BfA Alpha: Survival is starting to feel more like Beast Mastery than Beast Mastery

After playing all 3 specs on the Battle for Azeroth alpha, I’ve come to the conclusion that Survival feels like what Beast Mastery should feel like. I’m not talking about melee combat. I’m talking about the pet and the hunter being an actual duo, playing off each other and reliant on each other.

Beast Mastery Hunters may still have a higher percentage of pet damage, but the pets feel more like a damage delivery mechanism than a team-mate. Survival Hunters rely on their pets to help generate Focus through Kill Command and have several talents that cement the pet-hunter relationship that a lot of Beast Mastery players want.

To be fair, everyone (and Blizzard) has different ideas of what each spec should be like. Maybe BM is supposed to be less about the pet and Hunter relationship and more about the Hunter being an “alpha beast” who bends all beasts to their will, using them merely as tools.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Survival being pet-focused like this (I think it’s great actually), but why can’t the original pet specialization have some more mechanics like this?

In BfA, Survival gets Kill Command, but it works differently than Beast Mastery’s version. Survival’s version generates 15 Focus instead of costing Focus, and when you use it there is a 25% chance that its cooldown will immediately reset. It makes the pet feel more like a sidekick. You need him there to help you deal more damage, both directly and indirectly. Dire Beast and Dire Frenzy generating Focus just feels different. Its only 20 Focus over 8 sec, so you don’t actually notice it happen. Survival’s feels like you’re calling out to your pet to help you out and there’s an instant response.

Survival’s new DPS cooldown is Coordinated Assault, which is basically Bestial Wrath with a different name. In addition to a damage buff for pet and Hunter, it also doubles the chance for Kill Command to reset.

Survival’s new Mastery is Spirit Bond. Increases both pet and Hunter damage, and regenerates health passively for both of you. Literally the name of a BM artifact trait (and former mainstay talent).

Talent-wise, Survival has many pet/Hunter synergies:

  • Alpha Predator: Gives 2 charges to Kill Command and increases its damage by 30%. Pretty handy for when you want to be able to do some extra burst damage by pooling up some extra Focus.
  • Bloodseeker: Adds a bleed to Kill Command, and every bleeding target increases the Hunter and pet’s attack speed by 10%. Since Kill Command has a reset mechanic (or a 2 charge option), there is a lot of opportunity to stack this buff to 20% or more with multiple targets.
  • Tip of the Spear: Kill Command increases the damage of your next Raptor Strike (primary Focus spender) by 15%, and it stacks up to 3 times. Once again, the pet helping out the Hunter.
  • Flanking Strike: Flanking Strike is now a talent. It’s a coordinated attack between pet and Hunter, and it generates 30 Focus for both of you.
  • Birds of Prey: When you Raptor Strike the same target as your pet, you extend the duration of Coordinated Assault. This would be like Cobra Shot extending Bestial Wrath by 1 sec as long as you’re attacking the same target as your pet.

Looking at these, a lot of them seem like they could make great Beast Mastery talents with minor changes. I’m not saying I want exact copies for BM, I’m saying I want BM to have this same level of pet/Hunter synergy.

Look at BM’s tree, and you won’t find anything like this. You’ll just find talents that buff either the Hunter or pet damage by themselves.  One easy fix here would be to change Spitting Cobra so that the snake mirrors all of your Cobra Shots instead of just doing boring auto attacks. Stuff like that would feel so much cooler and it’s just a simple change to how the damage is delivered.

(Side note: Not pet related, but I really wish they’d give the Glaive Toss Chakrams talent to Beast Mastery as well. Just saying.)

Basically, I’d like to see more abilities and talents that focus on the pet buffing the Hunter and vice versa. I don’t think BM’s Kill Command needs to be turned into a Focus generator, but I really like that reset mechanic (along with the option for 2 charges). It would be redundant with Killer Cobra, but there’s plenty of other cool talents that could go there.

Here’s random talent idea I posted previously, which gives an example of the Hunter and pet having an effect on each other:

Wild Shot: Charge and launch a volley of wild energy, hitting all enemies within 12 yards of the target for Nature damage. Any of your pets caught in the volley are empowered by the wild energy, increasing their damage done by 100% for 10 seconds.

If you were to put a 40 yard range on Raptor Strike (essentially making it a ranged spec, since almost everything else is done at range), I’d probably be looking to play Survival at this point. But when it comes right down to it, I’m just not a melee fan.

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15 thoughts on “BfA Alpha: Survival is starting to feel more like Beast Mastery than Beast Mastery”

    1. Yeah, Blizz will inevitably alienate the small group of players who really like the current Survival. But maybe you’ll end up liking it once you try it? As someone who is not a fan of the current SV, I find the BfA version to be much more enjoyable. Hunter and pet really feel like a team and I prefer the new gameplay.

