BfA Alpha: Opinions and feedback on the three Hunter specs in early April

I’ve been trying to play all three Hunter specs pretty equally on the alpha, including leveling, dungeons, and island expeditions. This will be the first of hopefully several posts on my current opinion of the state of the class on alpha/beta. I’m also going to keep this bullet point form to make it easy for both of us.

Beast Mastery

  • I’m still waiting for a build that introduces some bigger changes to a spec that has not really seen any significant changes since the BlizzCon build. MM and SV have received a lot more attention. I still don’t know if this is intentional (Blizzard is happy with what they’ve got) or they’re simply not made a pass on the abilities and talents yet.
  • If you like BM as it is on live, you’ll probably like it in its current BfA state because not much has changed. There’s one less rotation button with the removal of Titan’s Thunder. Most of the same talents are there, just re-arranged. But without the artifact and some legendaries, it feels kind of naked. There’s definitely something missing here.
  • Speaking of talents, this is still the weakest point of the spec IMO. There’s so many dead and/or boring talents here. Three prime examples are Big Game Hunter (feels useless because the window closes so fast), Venomous Bite (not noticeable in gameplay, and redundant with Dire Frenzy/Beast), and Barrage. Sorry, but Barrage is simply not going to work with BM’s kit. The opportunity cost is too high with a spec that only has instant attacks which demand a lot of resources. That’s why it’s a DPS loss on live in almost every situation (even over using no talent in that row!). The only way it works is if its damage is buffed by insane amounts, and then it’ll still feel clunky (yes, the dreaded C-word — but don’t worry, Celestalon doesn’t work on WoW anymore so I think I can say it).
  • Animal Companion, the Hati replacement talent, is STILL not working. Since Big Game Hunter is terrible and should be taken out back and shot, you’re mostly relegated to using Dire Beast on alpha right now (though I use BGH when I want to test Dire Frenzy).

  • ANIMATION UPDATE! The class mechanics and talents may not be getting much attention, but they’ve started to improve BM’s poor animations.
    • The /yell and shout animations are gone. Kill Command is now a forceful pointing animation. If using a gun, you point with your weapon. If using a bow, you just point with your hand with your bow in your offhand.
    • Dire Frenzy has a new animation of the Hunter sort of “chucking” a little projectile at the target to command the pet to attack. The projectile has an insignificant amount of damage, but the damage of Dire Frenzy itself is the same. It looks a lot better than what we have today.
    • I really want Kill Command to get some sort of visual effect/projectile similar to the Dire Frenzy one.
  • Your pet’s attack speed buff stacks from Dire Frenzy are now tracked in the base Blizzard UI (assuming you use the little health bar and focus bar that appear below your character). This is a nice addition for those who don’t want to use weakauras but still keep track of the stack.
  • The animation changes and the attack speed stacks on baseline UI were both suggestions I made recently (and perhaps others did as well), so these may have been directly from player feedback.
  • Kill Command, Dire Frenzy, and Dire Beast now require line of sight to the target, but you can still cast them if you’re not facing the target. This will affect BM PvP more than anything, it’s not a huge deal for PvE.
  • It appears that Kill Command and Dire Frenzy will now cause your pet to instantly swap targets without having to use /petattack macros. Previously, you had to use that macro or else if you selected a new target and immediately cast Kill Command, your pet would cast it on the old target.

  • If Blizzard is reading, here’s my top 5 things I want to see for BM:
    • 1. Aspect of the Wild solely exists to stack with every 3rd or 4th Bestial Wrath. There’s nothing interesting there. Replace AOTW with Stampede as a baseline cooldown. Stampede does not work well as a talent, but as a baseline cooldown it would be great in its current form. To augment the removal of AOTW I think it would be prudent to give Bestial Wrath a 15-25% Focus cost reduction effect purely for gameplay reasons (I don’t give a hoot about DPS numbers at this point, just talking about feel).
    • 2. Chimaera Shot is probably never going to work as a talent unless its damage is buffed to the point where its the only logical choice. I’d rather see it replace Multi-Shot as our baseline AoE shot. Have it cost Focus and activate Beast Cleave like Multi-Shot does. Hitting 2 targets for meaningful damage is better than tickling 10 with Multi-Shot and also differentiates it from Marksmanship.
    • 3. Keep the handful of good talents (you should know what they are via your analytics) and please do a hard and serious pass on BM talents. Focus on talents that emphasize hunter/pet synergy, kind of like all those cool talents Survival has now.
    • 4. BM as a spec plays infinitely better when using One with the Pack. I think it would be better if the 40% chance to proc Wild Call was baseline to the spec. It makes the spec less boring, and helps with downtime issues that are returning. At this point I think it will end up as a mandatory talent anyway, so just bake it in.
    • 5. One more rotation button to take the place of Titan’s Thunder. Something with a 20-60 second cooldown that involves decision-making similar to Titan’s Thunder (always thought it was cool that Titan’s Thunder was used differently with Dire Frenzy vs. Dire Beast).
      • Example: Your next Dire Frenzy does increased damage based on the number of Frenzy stacks on your pet, or your currently summoned Dire Beasts all have their duration extended.


