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.