Warning: This post is going to be a bit of a rant. If you’re looking for objective analysis, you can skip this post, alright?
The most recent alpha build has some changes to Survival that unfortunately made the spec… less exciting… for me. Alpha/beta is a very iterative process so I guess this is to be expected. You can’t get attached to anything this early in development. Pretty much anything could be ripped out from under your feet.
Like Dragonsfire Trap.
That trap may have been my favorite single thing about the spec. It was a powerful talent that transformed your Explosive Trap into a single target DoT that caused the target to “panic” for 8 seconds. While panicking, they were completely CC’d and that CC did not break on damage. It was a worthy trap for the one remaining spec that can actually use traps.
And now? Now it’s basically a useless talent in comparison to the old. It’s a itty bitty fire damage DoT that slows the target by 20%. I don’t know, maybe they thought the old version was overpowered? I don’t see why though. For starters, you can make its CC break in PvP if that’s your concern. Secondly, you had to forgo a cooldown like Snake Hunter to even get it! Then if you wanted it to live up to its full potential, you had to devote your level 100 talent (Expert Trapper) to it too! Yes, it was a very powerful trap but look at what you gave up to get it. I thought this was a cool thing! It was a interesting choice to make in solo/questing situations. It could have also given you a lot of utility in dungeons by sacrificing a little DPS.
What I’ve noticed about this change is my overall survivability out in the world has dropped. I guess I was relying on that trap a little too much? Since my pet can’t really tank (especially in AoE) because it holds no threat, I was using that CC to avoid damage. Now I am relegated to killing only 1-3 mobs at a time. First WoW problems? Maybe I’m just spoiled from how Hunters have been for so long. Maybe I’m too focused on the solo experience and need to account more for the group experience (it’s always more difficult to do that in beta).
Another change was Sentry Turret was removed and replaced with Spitting Cobra in the level 100 talent tier. This is mostly an aesthetic change when you boil right down to it because the cobra acts like a ranged turret and doesn’t move. You passively gain extra Focus while it’s active. That extra Focus can help for the brief periods of downtime the spec has when you have no Focus to spend and no Mongoose Bite charges.
Some other talents got swapped around to different tiers, and A Murder of Crows is back for Survival (replacing Thrill of the Hunt). Right now the cooldown reset mechanic doesn’t work, but the tooltip still says it’s supposed to. Farstrider was also nerfed badly. It used to grant you a second charge of Disengage, and now… well look at it. Ranger’s Net was buffed to include a 3 second root, which is nice in that it’ll give you a chance to catch up to targets running away. Steel Trap’s bleed was extended from 20 sec to 30 sec (same DPS), but the big change was the root was changed from 8 sec to a full 30 sec. This means if you don’t hit a Steel Trap victim with any other damage, they should stay rooted for a full 30 seconds (in PvE anyway). Finally, Aspect of the Beast was updated to work with Flanking Strike (it works on Kill Command for BM).
Speaking of Flanking Strike, that ability used to work even if your pet was out of range (though the pet portion would do no damage obviously), but now you can’t even cast it unless your pet is in melee range. If you read my previous posts on Survival in the alpha, you know I have significant issues with how Hunter pets are working for a melee spec. This only added to that frustration, even though I know why it’s there (they don’t want you to waste damage). It just illustrates how crucial it is to get Survival’s pet to stick BESIDE the Hunter at all times. This includes coming along for the Harpoon ride. How pets work with Survival is still my primary issue with the spec.
Like I said, I understand why this stuff changes rapidly, but when your favorite thing about a spec is changed like this, it’s a bit deflating. Maybe I should stop trying to convert to melee and accept that it’s not for me. There’s a reason I’ve only played Hunters for the past 11 years, it’s because I just don’t enjoy melee all that much in WoW. I’m trying though. I still want it to be a spec that current Hunters would enjoy, not just something made for someone who normally doesn’t play a Hunter. We’re Hunters. We have standards, damn it.
I don’t hate Survival. However, I’m not going to sit on my hands and assume it’ll turn out well in the end. I made that mistake in the WoD Beta. I would often say things along the lines of “don’t worry, it’s early and things will change.” Then Hunters in WoD had a very rocky start prior to 6.1. Maybe that attitude was part of the problem.