded so I decided to post it here. The post was based on yesterday’s gamegrene article humorously announcing the 5th edition of D&D.
While I do see 4e as a big departure from 3.5, I don't think that it is any less a roleplaying game. I understand that they borrowed some concepts from online gaming, and video gaming in general, but I think it is people who make RPG's what they are not the system itself. I think you could make an RPG as well from simply stating the setting (with no provided character gen) and just let people make things up as you could from the rules in Warhammer Fantasy Battles. The stats are there,the setting is there, just need some imagination.
I think 5e will be a maintenance release like 3.5 was. It will make some updates to the 4e system based on real world play experience, but will otherwise be unchanged. I don’t think we are quite to the point where D&D becomes just another board game with some RPGness tacked on. That would kill D&D, and I bet Hasbro knows that. I don’t know that they will go the CCG route either. I have been waiting for the Dungeoneer card game/rpg hybrid for quite a while, and it has been slow in coming. When it is released we will get to see what a card based RPG might look like. I do think that miniatures will continue to play a big role. Savage Worlds is also a game that makes good use of miniatures, so I don’t think that 4e is alone in focusing on the use of miniatures.
I for one an excited to see where D&D goes. I am also excited to see so many people interested in playing other games, I think that is great for the industry and players. I am still trying to get my new 4e game going, hopefully very soon.