In this post on rpg.net elaborates on how they're attempting to design classes in regards to combat and noncombat abilities.
Professor Phobos wrote:
Apparently 4e is being designed with a "combat role" and a "non combat role" for every class in mind. Or at least that's what EnWorld told me when I asked about it in a thread.
Mike Mearls wrote:
Yup, that's how the classes came together. The idea is to make sure everyone can contribute in a meaningful way in a fight.
Hopefully, the end result is that you can build whatever sort of PC you want to roleplay, making choices with an eye toward character concept and personality, without losing out on your character's basic ability to fight. We aimed to remove the "an interesting PC or an effective PC" choices in the game.
That doesn't mean that your character's non-combat stuff is diminished. If anything, it means we have more room for idiosyncratic or personality-driven options, since you can take those without hurting your character's baseline, expected combat ability.
As an example, you can play a fighter but spend all your feats to take and improve social skills, but in a fight you are still an effective defender. You aren't saddled with a lower than expected AC, attack bonus, or whatever because you built a fighter who was also a diplomat.
The fighter who goes all out on combat feats and stuff will (obviously) be more effective in melee than you, but the distance between you is measured in, say, meters instead of kilometers.
Meanwhile, the wizard, cleric, and rogue are just as happy with Lord Harran, dashing envoy of the Iron Throne, as they would be with Killmore Headbuster, swordmaster. Both those guys are effective, frontline fighters. Harran's player didn't have to sacrifice his "fightery-ness" to become the best Diplomacy user in the party.