WoW Wednesday - The Misunderstood Hunter
By MerryQuiteContary, OnRPG Warcraft Reporter
Since the beginning the World of Warcraft hunter has been the most maligned class of the original classes introduced in 2004. There have been, throughout the years, several memes within the WoW community concerning hunters such as “blame it on the hunter” or “every weapon is a hunter weapon”. To be fair, there was a time when a hunter could use almost any weapon. Whether they should use them or not was open to debate. If someone was going to ninja something it was almost assuredly a hunter (supposedly). While not politically correct, hunters even have their own nickname of huntard.
I believe one of the reasons for this hunter hate, at least in the beginning, was that the hunter was very often played by young people and/or novices to gaming. They, almost invariably, lacked situational awareness which is paramount for a hunter; this is especially true for a hunter in control of a pet. So inevitably cases of pets not getting dismissed when the player needed to jump down, therefore aggroing the entire instance, were commonplace. Not turning off growl was another common mistake but mostly it was just lack of understanding the dynamics of the pet class that led to hunter abuse.
But it wasn't all bad in classic WoW for the hunter. A hunter with tranq shot was much sought after. The hunter also was needed for certain pulls in dungeons and raids. But the thing that added to the ridiculousness of the hunter during classic and into TBC was that so many of them were named a variant of Legolas. How many male night elf hunters with long white hair could one game possibly have? The answer would be a lot. Hunters were the second most played class. That is a lot of Legolas.
The hunter class would have had taken direct influence from Tolkien no matter when it was introduced to MMOs or going further back, MUDs. Across multiple games they all have similar features but it was quite possibly WoW who introduced the hunter pet as its predecessors used pet-less hunters/rangers. Being able to tame a pet is one of the highlights of the class. Those that play hunters will spend days camping spawn points for a certain rare pet. There are websites dedicated to helping the hunter find the perfect pet with whatever stats and abilities the hunter is looking for.
Almost all MMOs have a hunter type class. The LotRO ranger is a master of long range with the bow but equally as adept with sword and relies heavily on trapping. The EQ2 ranger is a lot of kitting and trapping as well. There are AAA title games that came after WoW such as Rift that have essentially copied WoW's hunter. Others such as Warhammer Online, Age of Conan and Aion are pet-less. The Guild Wars 2 ranger is not much different than the WoW hunter other than the ability to weapon and pet swap. Even the Quick Shot ability is similar to the much improved disengage for WoW hunters. By and large, most games stick to the Tolkien version of the ranger as inspiration rather than the pet enabled hunter.
The World of Warcraft hunter has seen so many changes over the years. Possibly more than any other class if the forum rage after a nerf is to be believed. Though if we are completely honest, the title of most changed would likely go to the warlock. Until just recently hunters could equip multiple weapons and dual wield. The change to them only being able to equip one weapon and hopefully that weapon is a bow or gun of some description has been one of the best things done to the class. There was a time when there was ammunition and quivers meaning the hunter had to stock up on arrows or bullets. Raise your hand if you can remember a hunter running out mid raid. Doing away with ammunition was another welcome hunter change. Right before Cataclysm with patch 4.0.1 most classes changed in their mechanics. For example, certain spells were now procs or the way resources were used was changed. The hunter went from being a mana user to a focus user, which was generally well received. The changes have continued right up to Mists of Pandaria.
Even though there has been a lot of changes with the hunter and in fact all WoW classes, one thing is certain; hunters are still fun to play. I would go so far as to say they are the most fun to play. On the surface they seem an easy class. Send pet in and shoot stuff. There is that yes, but there are many intricacies to the hunter class that good hunters are all too familiar with. Maybe the perceived ease of the class and failing to delve further into it by the early player base is what contributed to the hunter's bad reputation. Whatever the case, the hunter/ranger in any game is usually a lot of good fun to play with high soloability yet still very good in groups in the right hands. For me though, the WoW hunter will always be my favourite.