Disclaimer: As this is discussing Alpha/Beta information, any or all of this is subject to change. We’re still a *very* long way out from Legion launch, so bear that in mind as you read these posts.
Legion is bringing with it a concerted effort on Blizzard’s behalf to re-imagine and reinforce the fantasy of all the current classes and their specs.
Where nostalgia was the shtick behind Warlords, class & spec fantasy seems to be one of several shticks used by Blizzard in the new expansion.
Take Priests for example. They have 3 specs, 2 healing and 1 dps. 1 heal spec is outright healing (holy), whereas the other is more shield and preventative protection and healing (disc). Then you have shadow with its dots as the priest’s dps spec.
The three of these never really hung together as a triumvirate of specs too well. But in Legion, Blizzard have given (re)definition to the specs of the priest class:
Holy: Devout and faith based Healing, power derived from the Light.
Shadow: Dark and malevolent pain infliction calling upon the power of the Old Gods.
Discipline: The spec that walks the line between the other two specs. Practitioners must have the discipline to walk the thin line between the light and the dark.
I love that. I think they did a great job at properly defining the priest class and its specialisations.
Blizzard are looking to do something similar with all current classes in the game, however Hunters are going through one of the biggest changes to specs in the game’s history…
The Call of the Wild…
This spec is the only Hunter spec that’s not seeing massive changes. If anything it’s going deeper into the premise that BM is all about controlling beasts and having them be the primary source of both DPS and resources.
BM will have no passive focus regen. All of the Hunter’s focus will be generated by the Dire Beast ability, which is baseline, and will be used on cooldown during a fight. 4 Focus will be generated each time the Dire Beast deals damage.
From the Class Blog:
To give you an idea of the Beast Master Hunter in action, here’s a basic look at their core combat abilities:
- 30 Focus, 40 yd range, Instant
- A quick shot that causes moderate Physical damage.
- 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.
- 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.
- Your critical strikes have a 30% chance to reset the cooldown of Dire Beast.
Mastery: Master of Beasts
- Increases the damage done by your pets by 45% (with Mastery from typical gear).
Additionally, to provide a glimpse at how some talents may build upon this, here’s one example of a Beast Mastery–specific talent:
Way of the Cobra
For every pet or guardian you have active, Cobra Shot deals an additional 5% damage.
So BM is going to be relying even more heavily than it does presently on pets for damage. And multiple pets most of the time at that! Those of you who wanted to manage or use more than a single pet as a hunter, well it looks like your day has come at last!
The anti-thesis to all these pets however is…
Lone Wolf forever…
Marksman’s Lone Wolf ability in Warlords is going to be the baseline status for the spec going forwards. MM will be a completely petless spec, with 100% of the player’s damage coming from their own personal abilities.
Blizzard seemed to think that because Lone Wolf was the de facto standard for Hunters in HFC that it was “popular” and as a result that players liked it. It was only “popular” because it gave the best DPS. Most raiding hunters I’m fairly sure would’ve preferred some sort of pet in use…
From the Class Blog:
Here’s a basic look at the core combat abilities for Marksmanship:
- Arcane Shot
- 40 yd range, Instant
- A quick shot that causes moderate Arcane damage, and generates 5 Focus.
- Seek Vulnerabilities
- Targets hit by your Arcane Shot and Multi-Shot have a chance to be marked with Hunter’s Mark for 6 sec.
- Marked Shot
- 30 Focus, 40 yd range, Channeled
- Rapidly fires a shot at up to 3 targets affected by Hunter’s Mark, dealing strong Physical damage. Usable while moving.
- Also exposes vulnerability in the target, snaring them by 15%, and increasing Aimed Shot damage done to the target by 25%. Lasts 10 sec, and stacks up to 3 times.
- Aimed Shot
- 50 Focus, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast
- A powerful aimed shot that deals strong Physical damage.
- Mastery: Sniper Training
- Critical strike damage and range of all shots is increased by 12.5% (with Mastery from typical gear).
Additionally, to give you an idea of how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Marksmanship-specific talents:
Lock and Load
Attach an explosive charge to Aimed Shot, dealing strong additional Fire damage to the target and all enemies within 4 yds.
Your ranged auto attacks have a 5% chance to trigger Lock and Load, causing your next 2 Aimed Shots to cost no Focus and be instant.
So Marks will not have the ability to even call a pet at all perhaps? I’ve seen more than me mention to the devs about the possibility of some form of cosmetic pet, one that is visible, but contributes no damage. I’d love that, as the one thing I’ve missed while raiding in HFC has been my pets.
Laying down the bow & gun…
Survival is seeing the biggest change, not just of the hunter’s 3 specs, but of all the classes in the game. Instead of a third wheel ranged spec that never really hit the heights of BM & MM, it’ll be converting to a melee only spec, concentrating on traps and melee combat with pets.
Some classic abilities like Mongoose Bite and Lacerate see a return, having been excised from the game several expansions ago.
From the Class Blog:
Here’s a basic look at the core combat abilities for Survival Hunters:
- 5-40 yd range, Instant, 15 sec cooldown
- Hurl a harpoon at your target and pull yourself toward them, rooting them in place for 3 sec.
- Raptor Strike
- 20 Focus, Melee Range, Instant.
- A vicious slash, dealing moderate Physical damage.
- 35 Focus, Melee Range, Instant, 10 sec cooldown
- Tear a wound in the target, dealing heavy damage over 12 sec.
- Developer Comment: We promise it will do good damage!
- Mongoose Bite
- Melee Range, Instant, 10 sec recharge, 3 charges
- A brutal attack, attempting to sever the enemy’s limbs, dealing strong Physical damage.
- Each consecutive Mongoose Bite dealt within 3.5 sec of the last will deal 50% increased damage, stacking up to 6 times.
- Flanking Strike
- 20 Focus, Melee Range, Instant, 6 sec cooldown
- You and your pet attack the target simultaneously, each dealing strong damage.
- If the target is attacking you, your pet’s attack will deal 50% increased damage and threat. If not, your attack will deal 50% increased damage.
- Wing Clip
- 30 Focus, Instant
- Maims the target, reducing their movement speed by 50% for 15 sec.
- Mastery: Hunting Companion
- Your pet’s attacks have a 20% (with Mastery from typical gear) chance to grant you an additional charge of Mongoose Bite.
Additionally, to provide a glimpse at how some talents may build upon this, here’s an example of one of their Survival-specific talents:
Instant, 1 min cooldown
Instantly grants you 3 charges of Mongoose Bite.
As you can see, things are changing quite a bit for Hunters in Legion, and dps performance aside, choosing a spec will be an easier choice than ever based on your preference.
Like Ranged DPS as a hunter and like pets? Beast Mastery.
Like Ranged DPS as a hunter and don’t like pets? Marksmanship.
Hate Ranged DPS as a hunter and like pets? Survival.
Hate Ranged DPS and hate pets? Roll a tank
Needless to say I’m still deciding between the two ranged specs for my hunters in Legion. Suppose it depends on DPS balance, yet again. But moreso than ever, Blizzard are going to have to balance specs within a class due to Artifact weapons and the levelling up needed for them. It won’t be as simple as switching specs and changing a few enchants and gems about, you’ll have an entirely different weapon to think about and “level up”.
I intended to do all this as one big post, but it’s working out way too big for one post, so expect the next few posts on different areas around the spec changes, including Artifact Weapon choices and looks.
Next time however, we’re talking Talents!