Essentials is a streamlined version.
Despite all the Essentials hate out there this is a strong book. This is one of the "Core" books of the essentials line, the other being Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms and the Rules Compendium. Creating and leveling is so much easier now as well, as everything is in one section, and if it sends you to another section it tells you exactly where, all on a per level basis, so there is no confusion. Other than that combat works the same, it's basically regular 4e with a better (although admittedly, more constraining) layout.
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