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In Diablo 2 every class had a set gender, and in Diablo 3, while you can change your gender, there is a "canonical" gender for each of the class stories:

  • The Demon Hunter is Female
  • The Wizard is Female
  • The Monk is Male
  • The Barbarian is Male
  • The Witch Doctor is Male

Is there any difference, other than the visuals, of playing against the "proper" gender? Are there any quests, equipment, or even NPC dialog that changes based on this? Or is it just an option available to players who want to play a champion of a certain gender?

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The only difference between the gendered classes are aesthetics, both in visual appearence, and in audio voiceovers / text. (Mostly pronouns)

The individual stories for the classes (the parchment-style cutscenes that play on the completion of most major quests) also vary between the genders.

Perhaps the biggest differences are in the dialog between the player character and their follower when playing solo. When interviewed about it, one of the Blizzard devs said that he particularly enjoyed the dynamic between the Scoundrel and the female Wizard.

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    The scoundrel/sorc dialogs are indeed awesome! Commented May 19, 2012 at 21:52
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Like all Blizzard games, gender makes no difference to anything except aesthetics.

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