Cataclysm Class Updates: Hunter

Round three of the critical class updates started the day with Hunters. Like Warlocks, this is another class that we already know a lot about from the preview back at BlizzCon. But as a quick refresher: Hunters now use an Energy-like mechanic called Focus instead of Mana, you can stable more pets (and call one of three “active” ones in the field), and ammo has been completely removed from the game.

As for completely new content, we’ve got a fresh set of spells to look over. Cobra Shot is a Nature-based ability that is meant to be an alternative to Steady Shot when attacking heavily-armored targets. Then there’s Trap Launcher, which allows you to place any of your traps remotely from up to 40 yards away (with a 1-minute cooldown).

Finally, you’ve got a Level 85 skill called Camouflage. Like the Warrior’s Heroic Leap, this is a mechanic that Blizzard once toyed with, but removed because it proved too complicated to deal with at the time. They also want to emphasize that this is not just a name-swap for Stealth (something that is more thoroughly explained towards the bottom of the post). Instead, using Camouflage will cloak the Hunter in a Predator-like sheen (as opposed to being completely invisible), allowing them to move around and set up traps. Similar to the Rogue’s new ability, Smoke Bomb, Hunters cannot be targeted by ranged attacks in this state, but they won’t be able to fight back, either. Assaulting the enemy breaks the camo effect, but also provides a temporary damage boost.

I think that about covers it for the major changes, though there are plenty of other small mechanical and talent tweaks someone having more experience with the class than I would have an easier time parsing. Hit the break for all the juice.

With the upcoming World of Warcraft: Cataclysm many game elements will be changing, and each class will be receiving a number of tweaks. Here, we will explore the changes that are being made to the gun-wielding, pet-training hunter. The information you’re about to read is certainly not complete, and is only meant to act as a preview of some of the exciting new things to come. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the new hunter abilities!

New Hunter Abilities

Cobra Shot (level 81): A new shot that deals Nature damage instead of Physical damage. This ability will share a cooldown with Steady Shot. This will give hunters an alternative to Steady Shot on heavily-armored targets, and we will have talent incentives in the Beast Mastery tree to make this a signature shot.

Trap Launcher (level 83): When used, the next trap can be shot to a location within 40 yards. This provides the current Freezing Arrow treatment to all traps and, as a result, we will be removing the current ability Freezing Arrow. 1-minute cooldown. No global cooldown.

Camouflage (level 85): The hunter enters an obscured state that prevents him or her from taking ranged damage. The character would still be subject to melee or area-of-effect attacks, and dealing or taking damage will break the Camouflage effect. The hunter can move and set traps when under Camouflage, and will receive a damage bonus when attacking while under Camouflage (which will then break the effect).

Resource Mechanic Change

Here we come to the meat of the upcoming hunter changes.

  • Hunters will no longer use mana; instead the class will use Focus. Focus generates much like Energy, by building up. It will not be affected by Intellect at all. Haste will improve its generation. Hunters will generate roughly 6 Focus per second, slightly less than rogues’ Energy generation rate of around 10 Energy per second. Below, we have listed some examples of how we intend Focus costs to operate:
    • Steady Shot/Cobra Shot: No cost. Generates 9 Focus per shot (or 12 per second instead of 6).
    • Arcane Shot/Chimera Shot /Explosive Shot: 45 Focus.
    • Aimed Shot/Multi-Shot: 60 Focus.
    • Concussive Shot/Tranquilizing Shot: 35 Focus.
    • Rapid Fire/Master’s Call/Disengage: 30 Focus.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

In addition to the resource change and new abilities listed above, we intend to make adjustments to some of the other abilities and mechanics you already know well. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we’re going for with each spec.

