I don’t know about you, but I find myself on information overload and coffee underload. Not only is the NDA lifted, but the beta forums are open.
If you want to get the scoop on some of the hunter changes, check out mmo-c, or this post over at the WHU. Today, I’m going to dive into the beta forums and share a post from Ghostcrawler regarding the intention behind some of these changes, and my take on what’s happening.
Focus — We’ll be messing with ability costs for some time. Depending on your weapon, autoshot costs can be higher than “focus dump” abilities, which clearly won’t work. We’re working on a DPCT priority list that makes more sense. As far as regen goes though, we think the current rate is about right. We don’t want the rotation to become erratic and we like the gameplay of building focus through shots. In situations where you just can’t stand still, such as kiting, you can use the new Aspect of the Fox. We’ve tied the focus regen for using cast-time shots during Aspect of the Hawk, otherwise there would be no reason to be in anything but Fox. Focus is more of a combo between rage and energy, since you build it and use it up. The skill of playing a hunter involves keeping your focus high enough — as it is somewhat random due to procs — but use it before you overflow.
I have two words to say about focus – paradigm shift. We are going to have to manage our resource like crazy. Not only do we have to worry about running out of focus, we need to make sure we don’t have too much. There is no change in Cata. that will alter our game play as much as this.
Aspect of the Fox is a cool ability, but it is not intended to be our de facto aspect (at least not in PvE). Basically in stand still or low movement situations we’ll want to use hawk. In high movement situations we’ll want to use fox.
I like the fact that which aspect you use can be mitigated by the skill of the player. The better you are at managing focus, and not losing auto-shots to movement, the more you’ll get to stay in aspect of the hawk, even if you have to move a little.
Shots — Each hunter talent tree has a “signature” focus dump: Survival has Explosive Shot, Marks has Chimera Shot, and Beastmaster has Raccoon Shot… I mean Kill Command. These all have cooldowns, so if you are at 100 focus, use Kill Command and still have focus left over, you can use Arcane Shot next. This is why Explosive and Arcane no longer share cooldowns. Once you figure out which abilities to use for each spec, the number of abilities you need to manage should feel less daunting. For example, Marks would use Serpent Sting, Steady Shot, Arimed Shot, Chimera Shot and Arcane Shot on a boss fight, and Serpent Sting gets refreshed automatically. Think less in terms of shot rotations and more in terms of prioritizations.
It looks like Kill Command is primarily going to be a BM ability and serve mainly as a way to dump focus. Also SV hunters will be able to use Arcane Shot in their rotation now. Whether it fits into it or not, I don’t know, but it’s now an option.
The good new is it doesn’t look like our shot priorities are changing a whole lot, we’ll just have to think about them in terms of our focus now.
Pets — We haven’t done our design pass on them yet. The design is for them to no longer receive raid buff since they get complete scaling from the master (and we don’t want them to double dip). Their abilities will be divided into 3 categories: basic focus dumps (e.g. Claw), specials (e.g. web), and exotic abilities for the BM exotic pets. Specials never cost focus and basics have short cooldowns but meaningful damage. All pets will do the same dps. We don’t want “wolf or die” in Cataclysm (and before that it was cat). Each pet family will bring a unique raid buff, allowing hunters to be wildcards for when you are lacking something. The ease of swapping pets will facilitate this further.
No more raid buffs for pets and it looks like we’re finally getting the 100% scaling of stats from the hunter. About time I say. Finally we’ll have a T14 pet to go with our T14 gear.
If I read this correctly, all pets will do the same dps, have a focus dump ability, a special ability and will bring a raid buff. Exotic pets will get an additional special ability.
Now last I heard it sounded like the raid buffs would be lesser versions of what a class would bring. I hope this isn’t the case, but we’ll see. At the very least I’m looking forward to using a wider variety of pets in this expansion.
Cobra Shot — We’re not happy with the damage yet. We want BM to basically not use Steady ever again. Marks may use Cobra in PvP situations where spell damage trumps physical damage.
Pretty straight forward here, Blizzard wants BM to use Cobra Shot period. SV and MM will likely be using Steady Shot.
Kill Command — We like the Frenzy / Focus Fire mechanic, but are likely to make it it’s own clicky and not tied to Kill Command. Kill Command itself will be the signature focus dump for BM. For other specs, it will be more situational, such as dealing damage to a target out of your (but not your pet) LoS. Marks also has the Resistance is Futile talent to give it some more use.
Kill Command is changing and won’t be macro’d in with our shots. In fact it looks as if this will primarily be a BM focus dump ability. For SV and MM it will be situational, meaning we’ll probably forget to use it entirely 😛
Aimed Shot — We are returning this ability to be an opener once again, like Ravage or Ambush. In longer fights, Master Marskman can proc instant Aimed Shots, to keep the ability relevant.
Old school, old school, old school! Once upon a time Aimed Shot had a casting time. And now it does once again.
As GC said this will likely be our opening shot, perhaps used in conjunction with Camouflage. MM hunters will have talents that will allow tem to cast it instantly from time-to-time.
I have to say that I kind of like seeing Aimed Shot get the “sniper” feel to it once again.
AE damage — The design is that you use Multi-Shot on 2+ targets, and Explosive Trap and Volley on 4+ targets.
So if you’re doing AoE and want know if you’re doing it right here you go. Multi-shot by the way is now an instant cast.
Venoms — The focus cost may be too high. However, don’t expect to have to use these on every target. Part of separating Serpent Sting from the Venoms so that they could be more situational. Even Serpent Sting isn’t necessary on every target, especially those that will die quickly. Instead 2-3 Steadies with an Arcane or Kill Shot should do the job. Hunters are used to using every ability on every target because there is no real resource cost with mana. Now priority and efficiency become important.
Venoms are going to work a lot like stings. In fact, Chimera Shot will affect venoms similarly to the way they affect stings now. The cool things is we’ll be able to apply Serpent Sting and have a venom applied on the target.
As GC points out though, we’ll have to be familiar with our targets and decide whether or not it’s worth it to apply a venom. Like he warns we have to manage our focus and it may not be worth the focus cost to use one of these every time.
Ultimately, we think these changes will solve some of the problems the hunter class has had as well as making them more fun to play, or we wouldn’t be going through so much re-design. 🙂
I hope he’s right. I like the sound of most of these changes and I can’t wait to try them out. As far as I’m concerned though, it’s all about focus. If the focus regen and usage is smooth and has a nice flow then it could be a lot of fun to play hunters in Cataclysm.