Monday, October 10, 2016

Is Anyone Playing Survival?

Players often gravitate toward whatever spec is considered "best" at the moment, particularly when their class is a pure-DPS class. When I step into my class hall on my Mage, I find myself greeted with thousands of flame-orbs floating above my fellow Mages' heads. I do see a fair number of Arcane players as well, but my Frost spec seems to be the minority at the moment, despite the fact that, at least for a fresh 110, he's doing perfectly respectable damage.

I have not done much on my Hunter yet this expansion. He is Beast Mastery spec, and so I've got Titanstrike (as a Dwarf hunter, I'm relieved that his spec's artifact is a gun - using bows and crossbows just seems wrong) and I've done the Illidari quests that start off Azsuna.

The expansion has been out for over a month now and I've run many, many dungeons, grouping with many different people. And I can think of exactly one time that I ran a dungeon with a Survival Hunter. And unfortunately, I couldn't get a sense of how well the spec was performing because the player would literally refuse to DPS on trash and I suspect was only half paying attention even on boss fights.

To be certain, Survival has changed probably more than any other preexisting spec in Legion - even those that were entirely overhauled like Demonology. For the first time ever, or maybe Vanilla, there is a Hunter melee spec.

The thing is, new stuff does not usually turn people off this much. Of course there are people who like to play something as close to their old spec as they can manage, and thus a lot of Hunters who got into the Hunter class in the first place because it was a ranged option will want to stick to the two ranged specs. But even with specs that have changed profoundly, like the aforementioned Demonology or Enhancement or Outlaw, which doesn't even have the same name anymore, people have been eager to try them out.

Of course, part of this is damage potential - Outlaw has shown itself to have some very powerful damage potential, as have Enhancement and Demonology. But I honestly do not have any idea what a well-played Survival Hunter can put out, damage-wise because I just plain haven't seen anyone except that one example actually playing it.

I did try it out a bit once 7.0 dropped. In fact, my Goblin Hunter, who likely won't go to the Broken Isles for long, long time, is sticking with it as his main spec (he may not be able to use guns anymore, but he does get to throw grenades and explosive traps, which make up for not getting Explosive Shot.) My impression of the spec is that it is certainly flawed, but it's also arguably more engaging than Marksmanship or Beast Mastery, which have both been simplified significantly in 7.0.

Still, the flaws are not to be ignored. One major flaw, I think, is the lack of interactivity between abilities. Mongoose Bite is entirely divorced from the Focus resource, and while Flanking Strike does double your chance to set off your mastery and thus generate more Mongoose Bite charges, it still feels a bit like you've got two rather simple rotations you're performing at once rather than one unified one.

There's also the fact that Lacerate feels like an entirely tacked on ability that is only there because of nostalgia.

Still, I think the idea of a hunter using a spear does fulfill a fantasy that has been absent from the game, and I'm kind of shocked that people are so hesitant to try it out. Even if Survival has serious damage issues, you would think you'd see at least some players choosing the spec for fun, rather than numbers (something that I always strongly advocate.)

I'm almost tempted, once I hit 102 on my Hunter, to start going Survival as a main spec, just so that I can see what the spec is capable of doing. Sure, I'll miss having my Exotic pets, but I'm currently using a mechanical one, which is available to all specs.

Still, I think my Monk is next in the line-up. Then it'll just be the Hunter, Druid, and Priest and I'll have really lived up to the name of the blog.

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