Legion Beast Mastery Hunter – First impressions

SPOILER ALERT: I am not going to intentionally hold back on what I am experiencing as I make my way through the Broken Isles. That may include subjects you consider to be “spoilers” — you have been warned.

I have played my Legion Beast Mastery hunter now for a couple of game sessions, have taken her through getting her artifact weapon, made it to the hunter class hall, and advanced to level 101. Selected mining and jewel crafting for professions and have just started with them.

Even though it is early in the process, I have to say I am not happy with the changes to BM. It has a slow, clunky, puny feel to it. Maybe it is a matter of just getting used to it, or maybe it is a matter of filling out some more of the artifact weapon talent tree, so I am not giving up on it yet, but I am not feeling good about it so far.

Let me start at the beginning. Once I finally got to new Dalaran, a bird (owl?) appeared behind me with my starter quest for my artifact weapon. The quest line was kind of fun, involved a little running around to find NPCs in Dal, then a few fun solo scenarios in Ulduar, Stormheim, and ultimately Storm Peaks where I finally got Titanstrike (the BM weapon) after fighting alongside Thorim and his wolf Hati. (Pronounced “Hottie” by the NPC in the scenario…) Hati, of course, is key to Titanstrike, bound to it in some mystical fashion so that he becomes your second pet once you equip the weapon. (For an excellent rundown of the BM artifact weapon quest line, with great screen shots, see Elizabeth Harper’s Blizzard Watch article about it.)

Once you have the weapon, you have a couple more quests that take you to the hunter class hall in Highmountain, where you take an oath of service to fight the Legion and perform your first artifact weapon “training” at an altar in the hall.

LB-Hunter-BM-AW 02

Artifact weapon talent tree after initial “training”

Having the weapon — even baseline — makes a noticeable difference in your power as a hunter. Before equipping it, I probably died 8-10 times because I just did not have the power to take on more than one level 100 mob at a time, and even that was a bit iffy under certain circumstances. Clearly, some of this was due to my unfamiliarity with the new hunter style, as well as to the fact that my beta-rolled hunter was below level 680, but mostly it highlights the overriding importance this one piece of gear plays in Legion. After I got the weapon, my death rate decreased in subsequent questing. Note, though, that it did not go away, and I have died 3-4 more times in the last day, even being very careful about the number of mobs I take on at once. This of course is a completely new experience for me and I suspect will be for most hunters.

While I am on the subject of dying, I want to also point out that my pet seems extremely squishy and really unable to hold aggro well at all. It seems to make no difference if he is in Ferocity spec or Tenacity. He died a lot, and the times when he didn’t die, I spent most of my time spamming heals at him (Mend Pet is now on a cooldown, also).

At any rate, while things went a little better after I got Titanstrike, I still have a lot of problem with the way BM plays out. I chose Highmountain to start leveling in (which seems to me to be very similar to the Tauren starting zone in Azeroth, so if cows are not your thing, you might want to avoid this zone for a while). When you are at your class hall, there is a map that allows you  to select which area you want to be adventuring in. (Remember, zones are scaled.) What I will probably do is one or two levels in Highmountain, then move to a different zone for a level or two, and basically check them all out.

LB-HCH-Scouting Map

Hovering over the exclamation points tells you a little about each zone and gives you the opportunity to select it for your questing area

So why am I not happy with my BM hunter experience so far? In a nutshell:

  • It seems far too passive.
    • You press a couple of pet spell buttons, but then your only real active shot is Cobra Shot for single target and Multi-Shot for AoE. Each consumes 40 focus, and they compete for focus with your pet spells of Kill Command and Bestial Wrath. The basic BM hunter rotation is solely dependent on passive focus regeneration, there are no baseline shots you can fire that are focus builders.
    • There are one or two talents you can take that amend this somewhat, but even with one of them — Dire Frenzy — I felt focus-starved all the time. I frequently found myself tapping my foot, unable to do anything for a second or two just waiting for focus to generate. It is a very helpless, feeble feeling. (I am still playing with my talents, so I won’t go into them in great detail here, but you can check out the Wowhead database for what they are in Legion.)
  • For a spec with the fantasy of being a master of beasts, in reality you have very little control over them except for your regular pet (which, as pointed out above, is very squishy).
    • Hati is a passive pet, either chained for some things to your regular pet, or reacting to passive RNG.
    • The Legion version of Stampede stinks, in my opinion. No longer do you summon 5 pets to attack your main target, you get multiple waves of pets rushing past you, damaging whatever is in their path, like Barrage but with pets instead of arrows or bullets. I don’t find the visual particularly compelling, it all happens so  quickly that there is really little chance to appreciate it. But that aside, the baseline concept now suffers from all the shortfalls of Barrage — positioning, damage waste if there is only one target, etc.
  • I find myself missing traps, camouflage, Thrill of the Hunt, Master’s Call, and Kill Shot. They are just flat out gone, and with them much of the real fun of playing a hunter. (I say again, how in hell can you have any hunter “fantasy” that does not include expertise with camouflage and traps?)
    • The only CC you have is your Level 75 talent line — Binding Shot, Wyvern Sting, and Intimidation. All pale, in my opinion, to current hunter traps.
    • No camouflage, so guess what — you get to deal with Every. Stinkin’. Mob. You. Come. Close. To. (You think Blizz would dare to take Invis away from mages? Never in a thousand years.)
    • Thrill of the Hunt to me has been one of those fun challenges for hunters — if you have been efficient but judicious with your focus, when it procs it is just huge fun. There is nothing I have found so far to take the place of that kind of fun in Legion.
    • Master’s Call is one of those things that makes controlling a pet fun. Did I use it that often? No, but  when I did use it to free up a healer or even myself, it was just awesome to see my pet rushing to the rescue. It was a fantastically unique hunter ability. Gone in Legion.
    • Kill Shot is one of those things most of us have built up ingrained muscle memory for, and it just feels good to use it to finish a mob off. Without it, I have actually found myself in situations where the mob is down to a couple of percentage points of health, and I am standing around twiddling my thumbs waiting for focus to generate. Very frustrating.
  • So far, I have not found a real tangible surge combination for BM.
    • Not only does it feel slow and mostly passive, but short of pressing your few buttons at the same slow pace but with greatly increased fervor, there is nothing much you can do when the raid leader tells everyone to “pour it on”. There just is nothing to pour.
  • Aspect of the Turtle is just a different visualization for current Deterrence, but unfortunately the second charge is gone. 

