BlizzCon 2015 has come to an end and oh boy, what an amazing edition for every World of Warcraft fan out there! I am still digesting most of that information overload. But overall, feeling satisfied? Yes. Excited? Hell yes! Cautiously optimistic? Very much. WoW ‘Legion’ has a lot of potential, but a lot can still go wrong and fall short (let’s hope not).
For those who may have missed on the panels (and also for my own sake of throwing it all out there and not imploding with excitement), I’ve decided to make a WoW Legion Preview & Impressions series which I will be working on throughout this week as I assimilate all the news, especially on the features I’m most excited for. Today, I’m starting with hunter class changes, which were shared in detail yesterday. You can read the official post here.
First things first, they have been talking about spec differentiation for a long time- and they weren’t kidding. According to the developers themselves, of all the WoW classes, Hunter is probably the one with the most proeminent changes, mainly due to the complete overhaul of Survival. But even Beast Mastery and Marksmanship will see some big changes to make the distinction clearer. Let’s take a brief look at each one.
Beast Mastery: unleash the zoo!
Active focus regeneration is gone. Yeap, you read that right! Instead, pets will be taking over the job. Dire Beast, together with a new passive, Wild Call, will now be a very important component of BM rotation, just check them out:
- 40 yd range, Instant, 10 sec cooldown
- Summons a powerful wild beast to attack your target for 8 sec. Each time the beast deals damage, you will gain 4 Focus.
- Summoning a beast reduces the remaining cooldown of Bestial Wrath by 15 sec.
- Your critical strikes have a 30% chance to reset the cooldown of Dire Beast.
The meaning of this? Pets. MANY PETS!
For years many of us hunters have been dreaming about a dual pet spec or talent and while this modification doesn’t deliver that exact dream, it sounds pretty close in concept and lots of fun to play. And yes, those summons can stack if you’re lucky enough with the procs. This is what the real essence of Beast Mastery is supposed to be, in my opinion: all about being able to constantly summon beast after beast from the surrounding environment. Beast master will now focus on managing those summons to maximize their dps, instead of the typical shots and the occasional pet related ability. And of course this is not confirmed, but I’m going to allow myself to raise my expectations a little by presuming that Dire Beast customization might be possible via minor glyphs or talents (please).
Other than that, some iconic BM spells, like Cobra Shot and Kill Command, are still there and remain relatively unchanged. The main difference is that Cobra Shot is now a focus spender too as it exchanges places with Arcane Shot, which is now instant.
Survival: right in the face
Certainly the most altered spec in the whole game for Legion, Survival hunters are now getting ready to go face-to-face with their enemies in a nostalgia trip, as old spells like Raptor Strike, Wing Clip and Laceration will be making a come back. No more ranged weapons; just a polearm and a beast by our side. We should also note that traps will now be exclusive to this spec. I know some people are already demonstrating their disappointment at this, but let’s stop and think for a minute. Beast masters have got their bond with creatures of the wild, Marksmen have got their deadly precision and Survivalists have got their wits to survive in the most hostile of environments. Traps have always been core to SV’s fantasy, so it only makes sense. Plus, it has already been stated that other forms of CC will come to BM and MM to make up for the absence of traps, so I’m perfectly fine with this.
Mongoose Bite is also back, with a twist. This ability costs no focus and has 3 charges. If cast successively in a certain period of time, each Mongoose Bite does more damage than the last. So the way I see it, Survival’s rotation will mostly revolve around stacking Mongoose Bites and hitting focus spenders in between.
Survival hunters will also get some all-new spells such as Harpoon, which works as a charge with a 3-sec root (woot!). But the one that intrigues me the most is Flanking Strike.
- 20 Focus, 25 yd range (from pet), Instant, 6 sec cooldown
- Give the command to kill, causing your pet to instantly inflict strong damage to its target.
According to developer Andrew Chambers, this description is already outdated and Flanking Strike is supposed to have our hunter AND their pet attacking at the same time, which sounds really rad!
General thought, I must confess that even though I’m not into melee in any way, the overall concept is looking really neat and unique- and I’m really curious to know how playing Survival hunter will feel like in Legion.
Marksmanship: now officially rangers
For a long time, some of us hunters have been wishing for a petless choice. Warlords of Draenor made it possible with the introduction of the Lone Wolf talent which, according to official sources, has become quite popular mostly in raiders, although I do believe that this is mainly because of the dps increase. So they decided to make it permanent.
I’ve got to say, while I’ve always loved the concept of rangers, it will take me a while to get used to play without my pets. I love me some pets and I’ve spent a large portion of my hunter time building my stables since Wrath of the Lich King, so obviously, I have conflicted feelings about this one.
On the other hand, I play a Blood Elf so, lore wise, this is what should make the most sense to my character. In sum, I guess that sacrifices have to be made so that a good, meaningful spec differentiation can be achieved. I must embrace the change.
New philosophy aside, MM hunters will be the only ones to keep active focus regeneration however, like in Beast Mastery, the job does not belong to Cobra Shot anymore, but to Arcane Shot. Aimed Shot will be the main focus dump ability, but it’s no longer castable while moving. Marskmen are still, thus, encouraged to stand still in fights, but at least the cast time is shorter. Also, Sniper Training got a huge revamp:
Mastery: Sniper Training
- Critical strike damage and range of all shots is increased by 12.5% (with Mastery from typical gear).
I’m glad for all of this, because even though I could cope with the absence of my pet in raids (it’s difficult, but possible), managing my Sniper Training buff to maximize my benefit from it in current fight mechanics, which demand you to keep moving to avoid stuff, stack on stuff and kill extra stuff, feels annoying as heck to me. And that was what made me gave up on MM back in early WoD when I was still raiding.
Without a pet, the survivability of MM hunters will be all around snares and slows, such as the new Marked Shot. But what surprised me the most about Marksmanship changes (in a great way), was the fact that many of the current Survival abilities, such as Lock and Load and Black Arrow, are being re-purposed as upcoming MM talents, with a little twist! Blizzard has no intention to scrap these long-beloved spells in its entirety, but rather give them a new purpose. And that makes me happy.
Update (11.11.15): According to official sources, there is a MM talent in the works that has a chance to summon an undead minion to deal damage and tank for you. Black Arrow has also been hinted to work in a similar way to Sylvanas’ ability – I repeat, hinted. This is definitely not confirmed. But Dark Rangers may be on their way to the game, peeps!
So, final thoughts? I am feeling very much conflicted on what spec I want to play in Legion. The three of them look so fun for very different reasons that are unique to each one of them. Let us not forget although, these changes are still not set in stone. The new expansion is only set to launch in a little less than a year, so a lot can happen until there. But, even though I have slightly mixed feelings about a couple of these changes, I am feeling satisfied and excited. Change is a good thing.
(PS. Thanks for reading this. ._.)