Legion: New Hunter roles confirmed

I speculated on this yesterday, but it looks like we have the official word via a developer interview at Icy Veins.

  • Survival: Melee spec that utilizes a pet
  • Beast Mastery: Ranged spec that utilizes a pet
  • Marksmanship: Ranged spec that has NO pet

This means the Lone Wolf talent should be no more. Blizzard is fully committing this time and giving each spec a clear identity. It’s bound to ruffle some feathers, but my initial thoughts are that it will be good for the class.

My only real concern is balance now. If Survival is the top spec (by the same kind of margin Marksmanship is now in Hellfire Citadel), every hunter will feel forced into completely changing roles after they’ve been playing a ranged class for 10 years. Not good. Blizzard has an obligation to make sure all 3 playstyles are viable.

There was also some updates regarding the artifact weapons:

  • Beast Mastery’s artifact is a gun, Marksmanship’s is a bow, Survival’s is a spear.
  • There are no weapon drops in Legion. Instead, you will power up your artifact by killing bosses and doing other things in the game (PvP, dungeons, raids, dailies, whatever).
  • Your artifact will be obtained very early on.
  • Artifacts can be transmogged, so if you’re not happy about your weapon type for your chosen spec, you at least have that. You cannot transmog into another artifact though.
  • Still not sure how Survival is going to operate in the weird transition period of 7.0 when they have no melee weapons.

We should have more details soon from the dev panel on Sunday. Shortly after the dev panel, at 1:30pm ET on Sunday, we will be recording the next Hunting Party Podcast on Twitch and talking all about this stuff.  Follow me on Twitter and I’ll be posting before we go live. Should be a fun show!


56 thoughts on “Legion: New Hunter roles confirmed”

  1. I wonder how they’ll handle dual-spec now when you don’t get other weapons? Do you just repeat getting an artifact until you have one for all your specs? Does it change with the spec-swap? So much we don’t know yet.

    1. They had two examples from the presentation – frost DKs build two swords from frostmourne, enh shammies have a ‘ghost’ version of doomhammer in their offhand…

    2. Yeah, I’m happily going to remain Marksman for raids and groups, but I’ll be switching to Beastmastery for soloing — I’m not ditching my bear after 10 years. So do I get two artifacts? Does it switch back and forth? And what would happen to a poor Survivalist who switched to a ranged spec for raiding?

      I’m hoping they answer this — and what happens to Survivalists in the 7.0 patch — on Sunday.

  2. “My only real concern is balance now. If Survival is the top spec (by the same kind of margin Marksmanship is now in Hellfire Citadel), every hunter will feel forced into completely changing roles after they’ve been playing a ranged class for 10 years.”

    That is a concern. (one of several). How do Shaman cope with that, does anyone know? Do they bounce back and forth or do they just suck it up and keep to their one role (meelee or range)?

    1. I don’t know honestly. I think Shaman are used to swapping roles. Hunters have always been a pure DPS, ranged only though. It’s why many of us rolled the class in the first place.

      1. It’s not exactly “always” been that way. A lot of what we did back before our “stat sticks” were taken away used a mix of ranged and melee in all aspects of the game. When I did the Hunter bow quest back in vanilla there was no pet on any of those fights and the Burning Steppes demon required melee.

      2. I’m not sure there are many Shaman who switch between Elemental and Enhancement a lot. It was brought up in a recent episode of FinalBoss TV on elemental shaman as one of the problems since elemental’s non-AoE dps is (too) low at the moment.

        Personally I’ve never really gotten used to playing in melee range even on my hunter when we had to raptor strike for max-dps or certain boss mechanics. I really like to see my character and it’s surroundings rather being hidden by loads of spell effects.

        I don’t think I will ever raid as a melee hunter but I agree that it’s good for the class and I may just roll a 2nd hunter just so I can experience all 3 specs. Hopefully, there will always be a “viable” ranged hunter spec though since my hunter has been my main character for over 10 years now.

        It’s a bold move by Blizzard and this and other class changes show they really expect WoW to continue for at least a few more expansions or they wouldn’t have bothered. It’s sad for all the hunters who preferred SV but I’m sure some aspects of SV like LnL will be incorporated into BM, MM or some new class in the future. Too bad they didn’t add a Diable style ranged spec to DemonHunters although I’m not sure why anyone would limit themselves to hunting only demons 😉

      3. ” I think Shaman are used to swapping roles.”
        Actually, I don’t think so. There are a few shaman and DPS druids that will happily change specs based on raid needs… but IME (which isn’t huge, to be fair), DPS shaman are either melee or ranged, and DPS druids are either melee or ranged… and that’s what they play. They rarely switch, and none of my raid or guild leaders seemed to expect these people to switch, even if the spec was performing badly – and especially not from ranged to melee since there aren’t many raid bosses where you *want* more melee. I think this’ll mean that people who want to play a melee hunter will have that identity as melee hunter, and people who have the identify of ranged hunter will swap between BM and MM.

