So a friend of mine got the the three corebooks in the mail today and she was kind enough to let me look through the MM, knowing that i'm a huuuuge monsterphile who's first RPG book was the 2E MM. I didn't look through it too thoroughly but the stuff I noticed:
-They weren't kidding when they said they were pruning powers. Pretty much the only Demon who isn't just smash-and-slam is the Glabrezu, even the poor Marilith was stripped of every ounce of magical capability. The Devils are no better. Heck, creatures defined by magical/psionic capabilities like Mind Flayers, Rakshasa and Aboleths are now much more reliant on melee attacks, which is just bizarre to me.
-There are virtually no descriptions of creatures, just illustrations. Also, information is very sparse. You get some basic info for knowledge rolls, combat stats and typical encounter groups. This IMO leaves a huge flaw in the usage of creatures: how to use them before combat starts. For example old Blue Dragon had lots of illusionary abilities, not for combat purposes but for trap setting and hiding it's lair. Now it's just what it can do in combat. Likewise alot of creatures who are supposed to know rituals(Hags, liches etc) have no information on what they would know.
-Solo creatures are very rare in it. Outside Dragons you could probably count them on two hands. Creatures you'd expect to be solos, like Titans and Aboleths, given their previous D&Dness are just Elites.. or not even that. Not that hard to change, but it did pop out at me.
-Some of the creature levels are really odd. Why do Drow rank-and-file start at level 15?
-The new Elementals suck something terrible. Really, they look like Everquest/World of Warcraft elementals. It's just so terrible boring rip off. Also they're all mixed elements now.
-I really like the new giants. Especially their art, which is just great. The Fomori are lacking a titan though.
That's all I can think of right now to comment on.
This does sound rather surprising, especially the magical issues. If this is, in fact, accurate (I haven't seen the book myself), it's an interesting choice from the designers. I suspect their response to such issues would be something along the lines of, "a monster has whatever non-combat powers a DM needs it to have." Which begs the question, why bother with a monster book at all? Why can't the monster also have the combat stats the DM needs it to have?
Very odd. I get the feeling either Naxuul is missing something, or I'm confused about what the 4e MM I supposed to do for DMs.