  • I like the new iteration of Marksmanship a lot more than the Legion one. No more RNG vulnerable marking target crap.
  • Everything but your big nuke (Aimed Shot) can be cast on the move. Aimed Shot is cast less frequently now, and it has 2 charges, so when you have to move you’re usually not wasting much.
  • I like how there’s multiple ways to generate Focus (Steady Shot and Rapid Fire). Steady Shot feels good as a filler, and Rapid Fire feels good to use when at lower Focus.
  • I like the feel and rhythm of following up every Aimed Shot with a couple of buffed Quick Shots (well, it looks like they just renamed it back to Arcane Shot). The Precise Shots passive causes your Aimed Shot to buff your next 1-2 Arcane Shots by 100%.
  • AoE damage require some setup but looks like it will offer some pretty nice burst damage. You need 3 targets in range of your Multi-Shot in order to do any AoE. Once you hit 3 of them with Multi-Shot, your next Aimed Shot will hit up to 5 nearby targets for FULL damage. This felt pretty good in dungeons.
  • Lone Wolf (no longer a talent) has been adjusted so now it’s only a 10% buff instead of 18%. This is good news for MM Hunters who are determined to use a pet. Yes, a pet is still going to be weaker than a 10% buff to all your shots, but it won’t feel nearly as bad to use a pet when soloing/leveling. And if you don’t fret about a few percent here or there, you should definitely be able to play MM with a pet full time if you want. I think most MM Hunters will just put their pet away in raids/M+ and use them everywhere else.
  • Blizzard may want to put some measures in place to discourage pet swapping for MM (summoning your pet, popping blood lust, then dismissing), but maybe they’re OK with it? I don’t know. But I think a 30 sec cooldown on the big pet abilities (lust, damage reduction, master’s call) that triggers after summoning the pet in combat (as MM only) would be reasonable. The pet should be more of a choice than a disposable buff bot.
  • The talents are a bit of a mixed bag. I really like Double Tap as a mini cooldown. Lock and Load as a level 100 talent with only a 5% chance feels too infrequent. I did a whole dungeon where I only got 3 procs! The live version has a 8% chance to give you 2 charges, this has a 5% chance to give you 1 charge. I understand the nerf considering Aimed Shot is relatively more powerful now, but this feels too RNG.
  • I think the level 60 tier is the most interesting at the moment with the choice between Steady Focus, Streamline, and Hunter’s Mark.  Both Steady Focus and Streamline let you quickly fill up your Focus bar in different ways. Hunter’s Mark is just a straight single target buff with the Focus regen perk when fighting lots of short-lived targets.
  • I am not a big fan of the new Trueshot cooldown. It feels like one of the charges is always at least half wasted. Ideally you want to use it right after using your last Aimed Shot charge, but you will be low on Focus after that and may not have enough to get the two new Aimed Shots off without throwing in some Steady Shots or a Rapid Fire. Even though Aimed Shot is only 30 Focus now, you always follow it up with a 15 Focus Arcane Shot (sometimes 2 of them), so its real cost is 45-60 Focus. Couple that with the Focus pool being reduced to 100 and it’s easy to become starved when you want to use those 2 new charges immediately. It just feels a bit weak for a 3-minute cooldown. It almost feels like Marksmanship doesn’t have any big cooldown windows, but maybe some people will like that. I think if it also added something like “your next two Aimed Shots also cost 50% less Focus” it would feel more appropriate for a 3 min cooldown.
  • Marksmanship is the closest thing we have to pre-Legion Hunter, and I think a lot of people are going to gravitate towards it.


