Update 8/22: This article is still mostly accurate but is slightly depreciated. It will give you a good overview of the overall changes but you may want to view more recent posts under the Survival tag for more info and recent opinions.
If you missed it yesterday, Blizzard released the first version of patch notes for the Warlords of Draenor alpha. I’ve summed up all the relevant hunter info in this post if you want to catch up.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be looking at some of the individual changes in separate posts such as this one — my opinions on them, and what I think they mean for hunters. Today I’m going to start with the survival spec changes as there seems to be a lot of discussion and concern over the removal of Kill Shot from survival’s toolkit. The news isn’t all bad though. Survival may actually live up to its namesake now.
My WoW playing time has dropped off a cliff over the past few weeks. My motivation to gear up any further is mostly gone, though that isn’t anything new. I always feel like that at the end of an expansion when I know quest greens and dungeon blues are about to replace all my purples. There’s nothing wrong with that. I look forward to getting the new gear and starting fresh.
But for some reason this lack of new content just feels worse than previous expansions. I’m guessing this is due to a complete and utter lack of WoW news. I don’t want to say they promised it, but the way devs were talking at BlizzCon certainly implied that Warlords would be out sooner than normal. Now we know this is not the case and the lull in content may even be longer than Cataclysm’s. Dragon Soul lasted about 10 months, and Siege of Orgrimmar is going to have its 10 month birthday on July 10th. Judging by the estimate of a fall release, SoO is going to last a minimum of 12 months. Also, does anyone else feel weird using their Warlords mount and pet 6 months before the expansion actually comes out?
Pets are, without a doubt, the primary reason I play a hunter. I think Blizzard has been pretty good to us over the years, putting a lot of development time and effort into something that serves only a single class. We have 45 pet families and, if you count all the different skins and color swaps, about 600 pets to choose from. Every expansion brings dozens of new pets to tame, and they continue to give us attention like the recent bump to 50 stable slots.
At least one developer over at Blizzard has their thumb on the pulse of hunters. But, like any WoW player, I will never be completely satisfied. I’m always wondering what they can do next to improve the best class in WoW. Stables, as a system, have remained more or less unchanged since launch. With the announcement of Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor, I think there’s a pretty great opportunity to give hunters the pet stable they deserve.
The image above is Rexxar, Champion of the Horde, the one hunter in Azeroth (well, Outland) who refuses to give up his melee weapons. The melee hunter concept is a longstanding joke for many hunters, and a secret desire for others who like the idea of ditching their bow to fight side by side with their loyal companion. The earliest iterations of survival’s talent tree were almost entirely melee focused. It’s clear Blizzard once had the intention for hunters to be able to play as melee — or at least a melee/ranged hybrid — but that has been slowly eroded over the years.
Before BlizzCon, I thought the idea of a pet-less hunter was almost as far-fetched as a melee hunter, but the new Lone Wolf talent showed me how wrong I was. There was a vocal minority of hunters who prefer to play without their pets and go it alone, and Blizzard listened. Hunters were always a pet class first and foremost, so I never expected a talent or ability to give you a benefit for not using one. It made me wonder if a melee hunter spec was possible in this day and age.