A farewell to hunters

Yesterday another hunter I respect, Delirium over at The Thrill of the Wild, threw in the towel on hunters as a class in Legion. He joins a number of excellent hunters who, after months of frustration trying to get Blizz to understand their very real and legitimate concerns about overall hunter play style in Legion, have finally given up and will just try to make the best of it. That is, if they play a hunter at all in Legion or indeed if they play the game at all. Some, like Delirium, hold out a very slim hope that it will turn out all right once Legion goes live, but really no one believes it will.

Even though you can read Del’s piece for yourselves, I am going to do a lengthy quote here, because I think he really captured the feeling of many true hunters. He certainly captured mine.

So, here we are; the Legion pre-patch likely less than a week away, and hunters are still in a fairly terrible place, from my perspective. All three specs received complete overhauls (now having only the names in common with the previous three hunter specs), and all three ended up significantly less fun than they have been for the last two expansions.

. . .

While I’d like to think that in general I’m appreciative of the developers trying new things, experimenting and trying to make the game better. In the case of all three hunter specs, they’ve ended up with results that are significantly worse than what they had when they started. And really, that wouldn’t be a problem either, except, as far as I can tell, the developers who are in charge seem to legitimately think that they’ve made a good class, despite months and months and months of feedback from hundreds of different hunters in the beta expressing dissatisfaction with every single hunter spec.

And that is the essence of it. Hunters may in fact turn out to compete well on the damage charts in Legion, but that is not the point. Blizz has succeeded in draining every bit of fun out of the spec, they have gutted its soul, they have removed every vestige of joy from it. The hunter class in Legion will remain, but in name only. The hunter class we have loved to play since the beginning of WoW will be gone.

Blizz has steadfastly refused to tell us why they have done this, beyond blithering idiocy about “class fantasies”. I can only conclude their actions are the result of one of two reasons: 1) They have no one on their staff who has ever understood and loved the hunter class, or 2) They made a deliberate decision to destroy the class, because it was too popular or because non-hunters hate it a lot, or whatever. No matter the reason, WoD and Legion have made it clear that hunters are the throwaway class in Blizz’s mind, the class they can screw with however much they want whenever they want.

This is bad enough, but it is compounded by the fact that Blizz has so little respect for hunters that they have not even bothered to have a real discussion over the changes and why they decided to make them, why they have stubbornly ignored the concerns of the best, most conscientious hunters in the game.

I will play a Beastmastery hunter in Legion, but I am not excited by the prospect. I look at it as something to endure, not something to look forward to. Though it retains the most flavor of traditional hunters, it, too has been stripped of its essential fun. It does not even come close to Blizz’s own ridiculous “spec fantasy”. How can you have a hunter with no skill whatsoever in camouflage or traps? How can someone be a “Master of Beasts” with many of them at his beck and call but with actual control over only one of them? (And in truth not a lot of control over even that one, as there are still serious pathing issues as well as issues with your pet failing to attack when it is on Assist.) The poverty of this shallow “fantasy” is exposed in the actual spec implementation.

The destruction of the hunter class puts a shadow over all of Legion for me. I know there will be many fun innovations, and I think there will be a lot of engaging content. But I will be reminded of Blizz’s hunter sellout every time I play. Every. Single. Time.

I know Blizz does not dwell in the real player world, so they will believe their own hype over Legion. But they should be sobered by the idea that there is a sizable group of players like myself who are not hyped by it, who are instead grimly resolved to get through it. For a game, that is not exactly a ringing endorsement.

I will spend my weekend playing my hunter, eking out every last ounce of joy I can while it is still fun to play. Soon it will just be a memory.

Blizz, why are you doing this?

12 thoughts on “A farewell to hunters

  1. Just read a hunters guide for legion, might as well been written in Chinese. Why Blizz? Why.

  2. I’ve been working on my own related post for several weeks. With vacation coming up next week, I hope to finally get some things completed and published soon. For now, suffice to say that I’m of a similar mindset, sadly.

    1. Sorry to hear that, but I will look forward to your piece. I keep looking to hunters I admire for some realistic hope for the class in Legion, but one after another seem to have pretty much given up on any optimism for it. About the most hopeful I have found comes down to “It may not totally stink.” Not what I think of as completely positive….

  3. I would politely disagree. My Marksmanship felt super fast and efficient at Garrison dummies when Itried it at PTR. I’m happy to keep the no-pet option from Legion, and I’m happy that this is an option.

    Beast Mastery, I can’t tell. I’m into a no-pet policy, so I’ll never play it even if the artifact weapon is the gun which suits my goblin best (lorewise)

    Survival sounds very fun, and maybe I could try it. It’s a class designed specially for spear-fighting, and I like the moves and the fantasy that comes along.

    1. Also we know that all the classes are heavily designed for artifacts. I’m having 16 specs to learn, but even if I don’t like some of them now, I would still wait for Artifact Weapons before my final verdict.

  4. Well, I don’t think it’s just hunters unhappy with the state of their specs. I’ve been looking at most of the dps specs at the Legion Class feedback forums. I haven’t seen a single blue response in any of them… Ret Pallies have over 103 pages of comments the last time I looked (to BMs 34). I haven’t seen too many happy warlock comments either. The only folks who seemed okay with things were fire mages and unholy death knights.

    I think it’s a couple of things. I suspect the classes are getting balanced against having some of their legandaries… So things might feel weird until we have one or more drop.

    Blizz might be trying to shake up the player base a bit too. Most of the positive comments I’ve seen about a class occur in another classes forums when they’re complaining about how bad their class sucks. Currently I’m planning on changing specs for over half of my alts when the patch drops.

