LEGION: The melee hunter returns? [Update: Confirmed]

Update: Survival is definitely a melee spec. Updated details here.

*Breathes deeply*

OK, that was exciting. After being at an all time low with my general WoW excitement, I have to say that LEGION gives me some hope for WoW’s future. I am beyond excited, but I’m going to have to force myself to not get TOO hyped after the disappointments in WoD, because that expansion had much better intentions (I feel) than it ultimately delivered.

That being said…

Apparently, Survival is now a melee spec.

Melee. Hunter. Confirmed.

Beastlord Darmac… an early hint

The new Survival Hunter

It is the long-awaited Rexxar Hunter spec, or maybe more accurately the Darmac Hunter spec? Pictured above is Beastlord Darmac, a melee Hunter from Blackrock Foundry. With a spear.

Oh yeah, how do we know Survival is going to be a melee spec? Because their artifact weapon in Legion is going to be a spear. Let’s take a look at the Eagle Spear.

Click to embiggen

Class weapon artifacts in Legion are spec specific, and this is Survival’s artifact. Each spec will venture on a quest to retrieve their artifact and then upgrade it throughout the expansion.

According to the brief preview of the Eagle Spear, it is a fabled weapon of the Highmountain Tauren, a new Tauren clan in the Broken Isles. You’ll embark on a quest to find it and that’s all we really know.

They also pointed out that it has different visual themes — eagle, wolf, serpent, and bear. These will presumably be from upgrades (and at least one will be the PvP-only look). I’m digging the wolf and bear ones especially.

The fantasy of fighting side by side with your pet is about to be realized. I never thought Blizzard would do it, but they did. Now we know why they kind of just gave up on Survival in Warlords.

Some might argue that Beast Mastery may have been the better choice as a melee spec, but I would disagree. To me the ultimate Beast Mastery Hunter is still that one featured in the original WoW cinematic with his bear and gun. Survival was the original melee tree back in classic WoW.

Questions… questions that need answering

There are so many questions, hopefully some of which will be answered this coming Sunday when they have the developer panel to answer more questions.

In the meantime, let’s speculate.

My first big question is how does Blizzard plan on handling the transition to a melee spec? When 7.0 drops, none of us are going to have up to date melee weapons. So what happens? There are many ways they could handle this, like giving us some way to trade in a ranged weapon for an equivalent melee weapon. After all, it only really needs to cover the awkward month or two during the prepatch.

The other question branching off this one is the nature of the artifacts themselves. Presumably they’ll be our best weapons… so does that mean we no longer care about getting weapon drops? They’ve already implied that everyone gets the base artifact. This is a total wild guess, but maybe the artifact is more of a glorified transmog (plus the talent features they mentioned) that simply augments our “real” weapon. That way we would still care about getting new weapons. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find out in a couple of days.


The other big question is how our talents will be revamped to support having two ranged specs and one melee spec. What happens to Barrage, for example? My best guess is a talent like that gets two versions, and the Survival version is some kind of melee AoE, like a spear cleave or something.



Marksmanship and Beast Mastery — still ranged!

Also teased were our two other artifact weapons — a bow for Marksmanship and a tremendously badass looking gun for Beast Mastery. You can see the gun above. Sorry for potato quality on the gun pic. Hopefully we will get a clear screenshot soon. Click here to see a cropped version of the gun.

We do have clear pictures of the Marksmanship bow — Thas’dorah, Legacy of the Windrunners:

“Legend has it that this elven family heirloom — once wielded by a infamous Ranger-General — can turn a mediocre archer into a master marksman… and make a master truly peerless.”

The Hunter Hall — where will it be?

A new feature in Legion will be class order halls. Essentially you will act as a leader of your class in this hall. It sounds like it may be the replacement for the garrison. Each class hall is located in a different part of the world. Apparently you’ll see other Hunter players inside, including cross-faction players. Any speculation at where the Hunter hall will be?

They could do so many cool things to it, like having a decked out stables (maybe giving you more stable slots in the process).

And Blizzard, if you’re listening? This is one thing you have to do for the Hunter hall: MAKE IT A GIANT FREAKING HUNTER STABLE. I want to see all of my stabled pets just hanging around the place. Walking around, chillin’ by the pool, playing with other Hunter pets, whatever. Just make it some kind of awesome Hunter paradise.

