I haven't had a chance to start our next packet playtest (it dropped after my power went out for four days, or we would have been playing by candlelight all that time), so I don't yet want to comment on the changes to mechanics and such until I get to see them in action. However, one element of the game brought some excitement to one player in my group. My 17-year-old son, who loves his rogues, was putting together his new character. (We're starting at 3rd level to play the Isle of Dread adventure.) In his own words, he plays a "sneak and stab" character all the time. Some of the possibilities in the new packet caught his eye, and he decided to try to make a different kind of rogue, more of a spy type, using Charlatan as his jumping-off point. He spent the entire afternoon toying with specialties, backgrounds, schemes, and other elements, including giving his character some minor spellcasting abilities. I have never seen him more excited or creative in his character building (and while he's only 17, he's been playing since 3e first came out, going through 3, 3.5, and 4). The character flexibility is a very nice touch, and I hope that Next continues in this direction. For me, the proof is in what it did to get a teenage boy excited again about D&D.