I have to admit that I am really happy with it. The rules do exactly what I want them to do: be 5e without all the extra rules and fluff that I will never use. I much prefer low-to-mid level play and have very rarely seen characters, either as a player or a referee, get beyond 6-7th level. I will grant that the rules do not include monsters or magic items, but I don't see this a an issue. There are a number of monsters included in the adventure that comes with the kit. Additionally, I have so many monster tomes from a plethora of editions that I will never be lacking in that particular department. The kit also comes with a nice selection of Magic Item Cards, which is a nice touch, literally. There is something wonderfully tactile about getting a card for a potion that one then "turns in" when used.
The thing that I really love about this box set, though, is that there is an even simpler game hidden within. I make no bones about the fact that one of my favorite versions of this game is Tenkar's Swords & Wizardry Continual Light. It strips down the rules of classic D&D to its essentials and still allows us to play the classic game. The D&D Essentials Kit introduces a new rule that paves the way for creating a "Continual Light" version of 5e.
On pages 63 and 64 of the Essentials Rulebook is Appendix A: Sidekicks. It re-introduces and re-skins the classic ideas of the henchmen and hireling with an interesting twist. It takes some of the NPC classes from 3e and converts them to 5e. There are three: the Expert, the Spellcaster, and the Warrior. These are presented in a monster stat-bloc with rules to advance them all the way to 6th level.
In other words, you have three stripped down classes: a Rogue-type, a Wizard-type, and a Fighter-type. The spell list is simple:
0 level:That's it.
Shield of Faith
I suppose one could introduce Backgrounds and/or more choice with Skills, but neither is at all necessary. If one just uses the Skills available to these three Classes, this is all you need to know:
Slight of Hand
I have to admit, I am sore tempted to typeset a "Continual Light" edition of the 5eSRD using these three NPC classes as a jumping off point. Before I go down that rabbit hole, however, I wonder how many would be interested in such a thing?