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Scattered Shots: Hunter class feedback

Brian Wood

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. 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.

Blizzard has recently put out the call for class design feedback on the official WoW forums, with a thread for each class. Hunters have stepped up in a big way, and the hunter class thread already has over 1,500 responses at the time of this writing (Wednesday night), which is more than any other class. Go, hunters!

The feedback thread is not just an open forums for people to complain but instead is a very focused set of questions looking at longer-term class design. This is not, of course, a promise to implement the will of the class (after all, game manufacturers have known for decades there's a big difference between what people want and what they will buy), but it is a clear request to at least understand the will of the class.

We've talked here on Scattered Shots about many ways to improve the hunter class, from removing minimum range to touching up the talent trees of BM, MM, SV, and pet talents, to pet stances, to the problems with haste design and some just plain awesome things we should get. Regular readers have a pretty good idea what I think should be changed.

So today, we're going to take a look at what the rest of the hunter population thinks about the hunter class and how they answered the class design questions. Join me after the cut for a look at the over 1,500 hunter responses to class design that the developers will be reading through.

Since actually categorizing the responses to 1,500 posts takes far, far more hours than I have to commit, I am instead took random samplings of the responses. I looked at the first three responses of each page and categorized the answers (and I skipped over the ones that didn't follow instructions, so they aren't counted).

By the time I was halfway through (which still took hours), the clear vocal majority for each question had become pretty clear, and by the time I finished, the gap between the leading answers and the rest continued until it was a giant gulf. It appears that the most important thoughts on each question are widely shared by a lot of the hunter population responding.

Before we get into the specifics, it's worth noting that many people brought up their issues in different places. So for example if a hunter had an issue with a bug, he might bring it up under quality of life, while another would bring it up as something that makes the class less fun, another would put fixing it on her wish list, and another might list it in all of those places. Looking at some of these aggregated across all responses rather than just within each question can give a different view of some of the top issues.

Hunters respond

What are your biggest quality of life issues? By leaps and bounds, the top complaint here was the minimum range (often referred to as the dead zone). Hunters are not happy with minimum range at all in truly overwhelming numbers. Interestingly, there were a lot of hunters who never PVP at all complaining about how minimum range completely screws up their PVE experience (as it very much can).

Far distant from minimum range complaints, the next leading issues were cries for hunters to have some kind of decent and meaningful self-heal, complaints about various pet bugs including the pet health on summon bug, trap launcher functionality, and a decent amount of complaints that focus regen is too low or too low in specific situations (PVP being a popular one).

What makes playing your class more fun? Again, the overwhelming top response here was hunter pets -- collecting pets, customizing pets, rare pets, or just plain having pets. It is very much clear that hunters love their pets.

After a big gap, hunters listed being very mobile with lots of instant casts and highly mobile DPS, followed after a bit more of a gap by utility/versatility and extreme soloing of old content as the top joys of huntering.

What makes playing your class less fun? Here, the response was pretty deafening, with minimum range again topping the list of complaints by an incredible margin. In fact, the margin was so large that the rest of the responses all fell into a very narrow range of each other, making it difficult to pick out statistically significant leaders. Among the other complaints were the lack of meaningful self-heal, focus regen issues, and PVP issues.

How do you feel about your rotation? Yet again, the first place response has a huge margin, and that is that hunter feel like our rotation is just fine. The vast majority of hunters were generally pleased with the state of their rotations.

Every spec had a few people complaining that it was too easy or boring, but larger criticisms were the need for more focus regen, particularly in PVP and AOE situations and complaints about Kill Command range issues.

What's on your wish list? The variety of different things on hunters' wish lists is staggering and often makes for a great read -- there are a lot of hunters with a lot of fun ideas. With the huge spread of wish lists, we finally had a category without a leading response with a massive margin.

