This is hands-down the best time in the history of World of Warcraft to be a survival hunter. We have never been more useful in our roles, it's never been more fun, and you all should enjoy it now. It might not last.
Why is this the golden age of SV, you ask? First, it's about the damage! We are a DPS class, and job #1 is doing damage the right way. Many theorycrafters are currently saying we're doing the highest single-target damage of the three hunter specs. If you've been sitting under the SV tree as long as I have, this HAS to make you smile. We were the unwanted stepchild in Vanilla WoW and not much better during BC. Wrath improved things quite a bit and for a short while we were on top until Marksmen stacking Armor Penetration leaped ahead of us. It was a good, short run. Now, we're back on top and it is pretty fun.
Now, I don't honestly care if one of the other hunter specs is technically a little better as long as it's close. Really close. So close that a few things happen. If they are really close then the "best" spec might change depending on the fight. That would be really fun. It could create some healthy competition between the hunters in a raid. It would allow the really good hunters to shine. If a Marks dude tops the meter on a SV friendly fight, I'll give them a tip of the hat! Most importantly, if the three specs are close enough, none of us will have to justify our chosen spec. Can I get a "Hell Yeah" from the BM crowd?
Besides single-target DPS, we are just MELTING SHIT in AoE right now. It is really, really fun. Talented correctly, our AoE is just sick. The trap launcher, clumsy as it is, still improves our quality of life during AoE pulls. While I did enjoy the old Explosive Trap-Disengage-Volley dance of 2009, the launcher is better. It's quicker and allows Sniper Training to activate sooner.
While we are a damage class, the best thing about being SV right now isn't our DPS. It's the return of Crowd Control. In all honesty I haven't had as much experience with this yet as I would have liked. My Cata game has started a little slow due to real life. I've only gotten to run two dungeons so far and one of them was full of goddamned elementals! Anyway, CC is back in a big way by all accounts and we are THE CC hunter spec. Our traps are better and we have Wyvern Sting. Don't forget Wyvern Sting! On many occasions I've successfully controlled 2-3 mobs between our two CC abilities and a pet. It's not easy, but really fun. If you're new to hunter CC, take the time to get good at it. Your groups will thank you AND it can be really rewarding. Back in the days of Karazan, the most fun I had was keeping one of the Moroes dudes locked-down until the tank was ready for him. Early on, that (or any other CC) could make or break the whole boss fight. I'm betting there are more pulls like that in our near future and you want to be the hunter who is just on it.
At the beginning of this post I said our reign of terror might not last. That is only partly true. CC isn't going anywhere in WoW any time soon, and we have been the CC guys for six years now. Fun fact: The top talent in the original SV tree was Wyvern Sting. No kidding. I can't conceive of any way Marks or BM become superior to us at CC. But, if our single target damage does really outpace the other guys by a significant margin, Blizzard will nerf us. As they should. I'll sacrifice some DPS for the good of the hunter community. I've had to justify my spec before and it sucked. BM (hopefully) just got done having to do it, and I know it was horrible for them as well. Marks...well just take our word for it. You don't want to have to do it. Now, it's way too early to determine if there is imbalance in our class. Hell, the expansion isn't even a week old. I hope Blizzard takes their time on this. Gather a LOT of data guys. Make sure please! But if we are too OP, I can live with a nerf to SINGLE TARGET dps. Hell, why do I care about boss dps? I'm not gonna shoot the boss. I'll be way too busy controlling two mobs AND melting adds with my AoE:)