        As for the weapons, I has a sad. I hate guns, and I really want to go back to BM. Sigh. Maybe we can transmog the artifacts to each other?

  3. Not happy about having to have a gun as BM. Also, no pet as MM? WTH! I think this will be awful. At the moment I can choose to have a pet or not, can use a bow, gun or crossbow, as any spec. Makes me sad.

        1. Artifact weapons can be transmogged but you cannot use them to transmog other weapons so yeah BM Elves can use Rhok’delar and use Lhok’delar for SV 😉 Too bad I have them on my Dwarf Hunter so I’ll probably never use them.

          1. My understanding is that Lhok’delar was removed.

            At least, it’s not in my bank, and I damn sure didn’t vendor it.

    1. Most of us are used to migrating from one spec to the next depending on dps position and raid need. It is going to be interesting to see how the artifact affects this. As someone about to unlearn survival for marksmanship, I also wonder if you can have the artifact for a spec you no longer know.

    1. I used to tank TBC and MoP leveling dungeons without any support from Blizzard. I would LOVE it if Survival or Beastmastery became a tanking spec. That seems like too big of a leap, though, especially if they don’t offer the same to warlocks.

  4. I believe the norm is for melee spec and ranged spec to be handled individual as what happens with other classes, if you commit to the melee spec I don’t think anyone will force you to switch to a ranged spec, switching between both ranged specs will probably still happens though..

    The melee spec just need to be competitive enough against other melee specs. I will probably stay MM or BM but it will be fun to finally have a completely different spec to play around.

  5. To me this news is all about what we’re going to lose. It seems to be an awful lot and I struggle to think that the loss of versatility and choice will be made up for with spec “Distinction” or the ability to once again melee.

    1. I would be more than happy to lose “versatility”…dumb second stat ever -> Reforge plz!
      But I think unless we played it, we cannot say if its a loss…
      I feel rather positive about it. We concentrate on one spec, lets see how the others will do. Its just names afterall and I think that the abilities will have to be moved into the other two specs, so maybe they get even more interesting for you. Which would be a gain and not a loss.

      Its Blizzard no one knows what they are doing, especially not they themselves…this does not necessarily mean its getting awful.

  6. I’m one of the crazies that LOVED the lone wolf talent. In a nutshell, I could take 100% of my damage and apply it to whichever target I wanted whenever I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about pathing and despawning issues or random kills because my pet caught agro. I could focus on the fight, my rotation, the mechanics, and managing sniper training.

    Yes, I love my pet. I love traipsing about in the wild exploring with my trusty sidekick. But having the option to remove that one element made my actual performance in raid, MORE entertaining. My mistakes were punished severely, but my successes were more rewarding because my effort to fine tune my play yielded better improvements. There are fights, however, that I need the pet and Focusing Shot (we won’t talk about ammo of uselessness). Sometimes I want to just run through the wild as a Marksman and want the pet around for defensive purposes.

    I think my chief complaint about the direction they are heading is the narrowing of options. As a pure DPS, it’s my job to apply the most dps I possibly can to the correct target. I have used all three specs over the last three years to switch and adapt to each fight, each encounter. With SV melee, I won’t be playing it, period. That change effectively removed a spec from my character. Second, removing any pet from marksman narrows the flexibility with which I can play this spec. Yes, I am skilled enough that concussive shots, binding shots, and traps, I can kite and manage many enemies. Its not about ability, its about play style.

    If I want to be ranged with a pet, I have ONE option. How is this fun?

    If I want to be a marksman, I have to perminantly give up the pet, not just take a break from pet management, but say goodbye forever? How is this fun?

    And then when the inevitable balance issues emerge and my chosen spec isn’t viable for progression raiding? How is this fun? (Whether its my spec or one someone else has chosen, 2/3rds of the hunters lose where 1/3rd win….yes its not an equal distribution across specs….)

    l’m very concerned and in a wait and see approach until I get some real concrete details, not just speculation.

    1. Hopefully we’ll have some more information soon. It could be that Pet/No Pet becomes a spec choice rather than talent choice and that play-style becomes a talent choice. For example, 1 tier has you chooce between explosive shot + LnL or Aimed Shot+Rapid Fire. It depends on how they handle the change but we don’t necessarily have to loose anything. It could mean we end up with more choice in playstyles.

