Last night community manager Lore gave us an update on potential changes for Hunters in patch 5.4. You can view the entire post here. The post didn’t offer any solutions for the current issues, but it did tell us what the devs are focusing on, and that our constructive feedback is welcomed. Without further ado, let’s review the pertinent points.
Regarding Stampede: We’re happy with the damage it’s currently putting out in PvP. For PvE, we’re planning to buff its damage pretty heavily, so it becomes a substantially more potent DPS cooldown. We don’t want to give it any more utility than it has now, for reasons we’ve explained at length already.
Stampede is weak right now in PvE, and furthermore it lacks visual appeal in raid encounters. We don’t know how it will be buffed in PvE, just that it will be. There are a couple of ways they can go with this. One is to revert back to the way it was originally. It did a lot of damage, but had a lengthy cooldown, meaning you’d only be able to use it once per encounter. Having the long cooldown certainly aids in the button bloat area, but it also means getting to use it less often.
The other possibility is to lower the damage but give it an extremely short cooldown so we get to use it more often. I like having abilities that hit really, really hard. Stampede involves calling every active pet from your stable, it should hit hard, and it should be a nice form of burst in PvE. Hopefully they’ll give it the damage it needs and keep it on the five minute cooldown so we can use it twice in most encounters. Stay tuned.
Likely Outcome: Stampede’s damage will be buffed in 5.4 and the cooldown will remain as is.
Readiness is still under heavy discussion, and we haven’t made a final decision on what we’re going to do with it in 5.4. At the moment, we’re leaning towards just removing the ability entirely and giving the affected abilities shorter cooldowns or charges to compensate. If we end up taking that route, we will buff Hunter damage (most likely across the board, not just specific abilities), but as I mentioned, we’re still discussing.
It’s the one ability that other classes want, and it’s been part of the Hunter arsenal from the beginning. It’s sad to see this one go, but if it’s going to be a watered down version of what it once was, it may be for the best. I hope they can make it work, but it seems unlikely that it will be allowed to exist in its current format.
What is interesting here is how they might address the loss of readiness. An across the board damage buff is certainly welcome, and I won’t argue against that. The idea of giving abilities charges is interesting. We see this already with Kill Shot and to some degree Lock ‘N Load. This might be fine in some cases, but could wreak havoc if they did this to all of our abilities. The other option is shorter cooldowns, which also has the downside of making our rotations more hectic.
Another option that they didn’t list would be to buff damage via procs and stacking buffs. For example, Cobra/Steady Shot could give us a temporary stacking buff that increases the damage of Kill Command (or any other shot) by xx% per stack. That kind of change might be too much for 5.4.
Likely Outcome: Readiness will be removed and Hunter damage compensated.
Murder of Crows vs Blink Strike
Murder of Crows vs Blink strike is also still under heavy discussion. Our goal (with all talents) is that active abilities used properly will outperform passive ones. We haven’t decided yet what adjustments we’ll make to achieve that in 5.4.
I agree here. If you push a button you should be rewarded if you’re skilled enough to time it just right. The trick here is to make them close, but not too close, and not so far apart that players ignore the passive ability regardless of their skill level. The devs need to find the “I don’t know, fly casual” solution here.
One option would be to lower the cooldown of MoC, or adjust it so the cooldown is reduced when the target’s health is say 50% instead of 20%. This might force you to put a little more thought and strategy into when you use that ability.
Likely Outcome: I think MoC will get an adjustment of some kind, and Blink Strikes might not change.
Scatter/Silencing Shot: We don’t consider interrupts to be mandatory in PvE. If a Hunter would rather not take the Glyph of Scattered Thoughts, there are plenty of other players in the raid who could take on the responsibility. We like Silencing Shot as a Marksman perk overall, but we’re still discussing things. We may end up making a baseline Interrupting Shot that gets upgraded to Silencing Shot if you spec Marksman.
I believe that classes should be differentiated by the way that they deliver dps, generate threat and mitigation for tanking, and the way they deliver heals. This is where variety in play styles should come from, and this is where players should seek to find the class they think is the best for them. As we all know, Hunters are the best for everybody, but c’est lav vie.
When it comes to utility I think at a minimum ever class should have a CC, interrupt, stun, knockback and/or closing ability, and a movement freeing ability – all baseline. I’ve seen this work in other MMO’s and I think it could work here without making the classes feel the same.
Heck, in Star Wars: The Old Republic the factions have mirror classes of one another and they could not feel more different when you play them. This can be done.
Likely Outcome: I think Hunters will end up with a baseline interrupt, but I don’t PvP, so who knows.
Speaking of spec differences, we agree that Hunter rotations feel cooler when your signature shots do a lot more damage than other shots, and we’ll discuss that some more. That’s part of the reasoning behind the Arcane Shot changes – our hope is that saving up more Focus for a bigger hit will feel better than firing off smaller shots more regularly.
Kill Command, Chimera Shot, Explosive Shot, Kill Shot and Stampede should be the big damage, high priority abilities. You could make an argument for Aimed Shot as well, but after that, all other damage abilities should be secondary. Everything should revolve around these and they should be made to stand out above the others.
It seems that devs share this philosophy and will now work towards making that a reality. Given everything else they’re trying to work with here, I’m not sure we’ll see significant changes to enhance our signature abilities. I suspect Hunter DPS will be addressed with an across the board buff the was implied when they discussed compensation for Readiness.
Likely Outcome: Minor changes to signature shot damage.
As to overall Hunter performance and utility, we don’t think the issues are with the Hunter class specifically. Instead, we think that certain other classes are overperforming (in both) at the moment. Fixing those outliers will, in turn, make a good Hunter more attractive for their raid spot. You may have seen some (but not all) changes along those lines on the PTR already.
Basically the issues aren’t our own, but we are victims of a cruel game of class balance roulette. Note to the devs – always bet on green, Hunter green.
Likely Outcome: Other classes will get nerfed, but that may not be enough to change Hunters’ positions on the DPS meters. Hunters will still be more fun to play than any other class though!
We’re getting buffed! It may not be the big gap closer we want/need, but the goal from Blizzard is to buff our class in patch 5.4. I’m looking forward to the changes that they come up with. Until then, Blizzard is soliciting our feedback, so I encourage everyone to visit the post and contribute your ideas. You can also e-mail your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll discuss them on our next show.