Via boingboing, more 5e art, in this case specifically from the Player's Handbook. Scrolling past the article, we find a red dragon facing off against some heroes by Daren Bader.
My first reaction: the Hildebrandts called and want their color palette back.
It's ok. There are bits of it I like, bits of it that kinda remind me of Otis, and the colors and shades and composition and little details all have a pleasantly fairy-tale feel to them. But it doesn't grip me or get me excited about playing.
I like Tenery's wood elf city much more, in spite of it clearly owing a lot to Peter Jackson's movies and medieval Russian architecture. Also, the clearly cut-and-pasted elements in it. In spite of all of that, it has great mood and character. Looking at this, I can tel you things about the people who live here. As a player, I'm intrigued and want to explore. As a DM, I'm inspired and eager to portray the inhabitants of this city to my players. In short, it does (for me, anyway) exactly what I want art in an RPG to do. This is especially so when you look at the bigger version at the top of the article.
WAR's Mordenkainen's Sword is amazing. I want to play this character and cast this spell against a foe who's been my nemesis for the past three adventures in a final spell-to-spell showdown. He oozes cool. He's clearly a bad-ass high-fantasy version of Dr. Strange, Harry Potter grown up and in another universe, an ass-kicker and name-taker supreme. This piece grips me exactly in the same way that Trampier's Emirikol the Chaotic did. If this character doesn't wind up on a lot of character sheets or in campaigns (alas, most likely as a DM PC), I'll eat my hat. This is Reynolds doing what Reynolds does best.
Then we have Claudio Pozas' Cloudkill. It kinda looks like a MtG illustration, more so than even Reynold's Mordenkainen's Sword. I think that's because in Reynold's piece, it's clearly the spell-slinger that's the focus of attention. Here, it's the cloud.
I like the details, especially the dwarves that strike me as vaguely Babylonian. I think a bit too much punch was pulled on what is, in effect, a summoning of mustard gas. But maybe I've been spoiled by Raggi's art.
I think I'll come to appreciate Scott M. Fischer's High Elf Wizard the more I look at it, but right now I appreciate the pleasant colors and shapes, but as a composition it just doesn't gel for me. And is it just me, or does she look like she's just tripped and is about to impale herself on the spikey end-caps of her scroll?
As for the warlock page, it looks good: easy to read, easy to find information, pleasing to the eye and complex without feeling cluttered. I'd have used a bit more sans serif, but they probably get better effect using color.
I've already said I think all there is to say for now about the cover.
All-in-all, I'm pleased. I think too much emphasis is put on having a unified look in RPGs. Sure, with some RPGs that have a very strong theme and setting, that can be important. In a more generic RPG, like D&D, variety is called for. There's stuff here that leave me feeling very meh about it, but there's also stuff that gets me excited to play. And I'll bet you there are folks out there who feel exactly the opposite of how I do on the same pieces. Variety means, sure, some of your pieces won't click with some viewers, but gives you a much better shot at having something that will click with everyone.