I love these months just before the next expansion is released. There's such a sense of anticipation, where the whole game, including your own class, is in fluid motion, constantly changing. This is the time when the developers actually want you to give them your feedback, to tell them what they're doing wrong; and -- strange as it may seem -- there is actually a chance they will listen to you, take your advice, and actually implement whatever change you suggest!
That's why the last few days I've had my eye on the beta hunter forums, looking for the latest ideas about my favorite class. Lots of the player suggestions they have there are really neat, but unfortunately there's also some of what we call "QQ" (which stands for whining because it looks like two little eyes with tears coming down). It's hard to get good suggestions on the forums without also getting bad QQ. Sometimes when forum-goers clash, they get into an annoying argument and the whole thing devolves into boring name-calling.
So let's weed out all the muck and jumble, shall we? Let's just cut to the prime-rib-beef of what really good ideas are out there and skip all the blah blah blah about who's stupid, who's an idiot, and who's just dumb.
#1: Pet leveling needs to go
Pet leveling is probably the worst remaining essentially "unfun" mechanic left in the game for hunters. As you probably already know, the expansion is adding a new feature where any low-level pet you tame jumps up to 5 levels below your level, and of course this is a step in the right direction. But think of it this way: if your spouse tells you that he or she will only cheat on you one day out of the month instead of twice a week, does that make you any happier? No -- a little bit of a bad thing is still a bad thing.
- Taming a level 80 pet and being able to use it right away, without having to worry about loyalty? Yes. Very good. Fun.
- Taming a low-level pet up to 75 instantly, and having to be patient while it struggles (and fails) to hold the threat of your enemies, does poor damage, and takes forever to get all those experience points it needs? No. Bad. Not fun.
- Reaching the level cap, having all your favorite pets sorted out, and not having to worry about pet experience ever again? Yes. Wonderful. Funalicious.
- Working towards the level cap, having to gain your own level before your pet starts gaining experience again, sometimes trying to level several pets at the same time, and having to "make do" again while your pet(s) are usually one or two levels behind you? No. Yawn. Who thought of this?
Blizzard should take their own advice and just take things out if they serve no purpose and aren't fun anymore. They've done it before (as with the upcoming removal of the rogues' poisoning skill), and I'd bet my pinky toe they'll do it again for pet-leveling sooner or later.
#2: Slim down the hunter's bloated user interface (or UI)
Imagine if I gave you a kitten. Everybody likes to play with kittens, right? Then imagine I gave you another kitten. Two kittens is better than one, right? Now imagine I gave you 50 kittens. How in the world would you fit them in one little house? It would be major kitten overload.
Hunters have over 50 active abilities -- that's stuff you've got to activate on your own if you want to use them -- and they don't all fit on the action bars we have available in the default UI. You've got to expunge quite a number of your abilities from your hunter's life in order to make room! That's like booting helpless kittens out onto the street!
Now, back in the day, lots of those abilities were kinda useless, kinda like... rusty old toy-robot kittens with melted batteries... I removed the old Mongoose Bite and Tranquilizing Shot because I never really got a chance to use them what with everything else going on and global cooldowns activating on every single one of these abilities (which is something we'll get to in a minute). The new menu to select different tracking abilities helps us to save some action bar space though, too (kinda like an extra-compact kitten carrier or something). Also, there are a bunch of addons out there, which help to a certain degree (like parking a kittens-only RV trailer in your driveway), but now with Wrath coming out, we're getting all new abilities (more... kittens?...), and those old abilities (like the new Mongoose Bite and Tranquilizing Shot) are getting buffed up enough that we might need to use them again (return of the living dead ... kittens?)! It's a bad situation, and only Blizzard has the power to help us.
One option is to put our aspect abilities on an extra class bar, like druids' shapshifting or warriors' stances, but that kind of gets in the way of the pet bar we use. Plus, you can only add so many bars before the interface starts to look really cluttered -- can you imagine a bar for aspects, another for traps, another for tracking abilities, another for pet-care abilities, and another for pets' own special abilities...? I mean... yawn? No matter how many different bars you have, you're still left with an uncomfortable amount of abilities you need to use on a moment's notice -- certainly more than you can easily keybind, especially when you consider trinkets and macros, potions and bombs and other items which we might like to make use of.
The best solution I've seen so far? Consolidate! Combine two similar abilities into one. Do we really need all those melee abilities when the whole point of our class is to get out of melee? Let Raptor Strike and Mongoose Bite get married and have a baby Rapgoose Attack that does its damage and lets us get on with things! Turn Aspect of the Monkey and Aspect of the Beast into Aspect of King Kong -- the default, all-purpose, "oh-!@#%-I'm-in-melee-get-me-out-of-here-now!" aspect! Let Hunter's Mark reveal information about beasts and put Beast Lore on some forgotten shelf in the basement a library somewhere! Combine Freezing Trap and Frost Trap into one Icy Doom Trap that freezes whoever triggers it and slows down everyone around him! Fuse Immolation Trap and Explosive Trap into one Spontaneous Combustion Trap, which lights an unhappy enemy afire and explodes his guts all over everyone within 10 yards! Blizzard is full-to-the-brim with creative people who can surely think of ways to trim the fat here.
In fact, all this ties in nicely with another good suggestion...
#3: Take some abilities off of the global cooldown.
Hunters often ignore certain abilities just because we don't actually have time to use them in the heat of the moment. Aspect of the Monkey is a great example. Wouldn't any hunter love to have some extra dodge at hand when being hacked on by a rogue or warrior? Certainly! Would this same hunter be willing to pay the price of a 1.5 second lock-out on all those 50 abilities, which prevents him from hitting Wing Clip (and hoping it works), laying a trap (and hoping it goes off), or otherwise doing something desperate in the hope of getting out of melee range again? Would this hunter happen to have an extra 1.5 seconds to switch back to Aspect of the Hawk in order to maybe get Arcane Shot or Concussive Shot to hit?
Why not just take all Aspects off of the global cooldown, and let us integrate them with other abilities? This could also help us with the consolidation issue too; we could make macros that tie a Wing Clip and Aspect of the Monkey together; or let any ranged ability automatically turn on Aspect of the Hawk if we chose. Aspect of the Cheetah might actually be handy if we could get into it for just a second or two, shoot immediately, and get out again. Rapid Fire and Bestial Wrath could go together nicely with various trinkets, to help us maximize our super-high damage time.
Those are all the suggestions we have time to take out of the forum box today, but let me know if you like them, and perhaps I can find more in there somewhere. Let us know what your suggestions are!