Could a melee hunter work?

The image above is Rexxar, Champion of the Horde, the one hunter in Azeroth (well, Outland) who refuses to give up his melee weapons. The melee hunter concept is a longstanding joke for many hunters, and a secret desire for others who like the idea of ditching their bow to fight side by side with their loyal companion. The earliest iterations of survival’s talent tree were almost entirely melee focused. It’s clear Blizzard once had the intention for hunters to be able to play as melee — or at least a melee/ranged hybrid — but that has been slowly eroded over the years.

Before BlizzCon, I thought the idea of a pet-less hunter was almost as far-fetched as a melee hunter, but the new Lone Wolf talent showed me how wrong I was. There was a vocal minority of hunters who prefer to play without their pets and go it alone, and Blizzard listened. Hunters were always a pet class first and foremost, so I never expected a talent or ability to give you a benefit for not using one. It made me wonder if a melee hunter spec was possible in this day and age.

Raptor Strike crits you for 1337 damage

Back when hunters still had melee abilities, there were a few dedicated nonconformists who chose to play the class without a ranged weapon. You can bet they never made it into any kind of cutting edge raiding with their Raptor Strikes and Mongoose Bites, but it was definitely playable for them at the most basic level. In Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard removed our ability to equip ranged and melee weapons simultaneously, killing the dreams melee hunters everywhere.

If they were to add a melee spec to the game now, they would have somewhat of a problem on their hands. No hunters would have any viable melee weapons to use when the patch dropped. Things are so much cleaner now with only having to worry about one weapon type. If hunters had a melee spec, they would be rolling on both ranged and melee weapons just in case they decide to play both ranged and melee specs. We’ve just gotten over that whole “hunter weapon!” stereotype.

Something like the Glyph of the Weaponmaster is one possible solution (or even just open up transmog options). Basically, using the stats from a ranged weapon with a melee weapon appearance. There could be a default appearance if you have none. This would solve the problem of hunters needing both weapon types. As you can see from the screenshot, even I have held onto some of my favorite melee weapons.

What spec gets the shaft?

What spec gets changed into melee? Obviously it can’t be marksmanship, but what would you say to the vast majority of survival and beast mastery hunters who prefer playing a ranged class and have done so for many years?

A fourth spec is not completely unreasonable — after all, druids have four. But four DPS specs for one class? I sincerely doubt it. Three DPS and a tank spec? Maybe. Would you be interested in playing a melee hunter if they could only tank? The idea of a hunter tank gets me kind of excited. I picture hunter and beast tanking together, side by side, perhaps with something similar to Soul Link as a mitigation mechanic.

Just the pet itself being a tank is more problematic. The “move to” command isn’t going allow you to do any meaningful tanking, so what happens to your hunter while you are directly controlling the pet? Perhaps the zombie hunter body dutifully fires auto shots in the background? Wouldn’t that be a sight.  The hunter becomes the pet. Merging with the pet is probably off the table since we’re not really shape shifters or magicians, but I guess anything is possible in a fantasy game. Eyes of the Beast was different — the hunter was using all of his concentration to control the beast and couldn’t do anything else. He was still vulnerable.

What about a talent?

If a fourth specialization seems unlikely at this point, what about a talent? After all, that was Blizzard’s solution for offering a pet-less hunter option in Warlords.

Let’s assume there is a workable solution to the weapon problem. Even with that, it would not be a simple undertaking for Blizzard, and I seriously question if it would even be worth it.

Every shot and ranged ability would need a melee equivalent spell. Let’s use beast mastery as an example. Kill Command is fine as it is, but then you would need a Cobra Shot, Multi-Shot, and Arcane Shot replacement. Glaive Toss, Barrage, Counter Shot, Concussive Shot… need I go on?

The problem with just having it as a talent is you don’t get the benefits of an actual spec. It would basically be a hunter, as they are now, but with a 5 yard range instead of 40 yards. What’s the point?

melee hunter

The answer is No… for now

The melee hunter is a nice thought, but I just don’t see it happening. There’s too many problems standing in the way. However, if you would have asked me the same question about pet-less hunters before BlizzCon, I would have given you a similar answer. Blizzard has already proven to us that nothing is sacred. All things are fair game if it can make the game better. Don’t expect a melee hunter, but don’t be too surprised if it’s a reality someday.


12 thoughts on “Could a melee hunter work?”

  1. For a hunter? No. If you want to make a new class, call it bounty hunter or tinker or something else. I came up with a few ideas myself. Even a class that uses pets a little differently. I don’t understand why anyone who plays a hunter would even want to melee to be honest. Hunter = ranged. There are nice melee options out there. Changing an existing spec would create all kinds of problems and bad feelings and confusion how to play. I’m also afraid of what changes Celestalon is talking about. I play BM and Survival and think those two are different enough. Also like where both specs are in terms of rotation and being fun to play.

  2. Melee is a flavor thing. I still miss dual-wielding axes back in the day. I have a ton of staves and axes in my bank, and I keep vendoring them for space because unless I suddenly take up RP, I’ll never use them.

