I’ve spent some time with all 3 specs recently. Ran the dungeon at least twice with each, and did a little bit of testing (what little I could without a damage meter). Yesterday, I shared some more general impressions of the alpha as a whole. Today, I’m keeping it short and to the point. I’m sure opinions will change as I play it more, but for now this is what stood out to me after my extremely limited experience in a single zone and a single dungeon over the course of a couple of days.
I had Improved Arcane Shot and Enhanced Basic Attacks for perks.
- Hardly anything has changed vs. BM on live servers apart from the lack of Serpent Sting. I don’t miss Serpent Sting for BM at all.
- Kill Shot is nice. It hits harder and the cooldown reset when it doesn’t kill the target is much faster. Oh, and the 15% heal ain’t bad either.
- Pet damage is a little low at the moment, but a numbers tuning pass hasn’t been done yet.
- Blink Strikes is too mandatory to give up. Seems weird I’ll seemingly never have a desire to use Stampede as a beast mastery hunter.
- This applies to all specs, but I like that pet buffs are permanent auras now.
I’ve been in betas before, but never in something as early as a F&F alpha. I’m used to betas basically being finished products, minus some balancing or minor issues. This is a lot different from what I’m used to. A good deal of my time is filling in bug reports or crash reports it seems, but I’m happy to do it as it’ll help make the final product better. There’s still lots of fun to be had too.
The alpha starts you right after the Dark Portal intro event. Your 90-91 XP bar is half filled, which presumably will be where it’s at once you’ve completed that intro event. I was basically thrown right into my garrison, and the vast majority of the questing in Frostfire Ridge is tied into setting up your garrison and gathering followers.
Updated: If you read this post earlier, there were some more hunter changes added to the notes. Updates are in red.
Blizzard just updated the alpha patch notes with a handful of hunter changes and an explanation of their philosophy on adding the new secondary stat attunements which were discovered in the previous build.
Originally Posted by Blizzard
A new concept that we’re introducing is each specialization having an attunement to a particular secondary stat. These take the form of a passive ability that grants a 5% increase to the amount of a specific secondary stat gained. This provides a good starting point for where to focus your secondary stats. Usually, it will be your highest throughput stat (not counting Spirit for Healers, and Bonus Armor for Tanks, which is an optimal secondary stat in most cases). There are exceptions, and raw throughput may not even be the biggest concern in some situations. Treat this as a guideline, not a rule, about which secondary stat to favor.
Lone Wolf is a new level 100 talent for survival and marksmanship hunters. It’s kind of a big deal. It lets you play a pet class without a pet. Whoa. It’s pretty simple: Dismiss your pet and get a 30% damage buff. Lone Wolf is undoubtedly the result of player demand. Demand from all of the players who want to play an archer class without having to maintain a roster of pets. Even more demand from raiders who were sick of their pet doing silly things like getting stuck in random places and not doing any DPS.
I’m not currently in the alpha, so most of what follows is just speculation. I’m just going by what I can see on paper and the limited amount of info I’ve been able to gleam from the handful of hunter streamers in alpha.
The following talents and abilities will simply not function if you spec into Lone Wolf:
Spirit Bond is something I’d have trouble living without, though the new self-heals from Kill Shot and Survivalist will help somewhat. The loss of Master’s Call is probably a deal breaker for a lot of PvP hunters.
Updated: The below post is now irrelevant as Celestalon tweeted there’s going to be another change to Lock and Load. Every time one of Black Arrow’s ticks multistrikes, it adds a stack of Lock and Load.
One of the changes coming in Warlords of Draenor for survival hunters is that every Black Arrow will guarantee at least one Lock and Load proc. Traps can no longer proc Lock and Load, which is why LnL itself has been removed and it’s now just a built-in component of Black Arrow.
Some hunters were wondering exactly how this guaranteed proc was going to work. Did it just mean that the final tick was always guaranteed to be a proc, or what? Turns out, that the guaranteed proc is randomly placed on one of the ticks, and it does this by determining how many procs you get on cast and then randomly placing them among the ticks.
A couple weeks ago, Celestalon tweeted that survival hunters were getting a new ability called Bear Trap. I speculated it might be a DPS cooldown since survival was sorely lacking in that department, and it looks like it will be. Beast mastery has Bestial Wrath, marksmanship has Rapid Fire, and now survival will have Bear Trap.
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.