A closer look at the new Hunter talents

Now that the excitement of Blizzcon has died down, let’s take a look at the new proposed “talent trees” Blizzard has come up with for Hunters in the next expansion.

Going through all the other classes, Hunters seem to have one of the best “trees” of all the classes. Each tier has a theme, each shot has a clear purpose/use, and even though some tiers might have a couple options that look really great, there’s not a single place where I can’t decide which one I’d pick for any given situation. Looking at the Druid “tree”, which is a complete mess, we can be thankful at how straightforward and clean ours turned out!

Tier 1: Requires level 15, deals with ammo and how our Auto Shot works.

Frozen ArrowsNew Ability
Your arrows and ammunition are chilled with frost, causing your Auto Shot to have a 30% chance to reduce the targets movement speed by 30% for 10 sec.

Finally, we get a passive slow. This seems like a mostly-PvP option, though I could see it working really well on a fight like Cho’gall where you would want to slow something. Combined with the MM mastery Wild Quiver, this would be incredible for mass control of adds.

Arcane ArrowsNew Ability
Your arrows and ammunition are infused with arcane magic, causing your Auto Shot to have a 50% chance to restore 5 Focus when it deals damage.

Blizzard has admitted Focus regen is a bit clunky and it looks like this is their answer. A 50% chance to restore 5 Focus doesn’t SEEM like a lot, but when you look at parses and see just how many Auto Shots you do… this is actually an insane amount of passive Focus regen!

Venom Tipped ArrowsNew Ability
Your arrows and ammunition are mixed with serpent venom, causing a stacking poison damage over time effect on the target dealing Nature damage. Stacks up to 5 times.

This one is a little ambiguous. The other two options deal with Auto Shot, but this one appears to apply to ALL our shots. Will this DoT stack with Piercing Shots? Will PS be removed? Do we have to do a specific shot to keep this DoT up? I’m really interested in the application of this shot and will definitely be exploring it on the Beta. I forsee this shot changing a little before the game goes live.

Tier 2: Requires level 30, the crowd control tier!

Silencing Shot — Existing Ability
A shot that silences the target and interrupts spellcasting for 3 sec.

Nothing new here, except now all three specs have the option to take this talent. The cooldown is still set at a dreadfully long 20 seconds, which makes Hunters remain utterly useless when it comes to an interrupt rotation.

Wyvern Sting — Existing Ability
A stinging shot that puts the target to sleep for 30 sec. Any damage will cancel the effect. When the target wakes up, the Sting causes 2190 Nature damage over 6 sec. Only one Sting per Hunter can be active on the target at a time.

Same as the existing shot, except like with Silencing Shot all three specs can have this now. I liked playing SV at the beginning of Cata because I could Freeze Trap one target and Wyvern Sting another and be the only CC necessary in dungeons. It will be nice to have this shot and not have to be SV to get it.

Intimidation — Existing Ability
Command your pet to intimidate the target, causing a high amount of threat and stunning the target for 3 sec. Lasts 15 sec.

Like the other two abilities in this tier, this is an existing ability that is now available to all three specs. What’s great about this is now we can help stun adds on fights like Alysrazor.

Tier 3: requires level 45, deals with how Disengage works.

Posthaste — Existing Ability
Your movement speed is increased by 60% for 4 sec after you use Disengage.

This is a talent in the MM tree that most people don’t really think about… it seems more like an obligatory point sink to get to the next tier, but Posthaste is actually a really cool ability that will save your butt in both PvE and PvP. When you’re Disengaging, you’re trying to get away from something bad, so a movement speed boost helps you GTFO a lot faster.

EvasivenessNew Ability
Increases your chance to dodge attacks and resist spells by 100% for 3 sec when you use Disengage.

Essentially a Hunter bubble. How cool is this? This is like Deterrence 2.0 and will be especially great because we can use this and not be prevented from attacking like we are when using Deterrence. This ability has a zillion obvious applications in both PvP and PvE.

ExhilarationNew Ability
When you Disengage, you are instantly healed for 15% of your total health when you successfully land.

Another Hunter self-heal! And any spec can have this! This talent is definitely exciting and can be utilized in EVERY situation. Any time you’re getting low and don’t HAVE to stay where you’re standing, just Disengage for a quick heal. 15% seems low, but think about all the mana you’re going to save your healers when you can Disengage and heal yourself every 30 seconds. That is a LOT of healing.

Tier 4: requires level 60, deals with survivability.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Chimera — Existing Ability
Whenever you are hit by a melee attack, the cooldown of your Disengage is instantly reduced by 4 sec.
Whenever you are hit by a ranged attack or spell, the cooldown of your Deterrence is instantly reduced by 8 sec.
These effects have a 2 sec cooldown.