  • Overall, Survival is pretty fun. It really is a melee/ranged hybrid. You can do almost everything from 40 yd range except for Raptor Strike (primary focus spender). And when you use Aspect of the Eagle, even Raptor Strike goes 40 yards!
  • In fact, it’s so close to being a range class that I wish they’d simply make it so, or at least give Survival the option to use a ranged or melee weapon. It would make such a good ranged spec in its current state that it actually frustrates me.
    • Update: Someone in the comments pointed out that maybe they can make some sort of option to allow Aspect of the Eagle to be permanent, like a talent or even have it work like an old school Aspect that is toggled. I think there is potential there.
  • Survival has the most interesting talent selection of the 3 specs so far. Lots of choice, lots of fun options.
  • I spoke about this in my previous post, but Survival feels like the most Huntery of the Hunter specs right now. It feels closer to Beast Mastery than Beast Mastery in some ways. You and your pet are a tag team, and you can choose to emphasize that or not via your talents.
  • Explosive Trap is GONE thankfully. I hated having to use and target the ground that frequently. It’s now replaced by Wildfire Bomb which rewards proper positioning for more AoE damage.
  • Serpent Sting plays a neat little animation where you pull out a hand crossbow, fire the sting, then quickly put it away. You can even play a full on Serpent Sting build by taking the Viper’s Venom and Hydra’s Bite talents, and it feels really good.
  • Did I mention I wish they’d just make it a ranged spec or have the option?
  • Coordinated Assault, the main DPS cooldown, is basically a Bestial Wrath ripoff. The BM marginalization is real. Seriously though, I think there could be a better cooldown here. What if instead of a straight damage buff where you and the pet go orange (at least it’s a different color), it significantly buffed Mastery: Spirit Bond? So it’s not only a DPS buff but also gives more healing for the duration, which seems appropriate.
  • I don’t have much negative to say about Survival other than the fact it’s melee. The fact I enjoy it as much as I do (remember, I traditionally hate playing melee in WoW) should tell you something.
  • Did I mention I wish this was a ranged spec?

P.S. The pet in the featured image is the new model for the demon dogs. You can see other pet model revamps at Petopia.

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24 thoughts on “BfA Alpha: Opinions and feedback on the three Hunter specs in early April”

  1. What is that gryphon? It looks like the Pandaria quest reward one, but with green armor and maybe gray wings.

  2. Posted in class development in regards to a ranged option for Surv:

    We already have options in synergy and modifiers in the tier 90 row for Raptor Strike. Considering a talent that’d fit well in the row replacing Flanking’s position in allowing the Hunter to equip a ranged weapon, replacing Raptor with a signature shot, and tuned appropriately.

  3. I’m holding out hope for another look at BM too. The spec feels lost and messy especially considering how good the other two look. I’m really glad there’s a lot of diversity and different playstyles without either SV or MM feeling overly complex, maybe make Aspect of the Eagle permanent for SV (I’d say have that option as a talent, but I don’t want SV to suffer the same thing that MM has for two expansions)?

    Honestly BM feels like Blizz thought it was passable in comparison to the broken mess they made of SV and MM in Legion, but now there doesn’t really feel like there’s any comparison.

    I don’t know that they’d do it at this point, but maybe rework Bestial Wrath to be like a shadow priest’s insanity: changing our abilities to more powerful iterations. While BW is active in addition to a minor damage increase (say 10/15%), Kill Command causes our target to bleed, Beast Cleave spreads it, Cobra Shot increases BW’s duration by 1 second/cast, Dire Frenzy no longer reduces BW cooldown, but has no maximum stack and its chance to proc is increased by an additional 30% (or maybe just this last one with the other options as talents). Focus costs aren’t reduced, but our new ability Rapid Recovery (which replaces AotW) allows us to consume all remaining stacks of DF and increases our focus regen by 5 focus/second/stack for X seconds. We could have a talent which reverts BW to its original form and changes Rapid Recovery to “Rabid Recovery” which is functionally identical to Aspect of the Wild (maybe even call the talent choice Rabid Recovery).

    Sadly, I highly doubt that anything other than mild refinement is coming to BM, let alone anything this drastic, but a hunter can dream.

    1. Aspect of the Eagle as a permanent option or toggle like an old school aspect is actually a really good idea… lets the spec still use melee weapons but also an option for ranged. All you’d need is another Aspect that gives some little perk for being in melee range.

      Or even have 2 abilities: Raptor Strike and Eagle Strike.

      1. There was an old level 15 talent which rewarded being in range iirc, where KC would generate more focus if you were in melee range.

  4. Also if they make SV purely ranged, we miss out on the beautiful ability to Disengage away and Harpoon back in as part of our rotation. I don’t want to lose that.

