Thursday, April 15, 2010

Catclysm Changes Part II

The next class I wanted to look at was my Hunter. He was my second 80 and is the best geared of my alts. Let's get right to the Hunter changes.

Cobra Shot (level 81): A new shot that deals Nature damage instead of Physical damage. This ability will share a cooldown with Steady Shot. This will give hunters an alternative to Steady Shot on heavily-armored targets, and we will have talent incentives in the Beast Mastery tree to make this a signature shot.

This will become BMs shot like Chimera for Marks and Explosive for Survival. It will be interesting to see if it's instant like Chimera and Explosive or has a cast time like Steady. Maybe that will be part of the BM talents so it will be instant for BM, but has the same cast time as Steady for Marks/Surv.

Trap Launcher (level 83): When used, the next trap can be shot to a location within 40 yards. This provides the current Freezing Arrow treatment to all traps and, as a result, we will be removing the current ability Freezing Arrow. 1-minute cooldown. No global cooldown.

I could see this being a great spell for Survival. We can launch a trap into melee and force a Load and Load proc and then start up Black Arrow. It will also give Hunters some interesting options for AoE like launching an Explosive Trap into a group of mobs. However the cooldown seems a little excessive. I would think having a cooldown equal to the trap cooldown would make more sense.
Camouflage (level 85): The hunter enters an obscured state that prevents him or her from taking ranged damage. The character would still be subject to melee or area-of-effect attacks, and dealing or taking damage will break the Camouflage effect. The hunter can move and set traps when under Camouflage, and will receive a damage bonus when attacking while under Camouflage (which will then break the effect).

I don't know that I quite understand this spell. What is 'an obscured state'? Are we talking about Stealth for Hunters here, or perhaps something akin to Mage Invisibility? In PVE, I could see going in Camouflage and then popping Misdirection and opening up on the Boss with the damage bonus. In PVP, this would be a decent way to try to stop someone from blowing you up. Of course it won't help against Rogues, Rets, Warriors, etc. Might this also give Hunters something akin to the Rogue's opener? I'll put this one down as intriguing but I would love some more details on it. Right now, I just have too many questions.
Hunters will no longer use mana;

Let's quote Neo: Whoa. Honestly, this is how Hunter's should have been from the beginning. Managing Mana is one of the things I like least about my Hunter, and I'm excited to see what this new system will be like. I have a Druid that I leveled as Feral so I have used Energy before. What boggles my mind is the number of Hunters who are worried about the change because they are worried the Focus regeneration rate will be too low. That's a legitimate concern, but it's also a very easy setting to tweak for the Dev team. There are also some PVP concerns, but I don't see Rogues having any trouble in PVP.
A major change coming for the hunter is the removal of ammunition.

This is an interesting change. It's good in the sense that Hunters had to pay gold for every spell they cast. That was a little tough on the old pocketbook. Plus in ICC, you had to find an Engineer with the recipe and get them to make the ammo for you. Then Engineers tried to game the system with the whole list 100 for the cost of 1000 trick, or listing Arrows and Bullets individually and flooding the AH so you had to click through page after page to get to what you wanted. That should have clued the Devs in that putting Hunters at the mercy of the player base was a bad idea. But it does seem like something of an opportunity not taken. There were so many cool ideas for ammo, but now it's just going to be a relic of how we did it 'back in the day'.
Hunters will now have two types of attainable pets: active pets and stored pets. Hunters will be able to have up to three active pets (perhaps five for Beast Mastery specialized players) and will have the ability to switch among these pets any time they are out of combat, without going to town. They will also be able to have a large number of pets in storage at the stables.

This is a great change. Pets are what I love most about my Hunter and I'm always sad that I can't tame more. Now I'll be able to tame all sorts of pets and put them in long term storage. I can keep and PVE, PVP,and Solo pet in my Active Slots. Pokemon, anyone?

hunters will now start with a race-appropriate pet at level 1. We are reinforcing hunters as a ranged class. To this end, the class will now start with ranged abilities at level 1, and we will be removing some melee abilities, such as Mongoose Bite.