  • A major change coming for the hunter is the removal of ammunition. Guns, bows, and crossbows will now do damage without consuming ammunition at all. There will be no more ammo slot on the hunter’s character display. Any ammunition that a hunter has at the time of the change will become gray sellable items. Existing quivers will be converted into large bags — though each hunter can only have one and non-hunters will not benefit from this change — and we will not be making any additional quivers.
  • Pet management will also change. Hunters will now have two types of attainable pets: active pets and stored pets. Hunters will be able to have up to three active pets (perhaps five for Beast Mastery specialized players) and will have the ability to switch among these pets any time they are out of combat, without going to town. They will also be able to have a large number of pets in storage at the stables. In order to swap a pet from active to passive, a hunter will still need to visit their local Stable Master. However, this should afford ample storage for the many Spirit Beasts wandering the lands of Azeroth.
  • Additionally, hunters will now start with a race-appropriate pet at level 1 and will be able to tame a different pet at level 10. We are also changing many pet family abilities to provide important buffs and debuffs. The intention is to allow the hunter to be able to swap pets and fill a position if a certain role is missing from the group. The goal is to have all pets provide a damage increase that is very similar and no greater than any other pet. Some examples of the changes we are making to the pet families are listed below:
    • Wind Serpents: Will provide a debuff that increases the amount of spell damage taken by an enemy (similar to a weaker version of the warlock ability Curse of Elements).
    • Ravagers: Will provide a debuff that will increase an enemy’s Physical damage vulnerability (similar to a weaker version of the warrior ability Rampage).
    • Hyenas: Will provide bleed damage (similar to a weaker version of the druid ability Mangle).
  • Stings and other periodic effects will now benefit from haste and critical strike ratings. Hasted damage-over-time abilities do not lose duration, but instead add additional damage ticks.
  • Viper Sting will now restore 9 Focus every 3 seconds.
  • We are reinforcing hunters as a ranged class. To this end, the class will now start with ranged abilities at level 1, and we will be removing some melee abilities, such as Mongoose Bite.

New Talents and Talent Changes

  • Beast Mastery hunters will have a new talent called Careful Aim, which increases the damage of the next Steady Shot or Cobra Shot, but also increases the cast time of these abilities. The intention is to make the combination of spells into a decent damage opener, especially in conjunction with the new ability Camouflage.
  • Beast Mastery hunters will also have talents that make Cobra Shot superior to Steady Shot, such as Longevity reducing the cast time of Cobra Shot to 1.5 seconds.
  • Rapid Recuperation will cause Rapid Fire to give 20/40/60 Focus immediately and will cause Rapid Killing to generate 3 Focus per second.
  • Efficiency will reduce the Focus cost of Chimera Shot, Aimed Shot, and Arcane Shot.
  • Thrill of the Hunt grants Focus when you land a critical strike.
  • Hunter vs. Wild increases the hunter’s Focus generation when his or her pet is snared, stunned, or rooted.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Beast Mastery
Ranged Damage
Pet Damage

Ranged Damage
Armor Penetration
Double Shot

Ranged Damage
Ranged Critical Damage
Elemental Damage

Pet Damage: Many of the passive benefits to pet damage will no longer be available in the Beast Mastery talent tree. However, these will be provided through the new Mastery mechanic.

Double Shot: The hunter will have a chance to launch a free attack off of the global cooldown for 50% damage.

Elemental Damage: Hunter abilities such as traps, Black Arrow, and Explosive Shot will do elemental damage of the following types: Arcane, Fire, Frost, Nature, and Shadow.

We hope you enjoyed this preview, and ask that you provide your initial thoughts and feedback on what was presented here. Please keep in mind that what you’ve just reviewed is a work in progress and as we move closer to the Cataclysm beta, you’ll see these planned changes as well as others continue to develop in response to feedback and testing.

A clarification of Camouflage and what becoming obscured actually means:
Camouflage is *not* stealth. Your enemies will never wonder where you are. We’re trying to use the new Cataclysm water effect to put a shimmering PREDATORy visual on you. It’s protection from ranged attacks and it gives you some combat bonuses, but it’s not like Shadowmeld or rogue / druid stealth where players can’t find you.

The idea with it is that Hunters are only vulnerable to melee attacks or ranged AEs while they are in the obscured state. If you target a camo hunter or a rogue using Smoke Bomb, you will get an error message saying something like “Target obscured.” You can see them and target them, but can’t use your attacks. Imagine they are behind a pillar or something. You can try and get off an AE near them or you can move to melee.

