Scattered Shots: Hunter information from BlizzCon 2010

Brian Wood
B. Wood|10.25.10

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Scattered Shots: Hunter information from BlizzCon 2010
Every Monday and Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Each week, Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union uses logic and science (mixed with a few mugs of dwarven stout) to look deep into the hunter class. Mail your hunter questions to Frostheim.

Every year, Blizzard holds the ridiculously massive BlizzCon to celebrate the hunter class in WoW, as well as provide some information about the various support classes that are in the game to enhance the hunter experience. I have returned from BlizzCon 2010 in one piece, loaded down with new hunter information and a renewed joy for the hunter class.

I have to say that meeting all the people was almost more fun than all the panels and information. I got to meet Aron Eisenberg, Felicia Day and cast members from The Guild, Michele Morrow, Chris Metzen, Ghostcrawler, Oxhorn, Cranius, Legs and approximately a thousand of you guys. And everywhere I went I got to talk about hunters, discuss with you guys your opinions of patch 4.0.1 and hunter changes. My sincere thanks to all of the readers who hunted me down during the con -- meeting and chatting with you was probably the highlight of the convention. It was awesomesauce.

But we're not here today to talk about how awesome you guys are. We're here to talk about what we learned at BlizzCon about hunters. So join me after the cut for a look at the class Q&A as well as some tantalizing other tidbits of hunter information gathered during the con.

Hunter class Q&A

We had a handful of hunter questions come up at the class Q&A panel, including the big question about the hunter minimum range. The Q&A got off to a fantastic start, I think we can all agree, with Ghostcrawler's introduction to the panel:
My name is Greg, I'm one of the lead designers of World of Warcraft. I'm a Libra. I like long walks on the beach, drinking gin, and nerfing paladins.
Here are the hunter-related Q&A topics:

Question: Aspect of the Cheetah -- OK, hunters, Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack -- it's been in the game for a long time now. This is somewhat of a credit to you guys, you've given all the other character classes wonderful tools where a lot of hunters now no longer feel it's necessary to have a gimp to a skill like this. We all feel it's antediluvian, you know; remove it from the game, please. That way it would add more dynamic to the hunter class. Aspect of the Pack would be used in other situations.

The reason why Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the pack aren't like -- or that they have the daze I guess is what you're referencing -- is that if they didn't have the daze then you could just kite stuff all day long in PvE and it's also used like --

-- you put mobs on leashes, you cannot kite stuff all day long. That is no longer true. And mobs you can kite, it's irrelevant; you could kill it anyway. Who cares?

This comment was followed by loud booing from the crowd.

I don't know, I think I'd be able to kite stuff and kill stuff solo as long as the boss doesn't hit me.

I challenge you this: remove it from the game and see what happens.

After this comment he was roundly booed by the crowd again and his turn was done.

Honestly, I was pretty disappointed by this question. Of course Blizzard is not going to give us a permanent 30 percent speed increase with no substantial downside. Of course that would break things. I was a bit annoyed that one of our precious question slots was wasted on this one. But, happily, future questions were more interesting.

Question: Cool proc enchants -- When the deathfrost enchant first came out, I died a bit inside. We're seeing all these chance to proc on a melee attack or a spell, and I'm just wondering are hunters ever going to get a fun melee enchant, or are we going to be stuck with an upgraded version of an enchant that we've had since like patch 1.5?

So I have some bad news, unfortunately. For a while, you're going to be stuck. But one of the things that we're looking at going forward is sort of evaluating the scopes, because those are pretty boring right now to be frank, and we want to make the scopes cool and interesting. So if you do get one of those proc enchants coming along the line that's going to be where it comes into the game. And it will be just yours, nobody else can use it, and it'll be that cool thing.
Mongoose, right? We're going to get Mongoose I hope, right?

No comment.

This is interesting news, and we hunters have certainly spent our share of time gazing wistfully at some of the cooler melee proc enchants, our faces pressed to the window, a dreamy look in our eyes. Alas, all we could do it look. From the response, it sounds like this is not something that's going to be in Cataclysm at launch, but rather something Blizzard plans to look into once it has the crazy balance and bugs sorted out for the Cataclysm launch.

