Hello, I’m Mutomentis-Proudmoore and I’m having a guildie post this for me since I’m not in the Alpha
I’ve been playing World of Warcraft since Vanilla and doing progression raiding since the Burning Crusade. I’ve mained Havoc Demon Hunter since the Legion pre-patch and I entered the Hall of Fame in Shadowlands Season 3 with my guild Eternal Kingdom. I’ve spent a while tinkering with the Havoc Demon Hunter tree which was released a little while ago as well as a great deal of time thinking about the idea of Demon Hunter talents, ever since the announcement that Dragonflight would see the return of talent trees. I’d like to share some of my thoughts on the trees as well as what I feel is the current direction of Demon Hunter design.
I started raiding in BC, but that’s also the last time I did any serious PvP, so this assessment will focus on a PvE viewpoint, primarily progression raiding but also Mythic+. I also won’t really be talking about damage numbers. How much damage abilities do, and therefore what path we ultimately take through the tree, is a factor of game balance which can be easily changed. I think it’s more important to discuss the design of these abilities, since now is the best time to change that, rather than post-launch. I assume for the sake of this analysis that all abilities do reasonable damage relative to one another and their respective roles and that if you do what the talent(s) are asking of you, you will be suitably rewarded.
I first want to say that I’m really happy that The Hunt is here. I thought it was a shoo-in for continuing on as a talent, because it’s a perfect 10 in matching class fantasy. I do however want to urge you to change the visuals of the ability to more closely match the usual Demon Hunter identity. It made sense for covenant abilities to strongly represent the granting covenant, but since we’re no longer in the Shadowlands we shouldn’t still be drawing on the power of the Night Fae to shoot a big blue rocket out of our butt. It also wouldn’t necessarily follow to a new player picking up the class why Demon Hunters have a powerful ability which deals Nature damage. I know this ability references a similar one in Heroes of the Storm, executed by Illidan himself no less, so there shouldn’t be significant difficulty meshing the ability with the class aesthetics. I would actually urge a visual overhaul to all returning covenant abilities for all classes to ensure they match each class/spec’s visual identity since I expect some of them, like The Hunt, will be with us for years to come.
If I could say one more thing about The Hunt: I’ve noticed in my usage of the ability that when it says that it applies a DoT to enemies “in your path” that is really not kidding. If you do not physically, bodily pass through an enemy the DoT is not applied. This has led to all kinds of awkward difficulties using the ability in the heat of combat. If your tank is holding a group of enemies, even if you target the furthest enemy from you, normal movement can have them jostle around enough before The Hunt connects such that the DoT is applied to fewer enemies than it should. Also, like many similar abilities, The Hunt “stops short”, ending immediately at the edge of the target’s hit box, which can cause it to miss enemies which were between you and the target but who were not sufficiently “in your path” to the game’s satisfaction. I’ve never felt targeting specifically the furthest away among a group of enemies was a particularly engaging or skill-testing interaction, doubly so when that enemy may not be the one in most need of a big hit of Nature damage to the face. As such, I would advocate for the addition of a 5-yard hit box around The Hunt’s primary target which applies any remaining DoTs which weren’t already applied by the charge. Essentially, I should be able to target any member of a group of mobs on the tank and apply the DoT to all of them (up to the normal maximum of 5 targets).
Moving on from The Hunt, the next talent I’d like to call attention to is Any Means Necessary. This was the talent I was most surprised to see in our tree, because it is very similar to a talent I had designed myself for my talent tree wish list. In fact, it is the talent from among those that I most wanted to see implemented. But I never thought it actually would be! I’m overjoyed to see it here, because I think it demonstrates an understanding of one of the major problems Havoc has faced since its inception. My criticism, therefore, is with its position. I think this should be a core talent of the Havoc spec, centrally located and higher up, not the capstone of the AoE portion of the tree.