Oh, and a shooting range (and some regular dummies for the Survival hunters of course).

Do it Blizzard.

Demon Hunters are not real hunters

Demon Hunters actually look kind of neat, and I’m sure I’ll have an alt… but it didn’t come close to pulling me away from my true calling. I know some of you may be contemplating the switch.

As for me… will I go melee hunter? Who knows! I don’t even know how it plays yet. My only concern will be it could complicate the loot somewhat. Other classes may be angry with us again now that everything will be a hunter weapon again.  😆

One last awesome thing: Dalaran is returning. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Bring back the best city. It can fly, so why the hell not?

I’m exhausted from all this hype. Time to collect my thoughts.

p.s. There’s always some small chance that Survival is not a melee spec, but some kind of spear-thowing ranged spec. A ranged/melee hybrid could maybe work, with spear throwing as your ranged ability. 

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60 thoughts on “LEGION: The melee hunter returns? [Update: Confirmed]”

      1. Yeah like I said I did not expect this!

        It’s almost as if them butchering Survival was a way to ween people off of it so they wouldn’t be upset when the spec completely changed. I’m not even joking… I think they legit nerfed the hell out of it for this very reason.

        1. I still think it’s because SV and MM are just so similar. It’s hard to make them feel very different.. they tried and still.. ehhhhh.

          I’m happy about it. Especially if that means MM will be getting a lot of SV-type things.. so it feels less caster-like. 🙂

          1. I can’t really understand this. You say that MM and SV are very similar, but I’m very good at SV and hate MM playstyle. And now the big thing I really like to do when playing RPGs that is stay on the top range dealing ranged physical damage with my bows is going away from my favorite spec. This is the single major bummer I’m feeling in this whole xpack so far and I hope they reconsider the change (or at least make it optional).

        2. This is entirely possible. I remember Blizzard saying something similar about one of the warlock specs. They weren’t happy with the way it played so they made the dps suck in the hopes that players would choose a different spec until the next expansion when it could be fixed.

          1. Making my DPS suck won’t make me stop loving my favorite Hunter spec. Now, do you know what would make that happening? Destroying it’s flavor by completely removing the ranged aspect of it. *sigh*

              1. @Shambles
                False! Originally Hunters had melee attacks not just survival… That does not justify making survival a melee class… Might as well delete Survival and make us rogues…

        3. I asked the devs in a tweet some time ago if they nerfed SV for the same reason as Demonology but never got an answer.

          They did buff SV a short while a go (unlike Demo) so I’m not sure we should expect too large changes.

          Maybe the difference is weapons is just meant to make the spec look more different rather than play different.

          After all, there are a lot of players who love to play SV.

          1. I seriously hope they move Explosive shot and black arrow over to Marksman along with lock n load procc because that shit is too good to give up. I loved that about survival. I’ve always been a survival hunter except in the start of WoD when MM preformed best and now when MM preforms best again.

  1. 1st, regardless what they call out hall, it will always be known as the Brew Hall for me. and we NEED a table in one corner with books, stacks of papers and a few mics sitting on it.

  2. If it is melee/ranged hybrid, let’s hope to hell they don’t bring back that dead zone where you could do neither….

  3. I’m currently preparing for a sad. I’m a BM hunter. Always. Only. I LOATHE guns. I want a bow. Therefore, I am preparing for a sad. ;_;

    1. Me too, I only play BM and I despise guns. I really hope one of the customization options for the hunters is the ability to switch between ranged weapons like in transmog.

      1. Wow!! So much this!!!

        I’m a SV/BM Hunter and I favor bows over guns all the time. Guess what I’ve got? A spear and a gun. Cool, huh?


    2. I’m sure they will let you transmog it. I dont like guns either since my hunter is a nightelf. on humans and dwarves and such they are fine.

  4. “so does that mean we no longer care about getting weapon drops?”

    Perhaps it means there will be no weapon drops. We know they choose a ring for the legendary option in Warlords because cloak drops on raids were almost always a disappointment. I’m sure if these weapons work out then the same issue would occur with weapon drops.

  5. My guess is that SV gets a melee sub-spec like gladiator for warriors. They would either throw the spear or hit stuff in melee. I wonder what will happen to lonewolf though since a melee hunter without a pet isn’t that different from any other melee class/spec.

