Ever so slowly, I am coming to terms with the Legion gutting of hunters as a class. This does not mean I like it even the tiniest bit, but I have pretty much accepted that I can either tolerate it and keep playing a hunter — a class I have loved unreservedly since I first set foot in Azeroth — or remain seethingly angry and move on to another class. I can still find my own fantasy in playing a hunter, but please don’t tell Blizz this, as finding your own fantasy is one of the WoW deadly sins, if you believe Ion Hazzikostas. I have a good enough imagination that I can pretend that BM is not a brain-dead spec, and I am optimistic or naive enough to believe that eventually MM will stop feeling like you are dragging yourself out of quicksand just to get off a single shot.
But it is becoming more and more evident to me that Blizz has decided to simply ignore hunters for Legion. Oh, yes, they do the minimum — make sure there is a hunter class hall (which by the way has zero connection to any historic hunter location or even class history), they will provide an artifact weapon apparatus, and of course they made sure to take a sledge-hammer approach to the obligatory “pruning” process. Beyond that, though, they have simply put the hunter community on /ignore. This is most true for BM hunters, but also for MM and to a lesser extent for SV (probably because SV is one of the new favored specs that Blizz is pushing).
Since the new BM hunter spec forum for beta was updated on May 12, there have been a grand total of zero blue posts in response to any BM hunter comments. Zero. This comes after months of ignoring valid comments about BM hunter play — with numbers to back them up, and with excellent suggestions for improvement — from some of the most respected hunters in the community. We rarely see such comments from them any more, as most of them have given up on ever getting through to Blizz.
The same can be said of MM hunters, the beta spec forum for them also contains — you guessed it — zero blue posts in response to the many comments and suggestions and number-based critiques of the spec.
Moving on to the normal Hunter class forum on Battle.net, which is full of very similar comments about the sorry state of hunters now, I went back as far as March, and you will no doubt be astounded to know that I found a whopping — get ready for it — zero blue posts addressing these concerns. I did actually find a couple of green posts, but, as in this example, they were expressing the exact same sentiments as most of the forum comments.
Now, I get that for the most part Blizz dislikes engaging with players in the forums — they are virtually one-way communications that Blizz claims they take very seriously but are way too busy to spend time actually, you know, replying to them. (Not all of them, any of them.) So in general there are not a lot of blue posts in any forums, although most of the class forums have at least a couple blue post responses. But take a look at another way Blizz can respond to player concerns: by making changes, as announced in patch notes and hotfixes, or at least explaining why they will not be making any changes. In this area, too, we have seen virtually no BM hunter changes or no-change explanations since the early days of the closed alpha test. There have been a few more MM changes, but not a lot. Now take a look at the massive number of lines describing changes and construction philosophy for nearly every other spec, week after week (DKs come to mind).
Tell me hunters are not being ignored. The last time we saw this kind of indifference to valid concerns, it was SV hunters in WoD, and we soon learned the reason for that was that Blizz had decided to abandon the spec completely until the next expansion. Is that what is now going on with MM and BM hunters?
And even the changes that have been made do not address any of the serious, fundamental problems with the specs, they have been mostly superficial. For example, after a huge outcry over MM hunters not being allowed any pets, Blizz relented and went back to the Lone Wolf talent as an option rather than a baseline attribute. But this was a bandaid designed to shut up hunters, not a real change, since the spec remains clearly tuned for Lone Wolf. They made no changes to the interdependence of talents and shots that would make selecting a pet a true viable option for maximizing MM play. Too hard to do for what appears to be Blizz’s throwaway class.
Similarly, a week or so ago, Blizz responded to hunter (and other) complaints about the nerve-wracking constant whistle accompanying every Dire Beast call. (Why anyone ever thought that this would be a good idea in the first place defies explanation.) They basically just removed the sound from the audio file, problem solved. Now, I was one of the people who wanted this, and I am glad they did it, but there is no denying that it was done because it was a quick and easy fix, unlike any fixes to basic BM play that the community has been requesting for months now.