This is an existing BM talent that is now available to all three specs. This would be great when combined with Exhilaration from the earlier tier, allowing you to heal yourself every 26 seconds instead of every 30… but the times you’ll be getting hit by melee attacks is fairly rare, so not sure how terribly beneficial this talent will be. Of all our options in the entire tree, this one is the most boring to me.

Aspect of the Iron HawkNew Ability
Your Aspect of the Hawk now also reduces all direct damage taken by 15%.

In the panel, he described this as “sort of tank-like” and it certainly is. This damage reduction will definitely help in a LOT of situations. Think of it like Resilience for PvE.

Spirit Bond — Existing Ability
While your pet is active, you and your pet will regenerate 2% of total health every 5 sec.

This is one of the abilities I’m most excited to see available to all three specs since it’s one of my favorite things to spec in to when soloing hard content. This healing is already insane, but when combined with the other self-heals available to us in the tree, Hunters are going to have INSANE survivability in the next expansion. I am very pleased with this talent.

Tier 5: requires level 75, deals with Focus and cooldowns.

Fervor — Existing Ability
Instantly restores 50 focus to you and your pet.

This is an existing BM talent that is now available to all three specs. Fervor is probably one of my favorite BM abilities and there have been a zillion times where I wished I had this button to press while MM or SV. This cooldown is insanely good to have and it’s going to be a strong contender for best T5 choice.

Readiness — Existing Ability
When activated, this ability immediately finishes the cooldown on all Hunter abilities.

The coveted MM ability, now available for SV and BM! Readiness is an ability bordering on overpowered and being able to double Beastial Wrath or double Explosive Shot is going to be AWESOME. It will be hard to choose between Fervor and Readiness.

Thrill of the Hunt — Existing Ability
You have a 15% chance when you use fire [sic] a shot that costs focus to instantly regain 100% of the focus cost of the shot.

This SV ability has been slightly modified [existing ability refunds 40% of the base Focus] but is too RNG-y for my taste. I do not like shots that have a chance to modify my rotation and tend to steer away from abilities like this when possible. Not terribly excited about this one, I doubt I’ll ever take this talent when the other two options in this tier are so much more appealing.

Tier 6: Requires level 90, deals with traps.

Flash FreezeNew Ability
Your freezing trap no longer has a cooldown, but only one target can be afflicted by it at a time.

This is AWESOME. Purely AWESOME. I can’t even count how many times I’ve had to blow Readiness to re-trap because something broke my trap or the wrong thing got trapped or some other random happenstance called for an almost immediate re-trap. This ability is amazing. We can potentially use this to interrupt on all targets not immune to traps, too, so I can see this being conditional or having massive DR in PvP.

Black IceNew Ability
Increases the movement speed reduction of your Ice Trap by an additional 10% and when you move through your Ice Trap you gain 50% movement speed for 4 sec.

This trap is also AWESOME. Not only does it encourage people to properly use Ice Trap by forcing proper kiting practices, but it rewards you for properly using your Ice Trap by letting you run away faster from the thing you just ultra-slowed. This is going to be crazy awesome in PvP. I can’t think of any obvious PvE situations this would work in since most things you are slowing in PvE are things you do not want to be standing near [Magmaw adds, Cho’gall adds, Maloriak adds, etc]. I also like this because it encourages old-school Hunter CC since you’re going to be trapping at your feet to activate the full function of the trap. The Trap Launcher mechanic is super clunky and a trap that almost essentially tells you “don’t use Trap Launcher” is great.

Transmorph TrapNew Ability
Place a nature trap laced with a special toxin that will transmorph the next enemy into a beast reducing their movement speed by 60% and causing them to be unable to use any of their normal abilities.

I’ll just wait a minute for you to re-read that tooltip because it’s too awesome for words. Got it? Okay. Not only does this trap slow, it also CCs the target and prevents them from attacking. Combine this with Scare Beast maybe? I cannot wait to try this move out. It’s AMAZING.

Overall thoughts?

Tier 6 is definitely the most exciting tier for me because finally our traps are super important and not just a super niche item that we use sometimes maybe possibly if no one else has a good CC for the situation.

I am not a fan of how Blizz keeps trying to redesign how talent trees work and it does feel a little disappointing to be losing some of that customization, but I think if they refine this system it will work nicely. I do have a slight concern that this will affect our ability to solo things, but looking over the talents I think it might make things easier if you “spec” correctly for it. I am looking forward to following the changes they make with this system and can’t wait to see how things work when I hop on the Beta to try it out.

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