    1. you dont do that anymore 😛
      no buffs for disengaging and engaging and no minimal distance requirements so its a wasted gcd to fight in ranged combat.
      and with that aspect of the eagle lost a shitload of impact since youre in melee anyways.
      the spec is quite a mess at the moment tbh

  5. No more sidewinders for MM? I may finally give it a try next expansion, specially considering how few changes BM is getting

  6. Holding out hope, and positive thoughts, that they’ll give BM more quality attention. Bendak, I know you’ve been working so hard on testing out all three specs and I’ve always trusted your assessment of all of our beloved hunters. I trust in your thoughts and suggestions, thus far, in early-ish Alpha, and always.

    I have not played my, once main, BM hunter (she was since 2007-ish). Absolutely loved playing my hunter. Even went SV in Cataclysm, for raiding… Serpent Spread was both superbly fun and ridiculously OP, lol, But, otherwise, I always stuck with BM, even through the hard times. I did get her, as BM spec, to level 110, in Legion. It was painful and boring and tedious. I even hated her class quest at the start. Compared to my Paladin and a few other alts, my hunter’s seemed to be just “slapped together”. I absolutely loved my Paladin’s class quest. Could elaborate on Paladin’s class quest, but this isn’t about her, and my post is already too long.

    I miss my MoP (and before that expansion) hunter. I cringed and accepted my WoD hunter. She lost a lot of *Immersion*… depth to her character and pet and fun/QoL, but she was still ” acceptable”… I was able to adapt.

    I just, still, don’t understand what was going with the Hunter Devs in Legion. They obliterated the BM spec. I haven’t touched my hunter much in Legion, so I can’t be totally in-the-know of your assessment, Bendak. I just know that she isn’t fun for me to play anymore (I wouldn’t care even if they up’d BM’s DPS to infinite amounts… if she’s not fun and immersive to play, then I won’t do it).

    I don’t have the techie numbers to compute and compare, I don’t have that ability. I just have a lot of heart and emotion, I guess ( sounds corny), into a class and character I once adored. You are respected in the community, Bendak, that includes me. I am sorry if this post of mine doesn’t add to any type of quality input. It’s just me hoping that the Devs or someone at Blizzard will see this (I’m sure they keep a watch on your blog). Surely they know the damage they did in Legion??

    I miss the connection, with my pets, the immersion I got from needing to be mindful of restocking ammo for my bow and food for my pet. If you don’t know what that means, other readers, then Google “Vanilla Hunter”. Now, THAT, was playing and immersing into a real hunter in WoW. My hunter is a shell of her former self and it still grieves me. I am glad that my Pally is still fun, and still her ‘pally self’ to play, otherwise I would have unsubscribed in the first time since 2006… my first character was my Pally). I know I’m dreaming with that skill and and talent of hunter, so far back, but I can still dream… and legit Legacy servers are coming back, at some point 🙂 for me. I will still play on Live and Legacy when the time comes, there’s no doubt about that, though.

    Sincerest apologies if I’m waylaying your blog, Bendak, with useless input to the last iteration of Alpha Hunter. I don’t mean to demean your post at all. I’m just a person that once absolutely enjoyed playing her (BM) hunter.

    A fan that truly has appreciated your blogs for many years… you da best, Bendak. Wishing you the very best. Also, I’ll always be with you and other hunters, ever-hoping we’ll be given the respected attention we truly require.

    1. Thanks for the nice comment. Don’t apologize, I know many other former Hunters who couldn’t accept the Legion changes. But I think at least MM and SV has a chance at getting some of them back into huntering. Since you already play a melee class, you might enjoy the BFA Survival Hunter. Like I said in my previous post, it feels like more of a Hunter/pet duo than BM does.

      I’ll pass on the consumable ammo though 😉

  7. I, for one, hope survival stays totally melee. It’s a melee with a ranged cooldown so it’s not nearly as crap as it is now on boss downtime. Love how it looks. Hyped as FRIGGIN HECK. Love my stabbystick. Praise Talonclaw!

  8. Hey Bendak, thanks for summarizing! I’m also surprised that SV reads so well right now and some of me honestly hopes that this will change. I’ve been playing BM since I started WoW (then in good old WOTLK) and don’t really want to switch to SV… However, if BM doesn’t feel like BM at some point… well then maybe it has to be SV after all.

    p.s.: You said above in the text “Explosive Trap is GONE thankfully. I hated having to use and target the ground that frequently.”, here just a small hint: You can throw the trap by macro (@player and @cursor) directly to a predetermined position without having to place the small green circle every time.

