Posted Sun, Jun 17, 2012 by Messiah
A lot has changed in the Mists of Pandaria beta since it opened up for players several months ago. One of the things that has changed significantly, and continues to change, are the abilities and talents for many of the classes.
I looked at several classes and their talents way back in January, but with so much having hanged in the beta, it’s time to review those classes. This time I would like to take a look at the Hunter class.
Tier one is about improving your is about improving your Disengage ability. The three options here are Posthaste, Narrow Escape, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera.
First up to look at is Posthaste which grants you a 60% movement increase for 8 seconds after a disengage. Next there is Narrow Escape which leaves a sticky mess of webs in an 8 yard area around where you disengage from that immobilizes all enemies there for 8 seconds. Lastly there is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera which is a talent name that has been used for many different talents over time. This time the talent reduces the cooldown time of disengage by 10 seconds, and the cooldown of deterrence by 60 seconds.
Posthaste is a good base ability as it allows you to leap away and then reposition more quickly, which could be great in PVP, but not so much for PVE when you generally leap back and then plant and shoot from there. Narrow Escape is another really cool ability, but more aimed for PVP than PVE in my opinion. It may be useful while leveling and being swamped by enemies in PVE but overall it looks more like a useful PVP battleground ability. Lastly there is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera which takes your cooldown on disengage from 25 seconds down to 15 seconds, and halves the cooldown time on your deterrence. This talent offers the most for PVE players as it allows you to use your abilities more often as need.
The second tier is all about special shooting abilities. It has the Silencing Shot, Wyvern Sting, and Binding Shot. All of these abilities provide useful abilities that supplement your normal shot choices.
Silencing Shot and Wyvern Sting are both all around great abilities in either PVP or PVE and work the same as they do right now in Cataclysm. My preference is silencing in PVE and wyvern for PVP, but both work in different situations as well.
Binding Shot is a very interesting new ability for hunters that is essentially a new trap ability. When this shot is fired it tethers all targets within 5 yards to the ground for 10 seconds. The affected enemies can still move but if they move more than 5 yards they are stunned for 5 seconds (3 in PVP). This ability has it’s uses in both PVE and PVP but since it is so close to a trap ability I question the need for it. Many players will still play around with it, but I think that silencing shot or wyvern sting are better choices.
This tier is about healing and health regeneration. The abilities are Exhilaration, Aspect of the Iron Hawk, and Spirit Bond.
Exhiliration is a solid base choice as it instantly heals you for 30% and your pet for 100% and is on a 2 minute cooldown. Aspect of the Iron Hawk boosts you aspect of the hawk to also prevent 15% of all incoming damage. Spirit Bond is the same as before, granting 2% health regeneration to both you and your pet.
Exhilaration has been in the talent tree for a while in MOP, but has seen a huge boost in it’s ability lately. It used to only provide a 15% heal when you disengaged, now its up to 30% and heals you pet, but on a longer cooldown. I personally like the new version better as it is a bigger heal, and helps keep your pet alive. This is great for PVP and PVE, although the previous version provided more personal healing over time, this one helps more directly.
Aspect of the Iron Hawk continues to be mainly aimed at PVP players since PVE players don’t take much direct damage. Lastly Spirit Bond is another great choice as it provided reliable healing over time. Where exhilaration provides 30% all at once but only every 2 minutes, spirit bond provides 120% health over that same period of time, but only 2% per 2 seconds. Overall spirit bond provide much more health but is completely useless in an emergency, where exhilaration provides immediate healing in an emergency but nothing over time. My choice for would be spirit bond for PVE and exhilaration for PVP.
This tier is about some control over your focus and abilities. First up is Fervor which instantly restores 50 focus on a 30 second cooldown. Next up is Readiness which refreshes all of your cooldowns and is on a 3 minute cooldown. Lastly Thrill of the Hunt which gives each shot that uses focus or kill command a 15% chance to make your next focus costing ability or kill command to be free.