Mastery, a stat meant to reinforce a spec’s playstyle, has been a terrible stat for us for a long time, due first to its abysmal scaling, but due second to how little of our damage it actually affected. The majority of the time it applies to Chaos Strike/Annihilation and Eye Beam, about one-third of our total damage, and that’s about it. Increasing a minority of our damage by a percentage results in a very underwhelming stat. The situation is accentuated by our wide array of abilities that deal magical damage which conspicuously isn’t Chaos: Immolation Aura, Demon Blades, Felblade, now Sigil of Flame, The Hunt, etc. Demon Hunter was a class built on being a melee class which dealt large amounts of magical damage and had particularly easy access to Chaos damage which, as in Warcraft III, is an extremely advantageous damage type. But aside from a brief cameo in the Argus fight back in Legion, magical damage types haven’t mattered in a very long time, so dealing Chaos damage is basically just a switch determining whether or not it benefits from our Mastery.
You’ve been making a clear effort to improve the standing of Mastery in the spec: First Blood deals Chaos damage now, Inner Demon is back, it’s now possible to have both Unbound Chaos and Glaive Tempest at the same time, Trail of Ruin is core, and so on. But I’m worried we’re still left sitting here with many rotational abilities which our Mastery has no interaction with. Any Means Necessary is the answer here! Even if it only affects class abilities, that would be enough. (My reading of it implies that it would apply to basically ALL magical damage we dealt, from trinkets, weapon procs, even potion effects. That would be AWESOME, and would double-down on our current reputation for being the best platform for proc effects, but it’s not necessary to have that interaction if it’s a problem keeping Any Means Necessary from being a core talent. This would be the kind of thing I could check if I were in the Alpha by the way, just saying >.o)
Boy he just keeps talking, doesn’t he? Anyway, next I’d like to make several points about the position of Momentum within the spec-to-be as I see it. I remember playing Momentum Havoc back in Emerald Nightmare (the last time Momentum was the dominant spec by the way) and thinking “YES! This is fun! This is unique! This is Demon Hunter class fantasy!” I assure you it was in exactly those words. However, I got a chance to come back to it for a while in Sanctum of Domination, and my opinion on it has soured.
Forced movement, particularly as often as Momentum would have it, is very restricting to play and unnecessarily risky. Each movement ability used to push damage is a chance of moving into a cleave, into fire, into a spike (people were playing Momentum on Painsmith. PAINSMITH!), off a cliff, etc. killing certainly yourself and possibly your whole group. I don’t want this to sound like a “git gud scrub” moment. With so many chances to make a mistake, mistakes WILL happen and, given current high end content design, WILL wipe groups. Furthermore, there will arise situations in which you will be REQUIRED to stay put, possibly for a long time, possibly for a whole fight, to deal with some mechanic. Congratulations, you now deal 12% less damage. Git gud scrub.
However, before this there has always been an opt-out in the form of another talent build which dealt around as much (or, in actual fact, more) damage. With Momentum, appropriately, now being a package of talents rather than an all-in-one, I worry that this reasonable opt-out no longer exists. For the record, I count the package as: Hot Feet, Tactical Retreat, Initiative, Isolated Prey, Restless Hunter, Momentum of course, and to a lesser extent Improved Fel Rush, Unbound Chaos, and Essence Break. While opting out of most, if not necessarily all, of these talents is certainly possible, what you opt in to by doing that strikes me as being talents designed for an AoE environment. I can’t imagine those doing comparable single target damage to their competition, causing Havoc’s damage on fights which heavily restrict movement to drop noticeably. Perhaps this is intended, but I don’t know about you but I can read the forum posts already. I don’t want this to sound like “Momentum bad. I hate Momentum.” I knew Momentum would be here. I wanted it to be here. I think it’s very skill-testing. All on a spec which currently has about five buttons. But I think there’s quite a lot of fix here, especially if this is to be our “default” spec going forward.
The decision to make Momentum triggered by Glide is a baffling one to me. Glide is a no-cooldown ability which only triggers a GCD for Fel Rush and Vengeful Retreat, both of which also trigger Momentum. So this essentially transforms Momentum from a small, albeit frequent, damage window into a permanent damage buff at the cost of needing to jump around our targets near-constantly. This exacerbates basically all problems with Momentum as a playstyle. While we have a higher degree of air control than anybody else it still pales in comparison to simply being on the ground. People are going to be Gliding into fire all the time. The momentum (heh) gained from initiating Glide is going to be hell when trying to stay in range of small-ish enemies. The only way this could be mitigated is by putting Glide on the GCD (pleasegodno.gif).
