Forgive me the next handful of posts, as I catch up to news almost a month old.
Over on the D&D Next blog, Evil_Reverend had a poll asking about players' opinion about the role of the fighter in D&D, whether they should be the preeminent melee fighter, or if mastery of ranged weapons also fell within their purview; if they should be openly versatile in their style and methods, or if they should be restricted to a defined purpose.
We've opined before about the 4e way of doing things, I think the 4e fighter would have only gotten one try from me, just to say that I had. To me, the fighter has been, over years, quite frankly, boring. Boring for the very reasons that Evil_Reverend lists: "generic warrior", "reliance on weapons and armor", "particular niche".
However, the 3rd edition fighter had me break out of my anti-fighter shell, a few times in fact. And that's because of the feat structure of 3rd edition. I could be the heavy-plated tank that waded into battle, fearless. I could be the nimble, tumbling, quickstriking dervish, quick like a rogue but trading thieves' tools for a little more skill in combat. I could be the specialist fighter, tripping and disarming without penalty, effortlessly, from a distance. I could be that sniper in the back of the pack, nowhere near as comfortable in nature as the ranger, but good and ready to take the fight up close if, against all odds, my foes could get close enough.
And I did. I played all of these fighters, and they were completely different characters to me. This is why I liked the tone that Evil_Reverend had in his post, that he liked the versatility of 3rd edition, of the feats. He also argues for the "identity" of the fighter, that, I admit, was a bit lost in 3rd edition if you didn't play stereotypically. I just hope the attempts to accommodate the identity doesn't prevent me from completely abandoning it if I choose.
You can guess how I voted in the poll.