    I rolled my first hunter early in the Wrath of the LK expansion. There’s been a lot of changes in the class between then and now. Change can be difficult but we’ve wound up better off overall up to this point. I’m hopeful that BM be fine. I haven’t enjoyed playing MM on the demon invasion ptr. The lack of self heals is a bit painful when you’re taking unavoidable damage. Having the legendary helm that gives you a 20% heal when you feign death likely would help that.

    I don’t mind some of the changes I’ve seen so far in BM. I think it’s not a bad thing to encourage some people to change up their specs a bit. One of my goals was to get a max level toon from every class. So I’ve been in some groups with a few horrible hunters. People who seemed to not understand that they can feign death, have a couple of slows, CAN heal their pet, etc… Hunters might have a better reputation if some of them switched.

    1. You’ve presented a very useful perspective, worth keeping in mind. It is absolutely true that the forums are full of players unhappy with changes to their chosen classes and specs. I think one of the differences, though — and it may be pure personal perception — is that there have been virtually zero changes to BM as a result of some of the best hunters in the game bringing up what seem to be valid concerns about the fundamental mechanics of the spec. Read the Legion build notes over the past few months, and you will see paragraph after paragraph of change notes for, say DKs, and nothing for BM hunters. That to me says that Blizz made some rather sweeping changes — as they did for many classes/specs — then internally declared themselves done with the spec, no matter what many of their hand-picked alpha testers were trying to explain.

      I suspect much of my angst with this is a holdover from Blizz’s treatment of SV hunters starting in WoD and culminating in the switch to melee for Legion. Recall that SV was virtually unplayable at the start of WoD, got a reprieve in 6.1, then was destroyed and publicly abandoned as a viable spec in 6.2. I leveled my hunter as MM and played that spec through Wrath (remember the stutter-step?), switched to SV in Cata and never really looked back.

      But starting in WoD, Blizz just seemed to use SV as a dev laboratory, heedless of what effect it had on long time SV hunters. As far as I know, they did not do that to any other spec in the game. Thus, I am (possibly unfairly) projecting this SV history onto the BM spec in Legion. I think you are right when you point out that a filled-in artifact talent table will overcome many of the spec’s shortcomings. But in light of Blizz’s history for jerking hunters around not just at the start of an expansion (which is when everyone gets jerked around a bit) but even multiple times within an expansion, it’s hard to have faith that Blizz really has our best interests at heart. Worse, it’s hard to trust Blizz enough to invest a huge amount of time and effort into filling out an artifact tree for one spec when the history says that at any time they may pull the rug out from under you and make your chosen spec virtually worthless. Or worthless-valuable-worthless-valuable in an ever-widening pendulum arc.

      I think all of us have been in groups with horrible hunters, and that is an embarrassment to all conscientious hunters. But I have also been in groups with horrible mages, rogues, various flavors of tanks, and virtually every other class and spec. There just are not as many of them as there are bad hunters, likely because there are just more hunters in the player population.

      Hunters have such a bad rep, ironically, because it is the class that most aptly demonstrates Blizz’s philosophy of “Easy to learn, hard to master”. The dark side of that philosophy — a side that Blizz may only now be starting to realize — is that it encourages a lot of players to take up the class and it never dawns on many of them that there is in fact a “mastery” phase. They never get past the “Oh, this is easy!” impressions of the class. Thus, many inept hunters.

      I agree with you it is not a bad thing to encourage players to occasionally change up their specs. I just don’t think Blizz should basically force players into a spec because of deliberately bad mechanics for the other choices or blatantly OP ones for the spec Blizz prefers. (Like they did with MM/LW in WoD.) This makes me feel manipulated and insulted, as if Blizz considers me too stupid to see what they are doing.

      Sorry for the wall of text, but your comment really made me think. Thanks!

      1. No worries about the wall of comments. I do enjoy reading 🙂

        I’d add a couple of comments…

        People have an inherent bias where we seek out information from people we agree with. It really creates a self-reinforcing perception of reality that may or may not match up with what’s actually happening. We also don’t tend to look outside of our bubbles. So things may appear to be really bad in our area when they’re pretty good compared to everywhere else.

        I think we got a bit spoiled in a sense when Ghostcrawler was in charge with the massive amount of information we got from the developers. It was great and I really enjoyed reading his posts. But with such a big player base, it’s too challenging to respond to everyone and their team likely got burned out trying.

        In response to feedback that the hunter specs were too similar, Blizzard likely wanted to minimize the outcry by reducing the numbers of people playing survival when they bumped it to a melee spec.

        I’d also suggest that it’s not a good idea to hold the spec history against the current developers. It’s entirely possible that the folks working on WoD are completely different then the folks working on Legion. I’m sure it’s a big organization and big likely has people working on different projects and jumping around. I don’t think they’ve got a department of screw over hunters (or any other class). They may be bad at explaining what/why they’re doing. Or they might not feel like they need to explain. It’s not a good feeling not knowing what’s going on with something we’ve invested a lot of time in, But it could be tough for the team trying to develop a game with 6 – 10 million players playing backseat developer…

        If worse comes to worse and huntering isn’t enjoyable for me, I’d consider trying to main my warlock. Affliction has a good deal of mobility, great self-heals, and a reasonable tanking pet. I’d even consider playing a rogue. Subtlety and Outlaw both look interesting. Or if I don’t enjoy any of my toons, I’d even take a longer break from WoW. It’s a game we’re supposed to play for fun. Suffering should be optional.

  5. I should add that i’m not in a guild currently raiding and even if the guild was back raiding their old time doesn’t work work me. Don’t know why no guilds seem to ever run regular sat/sun afternoon raids…

    Anyways, so I may be able to take a different perspective as I don’t have a raid slot riding on these changes.

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