I’ve been in betas before, but never in something as early as a F&F alpha. I’m used to betas basically being finished products, minus some balancing or minor issues. This is a lot different from what I’m used to. A good deal of my time is filling in bug reports or crash reports it seems, but I’m happy to do it as it’ll help make the final product better. There’s still lots of fun to be had too.
The alpha starts you right after the Dark Portal intro event. Your 90-91 XP bar is half filled, which presumably will be where it’s at once you’ve completed that intro event. I was basically thrown right into my garrison, and the vast majority of the questing in Frostfire Ridge is tied into setting up your garrison and gathering followers.
Since this phase of the alpha is limited to Horde, I decided to go with a Tauren to check out the new model. Even at 500 ilvl I was killing things pretty fast, so it’ll really be a faceroll with my main once I’m able to copy him over. I started with beast mastery but also played a good deal of survival. I’m thinking I may leave marksmanship for now and wait for the next build (which will probably be soon) where all of those abilities are removed. That way I’ll get a better impression of how it’s really going to be.
Even hours after I started playing, I still kept having the urge to hit my Serpent Sting button. It’s muscle memory I guess. I’m just used to applying it to anything that’s going to take more than 10 seconds to kill. Aspect of the Hawk is another one, though I’m very happy to be rid of that ability. Don’t get me wrong, I think hunter aspects are cool if done right, but 35% AP on a toggle was getting pretty absurd. It feels much nicer to have that damage baked into the actual shots.
Aside from the Serpent Sting thing, BM played much the same as it does now. Beast Cleave is especially handy for leveling since it makes everything glue to your pet. I had no trouble at all killing the quest bosses which recommend 3 players, even at such a low item level. One thing I was really enjoying was the newly improved Kill Shot. It deals a lot more damage, and now it does that instant 15% heal when you kill something with it. At 500 ilvl, it was critting for 6-7k (average non-elites had around 25k health).
The two perks I unlocked for BM were Improved Arcane Shot and Enhanced Basic Attacks. Arcane Shot felt noticeably meatier after I got it. Even though the 20% damage perks may be the most uninteresting, they are noticeable upgrades without having to look at numbers. Stuff dies faster. I also love the little slot machine spinning thing it does before it randomly chooses your new perk.
After I dinged 92 (which is the current level cap), I picked up dual spec to try out survival. Once I switched over I learned the two perks I got for that spec were Improved Arcane Shot (again) and Improved Camouflage. The camo perk is currently bugged I believe because if you pre-cast it before combat, it stays for the full minute. I think the intended behavior is for it to last 6 seconds once combat is started. I didn’t get the Enhanced Camouflage perk to test the both of them together, but I imagine it’s very strong (even with the 6 sec combat limitation).
I missed Kill Shot. The spec felt a bit empty without the execute, or any kind of baseline cooldown. I picked up the Stampede talent which helped a bit, but at 5 minutes cooldown it didn’t get much use. Survivalist is very handy, though if your pet gets the killing blow it doesn’t apply. I think they could add some interesting gameplay to survival if they perhaps added a passive ability or perk, for survival only, that made Explosive Trap something worth using.
I say this because the new trap system is a phenomenal improvement over the old. Traps activate instantly when they land and they have some spiffy new visual effects to go along with it. Explosive Trap has a satisfying explosion and places a DoT on the targets which means they don’t have to stay in the fire to keep taking damage. The problem is that the trap still does abysmal damage. It was only ticking for about 100 damage, and the mobs I was fighting had 25k health and up.
Maybe they don’t want to make Explosive Trap a part of the AoE rotation, but I think it could work in this case. Traps just feel a whole lot better now which is why I hope they entertain the idea of making this particular trap more useful for survival.
Oh, and that item squish? I didn’t even notice it. It took me hardly any time at all to learn what a “good” damage number was. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t going to miss getting 500k Kill Command crits, though.
A quick note on level 100 talents: There’s currently no way for me to test these. They’ve been disabled for the time being.
Bloodmaul Slag Mines
There’s only one dungeon available at the moment. It’s a 4 boss affair and has a couple of cool bosses inside. The most notable is the 3rd boss, or the “bridge boss” which you’ve probably heard of before if you’ve been paying attention to other alpha coverage. Lots of fire, lots of dodging, a fight where hunters can shine. The soft enrage is the entire bridge filling up with fire. We killed it just before that happened, so it’s already tuned pretty well for new players (remember people in their 550+ gear are going to roflstomp through here).
Everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves as well, even openly commenting on the bosses. One thing I did notice was the healer constantly going OOM. I haven’t seen that in a while!
Rare Spawns and Random Events
I lost track of how many small things I ran into. I’ll give you a few examples:
- Rare spawns galore. They’re just everywhere. Right now they seem to drop a set piece of blue loot on your first kill. They also drop garrison resources. They can all be defeated solo easily.
- Random clickables everywhere. One such example was a dead ogre who had fallen to his death off a steep cliff. Clicking on him gave me an epic ilvl 526 helm.
- I found a lone orc outside of his little shack. He refused to leave his home amid all the chaos going on around him, so I helped him defend his little shack. Afterwards he told me to go loot the chest in his shack which had some loots inside.
- I came across a broken down tower. Outside there was an Ogre artifact shooting some kind of magic onto the tower. Upon entering the tower, time was frozen for all the ogres inside and I was moving around very slowly. Vision was foggy. I could go up to the various frozen ogres inside (one of them was frozen mid-fall down the middle of the tower) and “ruffle through their loin cloths” (hey, that’s what the cast bar said!) for gold and loot.
- There’s random “bonus objective” quest areas which are marked on the world map. You get gold and XP for completing them.
- Another thing I want to mention about quest rewards: The quests which reward you with a green item have a chance of turning that green into a rare or epic version with higher item level. I got several, so the chance of this happening seems pretty high.
I haven’t spent a whole lot of time with garrisons yet, but my first impression was that my garrison just felt like a quest hub. I’m hoping that later on once it’s fully customized it feels more like my own in-game home. Maybe once it’s all built up it’ll feel more like a fortress as well.
The UI still seems a bit rough. Sometimes buttons were grayed out and I didn’t know why. It was easy enough to send followers on missions, but collecting the reward at the end was where the UI seemed to fall short.
I look forward to spending more serious time with it as I hardly explored it at all. I didn’t even try that conga line dancing hat yet!
Pets in Frostfire Ridge
I tried going to other zones to find more pets, but you just get ported back to Frostfire. Blizzard doesn’t want us going exploring quite yet. I did explore every square inch of Frostfire though, and was able to tame the following:
- A Boar with a new model
- A Ravager with a new model
- A Rylak, which is the new exotic family. Currently they’re still treated as Chimaera’s, but that’s supposed to change (maybe next build?). I’m curious to see what their abilities will be.
- I went back to Azeroth to tame some Hydras because there are none in Frostfire.
There was a special variant of the boar I was talking about called a Pack Boar which had a cute little pack of supplies on its back, but sadly the supplies disappear upon taming. I really wish Blizzard would let us tame pets with the little extras like this. At one point there was talk about making this possible by changing how these work on the pet. I believe things like the supply pack are considered auras, and in order to prevent exploits, pets are stripped of all auras indiscriminately upon taming (I could be wrong about that though). This is to prevent pets keeping damage buffs or anything else which would give an unfair advantage, but it has the side effect of preventing harmless stuff like this.
There were other beasts in the zone, like the new wolves and bats, but they aren’t flagged properly right now as tameable beasts. Don’t worry, it was one of the first things I sent bug reports on!
On my to-do list is to go and try for Chimaeron at some point, maybe once I can copy over my real toon with the better gear.
Much more to come!
I’ve had a lot of people ask if I’m going to stream, and the answer is no. For one, my current internet is only 20Mbps down and 1Mbps up. It’s just not enough upload for streaming. Secondly, this is a hunter blog. 🙂 There’s already a bunch of streamers out there anyway (Ricket has streamed a lot of hunter alpha, and there’s Rogerbrown too). It’s also nice to have some written content alongside the video content, especially if you’re checking out your WoW news while at work, on your phone, or somewhere that video isn’t ideal. That being said, I may end up posting youtube videos from time to time. The blog posts will roll out as fast as I can make them. I’ll probably do at least one big one like this per week.
One of the coolest columns over at WoW Insider is their daily “The Queue” where writers answer reader questions about WoW. I wouldn’t mind doing something similar. Whenever I publish a new alpha/beta blog, I’ll do my best to answer any questions from the comments of the previous blog. If you want to know anything specific about hunters in alpha, want to see a new pet, or have any general questions you can leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them in a short Q&A at the end of each post (assuming I get any questions at all).
Until next time!