    2. As someone who damn near needed a change of pants at the gamescom reveal of talonclaw, and has wanted melee hunter since 2005, I am beyond hyped for BfA and all of the above.

  1. Wow, I have to try survival now! I am in Alpha also. It sounds great. I have liked it in Legion, and this sounds fantastic!

  2. The problem is that Warcraft’s focus is at odds with itself. On the one hand Blizz tries for the complexity which comes from nobody believing themselves to be truly evil, so we’re implicitly encouraged to think, if not about what we’ll do when the fighting is done, then at the very least about the ideals/people we’re fighting for. On the other, you know… War and fighting and stuff.

    Unfortunately, the latter makes up the bulk of the gameplay, so less thought is paid to what hunters do when they aren’t on the front lines. Why we fight is less important than the fact that we do. From this perspective, what is integral to a class’s fantasy is rooted in battle over everything else. Hunters, therefore, cease to be about the wilds as much as they are about how they dispatch their enemies.

    This dissonance is clearest with MM so I’m going to address it before moving to to show how BM and SV’s identities become muddled:

    If you consider a connection to the natural world to be integral to the hunter fantasy, then outside of sharing a resource type, Marksmanship hunters are more akin warriors specialising in ranged weapons. There’s nothing particularly primal about waiting over there taking pot shots at something that won’t reach you until it falls. They’re only really “hunters” because of the folkloric attribution of the longbow and forests to Robin Hood and Tolkienian Elves. Not saying that I don’t respect and admire our MM brethren, but their attribution to the hunter class is a case of mechanics over flavour.

    At its core, Survival is about just that: enduring the wilds. This gives it a clear mechanics-oriented goal on top of the easiest flavour to bake into combat. What better teacher/companion is there than the beasts themselves, who are perfectly adapted for surviving to begin with. Unlike Druids, hunters are out to survive *our* way. Tool use and companionship are integral to our survival, so it’s only natural that we would play off our pets like this.

    By contrast Beast Mastery is about using pets as weapons. Beast Masters survey the battlefield as an army of the biggest, meanest collection of teeth, claws and muscle they can find rip and tear until it is done. Beast Masters train their pets to be stronger and meaner than average, using them as a mitigating force between the hunter and the enemy.

    So there is an argument to be made that SV and BM are exactly how they’re meant to play. But it’s one rooted in the idea of combat for its own sake and will always disappoint those who like to think of their characters beyond those terms – not necessarily roleplayers, just people with a mild-to-strong narrative bent. As one such player, I’m disappointed in SV’s position too, even though I might just end up playing it to feel closer to my pets.

    1. Yeah, and this post is totally just my opinion on the matter. Blizzard and other people may see BM as the “alpha beast” who bends all other beasts to their will, and uses them merely as tools to get the job done.

      1. I hear that, but what I’m trying to get at is why it feels so, for want of a better term, “wrong.” As they currently stand, Survival is the only spec which says something about the player character beyond “this is how I kill things,” and sheds some light into who the hunter is outside of battle. BM used to feel like that (the entire Artefact Weapon quest is about how our bond to the animals around is allows us to save Hati), but now, with something which showcases a stronger relationship between hunter and pet, the people who pointed out the problematic nature of ostensibly being someone who cares about animals, but compels them to fight harder with electricity have been proven right to a greater extent than at the beginning of Legion. It’s not so much the fantasy of being the “alpha beast,” it’s the fact that that is *all* they are, and that the dubiously ethical undertones are now harder to ignore.

    2. And that’s why, despite having played MM since classic, with ocasional dips onto ranged SV, I hate Legion MM and that I’ve seen so far of BfA MM. The imposition of Lone Wolf for instance disconnects me completely from the Hunter fantasy. There’s no level 10 quest anymore now you are born with your pet, I hate having to ditch it so that I’m not dead weight for my guildies. They had an awesome shot with Alleria to create the Void Ranger class for the Alliance while allowing Sylvanas’s Dark Rangers to be playable for the Horde, ridding MM of the LW curse since there would be a bow class with no pet. They blew it with VElves (which make no sense, tbh)

      As for SV I hate Legion version. I wanted SV to be melee again and since being from a pure dps class does no longer grants a damage output difference over hybrid classes’ endurance I would’ve loved for SV to be able to tank as it occasionally off-tanked back in classic (maybe a 4th spec someday, fingers crossed). As for BfA love what I’ve seen so far. While Legion SV is completely half-assed, in the desperate attempt to give everyone what they’ve been asking for (yet still no eyes of the beast) that was Legion launch, BfA’s was thought conceptualised, and then created. It really looks awesome with its hybrid range mechanics.

