A while back I bought the 5e DnD ("DnD Next" or "DnD") player's handbook and just now have been reading through it. I actually really like it.
It reminds me of 3.5 but streamlined, with a few of the good aspects of earlier editions and 4e. That's about what I wanted out of DnD!
Many of the combat rules are simplified a bit, but look about equally balanced. Progression is simplified -- feats are more powerful, but optional, you can take them instead of a stat increase. Thus they do more to define your character and less to "here's a feat-tree you have to take".
There's no separate saves, you make a "dex save" or "con save". Your character has a single proficiency bonus which scales with level from +2 to about +5, which is added to everything you character is good at (weapons they're proficient with, skills they're trained with, etc).
They've added some fluff to the front page of the character sheet (personality trait, ideal, bond, flaw) and a suggesting for getting temporary mechanical advantage when your flaw comes into play. I have ideas for those bits up, to focus people further on the bits that actually come up in play (whether they matter mechanically or not).
The classes and races are similar to 3e -- there's the classic races (human, elf, dwarf, halfling) and further races (tiefling, dragonborn, gnome, half-orc) which don't automatically exist in all settings.
Like 4e, all spellcasters have a few infinite use cantrips which function as their standard attack options. I like that all characters have something specific to do in combat. And like 4e, fighter has some abilities beyond "hit it with my axe" to bring into play in combat -- although not many, I think that could be beefed up.
It reverts to generally winging the exact physical layout rather than using a battlemap. Which I like because combat is simpler and faster. Although I admit, it does remove some of the good effects in 4e, that there were many more tactical options for the party to work together, other than "we all hit it repeatedly".
The general power level is flatter between 1st level and 20th level, even more so than 4e. I think this is probably good, since it's almost impossible to balance things at both ends, but it does potentially mean less variation. But it has good effects that a character a few level higher than you" feels like "an adventurer like you, but more experienced" not "a demigod". And that there's less artificial scaling where every PC gets regular stat boosts to increase to-hit and damage-per-second and armour-class -- as does every monster.
It seems like, 1st level is really a tutorial level (although actually, I'd like an EVEN SIMPLER introduction for some newbies) where characters all have stuff they can do, but some of the key class features kick in at second level (eg. rogue has backstab damage at first level, but gets a free disengage/hide action from second which is nearly as class-defining). 4th or 5th feels like a typical point for experienced 3.5e players.
In addition to flattening the power level, the magic-item economy is gone. The classes are designed to be balanced mostly as-is, with a minimum amount of gold and almost no magic items. So you can run a low-magic campaign where the only magic is PC and NPC spellcasters, and add a magic sword for effect when it seems dramatic, not assume that everyone is carting around cartloads of +1 stuff else they're unplayable.
I think it could sensibly by used to run either an old-school "kick in the door and take as much treasure as you can before you die" session or a "mostly about roleplaying with some combat" session which are the sorts I enjoy the most.
4e is probably better for tactical combat -- I like that in theory, but never find it works well for me in practice.
Has anyone actually tried 5e?
FATE core and FATE accelerated
I've also been following a couple of people's suggestions and reading about FATE. IIUC it's based on ideas from FUDGE, based on a very freeform mechanics-light structure. Ideal for "here's a wacky idea about X" or "here's an existing setting (Dresden Files) with clear flavour but vague on specifics, can we adapt that to a game" and producing setting and character sheets with minimal write-up and no need to spend ages trying to balance PC activities.
Basically it sounds really fun if you want an adventure without tactical combat at all (there's still some tactics, but not based primarily on characters specific abilities).
Although some people apparently flounder if they're used to DnD -- there's definitely a "everyone should choose things that are appropriate, not always what would be most effective for the character". (Like Dogs-in-the-Vineyard, it seems it's more fun to pick character traits which come up about half the time -- but some people find it hard to resist arguing that they ALWAYS apply.)
Has anyone actually tried any of the editions of FATE?