The writing was presented in a MMO/Arcade-esque fashion. Gone were the aspects of Role Playing from items and fluff. You took items and turned them into stack blocks which became a joke of "Just skip the backstory i want the stats" with my group.
The fluff was removed so you had the freedom to easily create and insert your own. This is a feature, not a bug. You give stuff your own backstory, not someone else's.
And this is another failure on their part. When the fluff is there you can easily ignore it but it's there for those people who are new or need help with getting the creative juices flowing.
Ever heard the saying that it's better to have a gun and not need it than to need it and not have it?
It wasn't initially a failure. There's no way they could have supported the type of release schedule they had unless they were seriously bringing in a lot of money. The failure seems to have been in the last year and a half. Mostly with Essentials, and the whole DDI issue really killed it.
Essentials targetted a group that had already moved on, while breaking a lot of the fundamental design goals that 4e was built on. So, now you have a divided fanbase that had already been divided. The evidence of the decline is shown in the release schedule post Essentials. It was barren. In their attempt to bring back the people who left, they forgot about the reasons that a lot of people came to 4e in the first place.
This is only my theory on it, but if you look at the timeline, it makes sense. They went from a boatload of quality releases on a regular basis to nothing in the snap of a finger that was Essentials.
The most common complaint I've heard is that the combat takes too long. This isn't a big problem for people like me who enjoy the tactical aspects of 4e combat, but maybe wotc failed to recognize that many players don't want to play such a deep, grid-oriented combat system (which is somewhat surprising, since D&D has always been hack-n-slash at heart). Part of the issue with the slow combat was not doing enough playtesting and getting enough feedback.
The strength of 4e is also its weakness. That great (though slow) combat with all of the player options became the focus of the game and the books. What we lost is the focus on great adventures and modules, the great storytelling, the great backstories. If you focus almost all of the players' attention on combat abilities and mechanics, then you're going to take their attention away from the other aspects of the game. The game's mechanics need to encourage players and DMs to focus on qualities rather than quantities. Encourage deep backstories, encourage creative solutions, encourage better stories, and support those things.
What happens in 4e is that combat becomes repetitive after a while and without the right material from wotc to make the D&D experience awesome (since not all DMs are awesome), it starts to feel like a video game you've already finished. D&D needs to deliver on more levels.
More than anything, what I would recommend is that wotc hire people who can write AWESOME, complex, creative adventures (look for inspiration to the old "The Enemy Within" from 1st Ed. Warhammer FRPG). Hook me with a great story that unfolds week after week, so that I want to get together with my friends to go on an unforgettable journey, not just to survive encounter after encounter gaining levels and loot (yawn).
Fourth Edition was wonderful. But for the sake of the disgruntled, we have a second chance to revise Fourth Edition and package it as a series of modular attachments to some kind of Basic D&D.
If the first players' handbook can contain rules for creating an old school wizard, a 3rd edition god-wizard and a 4th edition wizard, that could work. Of course the 3rd edition god-wizard would have a warning label.
Likewise rules for a plain fighter, a fighter with opportunity attacks, feats et cetera and a fighter with powers. In this case the plain fighter might have the warning label, because he has no opportunity attacks.
I think the biggest problem with 4th edition D&D was that it was too large of a change from previous editions; it really didn't feel like the same game any more. 4e is a perfectly good game in its own right, in a number of ways superior to previous editions, but it simply doesn't seem like a proper successor to D&D 3.5, instead being its own new and different game. D&D 3rd edition was also a radical shift, but it still felt like the same game.
Also, trying to kill the OGL with 4th edition was poorly thought out. I can understand why Hasbro might be unhappy with some of the results of the OGL, but going after the fan base is never good business practices.
i disagree with the 8th reason, just because it had structure doesn't mean it was good. my first couple times trying to DM Combat encounters ended in failure, our spell caster basically got to go "i cast this" and everything died. (these were level 1 characters) with nothing in the monster manual about CR or recommended levels of the players for this encounter i ended up throwing groups of random things at my players and they kill it too quick. the whole system was a mess compared to 3.0, 3.5, and AD&D.
with nothing in the monster manual about CR or recommended levels of the players for this encounter i ended up throwing groups of random things at my players and they kill it too quick. the whole system was a mes compared to 3.0, 3.5, and AD&D.
Urr...what books where you reading? It's pretty clear that a routine encounter was xp equal to one 'standard' equal level monster per PC. IME that would get roflstomped by the PCs, you need to hit 150-200% of the recommended xp budget for an interesting fight and critters weren't terribly well balanced against one another, but that's just a balancing issue and it was similar in 3e, an equal CR encounter was generally a cakewalk in 3e as well and CR was routinely off by large amounts.