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Cataclysm Beta: Hunter news and changes in the latest beta build

Brian Wood

Beta build 12759 was released tonight, bringing some very significant changes to the hunter class. Ghostcrawler, lead systems designer, also stopped by the beta forums to share some thoughts on the current state of hunter design in Cataclysm beta. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Hunter mastery system is now implemented
  • Aspect of the Fox now lets you cast Cobra Shot or Steady Shot while moving, and regenerates 2 focus when you take damage. It no longer lets you auto-shot while moving.
  • Blizzard is not happy with the hawk/fox aspect dynamic and plan to go back to only letting steady/cobra focus regen work while in Aspect of the Hawk.
  • Silencing Shot will have damage removed from it to prevent people from macroing it into all their shots.
  • The pet design pass and scaling has not yet been done.
Full blue post text, hunter masteries and notes on how the new Aspect of the Fox works after the cut.

Ghostcrawler - Lead Systems Designer
Focus -- We think we're in a much better spot for focus regen now. Our goal has been for focus to be a resource you spend on your higher damage shots, which is regenerated passively at a rate lower than energy regen, but faster than energy if you are using Steady / Cobra (which can only be done while stationary). At the lower regen rates, we found it felt bad if you couldn't Steady / Cobra rather than Steady / Cobra feeling like a bonus. We think we're closer to the sweet spot now, but please let us know (preferably after you've actually tried it rather than prophesizing doom).

Aspects -- We're not happy with the way the Hawk vs. Fox choice is playing out. We think that ultimately either damage or focus regen is going to win out and the other aspect won't get much use. For now, we are going back to Hawk being used for damage and regen. We'll discuss other potential uses for Fox. Changing Aspects will not affect focus regen.

Mobile damage -- This is always a touchy subject. In our testing, we found that it wasn't fun with the current implementation when hunters had to move around a lot, especially in PvP. This is why we are giving up on the current Aspect of the Fox design. We also significantly reduced the focus cost per damage of Arcane Shot, so that it is usable under almost all circumstances. We've also removed the focus costs on several utility abilities (e.g. Concussive Shot, Intimidation, Bestial Wrath, Scatter Shot, etc.) One potential use for Aspect of the Fox is to generate additional focus when you take damage, but we don't want to get back into a world where you are "aspect twisting" when someone comes into melee with you in PvP.

Survival -- We're still iterating a lot on this tree in particular. We agree it's probably the least polished of the hunter trees so far. The reason is that we just have it in for Survival hunters.

Pets -- As I posted in another thread recently, a pet scaling pass is underway. We still plan to do passes on the hunter pet talents and abilities as well. With the design that allows you to swap pets often in the field, we want to make sure that there are some interesting choices in which pet you use for a given situation. Provided they are all crabs.

In case I need to say it, the last two sentences of the last two paragraphs are not meant to be taken seriously. :)

Ghostcrawler - Lead Systems Deisgner
We're going to take the damage off of Silencing Shot. It's supposed to be a situational utility ability, not something you macro into every shot.

Hunter specializations and mastery

The hunter specializations and masteries currently in the beta are as follows:
  • Beast Mastery
    1. Animal Handler: increases attack power by 25%
    2. Focused Aim: reduces casting pushback by 70%
    3. Mastery: Master of Beasts: Increases pet damage by 20%. Each point of Mastery increases pet damage by an additional 2.5%
  • Marksman
    1. Focused Aim: reduces casting pushback by 70%
    2. Artisan Quiver: increases attack power by 25%
    3. Mastery: Wild Quiver: 16% chance for ranged attacks to proc a 50% normal damage shot. Each point of Mastery increases the chance by an additional 2%
  • Survival
    1. Into the Wilderness: increases attack power by 25%
    2. Focused Aim: reduces casting pushback by 70%
    3. Mastery: Extreme Survival: increases all elemental damage by 20%. Each point of mastery increases pet damage by an additional 2.5% (sic)
It looks like each hunter spec has a 25% attack power increase specialization, but they are called different things for each spec, so it's possible that the 25% AP boost is just a placeholder. Also, one would assume that the Survival Mastery should increase the elemental damage for each point of mastery, and that the pet damage note is just a typo.

Aspect of the Fox implementation

The current version of Aspect of the Fox lets you cast Cobra Shot and Steady Shot while on the move, as well as gaining 2 focus whenever you take damage. You no longer cast auto-shots while moving in Aspect of the Fox. Your steady/cobra will fire even while you are jumping, though you must be facing your opponent when you start the cast and when it fires. You can, however, turn around and face in the exact opposite direction during the cast, as long as your facing is correct at the end.

Pet scaling

While the pet scaling pass is under way, it appears that some fiddling with pets has been done in this build. Specifically, it looks as though Blizzard has wiped clean all pet scaling at the moment. This leaves a level 82 pet with only 6.8k health and very low attack power, base armor, etc.

This suggests that Blizzard is indeed close to releasing a pet build and needed to wipe the old scaling a way to make it easier to rework it from the ground up.

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