I’m in Alpha! Yay! So far only Survival is playable, so I was kinda forced into trying out the melee Hunter first. The most recent Locked and Loaded I posted at Blizzard Watch goes into my initial thoughts on the spec (keeping in mind it’s still incredibly early). I’ll talk about some of that stuff here, but you should go read that too if you’re interested in how Survival is shaping up (coming from someone who has only ever played ranged like me).
Character copy isn’t available right now, all you’re able to do is make template level 100 characters. Upon creation the plop you into the new Dalaran (with ilvl 680 gear) and you begin the artifact quest. I’m not going to talk specific details about the story, but essentially you get your artifact weapon VERY quickly. The Survival one involves a solo scenario that takes about 15 minutes and after that you are back in Dalaran getting your weapon. Something to keep in mind is we don’t know what comes before this (i.e. how do we get up to Dalaran?), and Blizzard needs to make 36 of these scenarios (one for each spec) so you can’t expect them to be hour-long affairs. I am satisfied with a small amount of spec-specific content like this.
After getting your weapon, you go to the new Hunter class hall, Trueshot Lodge. Lemme tell ya, this place is great. It’s so huntery I don’t even know where to start. It’s on the top of a VERY high peak (bust out your Goblin Gliders) in Highmountain. It’s in a snowy area, so Horde players might not be too thrilled about that coming from a snowy garrison. It’s not as bleak as Frostfire Ridge if that’s any comfort, and a short ride down the slope takes you to greener pastures. There’s a bunch of new bears right outside Trueshot Lodge, but unfortunately in the current build I could not tame any new pets in the Broken Isles. I think it is some sort of bug with the level scaling, because I noticed when I hit level 101, all of the mobs which were previously level 100 were now level 101. This is the tech they’re using to let you do the zones in any order (and also keep them relevant at max level). Once things are tameable I will be on the hunt and you’ll see many pet related posts here. Also I want to point out that the level 100 template gnome did NOT start with a mechanical pet, which is why you don’t see it in my other screenshots. As you can see, level 1 gnome hunters do come with a mech bunny though!
Going back to Trueshot Lodge, you’re going to find dozens of neat Hunter NPCs in here. They are from various factions like the Unseen Path, Farstriders, Silver Covenant, Dark Rangers, and more. There’s Hunters from pretty much every race, all sporting different Hunter armor and weapons. There’s lots of fun NPC conversations going on, such as a couple of gnomes talking about how awesome it is to be a Hunter. The place just feels very alive, even without not many players running around yet. Once it’s filled up with Hunters it’s going to be awesome.
When I first arrived and participated in the ceremony, I saw some big lore characters in there like Rexxar and Hemet Nessingwary, but on subsequent visits they were gone. I think it’s because they have business elsewhere (i.e. Nessingwary has a quest hub again).
At the center of the large outdoor area is the lodge itself. In here is where you upgrade your artifact weapon, use the adventure map (where you decide what zone to quest in), or grab a pint. The lodge is decorated with iconic Hunter weapons from the past, including a few melee weapons like the Scythe of the Unseen Path. That 3-piece set from AQ is the only reference I can recall to the “Unseen Path” which seems to be the main faction of the Hunters in Broken Isles.
The only thing it needs is more pets wandering around. Some of the NPCs have pets, but I’d like to see ALL of the Hunter NPCs have pets (unless they are Marksman of course).
Here is a gallery of the lodge:
My feelings are a bit mixed. I’m just not sure I’ll ever be able to enjoy a melee Hunter as much as a ranged Hunter. I don’t want to re-hash all my initial thoughts, so you can read them here at Blizzard Watch for more detail.
The gameplay itself is interesting, but a bit overwhelming at times. It’s very reactionary and in the heat of the moment it’s easy to press the wrong button. Instead of a slight reduction in your long term DPS, you just lost your 6 stacks of the Mongoose Bite buff which sucks. There is pretty much no room for error when it comes to keeping up that buff and weaving other strikes in between. I am getting better at it though. I might be doing something wrong as well. I really need to get some dungeon testing done to get a better feel for it.
If you read the Blizzard Watch post, you’ll see that I am not too happy with how pets feel as a melee character. When I’m playing melee, I really want my pet to stick beside me. When my pet lags behind, weird stuff happens like Growl taunting enemies away from you… so I literally have to go chasing after mobs because my pet taunted them from 30 yards away. Why is my pet 30 yards away? Because he’s a freakin’ slow poke, that’s why! I am Harpooning all over the place and my bear is taking a leisurely stroll through the forest.
Most of this boils down to pet movement speed. When out of combat, pets match your speed, but in combat they slow down to normal speed. This is a big problem for me because I seldom run around at normal speed. I’m either using Aspect of the Cheetah, Harpooning, or Disengaging. I think it would be nice if the pet matched your speed at all times as long as it’s close to you. That’s how they can bring back Aspect of the Pack… a passive that makes your pet stick beside you as long as you don’t command him to run away to a farther enemy (which almost never happens as a melee character).
My other beef was the lack of Misdirection. It hurts. Especially for taking on multiple enemies at once. Your pet can only get threat on one of them, and even then you pull off the pet. I felt like my pet was hardly tanking at all when you combine the threat issues and the movement speed issues. It was actually kind of a bummer in that respect. I missed my BM pet.
I know it sounds like I’m complaining a lot, but there are many things I enjoyed (again, read the Blizzard Watch post) such as some of the new traps. The Sentry Turret talent is neat but not usable right now (it hits for nothing) and I’m looking forward to see what it can do when it’s working as intended. I’m also interested in seeing what happens with the Thrill of the Hunt and Aspect of the Beast talents, as they are both placeholder I think. Either that or they haven’t been updated to work with Survival yet.
More stuff to come soon.