[Cataclysm] On being replaced by a pet

The Public Test Realms are now up with patch 4.0.1, which means that even slackers who aren’t in the Cataclysm beta will get an early chance to see the new class and talent tree designs.

If you find this PTR and patch 4.0 business puzzling, all you need to know is that before each previous expansion there have also been many class changes. Blizzard patches the class changes into the live game before the expansion. And no, we don’t know when although November 2nd is the current hot guess for Cataclysm. (Not saying this is set in stone, although I don’t think Boubouille has been wrong before.)

One of the more interesting changes is that the hunters’ pets have had a revamp. Each different type of pet will now be able to provide a different raid buff. And that raid buff will be exactly the same as a player of appropriate class could provide. This includes Bloodlust/ Heroism (which could be provided in future by a Corehound, available to Beastmaster specced hunters.)

Even a trained corehound could do that!

It’s ironic that one of the standard complaints about raiding (usually from non raiders) is “Even a trained monkey could learn to do that!” in a game where the actual trained monkeys are often more useful and easier to control than the players. A pet doesn’t have to worry about getting out of the fire in WoW, for example – they automatically take much much less AE spell damage.

You can probably even set the new pets to automatically renew their buff when the timer runs out. Which would put them way ahead of … well me for example! I do try to keep shouts (warrior buffs) up but sometimes if I’m busy it may be a few seconds late.  A pet won’t do that. And some of the ‘skill’ goes out of the game.

So there will be advantages to having pets along to do the buffing.

I don’t actually think giving hunters access to all the raid buffs is overpowered. Although it does give them a privileged position in regards to raid invites. Having one in your raid means a very flexible buffing class. If I played a different dps, I don’t really know how I’d feel about that. It’s not as if the class lacked utility before.

I think it’s a mixed blessing for the actual hunter player. Forget being able to choose which pet you bring to a raid, the raid leader will consult a spreadsheet and tell you. And if that means a tenacity pet which does less dps, then enjoy slipping down the damage meters in order to provide more utility. Look forwards to the joy of feeling obliged to go catch and tame a copy of every type of pet in the game if you are a keen raider, just in case. Enjoy having Beastmaster as an offspec, even if you hate it, just in case one of those exotic buffs turns out to be necessary.

Tanks however, are used to being replaced by pets. The pet’s entire purpose is to tank solo content, and if they can also tank instances and even raid bosses, well it’s just a matter of scaling. What I really want to know is why I can’t have a pet that heals or does ranged dps. I’d look after it and make sure it didn’t get eaten! (Or at least, I’d take better care of it than I do most of my mates in game, where I’d be more likely to point and laugh if they got themselves chewed on by mobs due to doing something daft.)

The strange lack of healing pets

In many ways, the most interesting of the new pet abilities is the heal which Spirit Beasts will be able to provide. Blizzard have shied away hard in the past from healing pets. I never really understood why this was. What’s the problem with a pet that can heal, given that they’re OK with letting them tank the occasional raid bosses? It could be tuned to never heal as well as a player, and to require lots of micromanagement if that’s needed as a balance.

Still, it feels odd to see abilities which used to be signature to a class turning up on a pet. It is a pretty good indication though that the days in which a player might expect to  be wanted in a raid just for one buff are over.

9 thoughts on “[Cataclysm] On being replaced by a pet

  1. I have mixed feelings about this, just like I always have mixed feelings when they keep giving ‘everything to everybody’ just to make sure it won’t matter anymore what class you play or take along. if you erase all the more relevant benefits of a class, when does it stop being a class? obviously I’m exaggerating, but it’s still been small steps in that direction ever since TBC. I actually liked the time when sw-priests and shamans were raid utility and primary raid buffers for example.

    however, I don’t see the hunter pets being a particular “threat” to anybody; most raidguilds can’t or do not have to pick&chose raid members in such ways, we certainly never had any 25man where we were missing relevant raidbuffs. if there’s ever such a case, the hunter pet will be able to compensate for a lack rather than replace someone per se. I could imagine this is also a bit more relevant for 5mans or 10mans.

    as for why there are no healing pets / why there are tanking pets; I don’t know obviously, but I could imagine that blizzard perceived the lack of available tanks as a greater issue in the past, than the lack of healers. if you look at elite quests, the majority of them are doable with DPS and one tank or a healer and tank but not having any tank around is often the bigger issue. seeing that pets are mostly used as replacement tanks outside raids, this could be the reasoning.

  2. I’ve been playing with NPC hirelings in DDO, which can include healers. I think the hesitation about going this route is that automated heals require less attention than automated tanking does. If your pet is tanking, you have to be directing it to targets. If your pet is healing, your party’s damage simply disappears.

  3. A healing pet would be better than every human healer because healing is so incredible easy. A PC will always beat a human in whack a mole.

    A tanking pet can hardly be better than a human tank. There are to much decisions to be made.

    That’s probably why they don’t do it. 🙂

  4. If the healing pet were a ‘smart’ healing pet, then maybe. As far as I’m aware, however, the healing pet will heal the ‘targeted player’, which means you need an intelligent being directing the pet. [insert gratuitous ‘huntard’ comment here]

  5. Hey now! No picking on Hunter pets!

    Given the pick or choose between 10/25 raids, Hunters now actually bring a (potentially) worthwhile buff to the raid. In fact, they can bring in a buff that is missing, which is nice.

    I somewhat agree with Kring about the healing pet, though healing is supposed to get a little tougher in Cata. We’ll see.

  6. I think Nov 2 is largely based on some stores now having that date for availability as of sometime early last week. I was surprised it took as long as it did to surface on MMO-C. I was starting to worry that wow.com was gonna scoop it.

    Blizz has been very clear that the hunter pet is expected to become a smaller piece of the hunter’s DPS package, as opposed to the 40% of overall DPS that a BM hunter could wring from a kitteh in BC (Hiya, Hobbes). With the first pass of pet redesign, all damage has been normalized for each pet type (i.e. all ferocity will do identical damage). Largely this was done by removing special attacks, so the stompasaurus now does a debuff instead of extra damage when he uses both jaws to bite with, I guess.

    There WERE some ranged DPS pets in the game, such as Wind Serpents. These fired lightning blasts. I read, but don’t remember, whether that is now the main attack, or if it was a special attack that got turned into a buff or debuff.

    To say I have mixed feelings about this would be an understatement. In many ways, hunter pets are being turned into the equivelent of Rappelz pets, and that is not meant as a compliment.

  7. Well, I always had an idea in my head that the Beast Mastery would basically change the Hunter class entirely from a ranged dps to a heal/tank spec. I always envisioned there being two pet classes (turtle and owl) that would heal and tank, respectively, and essentially BM spec would give you an unlimited, far more functional Eyes of the Beast that would make the Hunter totally useless but make the pet far more advantageous, i.e. it basically would be the player. The Hunter would merely be a vessel for the pet.

    But it was too much like Druids to ever really work 😦

  8. There’s still the question of whether or not BM Hunters are fixed yet (not doing 20% less dps than the other trees). If not then one has to wonder whether or not haveing one members pulling 3 to 4K less DPS worth having Heroism/Bloodlust available in 10 mans.

    Personally I love the idea of a healing pet particularly now that triage healing will be the norm. I also have a feeling that in those first few Catalclysm dungeons I’ll be using it on myself every time it comes off cd till healers get the hang of triage healing 5 mans.

    • > I’ll be using it on myself every time it comes off cd till
      > healers get the hang of triage healing 5 mans.

      And especially AFTER they get the hang of triage healing. Hunters were always the last one to get healed. 🙂

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