The top request was of course to remove minimum range, but after that were many requests for improvement of the Trap Launcher mechanics. We also had a large number of requests for dual-wielding ranged weapons, including several specifically asking for dual-wielding of pistols. Following that were requests for self-heals, better BM DPS, a BM ability to summon a whole stable of pets at once briefly, and a return of the Eyes of the Beast talent that let us take over our pet and run around as the pet.

On the pet front, there were a myriad of pet requests, including hunters who want more pets and more pet slots -- apparently, bringing the total from five to 25 wasn't nearly enough for the pet-loving hunters! Requests for tameable pet mounts, tamable hydra, water pets, flying pets, the ability to tame druids and even several requests to have a hunter spec with no pet at all.

In general, if you're thinking of browsing through the massive hunter design thread, definitely pay attention to the wish lists. That's where all the fun stuff is at!

What spells do you use the least? Here again, we were back to a single huge leader with Widow Venom as the one hunter spell that almost all hunters acknowledge never using. Also high on the list were, in order, Immolation Trap, Aspect of the Wild, Eagle Eye, Beast Lore, and Raptor Strike (which was surprising to me, given its glyphed benefit for some raid bosses). Many hunters just blanket listed "all melee" abilities, and those who remembered made a special point of stressing the current uselessness of Counterattack.

Overall trends

Looking at aggregate responses, the clear overwhelming trends were:
  1. Hunters hate minimum range, want it gone, and will tell you exhaustively why.
  2. Hunter love their pets and want more pets, more slots, and will exhaustively tell you all the new pet-related things that would be cool.
These two points are the single most talked-about topics across all the hunter responses and across all categories. After a large, large gap, the next list of important topics for hunters included:
  • Many hunters made a point of noting how impressed they were with focus as a resource mechanic, including those who initially were dubious but thought it worked out well. This positive feedback on focus overwhelmed those who dislike focus.
  • Many hunters really want a meaningful self-heal ability.
  • Many hunters noted the lack of usefulness of Camouflage. It wasn't a large category in any single question, but it kept coming up fairly regularly.
  • Hunters do not feel that they do well in PVP. While some hunters passionately argued their case, many others simply made a passing statement, taking it for granted that the state of hunters in PVP is dismal at the moment.
  • Aspect of the Cheetah and Aspect of the Pack came up moderately often here and there, and hunters really don't like the daze effect when getting hit by one or the other or both.
Blizzard response?

I want to make very clear something that Nethaera made very clear when posting the questions:

The purpose of this thread is to get information to us, not the reverse... We won't be replying here addressing your concerns. This is purely for us to read your answers...

We are not going to see blue posts saying "Good point there!" or "Here's why we won't be doing that." Also, we can't expect the upcoming patch 4.3 to hold the reactions either, though I wouldn't be surprised to see some stuff in there that hunters are requesting.

I suspect that most of this is more long-term food for thought for the designers as they begin discussing the next expansion, which will probably be announced at BlizzCon next month. It's during expansions that Blizzard is most willing to make massive overhauls to classes, and these questions are very specifically designed to get an idea of how players perceive the feel of their class.

It will be very interesting to see how Blizzard will react to the overwhelming frustration with minimum range -- something that hunters have complained about for years and Blizzard has staunchly defended. Blizzard developers recently showed they were willing to change direction with tanking threat, so perhaps they'll also recant on minimum range and finally remove what I feel is a horrible mechanic that hinders a lot of encounter design and makes PVP balance virtually impossible.

However it turns out, I'm always happy to see Blizzard reaching out for feedback like this, even if we aren't going to see direct responses from it. And I highly encourage everyone to pop over and drop in their thoughts. Follow the instructions, and a Blizzard developer will read what you say. Add your voice to the vocal hunter community, and help Blizzard steer the game into the direction that you want.

Scattered Shots is dedicated to helping you learn everything it takes to be a hunter. From leveling your hunter and choosing the best patch 4.2 gear to learning the DPS value of skill, we've got you covered. If you're stuck in one of the nine support classes, why not move up to the big league and play a hunter?

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