First thing I noticed? No Barbarians or Druids. Kind of stopped caring right then and there. =P
Second thing I noticed was the power setup. I've got mixed feelings about this. I kind of like the narrowing down of magic since 3rd Ed., as Wizards couldn't be eliminated from a fantasy genre but were far too powerful compared to melee builds. First there's the save-or-die spells, things that a Fighter could never hope to do. Okay, I suppose, since they're supposed to be limited (though a Sorcerer could blast these all day long if he felt like). But rather being the frail spellslingers, casting a single spell transforms you into a warrior with 18 STR and weapon proficiencies. One blast of Bull's Strength is roughly equivalent to Rage, just without the penalties. If that's not enough you could always Polymorph into a troll or ogre or something else suitably nasty. If you want to be a Rogue instead, there's a spell that gives you his trapsense, plus Invisibility and Fly that makes hiding and sneaking of limited use. And with those new feats in the last couple of v3.5 books, as long as you have one fire spell memorized you can throw an infinite number of flame blasts and never run out of ammo. *rolls eyes*
But I digress. I rather liked 3rd Ed. though it was hard to play a Conan-esque character since magic was so much more powerful than Rage or a few Fighter feats (Toughness +3 HP yay!!!) or other melee abilities. And it gets worse with each splatbook as new spells are a dime a dozen whereas new weapons are few and far between, and wouldn't be on most treasure lists, and are almost always Exotic in nature and thus requiring an additional feat to use. But here in 4th Ed., a Wizard gets a one-per-day spell whereas the melee fighter gets a once-per-day combat maneuver. I think they've went to great lengths to keep the classes more evenly balanced, which I applaud. I also like it how a melee fighter has more options than just to walk up to someone and start swinging...Bull Rush, Disarm, and so forth in 3rd Ed. used to take up feats to be able to be used effectively, but now, you've got a whole list of combat options to unleash.
The downside? It feels too WoW-ey. I can totally see this being a video game where Tordek is spamming his Really Big Axe Swing skill as fast as it'll refresh, no different than that Mialee with her Fireball. And it's kind of sad that D&D invented roleplaying games as we know them and now is kind of forced to be more like this other MMO genre just to fit in.
It also kind of cheapens magic. Spells in D&D used to be cool, original, unique, powerful things. Now if seems like a different special effect to describe damage. Similar to my one complaint about Fantasy Hero...while I love Champions, I couldn't get interested in Fantasy Hero as a 4d6 RKA seemed to only be a 4D6 RKA no matter how they tried to "fluff" it up with descriptive text. Unlike, say, Magic Missile that stands out as being it's own creation.
Oh! And one more thing! They totally fucked up Alignment! I've had my problems with the exact definitions of the alignments, especially when game mechanics are attached to something that is ill-defined and can sometimes vary from person to person. But I loved how Good, Evil, Law, and Chaos were all equal forces. I liked how, depending on where you are on each axis, you could have nine equal, congruous possibilities. Here, they only have Good, Lawful Good, Evil, Chaotic Evil, and Neutral. That's so much bullshit. LAW DOES NOT EQUAL GOOD. And, CHAOS DOES NOT EQUAL EVIL. It's a personal pet peeve when people assume chaotic acts are inherently bad or that lawful acts are somehow better. They're unrelated!
Calling it "Lawful Good" rather than "Lawful" sounds awkward without a "Chaotic Good" to counterbalance this. And if they were to simply call it "Lawful" it would definitely screw up the entire point that Law vs. Chaos are the means and Good vs. Evil are the ends and that either combination is equally viable. But that's basically what they mean, Chaos = Evil and Lawful = Good. BULLSHIT.
Ah well. That's enough for now, and the best analysis that fifteen or so minutes can provide. Back to work, and back to dragging my ass till it's quitting time again.