Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm Back...and Now with Stuff to Talk About!

Wow, I hate going this long between posts. The break began when there was just nothing to write about. End of expansion, no news, less people playing. I'll admit that I'm pretty burned on MoP right now, and maybe WoW in general. Been playing this game for nine years at this point. I even got back into Diablo recently because of how I feel about WoW at the moment. And then my vacation lined-up with the Alpha release. Just my luck. Considering the Alpha patch notes are a few weeks old at this point, I'm not going to summarize them here. But I am going to assume my readers have seen them. If you want great rundowns of the hunter changes go to The Brew Hall or Eyes of the Beast. Now that we have seen the very, very first iteration of the new hunter I'd say things look pretty good.

Button bloat: No real surprises regarding what abilities we lost. I am thrilled that traps are not only staying, but getting more powerful. Especially for survival hunters, proper trap usage is going to be really important. The change to Explosive Trap is so cool. Reminds me of the days of old. Also, survival is losing Kill Shot. While I actually advocated for all the specs to have it removed, I'm going to count that prediction as a win. I totally called that:) More importantly, I think it will really help SV. With Lock 'n Load and all the other cooldowns, our rotation is just chaotic enough to make a new shot that pops up at the end of a fight seem weird. I'll totally take being the sustained, dot based spec.

Differentiation: Blizz did a better job with this that I could have hoped. Only SV has Serpent Sting? Love it. Traps are better, and SV traps are better still? Hell yeah. A solid self heal once per minute? Now we actually live up to our spec's name! I do have to say I wish they had not changed how Serpent Sting is applied. There was some skill involved in keeping it up (especially on multiple targets) or remembering to reapply it after transition phases. But if the choice was between the new system and scrapping the ability altogether, I think Blizzard made the right choice. SV really sounds like THE dot and magic damage spec.

Draenor Perks: Such a cool idea. Some kind of power increase every level, in a random order. By max level everyone is the same, but how they got there will be a little different for everyone. As someone who really doesn't enjoy leveling, I think these could create some replayability for WoD. In any case, they sound totally fun.

Camouflage: Camo, in the alpha notes, is amazing. For a survival hunter camo becomes a nice self heal that one can use every minute without stopping the deeps. Sweet! Awesome! Killer! But here's the thing: we've been burned by camouflage before. In the Cataclysm development process, camo started out really cool and was slowly eroded into an almost worthless ability. I really hope we don't repeat that whole experience. I know it's the nature of game development and class balance, but I'm not sure I can go through that again with camouflage, considering how awesome it looks right now for survival.

I have heard people describe the changes as making Survival into the PvP spec. I can see why they feel that way. Our CC will be better, and the buffs to Camo will certainly help as well. On the other hand, it looks like we will have the lowest burst damage (although we can use some talent choices to mitigate that somewhat) and we won't have an execute button. It looks to me like SV will be a good choice for PvP, but I really hope Blizzard can get the balancing close enough that it is good for more than that. I feel like they did an amazing job balancing the hunter specs in MoP, so why not do it again?

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