And all of this is a slight over the ability which actually should have been added to Momentum: Felblade. An ability which would trigger Momentum so naturally that I thought it did for about a week back in Legion. You don’t even have to worry anymore about it being a talent, situated as it is over in the Class Tree between Rush of Chaos and Demonic, two windmill-slam talents if ever there was one. These changes, removing Glide from Momentum and adding Felblade, are so natural, positive, and straight-forward that all my feedback from here on will assume that this has happened.
I read in the blue post about the talent trees that Momentum is being changed to simply reset its duration when a new triggering ability is used while it is active. I urge you to reconsider this change. Primarily, this is to help Vengeful Retreat. In order to maintain uptime while also avoiding clipping Momentum, it becomes necessary to perform a “lateral” Vengeful Retreat, flipping from one extreme corner of the target’s hit box to the other. This maneuver is unnecessarily complex for what we’re trying to accomplish, and becomes largely pointless against smaller enemies. On the other hand, the interactions of Vengeful Retreat → Fel Rush, Vengeful Retreat → Felblade, and indeed now Vengeful Retreat → The Hunt look damn cool and flow together so naturally that punishing the player for performing them feels wrong. At a minimum, clipping Momentum should carry over 3 seconds of the buff, but I would still urge you to carry the duration fully.
A guildie remarked to me a little while ago that it seems like every ability in the entire game which currently has two charges is being changed to have one charge baseline and a talent for the second charge, and so it seems to be with Fel Rush and Hot Feet. However, I think that Fel Rush differs from many of the other abilities which have gotten this treatment in a major way: it is not a throughput ability. It can impersonate one, with Unbound Chaos or vicariously through Momentum, but that’s not its primary purpose. First and foremost it is a movement ability. However, Hot Feet finds itself not in the Class Tree, where throughput talents are sparse, but in the Spec Tree surrounded by almost nothing but throughput talents. Is Hot Feet worth it over a point in Growing Inferno? Or Relentless Onslaught? Or Inner Demon? Or Burning Wound? Doubt.jpg. The only talent in the entire tree I can imagine Hot Feet being taken over is Dancing with Fate. It might be, but it might not be, and if not we’re down to one Fel Rush charge.
But that’s fine right? We had the option of getting the second charge, and something else was better, so tough cookies. Well what caused me to raise the alarm on this was Isolated Prey. Besides some other bonuses (big thumbs up on the Eye Beam damage by the way, it needed the single target buff and this is a great way of doing things) it turns Fel Rush into a Fury generation ability. What that signals to me is that, as if Momentum weren’t already enough, Fel Rush is going to spend most of its life on cooldown. Vengeful Retreat is already on cooldown thanks to Tactical Retreat and Initiative, and now so is Fel Rush. So when it comes time to actually go somewhere we have, what, Glide? But wait, this is the problem that Hot Feet solves! Because the Fury generation of Isolated Prey is not affected by Fel Rush’s charges, but by its cooldown rate, so we can sit on a charge for emergencies. True, but Hot Feet also solves the problem of holes in Momentum (which exist, because Glide doesn’t trigger Momentum, right?) and that’s gonna put it right back on cooldown. It’s not a huge gripe I suppose, but I worry about the iconic Demon Hunter movement being all used up on boss with little left over for zipping around fire like I’ve gotten in the habit of doing over these past six years.
As far as solutions, I can offer the idea that Hot Feet be moved from the Spec Tree to the Class Tree and combined with the similar talent I am damn sure is coming for Vengeance’s Infernal Strike which gives a second charge of either, as appropriate, and removes the risk of someone not taking it. Isolated Prey could also be changed to remove the Fel Rush interaction to alleviate some of the pressure on that ability. That would necessitate subbing in another obligate-AoE ability to interact with. Maybe Sigil of Flame? Another solution could be making Fel Rush two charges baseline with Hot Feet adding a third charge. That would also interact positively with Restless Hunter, which now is less likely to grant only a partial charge.
I’d also like to spend some paragraphs on our other estranged step-child of a stat: Crit. Like Mastery, much has been done to increase the standing of Crit within the spec. Unlike Mastery, a lot of this has been done by just giving us buckets of Crit: Aura of Pain, Initiative, Chaos Theory (that’s not what the Legendary did), and I suppose technically Looks Can Kill (more on that in a bit). The only actual Crit synergy, where we want more Crit because something happens, is Critical Chaos, Ragefire, Know Your Enemy, and Cycle of Hatred vicariously through Critical Chaos. Critical Chaos aside, those are some pretty deep talents and while it’s possible to have all of them in the same build, judging by how some of the earlier trees have shaken out so far I would expect it to be Know Your Enemy + Cycle of Hatred vs. Ragefire most of the time.
