When Legion starts on August 30th, Hunters will need to make an important choice early on in the expansion; almost immediately really. One of the first things you need to decide is which spec you want to play, and which artifact weapon you want to go after first.
This a departure from how other expansions worked. Previously you chose the spec you wanted to play and just played it. And by choose, I mean the majority of us looked at which spec was doing the most damage and just played that.
In Legion, all three Hunter specs are undergoing major changes, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Focus was introduced in Cataclysm. On top of that, each spec will have its own artifact weapon that you will need to maintain and upgrade throughout the expansion.
The good news is that you will be able to obtain all your artifact weapons before you hit level 110. Once you reach level 102 you can grab a quest to get your next artifact. This gives plenty of time to make a final decision on which spec you really want to play before raiding kicks in.
The challenge is going to be maintaining multiple artifact weapons. It won’t be impossible, but it will take some doing. I think most players will want to have more than one weapon at peak performance and we will likely see loot rules go into effect surrounding relic drops.
I plan to start as Beast Mastery, and I hope and pray that the DPS between it and Marksmanship are fairly equal. In the past, I’ve raided with whatever spec was highest on DPS. I’m not opposed to that now, but I’m not too keen on grinding out weapon upgrades just to have options.
My preference right now is to focus on Beast Mastery and get that artifact as powerful as can be, and worry about Marksmanship, and to some degree Survival, later on.
If past expansions are any indication, then one spec seldom dominates a whole expansion, and I fear that past circumstances will mandate that Hunters maintain at least two artifact weapons. Survival feels like a fringe spec, such that even if it does perform well, it seems unreasonable to expect a Hunter to play it if they do not like melee.
Spec tuning is underway, and I wait with baited breath to see how the numbers turn out. Regardless of how close they come, I fear we may be doing the artifact grind in Legion.