The latest Beta Build has hit the test servers, and there's a lot to report for Hunters. In particular, many of the announced changes we discussed in the last Scattered Shots went through. Aspect of the Beast now grants a melee AP buff, and Mongoose Bite is unlinked from dodge. Tranquilizing Shot now dispels magic effects, and Arcane Shot does not.
Most of the big notable changes however, center around pets, and specifically Beast Mastery. The 51 point talent is now implemented, and 5 extra talent points work. Chimeras and Devilsaurs are now exotic only. In addition, two new exotic pet families have been found: Worms and Silithids.
You can tame both the Dredge Striker and Dredge Crusher type worms in Silithus and the Jormungar worms in Northrend. For Silithids, only one "warrior" skin seems tamable, while the worker, wasp, and heavy tank type silithids are not tamable. The worms are Tenacity pets who feed on bread, cheese, and fungus and have a family skill called Acid Spit that does nature damage and reduces, while the silithid is a Cunning pet who feeds on meat and fungus and have an ability called Venom Web Spray that roots the target for 4 seconds and does nature damage.
I've added some screenshots of the new pets and their abilities to the gallery above. Also, if you're not impressed with any of the new exotic pet families so far, take heart. We've been told they're still working on the pets themselves.
Unfortunately, the rest of the pet-related news is less than amazing.
First, the pet resist skills have been removed completely. Instead of gaining the old trainable resists as they level, pets now simply gain a flat +1 resist every level. This is pretty certainly an overall nerf, especially since there's no way to get the previous max resist level of 140. Some Hunters are already asking for 1.5 resists per level so that their pets can at least somewhat approach the old levels. It may be, however, that Blizzard means for you to set aside 3 talent points if you really want some extra protection against the elements for your pet.
The most controversial change to go in with this patch is a complete revamp to how Kill Command works. Now, instead of a quick cooldown damage attack that lights up upon a Hunter crit, it's a 2 minute cooldown triggered ability that causes the next 3 pet special abilities to hit for extra damage -- 60% on the first, 40% on the second, 20% on the third.
We were told by Koraa that Kill Command would be changed to allow us to have better burst damage, but it does honestly look like like nothing more than a massive nerf. Considering a Beastmastery Hunter with good critical strike percentage and the Focused Fire talent could spit out an extra 500-1000 damage every 6 seconds or so using Kill Command, it's hard to see how this new version is better. Even if it is controlled burst damage, the burst damage itself probably won't be as much as the old Kill Command, given that pet special abilities don't hit for much. As it is, most Beastmastery Hunters will probably save Kill Command for a Cobra Strikes proc anyway.
Of course, reports from higher level hunters are that rank 2 Kill Command works the same as before, which means that the rank 1 Kill Command may be a bug or a mislabeled ability
If it's not, and rank 1is the "real" ability, why Kill Command was nerfed so massively is unclear. Some Hunters believe that we're just getting too powerful, and they wanted to nerf our DPS some way or shift DPS emphasis away from the Beastmastery tree and onto the others, while others believe that Blizzard simply doesn't realize how badly they nerfed the ability. Either way, this Hunter is hoping they reconsider, or at least fiddle with it a bit more. In the meantime, I'll just be over here, testing with my worm.