The Legion alpha and beta process has been a long one. I’ve been in for nearly 7 months, and I wasn’t even in the first wave. One would expect a good deal of iteration over such a long period of time, but for Hunters that really hasn’t been the case.
Blizzard was receptive to feedback about cosmetic “class fantasy” issues. The most notable example is Beast Mastery being a literal zoo of impersonal pets you didn’t tame yourself. Many Hunters didn’t like this. Shortly after the BM spec was unlocked, Blizzard responded to player feedback and made compromises by adding in the Glyph of the Dire Stable, Dire Frenzy, and Essence Swapper. They also listened to MM Hunters who missed having the option of a pet. On the topic of tameable pets, I think they took much of their inspiration from player feedback and suggestions. They did an amazing job with new tames this expansion.
This brings us to how the class actually plays. On this front I felt there was little iteration or developer communication at all. It was basically the complete opposite of what happened in the pre-Warlords testing. I couldn’t even keep up with all the blue posts and tweets back then. Leading up to Legion, I’ve watched the specs stay mostly the same despite overwhelming negative feedback.
Alright, I know some of you don’t give a crap about class fantasy. That’s fine, but this post probably doesn’t concern you. This post concerns the Hunters like me who camp rare pets for days on end and agonize over the naming of their pets. I’m not going to be talking about mechanics or numbers here, I’m going to talk about what I think is wrong with Beast Mastery on a more aesthetic level.
I like the gameplay direction Beast Mastery is headed from a fantasy perspective. Summoning pets as a rotational ability? Awesome. Permanent second pet? Double awesome. Here’s the problem: Summoning pets alone is not why I like playing this type of Hunter. I like summoning my own pets, the ones I spent hours, days, weeks, months, or even years acquiring. Not just random beasts from the wild.
I need some Beast Mastery in my life. I’m just not feeling much of an attachment to SV or MM yet. I hate to say it, but Blizzard may have changed them too much for my liking. Normally I am receptive to change and try to see the positive side to this sort of thing, but I still haven’t been able to warm up to these new specs yet. I’ve tried. Trust me.
To be fair, it’s still incredibly early in the process. The Legion alpha/beta feels like it’s progressing slower than Warlords ever did (that may be because of the holiday break). There’s still a lot not there yet. Not just entire zones, but entire specs, entire abilities, and entire talents. Once SV and MM are polished experiences, I could feel very differently.
As for other Hunter news, it has been rather sparse lately. I still can’t tame any new pets, which was one of my favorite things to do during the Warlords beta. There are a few new beasts out there (like that awesome wolf in the header image), but there is still a bug with taming. Once that is fixed I plan on going out hunting and filling up the stable with everything new! I’m also excited to try out mechanical pets once that is sorted out.
One thing that has sprang up is some replacements for minor glyphs, such as Pet Training Manual: Play Dead, Pet Training Manual: Fetch, and The Art of Concealment (Chameleon is simply a rename of Aspect of the Beast). We don’t know how these manuals are acquired yet, but it looks like making your pet feign death could be a separate ability not tied to Feign Death. That may actually be handy for some things.
Not sure what this wolf is for, but it looks like a lightning draenor wolf
- My overall opinion on Survival has not changed (read my previous posts on the subject). I still think the pet interaction isn’t quite there yet. That’s not what you want when only two specs can even use pets. I’m going to keep beating this dead horse until it’s truly dead: I think the Survival pet needs to stay beside the Hunter at all times in order for this to work. I will even give up some pet control to have this happen. I’ll leave it at that.
- Mongoose Bite has changed quite a bit. Now the buff lasts 12 seconds instead of 3 seconds, BUT new Mongoose Bites do not extend the duration. In simplest terms, this has simplified the rotation and made it a little more forgiving. Prior to this you were encouraged to weave other abilities in between Mongoose Bites, and now you are encouraged to save up 3 stacks and burn them all in a row (and hope you get more procs before the 12 sec buff wears off). At the risk of sounding like a casual who doesn’t want a complex rotation, I prefer it this way to be honest.
- Disengage has been removed from Survival. I will miss it dearly. The Posthaste talent has been adjusted so it works with Harpoon instead. Demon Hunters are melee and have the ability to quickly move backwards or forwards, but they are special snowflakes.
- Aspect of the Cheetah now has a 3 minute cooldown, up from 1 minute (this applies to all 3 specs). So, we went from a nearly permanent 30% movement speed increase to a 3 minute sprinting cooldown. Not too happy about that, but I think movement enhancing abilities are getting toned down across the board so Demon Hunters can stand out more.
- I really hope we get a Trap Launcher toggle back as I find that 80% of the time I am just dropping the trap at my feet anyway, and the extra click and trap aiming seem unnecessary for a melee spec.
- Fury of the Eagle has a 45 second cooldown now, which makes a lot of sense. It had no cooldown before so you basically spammed it for free damage. Now that the Mongoose Bite buff lasts 12 seconds, you actually have time to fully use it.
- It’s still super early and a lot can change. Some people feel the opposite, so don’t get too discouraged over my general lukewarm reception of Survival thus far. I never went in expecting to love playing in melee.
- I’ve seen some people complain that Marksmanship is too squishy or it’s too hard to play without a pet while soloing/questing, but I think that’s because they are doing a lot of face tanking and expecting to survive. Marksmanship in Legion is all about kiting and slowing down your target, and in my opinion there are tools to do this adequately. You’re not going to be able to solo as well as Beast Mastery, but that is one of BM’s strengths.