    I like guns but I don’t see how a gun fits the BM theme. An upgradable pet would be better.

  6. I’m really hoping that these artifacts are transmoggable. I’m staying Marksman — and I’d love it if they made the specs really distinct by making Lone Wolf baseline for Marksmen — but I’m not using a bow. No way, no how. (Alternately, allowing me to get the BM gun would be fine, too.)

    1. Hunters were the first players that had the interchangeable transmogging options between their weapons specifically because of this: Players not willing to use either guns or bows and transmogging one into another helped that in the perfect way (specially for those ugly crossbow models).

      I hope all Hunter specs get to choose which artifact weapon model they want, keeping the artifact enhancement tree, of course.

  7. I didn’t saw the entire thing but did they really say SV was going melee? I though I had heard wrong when they presented the spear and said it was SV weapon but maybe if it really is it could still be a neat new throwing weapon as well, right? =P

  8. I know some SV hunters are disappointed with the idea of an all melee SV spec, but I hope the new SV is 100% melee. We need more differentiation within the class. Currently, SV, MM, and BM are so similar that they seem more like the names of different rotations than truly different specs. Yes, each spec has a unique shot and a unique DPS cooldown, and (recently) only SV has DOTs, but the play styles are almost identical–stand off and shoot while your pet melees the boss. If we had SV as a 100% melee spec (perhaps with ranged traps), the play style would be fundamentally different–melee with a pet. If you identify with SV and don’t like melee, I feel your pain, but previously SV, MM, and BM were really just names. Practically, we’ve all just been generic hunters for a long time now. A 100% melee SV offers a chance for something completely different. Let’s be open to the change and see where it goes.

    1. I’m sorry, but I love my SV Hunter (despite the nerfs, ugh) and I loathe playing MM. I have BM because of the exotic pets (and to do some damage now, since SV is way down below).

    1. Goa’uld you mean 🙂 (big Stargate fan). Energy weapon? Yeaaaaaahhh not so sure about that. Spear throwing is more likely if it does have a ranged component.

  9. MM has to use a Bow, argghhh why? I am a bloody dwarf, I shoot things with a gun. Bows are for
    flower sniffing tree huggers, not for me.

  10. As a Worgen BM hunter, I 100% approve of a GUN as the artifact weapon. However, I do hope for the sake of the hunter community at large that they let xmog between the weapon types for everyone. I’m also excited to see exactly what changes are in store for SV. I believe a mostly melee spec would really finally give the 3 specs their own unique flavor (BM animals, MM pure shooting, SV melee/traps). I think all of the SV players out there should hold off on any worry and give it a chance. If SV does go 100% melee, some of the cool range aspects will likely fold into MM, so switching will not be too painful. HOWEVER, we may all suddenly fall in love with the option to have a melee spec that rips face at close range… if for nothing else as an off-spec. I don’t know about the spear in Legion, but dual wielding axes (REXXAR style) or claw looking fist weapons ripping face alongside my pet? YES PLEASE.

  11. From Icy Veins: http://www.icy-veins.com/forums/topic/13199-wow-legion-interview-with-tom-chilton-ion-hazzikostas/

    “As an example of class changes, the Survival Hunter ‘spear’ Artifact was brought up. In Legion, Survival Hunters will be a melee spec that utilizes a pet. To differentiate specializations, the developers will try to de-homogenize the classes. Further to this, Beast Mastery Hunters will fight at range with a pet, while Marksmanship Hunters will fight at range with NO PET.”

    “You obtain your Artifact early on in the Legion experience. This is the weapon you will use throughout the expansion. You will not get weapon drops in Legion. Something that wasn’t mentioned during the reveal is that each Artifact has a number of Relic slots, which will determine its raw item stats (DPS, ilvl, etc.) and modifiers to the traits you’ve chosen, so the Artifact’s stats will still improve as you defeat bosses.”

    I really hope all artifact weapons are transmoggable. Especially since they’re won’t be any other weapon drops.

    1. Wow… good find. I guess that answers it. Have to admit… didn’t see it coming that they intend for MM to be a Lone Wolf only type spec. Pure sniper/ranger spec. I know plenty of pet-loving MMs are going to be upset with that one. Looks like my beloved BM is the only spec basically staying the same. Things are getting more and more interesting in hunter-land by the hour.

