Hunter changes are beginning to show up on the patch 5.3 PTR patch notes, and those changes are of the buff variety, assuring that they'll get the seal of approval from the hunter community. Certainly 5.3 is bringing the hunter love, with these buffs coming on the heels of 50 stable slots!
Hunters are getting a flat buff to their DPS, while BM and MM hunters are getting substantial AoE DPS buffs. It's still early in the PTR process, and we can expect to see more changes coming, but for the time being BM is the winner of patch 5.3, getting more benefit from the changes than the other specs.
Let's take a loot at what's changing, and how it will impact the hunter specs.
As always, this is just the PTR, and the important part of that is test realm. Nothing here is a promise and all of it is subject to change, including the prospect of more changes in the future.
Patch 5.3 hunter changes
In addition to the 50 stable slots we already heard about, the past week has brought us the following hunter changes:
- Aspect of the Hawk now increases ranged attack power by 25%, but from 15%. Aspect of the Iron Hawk talent is, of course, buffed identically.
- Binding Shot is no longer a talent. Instead MM hunters only learn it at level 30.
- Intimidation is now a talent in Binding Shot's place, and is no longer a BM-only ability.
- Blink Strike has be renamed Blink Strikes and has been changed to a passive ability that increases your pet's basic attack damage by 50%, can be used from 30 yards away, and will instantly cause the pet to teleport behind the target.
- Beast Cleave now deals 75% of the original damage, up from 50%.
- Bombardment now increases the damage of Multi-Shot by 60%, up from 30%.
Aspect of the Hawk buff
The buff of Aspect of the Hawk from 15% up to 25% RAP boost is a flat out DPS boost to all hunter specs.
BM hunters will benefit from this change a bit more than the other specs, since ranged attack power is a bit better for them. This will add to the trend of BM starting to pull slightly further ahead of the other specs in very high gear levels.
The change to Blink Strike really looks like Blizzard responding to hunter complaints about too many buttons in the rotation. This is one move to make the hunter talent tiers a bit more similar to other classes, where there is a passive option in most tiers for players who don't want to add buttons.
Certainly taking Blink Strike now instead of A Murder of Crows will allow hunters to get the damage gain without adding a button to their rotation, but this gain will come at the cost of burst DPS potential.
Right now it looks like the new Blink Strikes is worse than A Murder of Crows for MM and SV, and for BM it's very close: probably better with good gear, and worse with lower and middle gear levels.
Some hunters are disappointed by the loss of Blink Strike as a PvP burst contributor, but I suspect most PvE hunters will welcome the talent overhaul.
The changes to Beast Cleave and Bombardment help BM and MM close the AoE gap between SV and the other specs. The buffs to both are substantial, though I suspect it's going to benefit MM more than BM (since Beast Cleave is not necessarily going to hit all the mobs in a pack).
SV's powerful suite of AoE abilities is likely to keep SV as the top sustained AoE damage spec, but with the buffs to BM and MM hopefully players will no longer feel as though they have to respec for AoE/trash fights.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, hunters are going to enjoy around a 6% DPS boost from the changes, and that's always a good thing.
Hunters who want to hit (very) slightly fewer buttons and are willing to sacrifice a bit of DPS for it can go with the new Blink Strikes, and both BM and MM hunters will have better AoE prospects.
These changes will also slightly increase the gap between BM and the other specs.
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