So that is it for my first impressions. The spec depends completely on pets for damage, which is fine for Beast Mastery, I have no problem with that concept, find it kind of intriguing actually. But having embarked upon it, Blizz has failed to give us any semblance of real player interaction with those pets. A BM hunter has become little more than a leash holder, able to affect a fight only by deciding when to let go of the leash. Worse, the leash holds not the Dogs of War but creatures more aptly described as the Fluffy Bunnies of War.

Up tomorrow: Some overall impressions on the leveling experience in general, along with some of the quality of life changes I have found so far.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

8 Responses to Legion Beast Mastery Hunter – First impressions

  1. Very interesting indeed, thanks for your good work. If, while questing, your pet was more sturdy and more aggressive in holding agro; I could see some satisfaction in pulling three or four mobs and (even passively) burning them down — but if your pet is a wimp, then so are you.

    • Fiannor says:

      I think “wimp” pretty well describes how the spec feels. I am experimenting with some other talent combos to see if it can feel better to play, but have not yet hit on one that even approaches the fun aspects of classic hunters.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yep i agree with u, but i can make u meby a bit happy if u want a new ……… spirit beast from LEGION !!!!!!!! ( the Ghostlymoose) Well if u want it read on and yes u will be dead meby 2 times well i did 🙂
    Iam will make a move from it but that will take some time to make it right. Ok i did it when i was lvl 102 go to “Stormheim” then go to “Halls of Valor” jump down on the south-east side on the rocks there then go to the Grassy Cliffs to the west (watchout there is a lvl 110 mobs walking around). Climb up and go around then jumb nice and slow down to the west side make a macro “tar Bulvinkel” u will die when u try to get down at 1 point go back the here as a ghost and come back to live and heal up. when u are lower and use u macro u will find him he is a lvl 101 but dont get to close his name is RED (can attack u). dismiss u pet get into tame range and tame him (the tame time is faster then he can kill u). my hunter name is “Nightwatchnl” in the beta. goodluck

  3. Grumsta says:

    Sounds like the “Bunny Master” spec was pretty much what you anticipated, that’s a shame. Not being able to actively generate focus is a design choice I just don’t understand. I would imagine that Satan will be snowboarding to work before you try Survival, so I guess your only other option is the new MM if BM doesn’t improve. Or would you rather switch classes?

    As someone who will be playing a Mage in Legion I do read your posts with something of a guilty conscience! 😉

    • Fiannor says:

      LOL, BM = “Bunny Master” I love it! I may even steal it 😉

      I will definitely be trying out MM, probably very soon, as well as the classes I currently have alts for. If hunters turn out to be unplayable — at least for me — I think my current front runners for main in Legion are, in order, Druid, Monk, Warlock, Rogue. My poor Mage would probably be a good choice, but it is the one alt I have not gotten a legendary ring on, and as I have written before I for some reason just cannot get the hang of how to play one.

      I find it interesting that the class specs I most enjoy playing seem to be the ones Blizz is intent on drastically changing in Legion — Hunter all specs of course, Balance Druid (which I think will be changing for the better), Destro Lock, MW Monk, and Combat Rogue.

      No reason to have a guilty conscience about playing a Mage. *mutters to self, “Teacher’s pet!”*

      • Grumsta says:

        It was your “Fluffy Bunnies of War line that inspired me, so help yourself 🙂

        Look forward to seeing your MM Hunter write up.

  4. Casually Odd says:

    Thanks for the review, although I’m sad to read what I’m seeing. I’m trying to remain hopeful, based on nothing, but all of that seems to go against what I like in Hunters, and Beast Mastery in particular. If I remember correctly Spirit Heal is going to be gone? I’m really disappointed in that, if true. Here’s to hoping things improve eventually.

    Also, since I can’t seem to comment on the other post and I was busy at the time, congrats on the two awesome rare tames!