At first glance, it seems like the devs know what they want themselves. They made a big deal about the artisans, now one of them (namely the Mystic) is getting the axe. To be fair, I'm sort of wondering why they didn't think of that sooner, because it always seemed to me like the same thing as gems, but with a different name. Hopefully that'll allow them to add some depth to gems, and judging by a screenshot provided in the article it looks like that might be the case - correct me if I'm wrong, but were weapons NOT socketable before?
As glaringly obvious is the fact that they removed the Nephalem Cube and the Cauldron of Jordan, and re-mapped their functions to town merchants. I thought the whole point of having these things was that they wanted players to spend more time in dungeons and less in town... so that's another thing they backtracked on. There might be a reasonable explanation in the fact that they find the current iteration of town portals to solve the main problem with the way things were in D2, so they don't mind people using it as much.
Another big change is YET ANOTHER overhaul of the attribute system... which happens four months into the beta. Wait, what? This version focuses on the fact that damage runs off a different stat depending on your class. Each stat does something different that's not related to damage: strength gives more armor, dexterity gives a dodge chance, intelligence increases healing from health globes, and vitality increases max HP. Meanwhile, damage for the Barbarian depends on strength, whereas the Monk and Demon Hunter rely on dexterity for that, and the two caster classes use intelligence. This emphasizes the role of each class even more, as while all five classes are meant to be DPS classes, the Barbarian is supposed to be a tank, the Monk and DH are swift, agile fighters, while the Wizard and Witch Doctor are spellcasting glass cannons. I like that fact... but I also liked their attempt, with the previous system, to make every stat relevant for every character. Unfortunately, in-depth analysis showed that Precision did diddly squat compared to the rest, so that's a way of solving things. But I'm pretty certain no one's going to bother equipping +strength or +dex gear on a Wizard... oh well, with manual stat allocation around, this clearly shows that the design direction is less focused on stats and more on gear and skillset. Some people complain that Blizzard is all over the place, but if you just take off the D2 nostalgia goggles you'll see they're relatively consistent in their design goals.
Overall, I like these changes, except maybe for the return of the need to go to town. Does it delay the game that much more? Apparently not, because all the changes mentioned, except for the dedicated potion button, are already done and ready to be rolled out in the next beta patch. Here's to hoping this works well, I'm going to break down if the prospect of a summer release rears its ugly head.