      Regarding BM, the one problem I have with it since at least Cata, problem that also got to MM in WoD or Legion, is its dull gameplay: I feel I’m the pet and my pet’s the character. I do virtually anything while my alleged sidekick kicks ass left and right. That combined with the fact that pet AI continues to suck more and more with each xpack is what keeps me from maining it

  3. This is my thought exactly:

    “If you were to put a 40 yard range on Raptor Strike (essentially making it a ranged spec, since almost everything else is done at range), I’d probably be looking to play Survival at this point. But when it comes right down to it, I’m just not a melee fan.”

    I have only tinkered with BM in the alpha so far. Basically the same as live. Meh. I have no interest in MM; a hunter w/o a pet isn’t a hunter. Will give SV a shot just to see the changes, but will never ever never play a melee class. If I’d wanted that, I’d have rolled a rogue in 2004.

  4. Speaking as someone who loved SV and only switched to BM in Legion (for obvious reasons), I would go back to SV in a heartbeat if Raptor Strike became ranged. I have never really understood why BM, a spec that is supposed to be a “master of beasts”, has so little control over those beasts, so little true interaction. To me, Legion BM has always felt less like a master of beasts and more like a beast walker — someone whose only job is to let loose the leashes, holler “Sic ‘em!” and stand back and watch, taking a rather puny little pot shot at targets once in a while.

    I suspect we are past the development point for BfA where any meaningful changes will be made to BM, but holy moly what a fantastic move it would be to make SV truly ranged again!

  5. I’m also in the alpha and got the exact same impression; I even posted about it on the MMO Champ forums. The new SV feels like a melee BM, or at least what BM should feel like. I’ve been a BM main since mid-BC and I’ll never give up the spec, but hot damn the new SV is fun to play. I didn’t really care for the Legion iteration of SV but they’ve really fine tuned it in BfA and it’s a ton of fun. Harpooning in along with your pet, slashing them to ribbons, Disengaging out again for funzies, and then Harpooning back in (for damage and focus regen if you take the talent).

    As for those wishing SV could be ranged, the new Aspect of the Eagle essentially turns the spec ranged for a few seconds, as your Raptor Strike becomes a ranged attack and you “throw” spirit eagles at them. The animation is a little weird, and it looks like they are farting all the way to the target as they trail green smoke, but for a few precious seconds, you’re essentially back to being a ranged spec, as all of your abilities can now be used from range.

  6. I kinda want the direbeast hawk pvp talent as a aoe pve talent for hunters. It fits my BM fantasy of “a lot of pets being controlled by me”

  7. maybe blizz need to reduce the hunter spec at 2 like DH actually
    – BM is a very weak spec but not for damage. it is simply boring.
    – MM is cool like this is simply a ranged guy without pets of any sort (this is OK, not in need to be the strongest among the others, but simply smartest)
    – Surv is what BM need to be. In the animal world, the stronger rule among the if you want to command 197 pets you need to be stronger (from a fantasy view).
    Look rexxar HE IS AN HALF GIANT! (NO 1 other has bond with beast like him in wc universe i think) and in wc lore he is always a BEASTMASTER/survival NPC.


    1. He’s a Mok’nathal, half Orc half Ogre no giants involved. His epithet is “The Beastmaster” and the whole class is loosely based off him. Of course, given he is THE beast master, up until Legion he was always shown as a BM hunter. With the SV going back to melee, they retconned him to SV (though he stills dual weilds as hunters did in classic, instead of using a two-handed polearm).

      That being clarified, I can even think, with no issue whatsoever, of a 4th spec, and even a whole new class (which I thought I would get when I saw Alleria’s storyarc, but instead of Void and Dark Rangers we somehow got Void Elves which makes no sense):
      Spec 1. Beast Mastery, basically what it is now, but well done; ranged class with heavy pet flavour, masters of pets who can call upon all their five active pets to assist them in combat.
      Spec 2: Marksmanship, being what it used to be; ranged class oriented around versatile ranged output, with a pet offering support (no Lone Wolf at all) , opposite to just being yet another caster, or the quick shot disgrace presented in alpha (which finally kills Rapid Fire, the one mechanic that makes it still feel like a Hunter, and becomes the one caster with no casts affected by haste w/ 3s Aimed Shots).
      Spec 3: Survival, keeping the current concept for alpha, which looks and feels awesome, maybe letting them go ranged a little more often, either by reducing the CD, or adding some symbiotic mechanic to other skill that let’s you reduce it on the go.
      Spec 4: Call it whatever, a taking spec, where your defensive CDs are stuff like “Roar of Sacrifice” (your pet jumps in front of you taking the the damage), “Deterrence” coming back as the parry CD it used to be, “Spirit Link” which would grant some of the healing you get to your pet, while you have to keep it up, similar to monk’s stagger mechanics, with your Mend Pet, “Distracting Shot” coming back as your taunting skill, while your pets “Growl” can officiate as another def CD, making your target attack your pet for a few seconds, etc.

      As for Lone Wolf, there’s where the new class appears. Ranger, with two specs: Ranger and Farstider. “Ranger” would basically be the “Lone Wolf” spec

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