The Battle for Azeroth alpha is up on the test servers, and datamining is in full swing. I’ve poured over every bit of Hunter info I could find. I have some opinions on what I’ve seen, but it’s hard to say anything definitively until I can play myself. Streamers and influencers will probably have access to play this any day now, and then hopefully I’ll find a way in during the next waves.
My initial reaction to BM is pretty disappointing, but I don’t think they’ve put much work into it yet. A lot of it looks the same as it did 3 months ago at BlizzCon, and there’s obviously some placeholder stuff still there (like having Way of the Cobra as a talent when we only have 1 pet now). Nothing jumps out at me as exciting so far, but there are some pet things to discuss.
My initial reaction to the MM changes is pretty positive. Marking Targets RNG is gone, Vulnerable is gone, Steady Shot is back, and the whole talent tree is full of new stuff to explore. Also, it appears that Lone Wolf is a permanent passive now. No pets for MM, period. But I’m hoping Blizzard can come up with a compromise there without locking out a whole talent row for it (as it is today). I have some suggestions there.
Survival looks like it has many more ranged abilities, and to me it feels like it’s becoming disturbingly similar to Beast Mastery. In fact, one could almost argue it has more hunter/pet interplay than BM does at this point. I don’t want to say Survival is “stealing” abilities or talents that would be better suited to BM (or even MM), but I do question this direction. They’re adding so much ranged capability that I wonder if there’s even a point of keeping the spec as “melee” for the sake of appearances.
I need some Beast Mastery in my life. I’m just not feeling much of an attachment to SV or MM yet. I hate to say it, but Blizzard may have changed them too much for my liking. Normally I am receptive to change and try to see the positive side to this sort of thing, but I still haven’t been able to warm up to these new specs yet. I’ve tried. Trust me.
To be fair, it’s still incredibly early in the process. The Legion alpha/beta feels like it’s progressing slower than Warlords ever did (that may be because of the holiday break). There’s still a lot not there yet. Not just entire zones, but entire specs, entire abilities, and entire talents. Once SV and MM are polished experiences, I could feel very differently.
As for other Hunter news, it has been rather sparse lately. I still can’t tame any new pets, which was one of my favorite things to do during the Warlords beta. There are a few new beasts out there (like that awesome wolf in the header image), but there is still a bug with taming. Once that is fixed I plan on going out hunting and filling up the stable with everything new! I’m also excited to try out mechanical pets once that is sorted out.
One thing that has sprang up is some replacements for minor glyphs, such as Pet Training Manual: Play Dead, Pet Training Manual: Fetch, and The Art of Concealment (Chameleon is simply a rename of Aspect of the Beast). We don’t know how these manuals are acquired yet, but it looks like making your pet feign death could be a separate ability not tied to Feign Death. That may actually be handy for some things.
My overall opinion on Survival has not changed (read my previous posts on the subject). I still think the pet interaction isn’t quite there yet. That’s not what you want when only two specs can even use pets. I’m going to keep beating this dead horse until it’s truly dead: I think the Survival pet needs to stay beside the Hunter at all times in order for this to work. I will even give up some pet control to have this happen. I’ll leave it at that.
Mongoose Bite has changed quite a bit. Now the buff lasts 12 seconds instead of 3 seconds, BUT new Mongoose Bites do not extend the duration. In simplest terms, this has simplified the rotation and made it a little more forgiving. Prior to this you were encouraged to weave other abilities in between Mongoose Bites, and now you are encouraged to save up 3 stacks and burn them all in a row (and hope you get more procs before the 12 sec buff wears off). At the risk of sounding like a casual who doesn’t want a complex rotation, I prefer it this way to be honest.
Disengage has been removed from Survival. I will miss it dearly. The Posthaste talent has been adjusted so it works with Harpoon instead. Demon Hunters are melee and have the ability to quickly move backwards or forwards, but they are special snowflakes.
Aspect of the Cheetah now has a 3 minute cooldown, up from 1 minute (this applies to all 3 specs). So, we went from a nearly permanent 30% movement speed increase to a 3 minute sprinting cooldown. Not too happy about that, but I think movement enhancing abilities are getting toned down across the board so Demon Hunters can stand out more.
I really hope we get a Trap Launcher toggle back as I find that 80% of the time I am just dropping the trap at my feet anyway, and the extra click and trap aiming seem unnecessary for a melee spec.
Fury of the Eagle has a 45 second cooldown now, which makes a lot of sense. It had no cooldown before so you basically spammed it for free damage. Now that the Mongoose Bite buff lasts 12 seconds, you actually have time to fully use it.
It’s still super early and a lot can change. Some people feel the opposite, so don’t get too discouraged over my general lukewarm reception of Survival thus far. I never went in expecting to love playing in melee.
I’ve seen some people complain that Marksmanship is too squishy or it’s too hard to play without a pet while soloing/questing, but I think that’s because they are doing a lot of face tanking and expecting to survive. Marksmanship in Legion is all about kiting and slowing down your target, and in my opinion there are tools to do this adequately. You’re not going to be able to solo as well as Beast Mastery, but that is one of BM’s strengths.
You still take damage from ranged attacks and DoTs though, and the one thing I think Marksmanship does need is some kind of maintenance heal to replace the removed Kill Shot heal. I think every DPS spec in the game needs a maintenance ability like this, and right now all Marksmanship has is a 2-minute Exhilaration.
The Focus pool has been reduced to 100 from 120. I didn’t even notice until someone told me. With how fast Focus regenerates now, it’s not as bad as it sounds.
Bursting Shot’s range was doubled to 20 yards (very nice). For reference, this ability gives a small knockback to enemies and confuses them (think Scatter Shot).
The 5th tier of PvP talents has completely changed. You choose between one of the following:
T.N.T.: Reduces the cooldown of Bursting Shot by 10 sec.
Explosive Shot: You fire an explosive charge at the target, stunning the target and dealing Fire damage every sec for 4 sec.
Freezing Arrow: Fires a Frozen Arrow, incapacitating the target and all nearby enemies within 6 yards of the target for 8 sec. Any damage caused will break the ice.
So, traps aren’t 100% removed from Marksmanship. They can at least have the option for one in PvP!