In my previous look at these talents, there were only two choices as Fervor was very week being on a two minute cooldown. Now that the cooldown is down to 30 seconds fervor is actually a valid choice. Instead of 50 focus over a period of 2 minutes you now get 200 focus over that same time.
Thrill of the Hunt is also a great focus ability, but it requires you to actually have the focus to spend to start with. The free ability that it grants though is very useful and because it is any ability that you chose you can always pick your most expensive one to maximize it’s benefit. I believe Thrill of the Hunt is still a slightly better choice due to the fact that it is completely passive. Meaning you can use it (not at peak benefit of course) without even thinking about it, simply use your abilities as you normally would and 15% of the time they won’t cost you focus.
Readiness is an ability that is awesome for PVP so that you can get all of your escapes, traps, and shots back when you really need them. It is not as useful for PVE though, but depending on your playstyle may have benefits.
This tier is all completely new and focuses on awesome new hunter abilities focusing on pets and animal spirits. The new abilities are A Murder of Crows, Dire Beast, and Lynx Rush.
A Murder of Crows summons a flock of crows to attack your target for 30 seconds. If you use it on a target with 20% or less health the cooldown drops to 15 seconds from 1 minute. Dire Beast summons a second pet for 15 seconds on a 30 second cooldown, in addition any time that pet damages an enemy you gain 5 focus. Lastly there is Lynx Rush which puts your pet into a frenzy and it will attack up 9 times within 4 seconds moving between targets within 10 yards of the initial target, the ability is on a 90 second cooldown.
I really like all of these abilities as they all offer some real DPS increase in different ways. The murder of crows ability could be really useful when used back to back on low health targets to minimize the cooldown. Lynx Rush puts out 9 normal pet attacks against all the targets within 4 seconds which could all be against one target if that is all that is within the 10 yard range. That could help with burst in both PVE and PVP, but especially in PVP situations. My favourite though is Dire Beast as it increases the damage caused due to the beast damage, but also increases your damage by granting extra focus.
The final tier is all about area of effect damage. This is provided in three different ways via the abilities called Glaive Toss, Powershot, and Barrage.
Glaive Toss is an instant ability that sends two glaives spiraling towards your target dealing damage to anyone in the path and slowing them as well. The glaives then turn around and return to you dealing additional damage as they return, it is on a 15 second cooldown. Next up is Powershot which is a big damage shot that deals 400% damage to the main target and 100% damage to everyone in the shots path, it also knocks back anyone hit. Powershot is on a 1 minute cooldown and has a 3 second cast time. Lastly there is Barrage which is a channeled ability that deals 400% damage to the primary target and 100% to any other target in your front arc over 3 seconds, it is on a 30 second cooldown.
All three have their place and seem useful. Glaive Toss to me seems better for PVP simply because it has a low cooldown time and because it slows the targets as well as damaging them. Powershot is also a good option for PVP due to the burst effect of 400% damage, however with it’s 3 second cast time and long cooldown it would be hard to use and is therefore better for PVE for initial pulls with misdirect. Barrage would be good in either PVP battlegrounds with lots of targets or PVE where you are dealing with many enemies at once. Barrage would be my go to choice for PVE because the 3 second channel is not a big deal when a tank is holding threat, and it doesn’t have the knock back effect that Powershot does that annoys tanks.
Seeing how the talent trees have changed over time in the beta, I have to say that I like the direction that they have taken. When I first looked at the hunter talent tree when the beta started there were quite a few talents that I questioned their usefulness or power relative to the others. That seems to have been corrected for the most part.
In addition there are many new talents that have now been added that have much more flavour than the old ones. I especially like the new fifth tier with all of the animal based abilities.
Overall I think the new talent system for hunters successfully pulls many of the old talents in to be used by any spec, as well as adds a number of new and different abilities. There are no real dud talents that will never see use, there are ones that some people will like better than others, but all really seem to have their use, even though some may be too PVP focused for my preference.
If you would like to see how the Hunter talents looked back in January you can find that here: MoP Hunter Talent Preview. You can also look at the new talents for Hunters on the Mists of Pandaria Hunter Talent Calculator over on Blizzard's site.