    Kind regards from Northern Germany!

  9. I’ve been playing in the Alpha for a while too, and completely agree with your BM and SV recaps. SV is super fun compared to Live. I’m also in complete agreement with items 2-5 in your BM wish list, especially getting more talents that build on the synergy between Hunter and pet. The new Dire Frenzy is a step in the right direction; it’s super minor, but at least it’s something, and hopefully shows that Blizz is listening to community feedback.

    As for SV, I’d like to see Kill Command renamed as Flanking Strike and the FS talent renamed to something else, just to distinguish it from BM a little more, in addition to your suggested changes to their Big [Orange] Pet button. Right now with those two abilities it just feels too much like they are ripping off BM, to BM’s detriment.

    Keep up the great work! Too many of my Hunter blogs have hung up their riffles, so please don’t ever quit!

  10. man the idea of chimera shot replacing boring multi shot if fantastic i really want to chimera become relevant, hope devs see your post and listen to your feedback asap as we are 3 months away from pre patch.

  11. Chimaera Shot should be made into baseline “AoE Kill Comand” of sorts. Shared cooldown with Kill command, higher focus cost so there would be no point in casting it over KC on single target fights. Once two or more targets are present, CS hits additional target deling damage roughly equal to KC to each of them and applying Beast Cleave.

    For added flavour, if specced into Animal Companion, CS could “force” the secondary pet to fully swap to the secondary target hit by CS or something like that.

  12. “Marksmanship is the closest thing we have to pre-Legion Hunter, and I think a lot of people are going to gravitate towards it.”. That’s their plan. Then they do not have to design raid encounters with pets in mind. I started as a BM hunter at the beginning of WOW and this is the first expansion I’ve stopped playing it. I had 3 max level hunters at the start ofLegion and tried all 3 specs. They all really fell apart for me. I started with BM in Legion but am now either a rogue or a bear. So much more interesting to play. I’ve been forced back to occasionally running BM to get Insurrection done, only the hunter bothered getting that far in Suramar, but I’m struggling keeping at it. Maybe I don’t need to unlock Nightborne.

  13. So you want MM to lose a % of their damage for 30 seconds when they provide raid utility with bloodlust/heroism. The 4 seconds of the gcd to summon, activate and dismiss is not enough of a handicap yet compared to all the instant button press options?

    1. It’s not because I want to punish MM, it’s because it’s a dumb mechanic. I just think without some kind of restriction people will expect MM hunters to have to go through that all the time, and that’s annoying if you ask me.

      “Hey, can you use blood lust?” — SURE, just let me stop everything for 5 seconds, brb.

      Instead it should be “sorry, I don’t use a pet”

      By not using a pet a MM Hunter is also choosing to trade damage for the other pet benefits, like Tenacity’s damage reduction and extra health or Cunning’s extra movement speed. Why should Ferocity utility be an exception here?

      Realistically, the place you’re going to need lust the most is in a dungeon. Chances are it will be covered elsewhere in a raid. I think the loss of DPS in the 4-5 seconds the Hunter is doing nothing by doing pet juggling is probably equal to the loss of just using drums for the whole group instead (in a dungeon, not a raid). You could argue popping lust before the pull, then dismissing pet on the pull timer, but again the lost seconds on lust is more of a waste than just using drums.

      So if it does go live like this, as a MM Hunter not using a pet I’d just use drums in dungeons instead. Because the other way is too much of a hassle.

  14. With all the suggestions I’m reading and the changes Blizzard has made it feels like the play style I enjoy is not going to be found in the hunter class I’ve played for 9 years.
    Time to seriously check out the other classes
    Hope you all get what you wish for !

  15. I for one really like where they’re going with survival, this range/melee hybrid mix because I enjoy both play styles. When it comes to BM I am a little worried too, we might have to choose set talents just to make it not feel sooo.. empty or lacking. As each day approaches the BfA release date, my fear only grows.

  16. Bfa SV is melee BM. It captures none of the “rugged, primal hunter” aesthetic Legion SV had. While the idea of a melee/ranged hybrid isn’t a bad one, they didn’t need to gut the spec and turn it into BM to do it. If anything, all they needed to do was remove dps traps. If they wanted to make it ranged hybrid? Replace Raptor strike with Hatchet Throw as you filler and put a longer CD on Mongoose bite charges, so you could harpoon in, go into Mongoose Fury mode, then fall back and throw axes while it recharges.

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