As most of you know, we tried Camo once before, but because it was true stealth it was very hard to balance, plus it felt like we were just handing out the same cool abilities to every class instead of coming with unique mechanics. Hunters were so overwhelmingly excited about the basic idea that we wanted to try it again, but not as stealth.

Regarding Cobra Shot sharing cooldown with Steady Shot:
At this point in time it’s not actually a cooldown. Cobra Shot has a 2 sec cast time, but Beastmaster has a talent to reduce the cast time to 1.5 sec (as well as a few damage hooks). Both generate focus so there is no reason for BM to ever use Steady again.

Regarding focus and how much of it Hunters will have:
Hunters will get 100 focus

The focus costs mentioned in the preview are just examples, so it is a little too soon for you to try to min / max your rotations just yet. In general, the basic rotations of all three hunters work okay on live today. With focus you might hit moments where you don’t need to Steady at all, and you’ll never run dry again for long periods of time like you might with mana.

If the costs of some of the defensive cooldowns are too expensive or even need to be free that’s certainly the kind of thing we’ll consider.

Regarding Ammo in Cataclysm:
There is no ammo slot on your character sheet in Cataclysm. It no longer exists.


  1. Well, what can I say? All in all a pretty lackluster mish-mash of fubars and re-do’s.
    The Camo idea will only ever be used to stand around in Dalaran, as it seems pretty pointless for anything else as instant AoE’s will take you out of it, so its just wasting focus and a CD, give us the original Camo (stand still for 3 seconds and hunter AND pet go into full stealth attacking will stop it but trap laying won’t). Although i’ll reserve final judgement until i find out whether things like the warriors charge are classed as ranged attacks (after all, they DO charge from RANGE), IF they arent, hen its more than useless.
    I personally will NOT ever be using the trap launcher if the current frost arrow mechanic is used as it too clunky and time consuming atm. Apart from tossing a few snakes at people in Dalaran, just for fun.
    The pet changes are welcome tho. Pets to fill a gap in the abitities sounds rather cool, even if the abitities are slightly gimped.
    The ammo situation? hmm, I would have thought that Blizz may have introduced some sort of Relic like the Paladins and other classes have. A slot where one item is placed that has an effect on certain damage or ability.
    The Masteries for each Spec seem ok, apart from the MM one. Wild quiver and The proc from Zod’s repeating Longbow, as a mastery? This will defenitley need to be changed if the proc rate is anything like Zod’s. WE ALREADY HAVE SILENCING SHOT, which does about the same AND is off the GCD. Yes I understand that it’s ANY shot, not just Auto, It just seems like a cop-out to me.

    Believe it or not, I AM actualy looking forward to Cata with my 5 year old hunter, but these changes, while not final, are making me feel more and more like I want to play a different class.
    I want to dual weild pistols at melee range while my pet chews the pants off the warrior who is constatly on my ass, only for me to turn around and shoot Gangsta style and push him back 20 yards…oh to deam…
    These are only my thoughts after a cursory look through the post. I may have a few things wrong, If I do, tell me, but dont flame, you’ll only make an enemy who’ll fling a handful of snakes at you :)

    You aint seen me, right?

  2. I completely agree with you, Stormkiller. They just gave us another steady shot, frost arrow for all traps, and a new, and worse, deterrence. Why it’s worse than deterrence? Well it can last longer and gives this damage boost, but melee attacks/AoE/DoTs break it and it only works on ranged attacks. Deterrence can actually save your ass if some warriors comes charging up to you. I mentioned as well that it breaks with DoT and with these new hasted DoTs that Blizz is so happy about, if a pesky Wlock you’re trying to save yourself from pops one on you before you go camo, you may as well have not wasted the focus.
    For it to be more useful it needs some other mechanic, like maybe if an attack breaks it all damage from that attack is reduced to zero, to have it as a useful CD in PvE (on a fight like Festergut with gaseous blight), or if you are low on health and see a warrior bladestorming up to you. It would also be better if, like Stormkiller said, it did stealth you at least a bit, it is supposed to be camouflage after all and the damage boost would make sense, since you probably just sprung out on your enemy.
    I’d much rather have a new and interesting ability than have 2 deterrences, but as Blizz did say, none of it is final. I just hope that with the interesting things other classes are getting, something changes.

Comments are closed.