Scattered Shots: Hunter Q&A Part 1

Eddie Carrington
E. Carrington|08.01.09

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Scattered Shots: Hunter Q&A Part 1

Good day folks and welcome to Scattered Shots. The column that takes a good look at what it takes to be a Hunter in the World of Warcraft. I am Eddie "Brigwyn" Carrington from the Hunting Lodge. This week we'll be reviewing the recently released Hunter Q&A.

The Hunter Q&A was like the other Class Q&As, a mixed bag of frustration, tease, and interesting concepts. It shouldn't be a surprise that we didn't get the details we wanted. Nor should it be a complete shock to you that some Hunters would feel disconnected between what players want versus what the Developers are concentrating on. Given all that, I still felt that this Q&A was overall pretty decent.

There is so much to review and discuss I've decided to break the Q&A out into 2 parts. Here's a quick highlight of the main things discussed in Part 1:

  • Developers feel Survival Hunter spec is currently performing within normal operating parameters.
  • Crowd Control still needs work.
  • PvP has a big influence on PvE Class Balance
  • Ammo remains a consumable because of technical difficulties.
  • Ammo is a focus point on Hunter damage progression.
  • Blizzard is hoping to cut the cost of Ammo to address the cost burden for Hunters.
  • The Hunter "No Fire" zone will remain in effect.
  • Development considers enhancing Hunter melee attacks.
All that is just in Part 1! So let's see what Ghostcrawler had to say.

The Community Team hit the ground running, getting right to the point. Over on the official Hunter forums, the question, "What does Blizzard think the Hunter role should be?" has been asked repeatedly over the years. Not to disappoint, this was the first question chosen by the Community Team. Because I feel this is so important I included the entire quote below.
"Community Team: We'd like start this Q&A off by asking a question that players of all classes often ask in regard to the very purpose of their class. In this case, we're looking specifically at the hunter.

Q: Where do hunters fit into the larger scope of things currently and where do we see them going from this point forward?

A: We solved a lot of perennial hunter problems in Wrath of the Lich King, from the shot clipping problems of Steady Shot, to bringing Survival back to life, and making pet choice and training a lot more meaningful and hopefully enjoyable. Going forward we have several objectives we still want to accomplish. We want to make sure hunters in PvP are as good in Arenas as they are in Battlegrounds. We think their damage is sufficient, so we want to focus on their survival and crowd control. We want to make sure their PvE utility is as good as their dps (especially making traps live up to their potential for crowd control). We want to resolve what a hunter is supposed to do in melee (Raptor Strike? Disengage?). We want to clean up some of the clunkiness that still exists around pet control (both the UI itself and what the pet does on the battlefield). We think hunters have a good niche as the only real ranged damage-dealer that focuses on (mostly) physical damage based on a weapon rather than cast-time based spells. We just want to make sure they live up to that niche."
In other words, Ghostcrawler feels the development team has done a good job in making Survival an interesting and popular spec to play again.

Another interesting point was when Ghostcrawler talked about how he feels about Hunters needing a boost to traps and crowd control. Of course this isn't the first time we've heard this. On a positive note, we can see with the current Patch 3.2 trap changes the developers seem to be heading in that direction.

Also, I got a sense that the changes are based first on their impact to the PvP game and then PvE. This was not specifically said, but it just seems that way. Ghostcrawler did mention they want to improve PvE Hunter utility and crowd control, but did you notice the emphasis on PvP?

When Ghostcrawler says, "We want to make sure hunters in PvP are as good in Arenas as they are in Battlegrounds. We think their damage is sufficient, so we want to focus on their survival and crowd control.", then follows up with, "We want to resolve what a hunter is supposed to do in melee (Raptor Strike? Disengage?)," I felt PvP is where the development team is keeping their primary focus is at the moment. Of course, maybe I'm reading too much into it.

Now that we know what our role is we can get into some of the other issues affecting Hunters. For example, what ever happened to our promised ammo change? Remember back when Patch 3.1 was announced? Ammo was suppose to change from being a consumable to a durable.

It appears to me that in this Q&A Ghostcrawler is setting our expectation to not expect a change to ammo any time soon. (Blizzard time or otherwise.) I understand the whole "Ammo is stored everywhere issue". If you think about it, we have ammo in our bags, our banks, and maybe specialized Mammoth Cuttters in our guild bank. Based on this alone, I can see how it would be a very tricky change.

Something I found exciting was the possibility of introducing new capabilities with our ammo. I really hope that Ghostcrawler isn't just teasing us when he says, "We're not sure if this would be as simple as getting the 125 dps arrows to upgrade your 120 dps arrows, or if you would do things like swap between your fire and poison arrows... but that kind of thing is definitely on the table." I know many Hunters including myself that would love this ability.

With durable ammo on hold, Ghostcrawler addressed the issue of Hunters having an extra cost burden by having to purchase ammo for everything we do. Not only are we required to purchase ammo, but our damage progression is tied directly to it also. So, it was nice hearing that the development team understands we're going to do whatever it takes to get the best ammo we can.

It was also impressive to hear they're going to lower the market cost for the ammo as well as continue looking into other ways to provide proper balance with scaling and progression. If not for GC stating that they are still working on durable ammo, I would think that durable ammo was going to be one of those permanent wish list items.

Ghostcrawler tackled the ever popular "dead zone" or "no fire zone" topic stating that there needs to be some changes. The biggest issue related to the "no fire zone" hinges on Hunters being ranged fighters and having to get back into range to unleash their more powerful attacks.

Ghostcrawler admits that they don't want Hunters to have the capability of unleashing both melee and range attacks all at once. Ghostcrawler says, "The way we want the hunter to work is that when you get into min range with the hunter, then the hunter needs to switch to melee, or more likely escape back to ranged distance again."

With traps being on a separate cool down in the 3.2 Patch, we'll have the capability to lay down Frost and Snake traps to help slow down our target, with an Explosive Trap helping to proc Lock and Load as we Disengage. This is good, but not great. I guess we can't say Ghostcrawler isn't keeping it interesting.

At least this isn't a done deal and Ghostcrawler asked for more feedback from the community. If you PvP and have some ideas on how this might work, maybe you can let Ghostcrawler know over on the Damage Dealing Forums.

That brings us to the end of Part 1 of the Hunter Q&A. Looking back, there are several interesting points. Blizzard admitting how big of a role PvP plays in PvE Class Balancing. Not to mention the possible idea of durable ammo with special abilities. Add to that a focus of bringing crowd control and traps back into the game and this part of the Q&A was pretty packed with information after all. I can't wait to tackle Part 2 next.

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