The final activity of Origins was our D&D Next session. When I glanced at the games D&D Next was offering it was interesting to see all the old time adventures they were using to demonstrate the ruleset. Tomb of Horrors, Keep on the Borderlands and some 3.5 stuff from the Forgotten Realms. It seems WotC is making a concentrated effort to get back some of the fan base it lost.
One thing I should note is we were not playing the final version of D&D Next. We were playing the final playtest rules. The referee made it clear that some of the things have changed. So this is really just a playtest of the final ruleset. But I was going in to see or feel which direction they were going in. While they were using old adventures, that didn't mean they were going old school again.
I could go through the playtest, but Rob already did a good job of covering the details here. What I can add is it felt like playing a combination of AD&D through 3.5. Bits of this edition here and bits of another here. Also the adoption of ascending AC was a good choice in my opinion. The skill resolutions were easy. They used a simple scale of 10, 15, 20 and 25 to determine the difficulty of a task. A side note, I was listening to a podcast where the players were playing 3.5 and through the podcast they would ask for a skill roll. Often the players would roll in the 30s and be disappointed! To me, the system is broken and out of balance at that point. If D&D Next sticks to what it did in the final playtest rules than I think that flaw could be fixed.
The referee was competent , but like Rob said, relied way too much on reading the script from the adventure verbatim. Maybe he had to do that because it was a playtest setting for the adventure. The adventure itself was bland, but I think had some interesting nuances for longer play. This adventure had several optional quests the players could have explored. For some reason it reminded me a lot of the Pathfinder Adventure Paths.
I've already ordered the Starter Set on Amazon. I think it is $13. I'd like to see what the final version is going to look like. From what I've seen and experienced it'll be a system I can work with. Probably won't be my main system, but it'll find space on my shelf.
So WotC is trying to attract some of the old school/Pathfinder folks back into the fold. Let's see how they treat 3rd party publishers this time around. I hope they can figure out they can attract more folks with and open hand than a clenched fist.