If you're still not sure what WoW class you want to play, allow us to take this opportunity to introduce you to the noble hunter. Hunters are one of the most commonly recommended classes for new players to the game, and with good reason. Compared to other classes, many of which have the ability to fill multiple game roles, hunters have a single, straightforward function in any situation: to do damage with ranged weapons. And with the power of their pets to protect them, hunters have very high survivability when soloing, which secures their place the top of new player recommendation lists.
But don't start thinking that this means hunters are a simple class: while the basics are easy to pick up, there's a lot of depth to hunter gameplay (and a world of difference between playing with a good hunter and a not so good hunter). Hunters have a number of crowd control options and access to traps, both of which require strategic thinking to use well. And, further, while pets can make the life of a hunter much easier, controlling them can be a challenge that adds complexity to the game.
So while many people would tell you hunters are a great class for newbies because they're easy, we'll just say that they're a great class for newbies because they're easy to get started with. If we've piqued your interest, read on to see more about what the hunter has to offer in World of Warcraft -- and whether it may just be the perfect class for you.
Just what is a hunter?
Hunters do one thing and they do it very well: dish out huge quantities of ranged damage. Though hunters have three talent trees, just like any other class, each one focuses on doing DPS, though in slightly different ways: beast mastery improves a hunter's pet power, marksmanship focuses on ability with bows and guns, and survival hunters are more skilled with explosives, poisons, and traps.
Hunters have a wide selection of races -- any race save for gnome can select the class, meaning a potential hunter has the choice of dwarf, human, night elf, draenai, worgen, orc, tauren, troll, undead, blood elf, goblin, or pandaren. They wear leather armor to start, but can equip mail armor at level 40, which adds to their survivability. They can also wield a variety of weapons -- bows, crossbows, fist weapons, guns, one-handed axes, one-handed swords, polearms, staves, two-handed axes, and two-handed swords -- but most of their skills require you to use ranged weapons, so if you have dreams of melee combat, this is not the class for you.
Hunters have a unique resource system: instead of using mana, rage, or energy, their abilities require focus to use. It's similar to the energy resource that rogues, monks, and cat druids use, but it regenerates a bit differently. Hunters start with 100 focus and regain it over time or by using abilities.
What about pets?
Pets are a key aspect to the class. Hunters tame beasts throughout the land -- a hunter can tame 29 (37 for beast mastery hunters) different species of pet with their own special abilities and numerous unique looks. Just like your character, your pet has a talent specialization: each pet can be cunning (which focuses on utility and mobility, making for a good all-around spec), ferocity (which focuses on dealing damage), or tenacity (which focuses on defense). Any new pet you tame will have a default talent specialization based on its species, but you can swap it out if you'd rather have a different one.
Your hunter will start with a pet -- different depending on your race -- and any other pets you want you must find and tame. This can require a lot of tramping about the game world, especially if you're in search of pets with unique looks. These are the different pet species available to every hunter: basilisk, bat, bear, beetle, bird of prey, boar, carrion bird, cat, crab, crane, crocolisk, dire horn, dog, dragon hawk, fox, goat, gorilla, hyena, monkey, moth, nether ray, porcupine, raptor, ravager, scarped, serpent, spider, spore bat, tallstrider, turtle, warp stalker, wasp, wind serpent, and wolf. In addition, beast mastery hunters can tame special, "exotic" pets, which have extra abilities. These pets include: chimaera, core hound, devilsaur, quilen, rhino, shale spider, silithid, spirit beast, water strider, and worm. In short, many creatures you see in the game world can be tamed as a hunter pet.
If you can't settle on just one, that's fine, because you can tame many pets -- up to 50. However, you can only have one out at a time: any extra pets must be stabled while not with you (stable masters in towns will look after your pet for you while you're out adventuring). A certain number of pets can be stabled as "active" pets, which means you can call them and swap them for the pet you currently have no matter where in the game world you are. "Inactive" pets you'll have to visit a stable master to collect.
Who should (and shouldn't) play a hunter?
We think there are a lot of great reasons to play a hunter:
- The class is very easy for new players to pick up -- but there's also a lot of depth to the class if you want to really get into the game.
- Hunters have great survivability. Between mail armor, traps and tricks, and fiercely loyal pets, it's awfully hard to take a hunter down. This makes them a very good choice for players who are mostly interested in soloing.
- Though hunters aren't as flexible as a hybrid class, with pets that can do double-duty as a tank, they have more flexibility than other pure DPS classes.
- You really want to tank or heal. Sorry, hunters just aren't it.
- You're interested in a melee character or a caster: hunters still aren't it.
- You don't want to spend time hunting all over the game world to collect the perfect pet or the micromanagement of controlling a pet or collecting pets just doesn't interest you.
Want to learn more?
Check out these hunter resources:
- Blizzard's official hunter information
- Blizzard's hunter forums
- Our hunter category
- Warcraft Hunters Union blog
- Petopia's comprehensive guide to hunter pets
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.