@Joeyportnoydave We definitely agree that the hunter specs feel the same, and are taking steps to address that. Not melee BM though.
— Celestalon (@Celestalon) February 9, 2014
Blizzard has stated all along that Hunters were not going to get a major overhaul this expansion, so no melee BM is no surprise. This doesn’t mean we won’t get significant changes, and I would argue that the class doesn’t need an actual major overhaul to feel like it got one.
We know very little about changes they have planned for Hunter rotations, but here is what we know so far.
- Arcane Shot will be BM/SV only.
- The Snipe talent will replace Steady/Cobra Shot in the rotation.
- Bola Shot will replace Arcane Shot. We don’t know if it will be BM/SV only.
- With or Without You will allow MM/SV to play without a pet, and give BM and uber pet.
We know that Mage talents are undergoing extensive revisions, so it’s not unreasonable to think that Hunters might see something similar.
.@talachit Mage talents have received significant revision. Currently: 12 brand new, 3 existing/old spells now talents, 4 w/ major changes.
— Celestalon (@Celestalon) February 26, 2014
While we wait to see what changes Blizzard has in store for Hunters, I wanted to address why the Hunter specs all feel similar. There are two main culprits here, one is all three specs share many of the same abilities, and the second is that there is not enough synergy in the rotations to make them feel different. Let’s take a look at the active abilities that are spec-specific. As you can see it’s a pretty short list.
Everything else is shared. That includes Serpent Sting, Stampede, Rapid Fire, traps, and of course talents and utility abilities. When you look at DPS abilities and cooldowns you’ll see that using them is based on a priority order and that they don’t interact with any other abilities. The conditions under which you would fire Glaive Toss or use Dire Beast are the same for BM as they are for SV and MM.
The specs aren’t devoid of synergy, but much of it is passive and goes relatively unnoticed when you’re playing. Look at the following passives,
All three have different effects, but they’re all triggered by firing Multi-Shot. They do slightly different amounts of damage, but they don’t alter playstyle or behavior from one spec to the other. Other passive abilities like Piercing Shots, Cobra Strikes, and Viper Venom are all unique to their respective specs, and are triggered by actions you take, but their effects tend to go unnoticed while you’re playing.
What makes the specs different and unique are these subtle things that no one notices, and since they the don’t alter behavior the rotations feel the same.
It’s a shame that Marksman is the low spec on the bottom totem pole right now, because it has the most interesting rotation by far. Why? It has great synergy.
Marksman is interesting because it requires the use of a lower DPS ability, i.e., Steady Shot, to do it’s highest DPS.
This interaction leads to a fairly fluid rotation. Steady Focus should not be allowed to drop, and thus a good Marksman Hunter is basing their rotation around keeping that up, but without going into Steady Shot spam.
Survival and Beast Mastery lack this synergy in their rotations. Survival does have Lock and Load, and yes, Cobra Shot refreshes Serpent Sting for both. Lock and Load is too random and unpredictable though, and the four-piece set bonus, while fun, turns the spec into an Explosive Shot spam fest.
Beast Mastery has a tiny, and I do mean tiny, bit of Synergy with Bestial Wrath. That’s just a damage buff to everything. Frenzy and Focus Fire have synergy, but again it’s too random and hard to predict.
Let me give you an example of a rotation from another MMO I play, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Their classes have limited DPS abilities, but great interaction, and I enjoy their rotations. I’ll use a Marksmanship spec Sniper as an example. Like Hunters, the Sniper is a ranged DPS class.
The core rotational abilities that a Sniper has are,
They have other cooldowns and utility, but I’m just focusing on the main rotation here. Doing max DPS revolves around the Followthrough ability.
Firing Snipe, Ambush, Series of Shots and Takedown will all activate Followthrough. Once activated, you have a five second window in which you can use it, and it’s cooldown can be reset by using other abilities in your rotation. It has a 9sec cooldown, but this cooldown will be reset after firing Series of Shots, Takedown, Ambush, or firing Snipe twice in a row. Additionally, firing Snipe twice in a row reduces the activation time of Ambush by 40%.
The rotation ends up looking something like this,
- Snipe + Followthrough
- Series of Shots + Followthrough
- Snipe + Snipe + Followthrough
- Ambush + Followthrough
Takedown is like Kill Shot and is only available when the target is low on health. There are others things you would do as a Sniper, but this is the basic rotation.
As you can see it’s a very fluid rotation and the abilities all interact with one another, and it’s that interaction that helps dictate what the rotation should be. I’m not saying Blizzard should mirror this rotation, but I’d like to see more of this type of thinking go into Hunter rotations.
I did reach out to Celestalon to see if we’d be getting more synergy in our rotations, but alas, no reply.
@Celestalon understand the need to trim stuff but will you be building synergy into rotations? I like abilities that play off each other.
— Darkbrew (@TheBrewHall) February 28, 2014
I can’t wait for the beta to see what changes Blizzard has in store. If they can give each spec more unique abilities, and build in some interaction between those abilities, then Hunters in Warlords of Draenor could be a lot of fun.