So, I recently stumbled across an interesting post entitled "4E Plays Like A Video Game, and Thats [sic] Awesome". It's an older piece (from November 2010) and #DnDNext wasn't even a thing. I think I spotted in on someone's Twitter feed or something, but that's neither here nor there.
The reason I mention it is because it's quite well written and thoughtful and has some excellent points.
It also made me want to rage-barf!
The essence of his argument, as I understand it, is that the elements of 4E that drew the lion's share of criticism didn't deserve it because they made the game fun.
The spamming of At-Will powers while the Encounter and Daily powers were 'fire and forget' were okay because they were just like the cool down timers in video games. The hand waving healing where everyone takes a breather and is at full health again was all right because it kept the game moving. Any nod to realism was unnecessary because it was a game and games should be fun.
I hate every one of his arguments, but I can't really dispute them either. If that sort of stuff makes for a fun game for him and his friends, then... great! Good for them. Sincerely.
At the time, he was twenty six years old. I was thirty eight. Twelve years but it might as well have been a hundred and twelve. He grew up playing RPGs on the Xbox and computer. I played them on graph paper.
For me, the hand wave healing and powers were a break from the immersion. To me, immersing myself in my character and playing a role is the biggest draw in DnD and any other tabletop RPG. I have dozens of board games and video games that are all fun and all vying for my precious free time. A few are easy enough to lose myself in (Skyrim, Mass Effect, Deus Ex to name a few) but most are fun and carefree diversions.
I don't care how realistic the physics are in the Need For Speed series. I just wanna drive a ridiculously cool car at ridiculously stupid speeds.
I don't care if the Madden games portray injuries accurately. I just want to run a clock killing 80 yard drive.
I don't care if my Ultra-Marine is instantly healed whenever the bullets stop flying. I just wanna saw some Orks in half.
However, I do care if my carefully planned and conceived DnD character has to worry about cool down timers.
Yet Monte Cook and the WotC design team want to bring everyone together under one unified edition. A game with a foundation that will allow the old codgers like myself to sit at the same table as the twenty-something Gazebos of the world. I hope they can pull it off because that would be awesome.