As we’ve kicked off the Battle for Azeroth Alpha, we’ve seen a lot of discussion about the new way Hunter pets work. While we’re by no means finished, we have reached a place where we want to share some insight into our plans and explain some of what you might see in development as Alpha continues.
Our primary thoughts on pets going forward:
- Move past the idea of a DPS/Tank pet specialization
In Battle for Azeroth, all pets will have equal damage, health, and armor. All can tank or DPS equally. Choosing to put a particular pet into “Tank spec” feels outdated, so we’re going to shift all pets to a setup that will work as though they’re specced into both Ferocity and Tenacity (in Legion terms). All offensive and defensive passive abilities such as Blood of the Rhino and Combat Training will be rolled into every pet by default. Charge will be removed, and all pets will have Growl and Dash/Swoop. Some spec-specific actives will be redistributed where appropriate. We are keeping the names Ferocity, Tenacity, and Cunning as the broad groups that all families fall into. They are no longer changeable, and each has a new passive and active ability that are useful in almost any situation.
- Maintain and/or reinstate pet family uniqueness
Pet family flavor is part of what makes selecting a companion unique and special, and want to emphasize that even more. A special ability has been added to all pet families that were missing one. Exotic Pets still have their unique ability (like Surface Trot
) in addition to a new ability. Pure flavor abilities that many pets have are also staying like Trick
- Expanding access to Bloodlust, and the removal of Battle Res from pets
In Legion, all Hunters have access to Bloodlust and Battle Res, but they only exist among a handful of families, which leads to very narrow options. To that end, Bloodlust will be available on roughly a third of the tamable pet families rather than just two. In a world where we are proliferating abilities to many families, our first inclination was to add Battle Res to a separate third of those families. After seeing that landscape, it felt odd to fully embrace Resurrection as part of the Hunter kit. Further, moving into Battle for Azeroth, we are solidifying Bloodlust and Battle Res as the strong shared cooldowns that a group can bring - one offense, one defense. In that world, Hunters having access to both of the super powerful group benefits didn’t feel appropriate.
- A variety of pet ability packages
It’s important to acknowledge that some hunters want to maximize their impact with their pet, while others are collectors who want a pet for every occasion. There should be opportunities to cleverly swap from one pet to another in a given situation and reap the benefit. At the same time, the Hunter who has grown attached to their spider named Fluffy should feel effective across the game. We’re going to try to ensure that every pet package is attractive, with a unique combination of benefits that work in many situations.
Here are some specifics of the Battle for Azeroth design for Hunter pets:
There are currently 51 pet families, and each family will be categorized as Ferocity
, or Cunning
. Each will have an active and a passive, and the active will be a Hunter class button that changes contextually with your active pet.
Master's Call (Active – a friendly target and your pet are immune to root and moment impairing effects for 4 seconds with a 45 second cooldown)
- Pathfinding (Passive - 8% movement speed for you and your pet)
Each pet family will get one of six different abilities, and each ability will have a unique name themed to the family. Precedented abilities such as Ankle Crack - 50% Snare
, Monstrous Bite - Healing Reduction Debuff
, Shell Shield – 50% Reduced Damage Taken
, Agile Reflexes - 30% Dodge
, and Thick Hide – Reduced Damage Taken at Low Health
already exist in the game, and we’re exploring adding something similar to Tranquilizing Shot
to the list.
While this does create a landscape where there may only be a handful of families that exactly fit the combination of tools you prefer, each family was chosen with variety as a premium. There are winged creatures, predators, grazers, and more represented across as many abilities as possible, while keeping them thematically appropriate.
For two specific examples: a Spirit Beast in Battle for Azeroth still has Spirit Mend
and Spirit Walk
, and will gain Endurance Training
and Survival of the Fittest
. They also have a new ability, Spirit Shock
, that dispels magic and soothes enraged enemies. Cats, on the other hand, gain Catlike Reflexes
– a 30% dodge cooldown – in addition to Primal Rage
and Predator's Thirst
. Both are able to tank or DPS equally.
Nowadays, only about half of the pet families out there have a useful ability, and we want to improve on that. In Battle for Azeroth, Bloodlust will be much more prominent, so Hunters should no longer feel bound to Core Hounds and Nether Rays as their best options. Most importantly, these changes should result in a pet landscape where all pets can serve as dps or tank as well as they could in Legion.
Please remember that all of the above, especially the numbers, are subject to change as we test in the Battle for Azeroth Alpha. Feel free to discuss anything related to Hunter pets here. We really appreciate your feedback!