Nothing illustrates Blizz’s indifference to hunters more than this example: The entire BM “fantasy” has been set up to rely on a hunter’s pets for nearly all significant damage. It is the foundation of BM hunter play. And yet, pets are still massively bugged and too delicate to survive even moderate encounters. The least little change to the game almost always means that pet mechanics will fail, as if the code for them is so complex and delicate that it cannot stand even minor external changes. This boggles the mind — if you design a spec to be almost completely dependent on a pet in order to carry out basic damage functions, then it would stand to reason that the one thing you make sure is robust and solid is the code for pet mechanics.
Nope. Last night as I went through the new Dalaran quest line, I found that every time I took the portal to Dal my pet disappeared. In fact, it happened even if I flew to Dal above Karazhan. Not only that, but the action bar version of Call Pet was totally unresponsive. Even more, when I attempted to open my spell book and use the Call Pet spell from there, I found that the pets were shown only by one generic icon and named helpful things like “Call Pet 1,” Call Pet 2,” and so on. Even after I was able to summon a pet, if I mounted, it failed to reappear when I dismounted, and I was forced to go through the whole sequence again. Neither reloading nor relogging helped, nor did quitting and restarting the game unless I logged in to a different character first.
Going through any portal or entering any instance, it is a toss-up as to whether my pet will make the transition with me. Even if he does make it, often after such transitions he just stands there, not attacking, not moving, not even following me unless I dismiss and resummon him.
And BM pets are still weak creatures. Again last night, running a couple of Mythic dungeons, my spirit beast died repeatedly — 3 times in Auchindoun — in spite of the fact that I was weaving Mend Pet into my basic rotation as a matter of course. No, he was not on Growl, and yes, he is specc’ed into Ferocity. But there is something very wrong with a pet mechanic if even in groups where there is a tank you have to have all your pets specc’ed into Tenacity.
So, to summarize Blizz’s BM hunter design:
- Part 1 — Make the hunter’s damage totally dependent on pets.
- Part 2 — Write a pet subroutine that results in pets being unreliable, uncontrollable, and weak.
Apparently it is too hard to reconcile these two factors, and so of course Blizz prefers to ignore the problem.
The last thing I want to say about Blizz’s policy of ignoring hunters is that it is also manifested by a lack of imagination and whimsy in any part of hunter design. This occurred to me as I was trying to build up my weapon illusions a couple nights ago. Of course, there are no illusions that can be applied to hunter weapons, the idea being that hunters use scopes to enhance their weapons, not magic spells. Well, sure, I kind of get that, but that should not mean there is no fun to be had with them. Remember Flintlocke’s Woodchucker? That was some terrific fun, it showed some real imagination and creativity on Blizz’s part. There is absolutely no reason — beyond laziness and lack of interest in anything to do with hunters — that it could not now be a transmog weapon illusion for hunters. And I am sure that someone who actually likes hunters and wants them to have fun could design similar weapon scope effects.
When is the last time any hunter pet could do a trick on command? (Except Fetch and Play Dead, and those are generic, not specific to pet types.) It’s been years. Even the fun of great pet visuals for tailored damage is gone, because now all pets do exactly the same things, have exactly the same abilities. No one at Blizz designs these fun things any more because no one cares.
As I said at the beginning, I have come to terms with the fact that the hunter class is fairly well screwed for all of Legion. But I will continue to play it because I am a hunter in WoW, I am not a warlock or monk or anything else I might play from time to time. My enjoyment of the game is based on my own personal hunter fantasy, which I will maintain until Blizz makes it impossible to do so. And just because I recognize the realities of the class as Blizz has eroded it does not mean I will stop pointing out the inconsistencies and the downward trends, at least not until we — the hunter community — get an honest explanation of why Blizz is making these terrible design decisions.
In other words, Blizz, take hunters off /ignore.