  12. I’m rather glad the BM weapon will be a gun. As for SV, I’m not sure what to think. I might try the spec out, but I doubt I’ll stick with it. To me, at least, being a hunter means being at range.
    The one important question in my mind that I doubt will be answered Sunday or any time soon, though, is: Will that moose in the trailer be tameable?

    1. That Moose: you would think that if it falls in the Stag family, it should be tameable. Though, they could make it lvl 111 to keep us from nabbing them too early.

  13. If they make Survival a melee build, they do need a mechanic to help close the melee gap. Perhaps a “leaping strike” that closes the distance between you and your target, like the reverse of disengage 😛 But it will be fun to see what happens. I’d also like to see Hunters get the “pin” ability that beastlord had in BRF (throw the spear up and pin a target in place) – would be amazing.
    Also, as a Tauren Hunter, I am nervous about how the artifact weapon models will look. Bowstrings going through Tauren arms, Tauren hands are too big to properly hold guns and it can look bad. Hopefully the models will not have these problems.

  14. I’m probably in the minority here, but this move of making survival to a melee spec has somewhat killed the class for me. Which is sad, given ive played it for like 8 or so years now. Ive always played a mix of survival and maskman over that time. Ive never played BM and never will, the gameplay and idea of it isn’t appealing for me.

    The shift of making survival a melee spec again isn’t my cup of tea. I want to shoot things from a far like an elf ranger etc… Which means MM is the only spec left. And given blizzards terrible track record of class balancing, there’s a high chance MM could be bad, as there always has been a bad spec. Which f**ks over the entire class for me =(

    1. I completely agree. Survival in MoP was a thing of beauty. Where the other specs built stacks of something and then built their dps on that (steady aim, frenzy stacks, iirc) survival was based on dots and proc bursts. It felt “sneakier” than the other specs. Survival in WoD completely broke, with the proc bursts taken away and only the dot aspects remaining. Then the damage was nerfed because Blizz wasn’t “bad at math” and they wanted people to stop playing SV and now we find out why.

      I’ve already switched mains because they broke survival in the current expac. It’s looking likely that I’ll unsubscribe completely because of the direction they’re going with classes looks like a continuation of the disaster of WoD.

  15. For the people who don’t like guns (and vice versa), some clarification on twitter:

    icyveinscom: Artefacts can be transmogrified into something else but not the other way around. #Legion #BlizzGC2015 thanks @WatcherDev

  16. So, we have some intersting times ahead it seems…

    I can see where they come from with the melee Survival – diversifying from current two specs “shoot stuff from afar” (and one “apply animal to stuff’s face – then shoot it from afar”. It still comes as a surprise they’ll actually do something radical like this. MIGHT try it, with caveats that a) I horribly suck at melee and b) it doesn’t fit with my current chars. Can see it as a nice style for tauren / trolls for example.

    The spec changes to more rigid styles (by IcyVeins interview) however mean I’m now getting boxed into MM as the only ranged+pet spec, which would be first time – never went for it because it felt a bit too dependent on the pet. Will have to try it now. Not sure thow exactly to feel about this change, it feels weid but logically makes some sense. At least I get a gun to go with it 😛

    Which brings up the artifact weapons – and I’m a bit wary of this. We’ll see how the implementation will be:
    – bypasses any dependence on drops, which is kinda good, but the upgrade grind might feel something like “oh I have to do 3,75 more raids to advance to next upgradee, wheee”. Such excitement…
    – everyone running around with the same weapon (ok or shadowy or fiery or whatever variant but since these are unlocks most people will have the exact same skin). But since its one weapon per spec this might not be so visible. Except in the class lodge where everyone will have one of three possible weapons. This greatly depends on whether artifact weapons will be transmoggable or not – hopefully they will be (this also solves the problem of anyone not being allowed to use their favorite weapon with their spec) but might not and then meh.

    Class lodges and champions system sounds nice but we’ll see what comes out of it…

    And the MOOSE! If it’s not tameable I predict riots. Also, moose mount to go with it, please?