Question: Minimum range in raids -- From a technical standpoint we seem to be the only ranged class in the game that has a minimum range. This seems to come into effect quite a bit in our raids where everybody in the raid -- ICC first couple of bosses -- everybody in the raid stacks up on the boss at max hit at the edge of the hitbox, except the hunter -- you stand about five feet back and die.

If your raid liked you more they'd save you.

Question: My question is just -- mages, warlocks, priests -- they're all ranged classes but they can stand directly in front of you and repeatedly use what would be a ranged attack. Why have hunters been singled out? Why are we not allowed to do the same thing with our bows or our guns? It makes no sense.

It's part of the overall flavor of the hunter class unfortunately, and it goes hand in hand with using ranged weapons. That said I'm very sympathetic to the reality on fights like Lord Marrowgar, and other bosses that have very large hit boxes -- which works to the advantage of melee because it lets you spread out -- but effectively it's subtracting from the viable range for hunters. That issue in particular is something that we've discussed addressing because it is intended to make life easier for you, not harder, and life would be easier for you on Marrowgar if you were smaller and that's just not how it's ideally going to work.

Question: Is there supposed to be any form of a balance for the fact that it is a negative to the way our class plays is that we must be at that range or our DPS goes to pretty much nothing once you get into melee. Is there going to be something that cancels that out and makes us a slightly more viable ranged class than somebody who doesn't have that negative.
At the same you can shoot while moving and a mage can't channel his spells while moving, so there's trade offs right? Or a rogue or a cat they can't do anything when they have to run around the room, and you can. So there's different classes have different strengths in different situations.

Hunters also have a lot of abilities to get our of melee range, that's why disengage was made as a jump away from your target kind of ability, to get away from the shadow priest standing on top of you. But pretty much any ranged class if a melee's on top of you, you know, you're not doing your highest damage, right.

It's certainly interesting to hear that Blizzard is aware of how those giant hit boxes screw us, even though that isn't what he was asking about. He was specifically pointing out that many boss fight strategies require standing in melee range, wherever that is, and we hunters either have to stay out at range where gameplay is more difficult (Marrowgar) or suck it up, stand in melee and lose our shots (Lich King).

The response about the giant hunter strength to compensate for our giant weakness is ... well it's a tricksy situation. Before Cataclysm, I would have roundly argued with this. Of course rogues and feral druids can DPS while moving and they can do so much better than us. They just lose DPS when target-switching, but that's an advantage of ranged, not specific to hunters. Any other ranged DPS class can do 100 percent of its damage in melee -- the question was framed in a PvE situation, not PvP. Also, there are other ranged classes that can do close to as much DPS as we can while on the move (with the help of their DoTs) and it doesn't feel like our mobility is nearly as good as our minimum range is bad.

But, that's all changing with Aspect of the Fox. With this new aspect in Cataclysm, we will unquestionably be the superior class at firing on the move. We still lose DPS for moving, of course. We lose our auto-shot and the attack power bonus of Aspect of the Hawk, but we can still do our full rotation. Now, it's not going to be easy to do that while moving, and aspect dancing is likely to become one of the skills of the dedicated hunter, but there is no longer any question but that we have a far greater capacity for DPSing on the move.

More from Ghostcrawler on hunters

Over at Warcraft Hunters Union today is an article, Words with the Big GC, that contains a bunch of hunter questions that Ghostcrawler answered when I bumped into him in the halls of the hotel. Here are the highlights:
  • Weapon speeds are no longer normalized, and this is deliberate accidental. They will be making a change soon to normalize shots.
  • BM Multi-Shot AoE is likely to be increased, and possibly MM as well.
  • Intimidation may not be the BM bonus ability in a year from now, but it will be when Cataclysm launches.
  • Counterattack is on the list for review, but it's going to be there when Cataclysm launches as well.
  • It is very likely that our pets will be able to become crit-immune in Cataclysm.
  • It is entirely possible that we'll see the implementation of pet collars, or a similar jewelry-type item for our pets to wear, sometime in the future. Something that enables further pet customization but will not change pet appearance.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. Our Scattered Shots Resource Guide takes aim at everything from improving your heroic DPS, understanding the impact of skill vs. gear, and getting started with Beast Mastery 101 and Marksman 101.
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