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Scattered Shots: Blizzard listens to hunters, really

Brian Wood

Every Thursday, WoW Insider brings you Scattered Shots for beast mastery, marksmanship and survival hunters. Frostheim of Warcraft Hunters Union and the hunter podcast 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.or ask him on Google+.

Just about everyone who plays WoW spends at least some time complaining about it and explaining their vision of how the game could be made so much better. For some players, this occupies more time than playing the game itself.

I'm as guilty of this as anyone, which was made evident when I was glancing back through a bunch of old columns. As much as I try to focus on mechanics and divining developer intent, I can't help but suggest ways that I think abilities could be better or pointing out imbalances.

Therefore, I think it's worth taking a moment to really look at what Blizzard is doing for hunters in Mists of Pandaria and realize that the devs are trying to give us just about everything that we as a class have been asking for -- something that can be easily missed in all the hunters complaining about the MoP abilities. And for once, we have a documented way to compare what hunters have asked for against what we were given: the class feedback thread.

Join me after the cut for the MoP scoreboard.

The hunter class feedback thread

Back before BlizzCon in September of last year, Blizzard started a massive series of class feedback threads on the forums seeking information about what players enjoyed, hated, and wanted out of their class. Unsurprisingly, the hunter feedback thread was among the most commented in.

I spent a lot of hours sampling responses from every page of the thread and categorizing them to come up with an overview of what hunters as a class were asking for -- the things that were brought up over and over by lots of hunters, ignoring the ones that were brought up by few (though with that many responses, "few" is relative).

Looking back through that post now, it's almost as if Blizzard took all the most popular hunter feedback and turned it into a checklist of what to focus on in MoP.

What we asked for and what we got

Let's take a look at the big list of the top things that hunters asked for. Again, we're looking at the stuff that a statistically large portion of hunters asked for. It is, after all, impossible to give everyone what they want, since we inevitably have hunters asking for contradictory things -- more pet abilities and fewer pet abilities, rotations made simpler and more complex.

So what we looked at in the feedback thread and what I'm looking at here is the areas in which significant amounts of the hunter community agreed (usually stuff with around 5% or more of hunters bringing an issue up -- that's around the point where this feedback starts to be a meaningful reflection of the community).

  • No more minimum range Check. Without question and with a resounding roar, the hunter community asked for minimum range to be removed. This was the one piece of feedback that burned past that 5% mark until it was well over 50%. And of course, the first big hunter news out of BlizzCon was that Mists is indeed removing minimum range.
  • Meaningful self-heal Check. Hunters also wanted a self-heal that was more meaningful than Spirit Bond and not limited to one spec. Boy, did we get this! Spirit Bond in Mists has been buffed hugely, and on top of that, the Exhilaration talent gives us a solid 15% self-heal on Disengage.
  • Pet health on summon bug fix Check. This was just a bug fix, but annoying enough that it got a lot of feedback.
  • Making the trap launcher easier to use Check. The new Trap Launcher is a toggle; when it's toggled on, all traps are launched. One button to get your targeting circle now.
  • Focus regen too low We'll see. Many of these complaints were PvP-specific, and Blizzard has introduced new ways for specs to improve their focus situation, but we'll really have to wait to see how it all settles down at level 90 before we can tell if it's a meaningful improvement.
  • Improved hunter PvP Looking good. Again we can't really say anything for certain until we see how level 90 plays out, but Blizzard has clearly been adding a lot of new PvP options for hunters, as well as of course removing minimum range (which should help somewhat with the hunter PvP skill divide).
  • Kill Command range Check. Blizzard has worked hard to solve Kill Command issues. You can now trigger it when your pet is up to 25 yards away from the target so your rotation isn't interrupted by waiting for range, and your pet will then make a speedy beeline to the target, improving BM target switching ability.
  • Dual-wielding ranged weapons Nope. A surprising number of hunters wanted this, and it did not happen.
  • Stampede Check. Another big request was Stampede, which we got.
  • More pet slots Nope. We won't know for sure if this is changing until we can get to level 90, but thus far, there is no indication that we're getting more pet stable slots. Of course, we went from 5 to 25 from Wrath to Cataclysm, so perhaps this is asking too much? Or is that even possible?
Out of the entire list of things that a meaningful amount of the hunter community requested, that's a damn good return. Of course, just because we got an ability doesn't mean that it works exactly like we wanted, and things are constantly changing throughout the beta. Who knows what else we'll see? More PvP representation, we hope. More stable slots, perhaps? More pets, almost certainly. More awesome -- guaranteed.

Certainly, this is a pretty strong argument that Blizzard does listen to the hunter community, perhaps now more than ever before. For this we should be happy, but we should also keep providing feedback and keep joining our voices together to help improve our class.

So what else should Blizzard be working on for us hunters?

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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