      It would be nice if Blizzard would give a hunter specific interview to the Hunting Party Podcast to explain their plans.

    2. Yes, you have the right of it.

      Shifting Survival to melee is the same as removing a spec. Folks joined for a range class. Otherwise, they’d be playing a rogue or DK or something. Shifting a spec to melee is removing a spec.

      If they wanted to add a melee spec for hunters, it should have been a fourth spec for the class. Of course, WoW needs another melee spec like it needs a hole in the head; indeed Demon Hunters should have been a ranged dps/healing class.

      For myself, I’ll have one and only one spec to play going forward. I won’t melee. (I’m not a rogue.) I will always use a pet. (Having pets is a large part of why I chose a hunter a decade past.) That means survival and MM are out for me, leaving only BM.

      How is a lack of choice fun?

      1. That’s not a lack of choice, that’s your choice. Yu were presented with several classes, and several specs. You decided that you didn’t want the choice of melee, and didn’t want the choice of not using a pet, so you are choosing BM. How is having multiple specs all pigeonholed into the same basic function (ranged dps w/ pet) giving you more choices? QQ harder.

  7. Will make pvp omg. Will masters call have a rework so mm can pvp? Is mc becoming part of the pvp only talents?
    Lots of questions. I hope that they get balance right.
    Imagine surv being best. Omg being in that giant melee mess.

  8. I’m planning to make the switch to melee survival as soon as possible, if need be I’ll just pick up an honor or conquest spear

  9. I’m super excited about this. While I haven’t really played with Lone Wolf (main spec is BM), I can’t wait for the changes as every hunter spec felt too samey to me. However, I’m annoyed about BM getting a gun artifact as I feel like it would fit MM more with the whole sniper thing (though you could make a case with BM hunters being big-game hunters while MM are rangers like Alleria/Sylvanas).

  10. So SV’s weapon is a spear (polearm I’m assuming) will I be able to transmog it into an axe or sword? Will we be able to duel wield at all? Only being able to use 2H is boring, I loved having the twin blades of hakkari and my bow when we had both.. I’d love my dwarf hunter to have two axes over one pole arm.

    I understand trying to make the specs feel different but NO pet EVER for MM is sad. In a raid it’s not a big deal in my opinion, but for questing or farming a pet to tank and hold aggro on 3-5 mobs is a luxury I guess I’ll lose on MM, I don’t want to have to kite around every mob or stand there and let them beat on me. Looks like I’ll be leveling BM (would have anyways though !)

    Also, not that this is major but how will a fresh hunter level 1-110, will you start ranged and at level 10 switch to melee or stay ranged.

    1. You can transmog the artifacts. However, I think pole arms can ably xmog to staves? I assume dual wield is possible since we still have that technically. But the artifact is a 2H weapon.

  11. They need to switch BM and SV. BM should get in there and Melee with their pet. Their ranged abilities right now don’t make sense. Arcane shot is for SV and Kill Shot is for MM. SV should be a stealthy commando type of ranged. Think ranged rogue.

    1. I just don’t see it fitting thematically that SV, which is the stealthy tracker woodsman, wants to jump into melee with their beastial buddy! That sounds like BM. Also think about our old melee abilities they had beast names!!

      1. In vanilla SV was the melee or hybrid ranged/melee tree tree for hunters. MM and BM have always been the ranged specs. In a way SV is going back to its roots.

        People also shouldn’t focus too much on the names of the specs. Who knows what will happen once they start to test the hunter revamp. The current SV playstyle may still be possible as part the MM or BM spec.

        1. No, BM has always been the controlled melee NPC spec with some ranged filler. Bottom line hunters have always meant 2 things bow/guns and pets. If you want that in Legion, you have a choice… But just one.

          So let’s take others back to their roots, Paladins are just buff bots, only warriors can tank, most DPS specs are completely worthless..

          1. You are either being purposefully obtuse, or you are genuinely misinformed.

            In Vanilla, Survival’s 31-point talent (the spec defining ability) was a melee attack with a bleed. Survival talented for things like Improved Raptor Strike, Improved Wing Clip, Mongoose Bite (an attack only usable when you had recently parried an enemy attack), Improved Disengage (originally a melee-range threat reduction, similar to Feint or Fade).

            Beast Mastery has always had talents and abilities that focused on increasing pet damage, while improving synergy between Hunter and Pet.

            Marksmanship has always had talents and abilities that focused on increasing ranged weapon damage, while in a group environment, the pet was either dismissed (Vanilla), a miniscule percentage of overall damage (BC->Mists), or dismissed for a buff (Lone Wolf). In solo situations, the pet was a liability until the Glyph of Misdirection allowed you to adequately generate threat.

