The Hunter is one of the most straightforward classes in LOTRO. Find a foe, focus up, and kill it with arrows! If your enemy didn’t die, then kill them with dual melee weapons! In groups, allies will help keep enemies from ever getting into melee range, allowing Hunters to focus on their bows. Overall, this makes the Hunter fun, effective, and easy to play.
Advanced players will learn how to customise themselves through trait lines and item selection to add variety. They can use the crowd control aspects of the class to enhance their ability to solo, or optimize their attack patterns to enhance damage in group play. However, as the Hunter was intentionally designed to avoid complexity, the differences between the trait lines are a little shallow.
So, this brings us to the Hunter updates for Update 2. As with most updates, I like to start with the high level goals and then focus on how we are attempting to achieve them in various areas.
Our high level goals are as follows:
- Keep the Hunter a straightforward class, but add more places for advanced players to excel
- Ensure all three trait lines are attractive and reduce the number of “filler” traits
- Enhance underused skills instead of adding new skills
- General maintenance (bugfixes, tooltip enhancements, new class items etc.)
The Bow Master line was focused on increasing the damage bonus in Strength Stance while increasing the Threat and Power penalties to compensate. This caused Strength Stance to be very potent when soloing, as threat didn’t matter and Power could regenerate between fights. Group play was more difficult for Bow Masters, as the increased threat held their full damaging potential back while the greater Power consumption left them constantly begging for more Power.
The main changes to the Bow Master trait line focus on these two issues; and the most noticeable change is to the set bonuses. We are reducing the damage bonus in the line from 15% to 10%, while reducing the Power penalty from -25% to -10% and reducing the threat penalty from +15% to 0%! This will slightly decrease the top potential damage Bow Masters can achieve but will increase the effective damage they can unload. Lowering the Power drain and removing the Threat penalty will allow Bow Masters to unload damage more aggressively in a group situation.
Heart Seeker is another one of the big changes in this line. The skill was introduced a long time ago as a way to drop a LOT of damage in short time with a long cooldown. Unfortunately, level bumps and the introduction of Legendary Items caused Heart Seeker’s damage per second (DPS) to be less and less attractive. In the time a Heart Seeker induction could be completed, significant damage could be dealt by auto-attacks and other skills. Heart Seeker remains the highest damaging opener in the entire game, which gives it incredible utility in PvMP but is not often used in PvE. With this update, we’ve decided to lower the induction time and damage of Heart Seeker in a way to allow its DPS to slide higher up. In addition, we’re slashing its cooldown and giving it some combo abilities with Barbed Arrow. With these changes, we hope to make Heart Seeker a useful part of a Bow Master’s combat rotations.
The last major changes are centered on Burn Hot, which keep with the general theme of the line -- reduce the theoretical max damage and increase usability. Tweaks to the base skill and the Legeandary traited version leave this as a skill that can be used more frequently, will not leave you out of Power, and will even reduce the Power cost of skills instead of increase them!
Beyond these changes, a few other traits and skills have various tweaks. There are a few interesting builds that can be achieved with a mix of traits from Bow Master and one or two traits from other lines. Set Bonuses
- 2 Equipped: +10% Bow Critical Multiplier
- 3 Equipped: +3% Strength Stance Damage, +3% Strength Stance Power Cost, +15% Barbed Arrow Initial Damage
- 4 Equipped: +7% Strength Stance Damage, +7% Strength Stance Power Cost, -60 sec Heart Seeker cooldown
- Shot Through the Heart: The critical hit bonus has been removed. Instead, the trait will make Heart Seeker remove the Barbed Arrow bleed on a foe and deal additional damage (like Scourging Blow).
- Swift and True: Adds additional damage to the 3rd attack of Improved Swift Bow.
- Deadly Precision: Moved to Huntsman line, in favor of Fast Draw.
- Fast Draw: Added to Bow Master Line.
