The latest alpha build (geez, it’s still alpha after 5 months?) is the start of class number tuning. Beast Mastery Hunters saw some fairly big numbers changes on both abilities and talents, a lot of them for the better. Survival and Marksmanship saw fewer adjustments. Here’s what Celestalon had to say about this build:
Originally Posted by Celestalon
Tuning has started! A very rough pass has been made over all classes to get them into the same ballpark. Note that we have not yet finished a first tuning pass on artifacts yet; some specs are still significantly under- or over-powered with full artifacts. At this point, class mechanics are firm, but not necessarily set in stone yet.
The last sentence is the big one. Class mechanics are now “firm” but it looks like they’re not opposed to future changes. There has been a lot of feedback requesting changes to some aspects of the class, but Blizzard has stuck to their guns so far. At this point I wouldn’t expect any major changes to core mechanics, such as getting a traditional Focus generator back for BM.
Shortly after I wrote this initial piece on what I felt was wrong with the Beast Mastery fantasy in Legion, the developers announced that they planned on adding a glyph so that Dire Beast would pull from your own stable of pets rather than use random ones from the wild. This addressed one of the primary concerns, but the other big one was Hati.
Since then, Hati has seen a model update (as seen above) and most Hunters seem to agree that it’s a heck of a lot better than the old model. In addition there are different colors of Hati to match your artifact color. After they did this, I was fairly certain that was it for Hati. Having every single BM Hunter stuck with the same wolf wasn’t ideal, but at least it was a brand new model.
However, in the most recent build a very interesting item was datamined.
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.
Finally! Beast Mastery is unlocked on the Legion alpha. The current build has been unstable thus far so it’s difficult to get any serious testing done, but I did manage to complete the Titanstrike artifact quest line and complete a level. Having now played through all three Hunter artifact scenarios, I definitely think the one for Titanstrike is the most fun.
I’m not saying the other artifact scenarios are bad, but they have a disadvantage: They don’t take you back to Ulduar and have you interact with Mimiron and Thorim! That was definitely the coolest part of getting Titanstrike. It’s a mixture of killing things and completing simple environment puzzles (more like avoiding various forms of fire on the ground). Most of the talking is done by Mimiron and a new dwarf character that Mimiron hilariously keeps confusing with Brann Bronzebeard. There is an explanation for why Hati specifically is tied to the gun. Hati is a permanent second pet that you get whenever Titanstrike is equipped. So far it looks like the appearance is limited to the lightning wolf (like Skoll), but the color may change when you change Titanstrike’s color.
We’ll start with BM impressions then talk about other Hunter stuff from this build.
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!
I’ve talked about my desire for Beast Mastery to be able to have two pets many times in the past, and I’m happy to say it looks like it’s becoming a reality in Legion. I hesitate to get too excited since things can so easily change at this point, but I can’t resist.
The extra pet is tied into Titanstrike, the Beast Mastery artifact, so this is not something you’ll see at earlier levels. Also, some of the functionality of the secondary pet isn’t unlocked until you get deeper into your artifact trait tree. Lastly, the secondary pet is probably going to be a fixed appearance as it’s referred to by name (Hati) and is themed around being the guardian of the Titanstrike.
Update: Beast Mastery is now unlocked on the alpha. More details here.
Datamining has been happening for the past day or so, but it’s not until now that we get to the juicy stuff: spell data. It’s great that Wowhead got it all up so fast, but it’s a huge data dump and not fully contextualized yet. I attempted to filter out the weird and questionable data, and I think I managed to interpret what is a talent and what’s not, but I could definitely be wrong on some of them. Update: Was right about most of it. List is more complete now via Wowhead database.
We’ll talk more about the baseline spec stuff in the future, but I will mention a few interesting things I noticed for each spec before I list the talents. You can read about the non-talent stuff in my previous post.
Hopefully this organized list makes it easier to take in all the talent changes from a better perspective. It really helped me see the bigger picture. Keep in mind a few talents are missing — either I missed them in the wall of text, or they aren’t there yet.
For all we know, some of this stuff is already gone. So feel free to get excited, as long as you go in realizing this fact. If something turns out not to be true, you can’t say Blizz took it away because it was never there in the first place!
Update 11/21: Added new Aspect of the Cheetah/Turtle spells.
Update 11/22: Added the few missing ones now that Wowhead database is live. Happy to say I was right about 95% of this stuff before knowing for sure 😀
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.
For the most part, Blizzard focused on broader topics rather than specific class information. That doesn’t mean we didn’t learn nothing about Hunters though! I’ve picked up this information from various sources over the course of today. Just a reminder that a lot of this isn’t confirmed and can change.
The Hunter Class Hall
- We got further confirmation that it is located in Highmountain (a new zone in Legion).
- Again, referred to as a “hunting lodge” so you can guess what kind of environment it will be.
- Classes get unique bonuses from their class halls. The Hunter bonus is an exclusive (and presumably faster) flight path network in the Broken Isles. We fly around on eagles. This should be a sweet bonus before we get flying later in the expansion.
- We have this bonus because of a special relationship the Hunters have with the eagles of Highmountain.
- The “hearthstone” to send us back to our class hall is an eagle that swoops down and picks us up. We can then use the same eagle to instantly return to our original location (just like Death Gate).
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!