I’ll start by breaking down the talent tree as a PvE player (as most hunters are PvE focused). I’m doing this by looking at DS 10m normal mode bosses because that is the current tier and is where the largest group of players spend their time, regardless of your opinions on raid size, that is the reality. That is what the largest chunk of players care about when looking at their class and its abilities.
Evasiveness – This one is obviously useless no a raid boss.
Exhilaration – This looked good at first then I started thinking about it and realized you would lose out on more aoe healing by launching 20 yds away from the group than the small heal you gain from doing it. The may be a rare situation on a raid boss that you would use this, but it’s hard to imagine. Any time there is an intensive healing requirement in which the healers would benefit from your using this, everyone is generally stacking for massive aoe heals.
Posthaste – The clear choice from this tier as the extra mobility will occasionally help.
This is an easy tier, none of them are useful on a boss fight. Take whatever you want, you won’t be using it.
Spirit Bond is the only one that has any effect on a raid boss as Iron Hawk is only for direct damage.
The only tier that you will ever switch depending on the fight but it is very simple. If there is a burn phase: Readiness. If not: Thrill of the Hunt. Never ever use Fervor.
In past tiers there has occasionally been a fight that Black Ice would have helped a bit but nothing in DS and the other two talents obviously have no use in boss fights.
Binding Shot - like Black Ice there has in the past been a fight here and there that could use it but nothing in DS.
Glaive Toss - Obviously isn’t useful on a boss fight. I would like to take this time to discuss this new mechanic though. It seems very clunky and buggy to try to line up enemies somehow to get the benefit of this and the new black arrow. On a boss fight I’m not sure when it would ever happen and in PvP any opponent with half a brain will avoid lining up as soon as they see a hunter. I’m sure it sounded like a cool concept originally but I just don’t see it working, and it is not fun from a gameplay perspective to try to find a straight line of enemies.
Powershot – This is the clear choice for raiding. My main problem with this talent is that after Blizzcon 2011, hunters were incredibly excited to finally be relieved of the tyranny that is minimum range. This shot just basically reapplies it in lesser version. We can still do damage within melee range but our big level 90 shot only does a third of its normal damage when we do. I’m sure developers were only really looking at PvP but they need to understand the effect it has on PvE too. It is really frustrating when every other fight the group has to stack on the boss for a big aoe healing phase and I have to beg them to be really careful where exactly they stack so I can stay out of min range and still receive the heals. It just isn’t fun to ask 9/24 other people to make special accommodations for your one uniquely frustrating class trait.
So to wrap that up, the talent build is going to be: Posthaste, Whatever tier 2, Sprit Bond, Thrill of the Hunt (unless there is a burn/weakened phase), Black Ice, Powershot. Powershot is the only one that isn’t simply a passive buff to the hunter or buff to an ability. Furthermore, Black Ice and Powershot are the only ones that hunters don’t already have right now, and Black Ice is pretty similar to a few other trap buffing talents/glyphs we already have. That just seems so boring compared to other classes. I look at other trees and they have tons of cool new abilities, not just passive talents. I may be wrong but didn’t they say one of the main goals of the new tress was to avoid passive, percentage talents like making ice trap 10% more effective?
This is why I just can’t figure out where the developers are heading with hunters. I realize it is still a work in progress, they specifically said they have a lot of work to do with hunters and shamans, but what worries me is they actually made a lot of changes from the original tree a few months ago. That means they are working on it, and still unable to come up with good ideas and new concepts. The only new mechanic is this lining up enemies thing that is far from compelling gameplay. Additionally, aren’t we the pet class? So why aren’t there any talents really relating to pets?
Maybe the developers have legitimately just run out of ideas with the class and can’t think of anything else to do in PvE. That is understandable, but why not look at some of the great ideas the hunter community has been presenting for years? The stampede concept has obviously been around for a while and even acknowledged by the blues at one point. Dual wielding is another simple idea to implement. Something else I personally think would be an easy new direction would be to go the explosives expert route that many other mmos have for their hunter-type classes. Just a few abilities fitting that mold seem appropriate for the class. Here is a possible new mechanic from that idea:
Plant Explosives: This ability sets 20 explosives on the target. It is on a 10 min CD so you can only use it once on most fights. If it is reset by readiness, you may have to adjust that. The 20 explosive are actually 10 that do pure damage when triggered, 5 that cause a 4% physical vulnerability debuff on the target for 8 seconds when triggered (stacking on top of other debuffs), and 5 that reduce the targets damage output by 4% for 8 seconds (again, stacking). They just look like 3 different debuffs with a stack counter on the target that is reduced each time you trigger them. You then have 3 separate abilities called trigger explosive (each type having a different name before explosive) that share an 8 sec CD so you can’t stack those debuffs or spam the damaging explosives or anything like that. It costs no focus and is not on the global cooldown. You can trigger the explosives at any time subject to the CD.
Applicability of this would be very fun and gratifying as it would require strategy. When the target is weakened for extended periods like Hagara you could hit your damaging explosives. You can plan with your physical damage teammates to time their CDs with your triggering the physical vulnerability debuffs, e.g. your rogue and warrior hit their CDs at the same time and you chain 2-3 of the physical vulnerabilities at the same time to multiply the damage. Then you coordinate with the healers and tanks for the best time to trigger the damage output debuffs.
This type of thing is not overly complicated to design and would be extremely gratifying for a player. Anyone that has been raiding for years in this game, like I have, knows by now that the most gratifying abilities are those that require strategic planning and those that help the entire team, not just one player’s stats. This would hit those concepts. It would require more tinkering for balance and to make it relevant in PvP but something similar would work.
That is just an idea that took about 10 minutes to come up with and plenty of other hunters in the community have other great ideas. Hopefully looking to some of those ideas will help the developers get over a possible “writer’s block” when it comes to hunter design.