- Cool Burn: Burn Hot now reduces bow skill Power cost by 80% for the duration. Cooldown reduced to 2 minutes. Damage bonus is now +20%, bringing the total damage to +40%.
- Quality of Mercy: Renamed to Swift Mercy. Each usage of Swift Bow reduces the focus cost of the next Merciful Shot by 1, can stack up to 6 times.
- Barbed Fury: No longer increases the duration of Barbed Arrow. Instead, increases the damage of each pulse.
- Heart Seeker: Induction reduced to 3 seconds. Cooldown decreased to 2 minutes. Damage add decreased and bow contribution increased, causing a net damage decrease but a DPS increase.
- Burn Hot: Cooldown reduced to 5 minutes. Power is no longer zeroed out at the end of the effect. Power Cost Penalty reversed; Burn Hot now reduces Power costs by 20%. Damage bonus reduced to 20%. Power cost to activate skill is now 20% of max Power.
- Penetrating Shot: Can be used while moving.
The Huntsman line is all about Power, Focus and speed. In the Book 3 update, these same specialties remain, but we’ve attempted to refine them; to differentiate them from the Bow Master line. Of the three trait lines, Huntsman is the least in need of major changes. It is able to deal consistent damage and has the least Power issues. Most of the changes in this set actually focus around making some of the bonuses that exist here accessible to all sets, while granting Huntsmen new specialties of their own.
The biggest change is Fleet Stance. This toggle skill is looked down on by many Hunters and is rarely used. The main reason for this is not because the bonuses that Fleet Stance grants are bad, but because they are mutually exclusive with the other three Hunter stances -- each of which has arguably more attractive bonuses. Buffing Fleet Stance further could make it more desirable, but we decided to take a different approach. Instead of keeping it a stance, it is being changed into a buff that costs Focus, much like Needful Haste. While the Focus cost is fairly steep, Huntsmen are more than capable of generating the high amounts of Focus needed to maintain this buff, which will increase their damage and mobility.
Another significant change is to Strength of the Earth. This skill returns incredible amounts of Power to the Hunter, but requires a long induction before beginning to function. Huntsmen were able to remove this induction and further increase the Power regeneration, which could then single-handedly fill a Hunter from no Power to max in a few seconds. We’ve decided to remove the induction completely from the skill, and re-balance its Power return rate and duration to allow non-Huntsmen to use it more easily.
A very exciting change is to Bow and Blade. This trait allowed the Hunter’s melee skills to utilize their off-hand weapon. This ability is being removed from the trait and will be granted to all Hunters, all the time! All Hunter melee skills will now use their main and off-hand weapon without the need for this trait.
The rest of the changes to the line focus on, well, Focus! Generating and spending large amounts of Focus is the real strength of the Huntsman. Trait Set Bonuses
- 2 Equipped: +2s before Focus loss from Movement
- 3 Equipped: -10% Bow Inductions, Strength of the Earth gives Morale regen and increased Power
- 4 Equipped: -10% Bow Inductions, 15% chance for Quick Shot to generate an extra pip of Focus
- Improved Fleet Stance: Renamed to Improved Fleetness. Adds -15% Bow Inductions. Increases duration to 30 seconds. Increases move speed to 10%.
- Fast Draw: Moved to the Bow Master line, in favor of Deadly Precision.
- Deadly Precision: Added to the Huntsman line
- Bow and Blade: Repurposed into Barbed Hindrance and added to the Trapper of Foes line. All Hunters now have a secondary strike on all melee skills.
- Deep Concentration: Added to the Hunstman line
- Rapid Recovery: Reduces Dazing Blow cooldown by 10 seconds, reduces all other melee skills cooldowns by 2 seconds.
Trapper of Foes
- Strength of the Earth: Initial induction removed, regardless of trait line. Power return slightly increased, duration now 5 seconds.
- Fleet Stance: Renamed to Fleetness. No longer a stance, now a 15 second buff. Costs 6 Focus. Removes Focus loss on movement and reduces miss chance while moving by 60%. Increases move speed by 10%. Power cost increased.