            1. Yes, and that 31 point bleed talent (lacerate) was famous for being the worst in the game. Melee hunters were doing it wrong. It was one of those traps that the early talent system was famous for – the abilities were there but you were meant to be focusing on trap damage instead.

              Saying that survival is better suited for melee because they had those talents in vanilla is like asking for the dead zone back because it was in vanilla.

              Fwiw, I agree with Faerondil, the lore of a beast master throwing down in melee fits better than a sneaky survival type Hunter.. The BM signature shot is a melee attack (kill command). We have Beast Lord Darmac and Rexxar as BM melee hunters. But I also believe that gameplay trumps lore, which should mean no melee hunters. We have enough melee in the game!

              1. Who said survival is better suited for melee or asked for the dead zone back ?

                The fact that Survival has a history of being (at least partially) focused on melee is the reason Blizzard chose to change it into a melee spec for Legion. Neither BM or MM have ever focused on melee.

                Check out the old vanilla Hunter talent trees:

                Btw, Kill Command is a ranged ability (100 yard for hunter, 25 yard for the pet) not a melee ability. The fact that the damage is attributed to the pet does not make it a melee attack.

  12. So, I’m confused by the statement:

    “If Survival is the top spec (by the same kind of margin Marksmanship is now in Hellfire Citadel)”

    In my guild, the hunters are all BM in Hellfire, and have been since partway through Highmaul. And that’s led us to fairly consistently be at or near the top of the meters. (I should note, we’ve never done Normal; we skip straight to Heroic.)

    Is there some trick we’re missing with MM?

    1. High single target and Hellfire is about killing priority adds. Top of the meters through Beast Cleave ain’t helping your guild.

  13. It would have been cool if they could have worked a 4th spec into every class like they did for Druids. A melee for hunters, maybe 2H spec for rogue, a shield wearing dps spec for warrior / pally or pally gets a pure magic dps spec, priest a dps spec that’s from holy light etc just some ideas.

    1. @Dreebs:

      I thought about the same before they announced it. I am curious for the DH but I would have loved a new spec for each class over that…

      Ranged Rogue (They can were Bows still) and Pally Sword and Boards DPS would have been fun (Think about the old one where each block caused you to strike with your weapon) :P, DK Ranged Caster maybe or Mage Melee with blinkstrikes or such…

  14. From what we have been told about the expansion, it sure does look like Blizzards intention is for us to pick a spec early and stick with it. They already mentioned that they would have liked to remove some specs from the game and it sounds like they prefer the 2 spec model over the 3 people have now. The reality is that even if you can have 2 artifact weapons you will most likely need to choose which one to spend upgrade items on which means you will have a weaker spec based on that alone. The question is will there be specific encounters where going from MM or BM to SV and melee with a weaker weapon makes sense or the opposite, from SV to MM or BM with a weaker weapon. I might switch my main back to my feral druid and not worry about it at all.

  15. I’m so glad they’re doing this. I’ve been a hunter since vanilla and this is half of what I hoped hunters would become.


    1 spec: Pure ranged with or w/o pet
    2 spec: Rexxar style with weaker pets/summonables (ala Dire beast) mid ranged fighter (throwing axes – 15 yards) and traps
    3 spec: Full on beast mode with TBW turning you into an actual beast (ala metamorphosis) making you full melee for the duration with ability to extend buff – Kind of like that guy in naruto and his dog.

    It’s not exactly it but it’s a step forward to making the class less bland.

  16. I absolutely hate guns. My choice is to either abandon my animal companions, switch to melee or transmog to a bow.
    I’m really hoping that people will bitch & moan like crazy when more people find out about this so Blizz will be forced to add CHOICE to what we look like & how our class feels to us.

  17. I’m sorry, but blizzard changing all this around is stupid. I’m not shooting ranged and not having my pet. I am not a big beast mastery person. That would limit me to one play style and I’m not gonna allow that. If these changes occur, I’ll play, but I’ll play my Mage far more than my hunter and my hunter is my main and has been since day one.

  18. I first played Survival when I was bored with the game, with the personal challenge of playing a primarily melee hunter who didn’t really do ranged except for certain specials (mostly wyvern sting and scatter shot). It was the most fun I’ve ever had in the game, and I was able to successfully play as a twink against other twinks. At end game, I had to use ranged, but my fight style stayed pretty similar to what I’d had: very close range, staying just outside the deadzone (when it still existed) and behind my opponent. I had to use all my tricks to make it, and it was a ton of fun. I haven’t enjoyed playing as much since the last expansion, and I’m definitely looking forward to this.

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