With the Essentials line on the horizon, a new era is coming for Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition. Wizards has made it clear that this will not be edition 4.5. The new content will be compatible with the old, and the new versions of the fighter, cleric and wizard will be alternate builds rather than brand new classes.
At the same time, the presentation is aimed at new players, and I’ll bet that the mechanics of those new class builds will stay on the simple side.
With the focus on online content via the DnD Insider, Wizards has been able to fix mistakes, clarify wording and even alter 4th edition rules since the beginning. In a sense, those of us who keep up with the errata haven’t played 4e for nearly two years. We’ve been playing 4.01, 4.02, etc… and this is good. We haven’t had to wait to get the rules updates.
This resembles software patches. With The World of Warcraft for example, Blizzard has been able to resolve bugs, improve the interface and add content all along the way. WoW players didn’t have to wait for Burning Crusade to enjoy game improving adjustments.
It’s disingenuous to say that Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition in September will be exactly the same game we played in the summer of 2008. At the same time, it’s not the drastic reboot gamers experienced with 3.5. All the little changes are moving toward something notable with the essentials line, especially with the Rules Compendium. I like to think of it all as D&D 4.1
Now if they’d only revise those first two Monster Manuals to include the later math changes…