So far (and I know this is partly due to it being limited by being a playtest), it seems like D&D Next is lining up to have a Modular class system.
By "Modular", I mean that by combining a few simple elements (base class, background and specialty) you can create something new and different. I don't know if this was the original intention, but I like it.
For example, the recommended Fighter build is Fighter/Soldier/Survivor and you get what is essentially your generic fighter…
- … but if you made a Fighter/Knight/Acolyte you’d have a Melee-Focused Paladin
- … or maybe with Cleric/Knight/Defender you get more of Prayer-Focused Paly
- … and if you use Fighter/Bounty Hunter/Archer you get a Bow-wielding Ranger.
With that idea in mind, I don’t necessarily think that we need more “Classes”. I mean, do we really need to design specific classes with specific mechanics for the Bard, Sorcerer, Warlock, Warlord, Warpriest, Runepriest, Shaman, Druid, Seeker, Psion, Ardent, Battlemind, Ranger, Paladin, Anti-Paladin, Assassin, Swordmage, Invoker, Vampire, Hunter, Vampire Hunter, Knight, Slayer, Cavalier and our Aunt Linda?
What we DO need are one or two more “Base Classes”, and a variety of Backgrounds and Specialties that will give us the tools to mix & match to create the Character Classes that we want to play.