Monday, May 13, 2013

All Change

Spot the Hunter [Hint: look for the pet]

I like plenty of warning when stuff's gonna change.

You have been warned.

Top news to start this week is that Hunters may well be filing into Blizzard HQ for a rework (along with rogues, one assumes) 'at some point' (my quote, not Mr Street's) which, on the general scale of progression looks like it could happen for the next Expansion. In fact, in the very next reply to the above Tweet GC qualifies his thoughts: 'It (the change) would not be at the warlock level. Are there things we can do? Yes.' Does this mean we could see this happen before 6.0? Who knows.

Then the question becomes: what actually changes?

Even though I'm quite happy with the place my primary class is right now, there are a lot of people who aren't. Frank above is looking for a complete re-tool of Marks (see the full discussion here) There's already been a recent discussion in this parish about how certain people feel we could do with less buttons to press. As Ghostcrawler states here we wouldn't be getting a Warlock-style redesign, I think its a safe bet that there's not going to be a Hunter Tanking Spec on the table (more's the pity.) However, making these three specs more 'distinctive' is going to be a pretty tall order without some fairly fundamental changes to the architecture. How do I think this change could be accomplished without complete ripping up the Hunter Book and starting again?

I'd say this could happen in a couple of ways. The main one that springs to mind, believe it or not, is a trap redesign.

Mr Alt has started levelling his Hunter, and yesterday I was asked the question: 'As a Beast Master, what trap do I use?' This actually stopped me in my tracks: if he was Survival, of course, he'd be using/working around Explosive in a rotation. As BM, I tend to stick Explosive and Snake down whenever they are off CD for more damage. There is no 'set' trap on a per spec basis: making that happen would be a possibility. In fact, giving each Spec a different trap configuration that boosted dps in particular situations would be a great way to introduce some variety whilst at the same time hanging onto that distinct Hunter vibe.

Hunter Trap Mounts? Hmm, perhaps not...

The other major complaint from Mr Alt in his 85 state was focus regen: it isn't something I've found myself worrying about at 90 too much, but it makes me think that as our primary 'resource' to manage this might be a good way to push people to play better by having to deal with it it in different ways, dependant on spec. What strikes me however, if I were the one designing a facelift, is the Mage model as an example. There is another 'pure' dps class, with no hybridity: assuming you don't want to make your Hunter capable of anything else, the task then becomes to make the three damage specs easy enough to swap between so that a min/maxxer can always be doing the best damage possible (for the sake of their raid, not for themself) whilst the casual player can have a spec they can stick with because it's their favourite and not feel they're being disadvantaged by not picking the other two. That's actually a pretty tall order.

I am sure the more serious Hunter commentators are already writing their wish lists. Sitting very much in Casual Corner, my main concern is losing the ability to play comfortably in Hunter v World situation. I love the fact myself and my pet can solo pretty much anything that exists in the current Environment, and I'd hope this factor in gameplay doesn't get lost in any potential 'refit.' I am going to assume that, at the end of all this, I'll have less buttons to press but I'll have something that's more interesting, if the Warlock model is being used as an example even if it is simply in passing. This means that somewhere, deep in the bowels of Blizzard HQ, it is very likely someone's job right now to be planning the next big thing for the class that I love.

I don't envy their job one bit.


Grimmtooth said...

I agree with @GC on the magnitude of any changes down the road; Warlocks were just not very viable in Cata at the upper end, which is not the case with Hunters. The problems with Hunters is that they don't have any real distinction between specs, unlike Warlocks, and also too many buttons as old what's-his-face said.

I like your idea of using traps as one possible distinguisher. It not only gives a spec a flavor, but it reduces the button count, too. Everybody wins!

I actually do like the idea of a tanking spec for Hunters, though - used to be, Survival was that spec, and there were one or two Hunters famous for being melee hunters.

Also it would be nice to undo the BM changes that made the pet so much less a factor in how the spec worked. "Being too dependent on the pet" is kinda the point of BM, in my mind, though I'm sure a "real raider" probably would disagree.

Well, it'll be interesting to see what they come up with. I love most of what they did for Warlocks. Let's see if they can keep up the trend.

Jaeger said...

There are a lot of common things between the specs:
Arcane shot
Serpent Sting
Cobra Shot (BM/SV)/Steady Shot
Talents (all classes are this way though)
Gear is basically the same (this is good though IMO)

I think I'd just get rid of the rotational talents and focus on class abilities for dps rotations. That'd help distinguish the classes better and reduce the number of buttons.

Otherwise, I think the specs are different enough. BM = single target, pet based, lots of burst; MM = single target, lots of weapon dmg; SV = AoE, smoother dps, more dots.

As a Hunter, they seem quite different. Maybe as an outsider they look similar.