So I finally managed to get a taste of 5th Ed in the form of D&D Encounters. For those who are unfamiliar with it, D&D Encounters are sort of like WoTCs official D&D roleplaying club.
Now I've played D&D before, starting with 3.5th ed and eventually 4th Ed. I've even played D&D Encounters before but stopped eventually due to a lack of time and basically a distaste for PUGs (pick up groups). All I can say is that I wasn't on the same wavelength as some of the players who were intent on basically soloing encounters.
So what is D&D 5th Ed like compared to the previous editions? Well, it's really a lot more brutal than 4th Ed. I think one of the things about 4th Ed; and this was pretty true afaict, was that it was pretty damn hard for PCs to die. There were just too many sources of healing to let that happen, what with each character innately having a second wind and so on. 5th Ed changes that fairly easily. I'm not saying much but I was nearly brought down by FRIGGING KOBOLDS. KOBOLDS! And I was playing a paladin, so I was fairly high on AC at lvl 1 (AC18) with 11hp. Unfortunately, when you throw enough rocks, some hit eventually and at d4+2, they can hurt. Plus as a lvl1 paladin, you have no access to spells at all so no cure light wounds. They also managed to almost take down the other lvl1 fighter who was AC 19 and hp 12 so it's probably not just my build.
They've also streamlined a lot of things now, which results in less character creation options at the beginning but really makes it much easier to just dive into the game. Which is a good thing IMO. I took 10 minutes to create my character, which was as simple as pick race (get racial benefits), pick class (get class benefits) and pick background (roll dice for idealogy/bonds/etc). Weirdly enough, my paladin would crush his enemies, ruin their names and salt their earth while protecting the weak and oppressed, is in love with the daughter of an enemy of his family and has a scandalous secret that would ruin his family. I called him Lomeyo.
There are almost no feats to choose at the beginning; not that there are many in the PHB at the moment, so it's really simple to create a character. Which I think is important if you ever want to attract new players. While 4th Ed played more like a PC game, 5th ED plays like a truly simplified version of 3.5th Ed. This is especially true since they basically cut down a lot of the various chaff. There are no more skill levels, just a flat proficiency bonus if you're skilled in the subject/stat. There's also no more modifiers but rather an advantage system/disadvantage system which lets you roll 2d20s and pick the higher/lower of the rolls, depending on whether you have an advantage/disadvantage. Also, there's no more charging just flat out movement and then either an action to move again (ie. running) or a normal action.
Overall, it was a pretty decent experience although playing RPGs do tend to cut into my wargaming/painting time so I'll have to evaluate to see if I have the time to spare.