- You still take damage from ranged attacks and DoTs though, and the one thing I think Marksmanship does need is some kind of maintenance heal to replace the removed Kill Shot heal. I think every DPS spec in the game needs a maintenance ability like this, and right now all Marksmanship has is a 2-minute Exhilaration.
- The Focus pool has been reduced to 100 from 120. I didn’t even notice until someone told me. With how fast Focus regenerates now, it’s not as bad as it sounds.
- Bursting Shot’s range was doubled to 20 yards (very nice). For reference, this ability gives a small knockback to enemies and confuses them (think Scatter Shot).
- The 5th tier of PvP talents has completely changed. You choose between one of the following:
- T.N.T.: Reduces the cooldown of Bursting Shot by 10 sec.
- Explosive Shot: You fire an explosive charge at the target, stunning the target and dealing Fire damage every sec for 4 sec.
- Freezing Arrow: Fires a Frozen Arrow, incapacitating the target and all nearby enemies within 6 yards of the target for 8 sec. Any damage caused will break the ice.
So, traps aren’t 100% removed from Marksmanship. They can at least have the option for one in PvP!
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).
I’ve warmed up to the melee Hunter a little more since my last post. I still don’t think it’s going to pull me away from my bread and butter (Beast Mastery), but I am starting to get the hang of it. I still sometimes need to remind myself to use traps more often because they can make such a difference now. More specifically, Steel Trap and Dragonsfire Trap. Sometimes I wish the Trap Launcher toggle was still there because it would be nice to avoid that extra click and just drop the trap at my feet when I don’t need to throw it.
I’m really enjoying Harpoon the more I use it, but the ability has some quirks. The first is one I am sure will be fixed, basically it just pulls you in a direct line to your target, even if that makes you clip through the ground. Secondly, I wish it made you leap towards your target in a small arc, rather than just be dragged along the ground. Lastly, I wish there was less of a delay. You have to wait for the travel time of your harpoon before it starts pulling you. That makes sense, but I wish it could be thrown a bit quicker.
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.
Remember during Warlords of Draenor’s development when Blizzard was talking about “spec differentiation?” It almost became a buzz phrase. They sort of delivered, but not in a way that mattered much. At their core, the 3 Hunter specs were still the same. We had a Focus generator, a Focus dump, and a signature ability. The “differentiation” was Marksmanship having a cast time on its Focus dump (and having to stand still) and Survival having DoTs, while Beast Mastery remained relatively untouched.
Well, I think it might be for real now. I can’t say for sure until I get my hands on the beta, but from what I can tell the specs sound almost completely different — not just the core mechanics but their fantasy as well (that’s this expansion’s buzz word, by the way).
You can read the post for yourself here. Blizzard shares their basic philosophy for each spec and shows us some of their core abilities. It’s enough to go on for a first round of feedback (plus it’s the first real Hunter news in months), so let’s get started.
Note I also have some quotes in here from one of the Senior Game Designers, Andrew Chambers. He was kind enough to answer some Hunter questions in a reddit thread. Remember these are candid comments, and nothing is set in stone.
Current Hype Level: 10/10
I’m pretty excited for BlizzCon (even though I’m not going in person), especially with the little movie teaser from yesterday. The footage looked amazing if you ask me. We’ve seen so little of it and already I can pick out many little details they got right. The guns look like Warcraft guns. The orcs look like Warcraft orcs. Stormwind looks incredible. They even have freakin’ Harvest Golems (look in the field above). Are you kidding me?
I’m hoping in the final movie we see some genuine Hunter action as these guys with the big pistols don’t really look like Hunters. The orc with his wolf buddy sure does, though.
Here’s the teaser again for good measure.
Hey, Hunters! Yeah I am still here. Just fresh out of stuff to talk about in this downtime and complete lack of news… until today! Patch 6.2.3 was announced today and it adds quite a bit for a minor patch. Here’s some quick thoughts on the main features:
Valor points returning
Valor is coming back purely for item upgrades. It looks like you can do two upgrades of 5 ilvl per item, for a total of 10. This isn’t something I am going to grind at all. I know I’ll get some incidentally from doing stuff and I’ll use those on my weapon, then a trinket (won’t bother using it on Mirror of the Blademaster since the on use doesn’t scale with ilvl), then the highest ilvl/stat budget pieces from there.
I don’t like that you can’t get the points from doing regular raids. I mean, I get that they want to give people a reason to do dungeons again, but it seems weird. Especially since LFR is going to reward some too. They mentioned some kind of bonus event. This may be a new event, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it just replaced the Apexis event. Apexis is almost entirely irrelevant with this patch with better Mythic Dungeon rewards, and the fact that Baleful tokens can proc ilvl 695 without using an empowered fragment.
I get why they’re doing this, but it is not an incentive to me. I’ll be happy to upgrade my 720 gun to 730 and call it a day from there basically. I would probably grind these if I were still raiding regularly, of course. That’s the benefit of taking a break from raiding. No more worrying about that ilvl number.
One of the things I’m most excited about in Legion is the focus on class identity. The fact that every spec gets some lore surrounding their artifact weapon is pretty cool to me. I don’t expect them to be ground-breaking quest lines (since they have to do 36 of them), but the very fact that each spec gets a little something unique means a lot. It puts a lot more weight behind your choice of spec, and sort of commits you to that choice. I think fewer people will be inclined to switch to “flavor of the month” specs if they’ve identified themselves as another spec already.
However, it does put a little more responsibility on Blizzard’s end to make sure classes with more than 1 DPS spec are relatively balanced. I think it’s important that every time a new patch or hotfix drops you don’t feel forced to abandon your artifact journey because of numbers.