In continuing with my focus on DDN: I've worked out quite a few sample characters (mostly fighting classes) in the D&D Next playtest packet so far, and it's revealing some interesting bits.
First off, I'm warming a bit to the skill system even if it's not as nuanced as I'd like (and honestly the skill die thing feels vaguely like Savage Worlds' dice mechanic to me, which I'm not too fond of). But you can create a pretty wide range of characters in this system if you so desire, and if you really, really want to be a skill monkey you can do so. For example, you could focus heavily on a wider range of skills or get specific boosts to certain skills through feats (albeit at the expense of other feats that might give combat perks, but such goes with the territory). Overall though this is creating a set of skill mechanics that manage to feel good while offering a reasonable number of options, even if its not as nuanced as it was in the past. Still an improvement over the 4E skill system, of which I was never a fan.
Finesse and dual wielding
It's interesting, but finesse has been absorbed into the weapons themselves and is now just a "thing you can do," rather than a feat. This is a neat implementation. Gaining dual weapon skill lets you graduate from fighting with, say, two daggers to a light and a heavy weapon of choice. There do not appear to be any penalties to attack, you just lose your attribute bonus to damage with the second weapon. This seems to me like an odd idea for some reason....my gut tells me that min/maxers will always, always figure out a scheme involving two weapon attacks no matter what the build, with the rules as presented.
Finesse, however, is just one of several ways they've codified weapon features and made them more interesting. Neat.
Fighters and the illusion of choice?
It looks like a lot of the fighter's defining abilities are front-loaded. You can pick from a set of damage-dealing traits and a set of defensive traits, but you get only one of each at 1st level and that's pretty much all she wrote in terms of how you can spend expertise dice. There's definitely more nuance in terms of backgrounds, specialties and martial feats, but I am slightly surprised to see that the system doesn't allow the fighter to get more expertise-dice based options later on (from among the core 1st level choices, that is). Maybe it does and I'm missing it. In any case, you can create some different looking fighters, sure.....but the expertise dice will have some very consistent uses for each fighter's lifetime.