    I like the idea you suggested of setting a glyph so that at close range, our weapons appear to be melee weapons, and we can just stand in close and still use our abilities. That said, melee keeps bitching about movement on all these fights so that still is not entirely viable. We’d be a rogue with better target switching.

    As for top level weapons though, surely we can at least start with some +agi daggers and go from there.

  3. No, just no! I don’t understand neither this nor the idea for a hunter with two pistols. It’s called a ‘hunter’ for a reason. It’s neither a ‘ranger’ (melee possibility) nor a ‘marksman’ (pistol, gun, bow, whatever). While I don’t understand appeal of a hunter without a pet either, at least it’ll still be a hunter!

  4. Maybe Beast Masters should get an option of picking up their pet and using THAT as a weapon:) Either a talent or a glyph that allows the Hunter to melee by whacking his/her enemy with whatever pet is out.

    Who wouldn’t want the ability to dual wield a hyena on one hand, and a sporebat on the other?
    Or threaten pesky Rogues with a max level Spider/mace that entraps while decapitating?
    And a Spirit Beast that heals AND cleaves? Well, that’s worth camping for!
    Finally, Stampede: a Bladestorm that barks, howls, meows, chirps and moos, like Noah’s Ark on steroids, a zoo of death that lasts for 15 seconds in combat, and an eternity on Youtube.


    Yeah, maybe not.

  5. Make the windwalker’s xuen a permapet. Or even ghost wolf for the enhancement sham. But then I guess they wouldn’t be a hunter.

  6. instead of ‘merging’ with the pet – what if you mounted the pet? Badass orc atop a worg, picking up adds with a gun – it would be weird with a few of the pets, but with any pet that has a similar mount model it would work. Maybe that should be the BM version of ‘with or without you’ – grants “Battle Mount” ability – +5% movement speed, other tank benefits, soul linked. feign death, disengage and deterrence become tank cooldowns. Pet abilities still work (although that would basically make everyone ‘tank’ with beetle/turtle – so maybe not). Lasts until cancelled…

    Personally – I’d rather see the BM WoWY talent allow a 2nd pet from your travel stable (and ideally increasing your travel stable to 10).

    1. Yeah, it’s a cool idea, but as you said it won’t work with every pet type. Having a second pet for WoWY could be cool. Rather than 20% extra pet damage, why not a second pet that does 20% of regular pet dps and can bring a second buff? Emphasize the MASTER in beastmaster. Just thinking about how badass it would look to have a pet standing on either side of you.

  7. I’ve said before and I’ll say again, of the three specs we have, I’d say Survival should become the melee/tank spec. Say what you like about Marksmanship and Beast Mastery at least their descriptions fit the spec’s flavour. That is probably why they have the most ardent fans from. Fans who refuse to give up on them even when they are sub-optimal. Part of this is because, as I understand it, Survival wasn’t even remotely viable as a dps spec before Wrath, but the point still stands.

    Consider, you can already tell what a Beast Mastery or Marksmanship hunter is going to be from the name alone. Survival is kind of weird:

    “Hi I’m a Survival hunter”
    “Hello, so I assume you are a trap master and have all sorts of things that help you endure the wilds, right?”
    “Erm… Well I can shoot poisoned arrows, shadow arrows, explosive arrows and my other shots have arcane properties…”
    “So, you imbibe your shots with explosives and stuff… Wait, isn’t that exactly the same as a master archer… Dare I say Marksman?”

    You get the idea.

    A more survival oriented spec, with threat generation through melee, extra damage through traps and poison, a damage sharing ability between hunter and pet, mitigation through camouflage, a shortened Deterrence CD, a few self heals, a version of Readiness that is geared towards survival cooldowns and bam: A rugged tracker who favours using animal venom and traps to bring down his foes.

  8. I am so looking forward to not having a pet if I don’t want one.
    Some nights I don’t feel like managing it.

  9. I miss the days of my Hunter wielding dual axes or daggers, and though I never was keen on using Melee often on my hunter. I would love to have the option in some way to bring some diversity the hunter class from time to time.

    In Warlord of Draenor, I would love to see Beastmaster become a Melee Hunter specialization, Marksmanship being primary focused on ranged damage and have the possibility to fight without a pet, and have Survival a hybrid of both, with Melee abilities being focused on migrating damage and creating space, while their ranged abilities punished their opponents for allowing them distance

    Just my 2 cents, what do you think of the basic idea?

  10. I don’t understand those comments of people going “no! just no!”
    So what if Blizzard gave hunters the ability to become a melee-oriented class? They wouldn’t be putting a gun to your head and saying “now you have to melee in addition to doing ranged damage, too bad if you dislike it.”
    If you’re not interested in it and it becomes a reality, just don’t play that melee spec.

  11. I play a Surv hunter and I for one would LOVE to see it turned into a tank spec. Survival. Surviving.. Tanking.. kinda goes hand in hand don’t ya think? However I think the pet should be left at a pet status, not shared tanking. The hunter has the taunts, Health, and an armor buff of some kind. (Like monks have Stagger) and the pet just does some damage along side you. Idk, just thinking out loud.

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