For many months, fans of the Diablo III community had wondered what the fifth playable class could be. Some were pretty close, some were off, and some hit the nail ... well, partially. Not long ago, Flux and Eldorian kept telling me their guess was the fifth class would be a ranged class like the hunter.
Back on June 2009, I wrote a speculation article titled "What If? Diablo III Gunslinger Class".
A year and a half later, the Demon Hunter was revealed at BlizzCon 2010. We were pretty close with our guesses, but the Diablo III Team decided to make this ranged fifth class with a twist: so far we haven't seen the Demon Hunter with a bow, and while the crossbows have gun handles, they aren't exactly pew-pew guns. Some of her devices are pretty cool like the Bola Shot, Fan of Knives, Grenades, Spike Trap, Molten Arrow, Multi-Shot, and the Entangling Shot.
It's definitely not your normal Hunter archetype. It was designed with several ideas in mind with Sci-Fi and Fantasy pop culture references.
During a Diablo III panel, Jay Wilson acknowledged the idea of the Demon Hunter class came from Van Helsing, Star Wars and MacGyver.
Blizzard Quote: Where did the idea for the Demon Hunter come from? Jay Wilson: It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that we chose a ranged-weapon class as the fifth class; however we didn’t want to do something completely predictable. We liked the idea of a bounty hunter or a monster-hunter—someone who was a little bit more sinister and an aggressor—and so we came up with a character whose sole focus was, “I hate demons.” She’s had horrible things happen to her. She’s lost family, lost loved ones, and has dedicated her live to eradicating as many demons as she can by any means possible. As a character, she’s walked a lot of dark roads to gain the knowledge she needs to overcome her enemy. With the demon hunter we found inspiration in characters like Van Helsing, Boba Fett, and even MacGyver. The demon hunter is very focused on conventional, man-made weaponry and gadgets. She dual-wields crossbows, and where one class might shoot of a magical fireball, the demon hunter would buy a device in the lower markets of Caldeum that would allow her to trap the essence of a demon and then release that essence in an explosive blast, not unlike a hand grenade. She has no qualms about using her enemies against themselves, dabbling in dark magic, and generally doing whatever it takes to destroy demons wherever they live.
Here is Blizzplanet's round up on Blizzcon 2010 Diablo III Demon Hunter.