    Anyways, we’ll see what exactly we get when Legion actually releases, quite a lot of the stuff is still going to be changed / shelved but as said, interesting times ahead…

  17. Ok, so I do not like having to be a gun toting BM. But I think I will like the idea of a melee survival hunter. And no, I do not hate sv by default. It has been my go to class for ages and I can’t remember how long ago it was since 6.2 that Surv was not one of my specs.
    But I also feel that pure dps classes in general just really lack some major variety. Druids have 4 complete different styles. Shammies too have 2 fully different dps specs. I’m perfectly happy with being allowed to step out of the ranged dps role for a change.
    I probably would have liked a tanking or healing role even more (play wise), to shoot arrows which explode with healing power or such. Or some akward switch where I take over the mind of the pet and the night elf becomes more of a pet really. But all those things sound sort of clumsy and out of the role. So yeah, I’ll settle for being a melee dps under the assumption that this will be done well enough to not make me feel like some handicapped range converts to melee project.
    So yeah, sorry to see the endless stream of exploding shots go. But I’m open for something refreshing, to the idea of assaulting my foe with spear and teeth. Some agile dynamic play between hunter and pet, assaulting their target like two being in perfect unison.

    1. 100% Agree…the management between melee and ranged that was part of the ranger till Cataclysm was my reason to choose him…I was sad as they removed it and I am now the happier as they seem to have a concept for it.

      I played a loc as an alt in WOD and I was so unpleased with the way they implemented him. One Spec just pet and evil lilac dude and super lame 3 button casts, one spec depends heavily on building up a second energy component and even longer casts and the third just dots without casttime…this cryed LAME…each spec lost the feeling of a nether corrupted spellslinger. to enjoy a class it has to have variety in playstyle in eauch spec not just leaving a third of the skills to each spec…it felt alot like changing specs was all I did sometimes with my loc.

      I loved my hunter till WOD and I hope to start loving him in Legion again…looking forward to this change as chance.

  18. The Icy Veins interview clears things up nicely. Thanks for posting, Joonces. I’ve been BM for most of my ten years, so it’s easier for me to absorb these changes. I’ve been playing with MM/Lone Wolf of late and I’m just not a fan, though the DPS is nice. SV as a melee spec sounds like a very interesting idea and I can see messing about with it to see how it plays. I think the biggest factor in all of this will be how Blizzard addresses the issue of spec swapping and Artifact weapons. If I’m BM/SV, will I be leveling two distinct Artifact weapons? Sounds like a lot of work. There are a crap-ton of questions here. For example, if I’m are restricted to one Artifact weapon and I level as BM, which I certainly will, what happens when we get to endgame and MM or SV is the top DPS spec? Could it be that Blizzard is finally going to finally move away from an emphasis on a top spec for endgame and focus instead on balanced DPS across all specs, allowing us to play the way we want? That would be bloody awesome.

  19. Saying that Survival should be melee because they had a few laughable talents in Vanilla is like saying there should be a dead zone spec. It’s bad for the class!

  20. Would be great if they could make a Subspec for BM as a tank (More dedicated Aggro and Dmg reduction) and for Surv a Subspec to support (see Disc Priest or Shadow as it used to be)…but I guess they will rather not do it.

  21. I have 0 desire to play a melee hunter and depending on what they do to MM and BM it may drive me away from the class all together. I cam to WoW from City of Heroes (where there were no cast times (for the most part) and have been here since vanilla. What drew me to the hunter over a mage was that it didnt have alot of cast time abilities. As Blizzard tweaked each spec SV became the more spammy spec and MM the more caster spec and I kept gravitating towards the spammy spec. In its current form I am not a fan of the caster feel MM has or how tied to the pet BMs damage is.

    I am currently playing MM/SV on my main and have BM/SV on an alt. I have run all three spec in and out of raid environment and SV was the only one I truely enjoyed. If they make MM less of a caster I will probably stick with the class and go MM, but if it doesnt I am already looking at another class that I will enjoy playing (Balance Druid is looking the top contender right now (more dots, fewer casts). I will not be rolling a Demon Hunter since it has no ranged spec, unless they decide to add a ranged spec to that class (maybe what SV currently is a ranged dot spec)

    Overall Blizzard has been dropping the ball so often as of late (two bad x-packs in a row), that I dont have much hope they will do things right with these changes to the class.

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