Critical Chaos, once again, just makes me wish that Chaos Strike refunded Fury when it crits, like it used to. I understand the balance issue with that, where it happens rarely in the beginning of the expansion and commonly near the end. But I think that’s ok. Our playstyle can change over the course of the expansion. The value of talents can go up and down depending on what is possible with current gear. Chaos Theory and Initiative even help to ensure that our Chaos Strike crit chance would never be too low. It also just feels odd to have a chance for Chaos Strike to crit and a separate chance which is independent but which is partially based on Crit to refund some Fury. I get the balancing purpose of the current design. It’s better than a refund on crit at the beginning of the expansion and worse near the end, leading to an overall smoother curve. Demon Hunters aren’t about smooth curves, we’re about jagged edges. I don’t like this design, but I doubt it will change.
That’s not my only gripe with Crit believe it or not. As promised, I have words for Looks Can Kill. Specifically in that it is not Crit synergy, it is anti-Crit synergy. Eye Beam has always been a guaranteed crit, for reasons I’m not sure of. You wanted the numbers to be physically larger? Like, on the screen? It’s never been an interesting interaction; nothing happens when Eye Beam crits besides it doing more damage than a purely theoretical non-crit Eye Beam. Eye Beam always critting means it does not respond to our actual critical strike chance at all, lowering the value of Crit in proportion to Eye Beam’s share of our damage. I’m actually happy that the talent trees have given me the ability to opt-out of this interaction. But while we’re on the topic of promoting Crit synergy, I was hoping for a talent which could turn Eye Beam’s age-old Crit nonbo into a Crit combo. The talent I was expecting here was something like “Eye Beam always crits…and does more damage based on your critical strike chance” which is close to what Looks Can Kill + Know Your Enemy does. But that’s an imperfect solution, since Know Your Enemy affects all our damage, including a non-Looks Can Kill Eye Beam crit. God forbid Eye Beam crits do something other than damage, like lowering its own cooldown by a hair, so perhaps with enough Crit and enough enemies I can, for a brief moment, relive the glory days of Raddon’s Cascading Eyes. Anyway, I expect the math to come back that Looks Can Kill is worth it for the damage bonus alone. But there’s no better time than now to add in some Crit synergy to an ability which has historically ignored its existence.
Last (major) topic, I promise. It’s actually one I feel compelled to cover because I see absolutely no movement on it in these talent trees and I’m worried this will be a missed opportunity. Specifically, I think that Metamorphosis is a very weak primary offensive cooldown. Now, Metamorphosis (the buff) is pretty good. It gives us a boat-load of Haste, it empowers some of our main abilities, and it interacts with things like Soul Rending to make us really tanky DPS. We actively want to be in Metamorphosis; our playstyle for the last six years has revolved around maximizing its uptime. No, what I’m talking about is Metamorphosis (the spell) which gives us Metamorphosis (the buff). You split calling these Metamorphosis and “demon form”, respectively, which is a good idea so I’ll do that too. All Metamorphosis (again, the spell) does is deal yawn Chaos damage, stun stuff, and put us in demon form for longer than normal. Demon form is good, as I mentioned, but for most of Demon Hunter’s existence I’ve not felt that whether or not I had Metamorphosis available was very relevant, especially in Mythic+. I feel this is because while demon form does a lot, it doesn’t do nearly as much as other classes’ primary offensive cooldown does for them while active. Now, there’s a clear reason for this. It’s time to talk about the 50% larger pitch black green eyed demon in the room: Demonic.
