We begin our early look at class and specialization design with the Hunter. In these blogs, we’ll be exploring class identity, discussing Legion’s new designs, and presenting core combat abilities for each specialization—laying out a foundation upon which talents and Artifacts will build further. With that in mind, let’s delve into what it means to be a Hunter in World of Warcraft.
In many ways, Hunter design in Legion embodies our key philosophies for class change. Hunters have a strong “core fantasy”: they’re masters of tracking prey, experts at sniping enemies with bows and guns from a distance, tamers of wild beasts, and trappers of unsuspecting foes. The challenge with the Hunter class in WoW is that, for the most part, while all three specs deliver that basic fantasy, the distinction between them is fairly minimal. In Legion, we’re focused on better differentiating these specializations to deliver more dynamic and varied experiences.
Among the most gifted hunters, there are those who have from birth felt a profound bond with the creatures of the wild. These beast masters are drawn to the perilous primal world, invigorated by its dangerous and untamed nature. Primitive landscape becomes home. Ferocious predator becomes kin. Whether in the thrill of the hunt or the heat of battle, beast masters call forth a litany of vicious animals to overwhelm prey and gnaw at their enemies’ will.
"Beast masters are drawn to the perilous primal world, invigorated by its dangerous and untamed nature"
Beast Masters were already in a good place overall, but we’ve refined existing abilities and talents to better differentiate them from other Hunters. Previously, Cobra Shot filled all of your free moments in combat, leaving no time for managing your pet, which should be a defining characteristic of Beast Masters. To this end, and to aid in Focus accumulation, Dire Beast is now core to Beast Mastery, allowing you to repeatedly summon wild beasts that generate additional Focus for you through their every attack.
While all hunters feel a calling to the wild, some serve as a reflection of its brutality. To them, the hunt is defined by unrelenting ferocity, where survival means facing one’s enemy eye-to-eye . . . and is always accompanied by merciless bloodshed. Weapons of great range are abandoned for instruments of close-quarters combat. Survival hunters are instinctive and crafty on the prowl, employing loyal beasts and laying deceptive traps to see their enemies undone. For these hunters know that to truly understand what it means to survive, one must first become familiar with the cruel face of death.
"The hunt is defined by unrelenting ferocity, where survival means facing one’s enemy eye-to-eye"
Not only do Survival Hunters use melee weapons instead of ranged weapons, they’re also now the only Hunters that make use of traps—other specs will receive forms of crowd control and AoE damage suited to their distinct characteristics. Survival Hunters will snare and bleed their enemies, fighting them in close quarters with their trustworthy companion to maximize the brutality of the hunt. They have no direct control over Focus regeneration, but instead pool it up during successive Mongoose Bites to further amplify the damage they inflict.
Marksmen, too, shroud themselves in the perils of the untamed wilds, perfecting the use of weapons that are deadliest from great range. They’ve maintained little interest, however, in gaining the loyalty of the many beasts inhabiting these crude landscapes. Instead, the marksman blends into the surrounding environment, surveying behavior of all manner of predator and gleaning deadly methods for stalking their own prey. A sniper in hiding, the marksman unleashes arrows and bullets with deadly precision, exposing the weakness in whoever—or whatever—passes through their crosshairs.
"A sniper in hiding, the marksman unleashes arrows and bullets with deadly precision"
The Lone Wolf gameplay introduced in Warlords of Draenor proved extremely popular with Hunters, and that play style fit perfectly with our vision of Marksmanship Hunters as master archers and snipers, relying on their skill and precision with weapons rather than animal companions. While Marksmanship Hunters will still get a pet as a baseline ability, Lone Wolf is now a level 15 talent Hunters can take allowing them to range through the wilds without a pet beside them. On the resource front, the Marksman now gains Focus from the use of Arcane Shot. And, as a note for those who enjoyed the previous version of Survival gameplay, we have moved certain abilities, such as Black Arrow and Lock and Load, to Marksmanship-specific talents.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this early preview of the Hunter class in World of Warcraft: Legion. This first look should give you a good sense of what you can expect from this series, though not every class is undergoing this level of change; some are receiving updates that will be more subtle—a sharpening of rough edges—rather than the broad reimagining of the fantasy as we’ve demonstrated with Hunters.
Tomorrow, the series continues with previews of Priests, Mages, and Paladins. Stay tuned!
Return to the overview for the full class preview series.