And a million Human Hunters cried out in glee. This is another fantastic change. If you knew nothing of the game, by Level 10, you would have thought you rolled a melee class, not a ranged class. This makes the Hunter feel more like a Hunter from the moment you spawn into the world.
We are also changing many pet family abilities to provide important buffs and debuffs. The intention is to allow the hunter to be able to swap pets and fill a position if a certain role is missing from the group. The goal is to have all pets provide a damage increase that is very similar and no greater than any other pet. Some examples of the changes we are making to the pet families are listed below:

  • Wind Serpents: Will provide a debuff that increases the amount of spell damage taken by an enemy (similar to a weaker version of the warlock ability Curse of Elements).
  • Ravagers: Will provide a debuff that will increase an enemy's Physical damage vulnerability (similar to a weaker version of the warrior ability Rampage).
  • Hyenas: Will provide bleed damage (similar to a weaker version of the druid ability Mangle).
By extension, Hunters could cover almost any debuff you missed from your raid. This will be a great help to 10 man raids or raids that bring multiple Hunters. From a purely selfish point of view this makes me think that Ravagers (or possibly Hyenas) will be the favored Pet of Marksmen hunters, and Wind Serpents the favored Pet of the Survivalist. Of course, we will need to the see what the other changes are. The only way for this to work is for them to accomplish their goal of "all pets provide a damage increase that is very similar". Put me down as highly skeptical the Devs can pull that off. If they don't pull that off, we'll still bring the best pet for our personal DPS and let other classes worry about buffs and debuffs.

Stings and other periodic effects will now benefit from haste and critical strike ratings. Hasted damage-over-time abilities do not lose duration, but instead add additional damage ticks.

I'm thinking that can only help. As you get more haste, you'll get more ticks out of your DoTs. Basically we are getting our 2pc T9 bonus all the time.

Viper Sting will now restore 9 Focus every 3 seconds

I wonder if they meant Aspect of the Viper, or does this mean that Hunters will no longer be able to mana burn casters. If that is the case, this gets a big thumbs down.
Pet Damage: Many of the passive benefits to pet damage will no longer be available in the Beast Mastery talent tree. However, these will be provided through the new Mastery mechanic.

That makes total sense for BM. It will still provide a similar balancing issue to what the Devs are fighting now with not wanting BM to be too reliant on their pet for damage.

Double Shot: The hunter will have a chance to launch a free attack off of the global cooldown for 50% damage.

This is similar to the Wild Quiver mechanic that MM has now and it's one of my favorite parts of the tree. But where Wild Quiver is shot automagically, this attack sounds like it has to be triggered by the Hunter.

Elemental Damage: Hunter abilities such as traps, Black Arrow, and Explosive Shot will do elemental damage of the following types: Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature, and Shadow.

I'm not really sure I understand this. Those spells already do Elemental damage. Is this increasing the amount of elemental damage they do. I'm curious to see how that plays out.

Overall, I think it's a very good preview for Hunters. There are some cool new spells, but some major core mechanics are changing. The class is essentially being rewritten which could lead to some wild swings from Overpowered to Nerfed to Uselessness then to Pretty Decent. Paladins and Death Knights should know that ride pretty well.


Rohan said...

Regarding Viper Sting, right now VS drains mana from the target and restores your mana.

I think this is just a housekeeping change, in that Cataclysm VS will drain mana from the target and restore your focus.

Anonymous said...

> I don't know that I quite understand this spell. What is 'an obscured state'?

Regarding Camouflage, the Crab posted some commentary on the Blizzard forums:

If you target a camo hunter or a rogue using Smoke Bomb, you will get an error message saying something like "Target obscured." You can see them and target them, but can't use your attacks. Imagine they are behind a pillar or something. You can try and get off an AE near them or you can move to melee.

Gryphonheart said...

I certainly hope that Viper Sting no longer drains mana. Having a class with an unlimited resource system be able to drain the resources of a class with a limited resource system seems like it would be beyond frustrating for the latter.

This is especially true in the case of healers in PvP, who are going to be the most resource-constrained role in Cataclysm due to the design philosophy, resilience changes, and having to give up regeneration stats for survivability. This is in addition to not being able to be as effective in PvP as they are in PvE (due to Mortal Strike-like debuffs), on top of having the lowest offensive potential for if/when things go south, and thus being the most reliant on competent teammates to actually succeed in PvP.

As you can probably tell, I'm not looking forward to healing rated battlegrounds at all. =P