You’re not gonna catch me saying Demonic should go. It shouldn’t. It can’t. It’s too iconic. That big black (or purple) demon form is what Demon Hunter is all about. Quite literally; as I alluded to above, maximizing Demonic utilization has been what our spec’s been about for six years. I don’t think there’s any plans for it to go. In fact, with Inner Demon and Restless Hunter checking for entering and exiting demon form, something Metamorphosis does rarely but which Demonic does all the time, Demonic is stronger than ever. But that does mean the demon form buff has to stay weak, since its uptime is so much higher than everyone else’s major cooldown. So what to do about Metamorphosis? Well, I had one idea based on our old friend Sinful Brand. Specifically, Sinful Brand taught me that the difference between Metamorphosis and Demonic is that initial jump that Metamorphosis does. That jump should do something big.
I’m not saying I like the design of Sinful Brand. Having the reward for our DPS output be pushing along some big dumb DoT is not very engaging. I’m glad it’s not returning (it’s the only covenant ability not returning lol). But man, it is nice to pull big in Mythic+ and then Metamorphosis into like 20+ Sinful Brands and top the meters on that big pull…as long as nobody else popped their big cooldown and killed the pull too fast for the DoT to do much, ugh. I think utilizing Metamorphosis’ jump is how you can differentiate Demonic and Metamorphosis in a way that allows you to make Metamorphosis really impactful while keeping Demonic feeling the same. The straight-forward thing to do is just increase the damage that jump does by something like a factor of 10. But I feel like that’s not the best solution. I think taking another page out of Sinful Brand’s book and adding a debuff to that jump is the way to go. Instead of a big dumb DoT, I had the idea that it could be a little smart DoT which does ~small Chaos damage each second for say 8 seconds, but every time the Demon Hunter hits that target during the duration they take the Chaos damage again. That would interact well with Chaotic Transformation making Eye Beam and Blade Dance, our two best hits-per-button-press abilities, available immediately. It would make it matter if you can slide in a second Blade Dance during the window. Plus Immolation Aura is hitting everyone, maybe even slipping in a Fel Rush for one last hit on everybody before the DoT fades, and so on. Oh, maybe Isolated Prey makes it last longer if it only hits one target. You can have that idea for free, go on, take it! You can call the talent Mutomorphosis!
Anyway, I appreciate the difficulty of what is being attempted here. This is Demon Hunter’s very first talent tree, and their first departure from major borrowed power systems. I was worried that the talent tree would end up being Borrowed Power 2.0, but I can tell real thought has gone into the problems the class is facing and how to address them with talents. I hope my ramblings contained information which can be used to further the design of my favorite class. I mentioned far above that I’ve been playing since Vanilla. Well, before I played Havoc Demon Hunter I played Feral Druid (Hey guys ). All the way back in BC, I said that Illidan is my favorite lore character so the only way I would stop playing my Druid was if they made a Demon Hunter class. Well…they did. Thanks so much for letting me be part of this community. I’ll see you all in Dragonflight.
You didn’t think I was done, did you?
You have a talent in the Class Tree called Soul Rending and a talent in the Spec Tree called Soulrend. That’s not technically name reuse, but come on.
Demonic Appetite is in the Class Tree, which is super interesting for Havoc, I just didn’t have much to say about it. It still says it procs off Chaos Strike though. Do Vengeance Demon Hunters even have Chaos Strike?
Precise Sigils should be available via default macroing and not a talent. You clearly have the technology to do this. @cursor macros aren’t interesting, but spending a talent point just to not have to use them is a little insulting. It mostly won’t matter for Havoc though, since Concentrated Sigils is a throughput talent and Precise Sigils isn’t. Oops.
Please just have Immolation Aura generate Fury over time again and remove Burning Hatred. It should generate some set amount of Fury each second while active, so Felfire Heart can do something more than interact with Growing Inferno.
How does Charred Warblades interact with Any Means Necessary? Do you A. Not heal from any damage anymore since you’re dealing Chaos damage, not Fire damage. B. Heal from the abilities which used to deal Fire damage, even though they deal Chaos now. Or C. Heal from everything because Chaos damage IS Fire damage, partially. Make it option C please, thanks
I’m not sure Sigil of Misery is strong enough to be a guard for the bottom third of the Sigil side of the tree. Maybe Misery in Defeat will make it worthwhile though. That debuff better last 20 seconds instead of just affecting whatever breaks them out of the fear.
Make Imprison affect more things! I can’t tell you how many times I had to tell people I can’t CC the big slime on the first boss in Plaguefall. Monks can Paralyze the damn thing! Yes, an amorphous blob has pressure points but I can’t put it in a magic cage.