In something of a period of gaming renewal, I have two new systems on the horizon at the moment and both seem to be sharing some of the same traits.
The first is Age of Conan, a new MMO which has taken the place of WoW on my PC. AoC boasts better graphics, superior gameplay, an excellent boost to the start-game and a whole world of new stuff to explore and powers to master.
The second is D&D 4e, a 'new' rpg which will be taking its place at our gaming table. 4e boasts a better experience, superior gameplay, characters who are potent from 1st level (and they are!) and a whole new world of stuff for us to explore and powers to master.
See what I've done there?
Actually seeing the two games, they have had rather similar receptions. Controversial in their inception, lauded as the next big thing, overhyped by fans desperate for a change, positioned as revolutionary by zealots and derided as terrible by nay-sayers.
The truth, as always, is probably somewhere in the middle. AoC is a good game but it is still quite buggy and has pitiful support meaning that some 'features' are being claimed as bugs and some bugs are being claimed as features. No-one knows quite whats what. In the end its going to be a game that is going to have to grow up quite quickly to reach the levels of acceptance that will sustain it. D&D 4e offers many of the same challenges - its familiar on the outside, but under the bonnet it has some radical differences which mean that theres a lot of learning to be done. It's so different from 3e that in many ways it isn't a case of conversion - its more a case of learning a new game. That could well upset many people.
In the end though, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that these games are fun and fun comes from embracing differences as well as the warm acceptance of the familiar. Personally, I'm enjoying the new gameplay of AoC and the learning challenges that it brings - and I am wet with excitement about giving 4e a run out in the very near future.
Change is good.