Befriender of Beasts or Master of Wilds?

Some beast masters have some issues with how Beast Mastery turned out to work in the Legion Alpha. AlternativeChat currently tries to maintain the stance that it's Blizzard's task to set up class fantasies and in the end we have to adapt to that. There's a lot of truth to that and at least some of us need to get out of their comfort zone more often. And to be honest, I think, at the moment Legion has huge potential for me to require very few compromises compared to previous expansions.

But I deliberately said "in the end". In the meantime we can ask, if the design of a class or spec or in fact anything else in the Alpha builds was a mistake. We can offer feedback on how it feels to play a spec (for which my own preconditions are not the best without access to Alpha).

For me it's difficult to believe, that many new hunters could object to forming a spiritual bond with your pet. I myself are not a fulltime hunter player but for my hunters I always chose (that means two out of two times) the BM spec. I thought it to be the ultimate hunter spec and the ultimate way to commit to your pet. In terms of pure fantasy, the pet seemed to be the most important reason, the most intuitive reason for choosing that spec. I can only assume, based on other BM's feedback, that this bon between me and my pet is no longer the case and it appears to be because other aspect of the new BM spec draw too much attention away from your pet. It is still there, but instead you and your pet getting supported by other abilities, these abilities appear to dominate the fight.

Dire Beast and Stampede are attractive abilities for me as far as they're able to immerse a player more in his of her surroundings. I think, in that regard it's pretty cool (still lacking any actual experience on how they feel). Yet I think, however cool an ability is, as stated above it should feel being supportive to the hunter and his or her pet.  Our pets are and should be special. Connecting a player to the game over hunter pets instead of making these pets a one-espansion tool (Hati, the Artefact) should be an interesting opportunity from a business perspective, too, I assume. The less throwaway flair your expansions create (because that's what we're actually talking here), the less likely it is your game gets thrown away for another one.

One problem in designing class fantasy and this one in particular might be that many fights in WoW are very, very short. If you want an ability to be core to a fantasy it's risky to give it a long CD. While questing or leveling abilities probably need to be available quite often for defining or affecting your spec. On the other hand, we've got Conjure Food and portals, which are part of their class' fantasy without necessarily being used often. So maybe there are ways to make an ability remarkable that aren't yet explored and to some degree you just can't force fantasy upon players. I think, in Vanilla WoW people rather freely chose what defined their class. It was more of a joint evolutionary process, although the devs clearly spent time on predefining class fantasy.

The "Many Maybes"-Paragraph
Another point altogether is that maybe Blizzard want us to start Legion on as much of a blank slate as possible. Look, if my class' fantasy was about to change completely (which actually could happen now, given how sure I was that BM had some solid part to its fantasy), and I'd loose all interest in playing with fire, I would probably change my main. In the end, he is a fire mage and he is not me. If Legion was going to be WoW 2.0 we should consider, seriously consider playing Main 2.0. If it was proberly labeled "reboot", that's what I'd do anyway (given certain preconditions). In many other games it's not like you had a choice. Maybe continuing to hold on to your main character would strip it of its identity, and nothing on this planet can take your memories of the past eleven years away from you. I don't know what and how Legion will be like but I assume, that it will be primarily designed to draw in new players in which case being a new player (of sorts) would enhance your gaming experience and maybe be required for this game (and us) to move on. Blizzard do a lot to convince us that it was us who lived in Azeroth, and they appear to be planning even more in that regard, but that is not actually true. They're still characters of their own, they get punched by the Old Gods and luckily not us.

Given it's only meant to be a reboot in a very soft way, I hope that there is a way to unite the fantasies of the hunter forming a spiritual bond to his or her pets, the loyal companions, and the hunter as a sensible and skilled master of beasts in general. After all, wild beasts are not reliable, they're free, and most likely will only come to aid the hunter agains a common foe or in the direst of situations.

If only it was that simple. But as I said in a conservation recently, we can't and shouldn't simply repeat now-stereotypical fantasy that existed for thirty years or more. Change is the right way. It is the way I got interested in Warcraft. I don't care that much for the similarities to Tolkien's fantasy. The night elves intrigued me for being led by women, being ferocious and being highly critical of magic (arcane magic, that is). They were a play on Tolkien's concept of elves, and a smart one. They aren't anymore, by the way. Dwarves had and have some unusual traits, too, although there's just one I can remember right now:  Instead of relying on axes, Warcraft's dwarves are very fond of shooting things. And trolls are rather small and slender compared to other incarnations of them.

Then there's another worry of mine regarding this change and changes of class fantasy in general: I wonder, if making a player change his or her spec wouldn't undermine the effort to make specs more meaningful. At some point, in supporting that kind of reasoning, we'd need to draw a line. Otherwise, we'd risk not being able to make specs as unique as required to reinvigorate them through new fantasy. For combat rogues for example, there's likely no alternative to changing specs. But I think, that I was less concerned when Marksmanship was announced to not have a pet at all because there still had been two specs to go to, while that change likely was the only option to introduce something resembling a classic ranger.

So I think, I've given all the different thoughts I have on this topic and I'm not sure on what Blizzard should do. I tend to suggesting a change in BM, however, although it vastly depends on how Blizzard want Legion to play out. Which I don't have any clue about. I think, they're sending mixed signals here.

PS: A reboot would need a better leveling experience.