- Press Onward: Now always usable in combat, with a flat 5 minute cooldown. Power and Health restoration changed from a flat 3000 to a lower number that scales with level.
- Bright Campfire: Regen numbers increased.
The Trapper line is one of the most transformative trait lines in the game. Its closest comparison would be the Lore-master Master of Nature’s Fury line. Both give significant access to a new group role, while restricting their original group role. For the Trapper, the line reduces damage for increased crowd control (CC), while for the Lore-master their line reduces CC for increased damage. For this Book we have looked at the Trapper line and decided its damage and CC ability could both be increased without the line becoming overly potent.
First, we reduced the damage penalty in the trait line from -25% to -15%. Now, some players feel that the penalty should be removed completely, as do a few members of the dev team. In the end, we decided that a decrease in the penalty coupled with an increase in CC abilities would be a safe first step. We will be looking hard at the Trapper line post-Book 3 to see if it finds more of its niche.
Another big change is the 4 set bonus now makes Purge Poison affect your whole fellowship at once. Hunter have long asked for such an upgrade to Purge Poison. We feel that putting this upgrade in the Trapper line is the right fit. Hunters will not have to dedicate a trait slot to the upgrade, but only the more support focused Hunters will have access to it.
The last big change is for Distracting Shot. When traited with Explosive Arrow, the cooldown will now be 30 seconds, allowing you to chain daze a foe. With the changes in this Book, we expect the Trapper line to be able to both provide both more Support and more DPS then it has in the past. Trait Set Bonuses
- 2 Equipped: +60 in-Combat Power Regen
- 3 Equipped: Rain of Thorns Target Root Resist Rating, -50% Trap Skill Inductions, -5% Ranged Damage
- 4 Equipped: Purge Poison becomes an AOE, Penetrating Shot roots with a 15 second Cooldown, -30s Trap Skill Cooldowns, -10% Ranged Damage
- Deep Concentration: Moved to the Hunstman line, in favor of Bow and Blade. Do note, that Bow and Blade is being repurposed, as listed below.
- Bow and Blade: Added to the Trapper, and renamed Barbed Hindrance. Increases the slow effect on Barbed Arrow from 10% to 40%. Remember that only the highest slow effect on a target takes effect.
- Explosive Arrow: Cooldown now reduced by -150 seconds, which makes Distracting Shot a 30sec cooldown for a 30sec daze.
- Purge Poison: The facing requirement has been removed, and the cure effect has been pushed to the front of the animation, causing it to happen faster.
We are intentionally not making massive changes to Hunter Legacies. This update is significantly changing a number of skills, especially with regards to cooldowns. Post Update 2, we expect adventurous Hunters to experiment with different skill rotations and trait combinations. At a time like this, we feel making major revisions to Legacies would be premature. As such, the changes are mostly reactions to skills changing, or general buffs on legacies that were lackluster. Bow
- Quick Shot Critical Rating – Increased
- Burn Hot Damage – Increased to 10%
- Heart Seeker Damage – Increased to 20%
- Distracting Shot Cooldown – Decreased to -15s (with the global decrease on the cooldown, the next cooldown after having this mod will be lower than in pre-Book 3)
- Blindside Critical Rating – Increased
- Low Cut Bleed Chance – increased to 50%
- Agile Rejoinder Heal Chance – Increased to 100%
- Traited Intent Concentration Power Bonus – Increased to 30%
- Press Onward Cooldown – Decreased to 90 seconds
And that’s it
- We’ve made a writing pass on all trait and skill tooltips to increase readability
- New Tier 5 and 6 recipes added for Wind-rider and Whisper-draw books
- Wind-rider tier 5 and 6 do not increase Power % reduction further. They instead add +Max Power.
- Whisper-draw tier 5 and 6 increase threat reduction and grant +Max Morale.
- As discussed in the Burglar dev diary, damage over time effects will now gain the damage type of your weapon. This will affect Barbed Arrow.