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Hands On with Legion’s Demon Hunter

William Murphy Posted:
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The Demon Hunter is World of Warcraft’s new Hero Class coming with the Legion expansion sometime in the summer of 2016 (here’s hoping sooner rather than later). At BlizzCon 2015, we got our hands on the new class and played through its introductory zone, Mardum – The Shattered Abyss.

The introductory zones tells the story of where you, one of the Illidari came from as a Night Elf or Blood Elf. You’ll play through a tutorial of sorts on Mardum, a planet that serves as a prison for Demons. This 98-100 leveling process (which takes about an hour) helps you learn the key spells of the class, but when it ends you’re imprisoned with Illidan by a baddie known as Maeiv Shadowsong. You may remember her from Draenor, and WoW lore fans know her from the RTS and the War of the Ancients as well.

So when you begin life at 100, you’ve been freed (along with Illidan) by the Horde and Alliance, but our demo stopped right as the fight on Mardum came to a close.  The zone of Mardum, if it’s any indication of what we can expect from the “scaling zones” of Legion, is really well done.  You’ll work your way towards amassing an army with Illidan and using them to free prisoner Illidari and destroying siege weapons.

A lot of the lessons learned from Draenor zone adventures is employed here.  You’ll see elites on the map denoted by stars, usually given a sort of mission or story-based event tied to them. Whether this sort of presentation is kept for all other elites going on we’ll have to see, but it’s nice here. A prison warden whipping some naga is just begging to be taken out. And if you beat him, you get some nice loot in return. 

The class itself is a blast to play. As the teaser site says, the Demon Hunter has far more mobility than any other class in WoW. You can double jump (hello, WildStar) as well as glide (hello Aion, Guild Wars 2, Blade & Soul). Plus one of the first skills you get is something called Fel Rush, which charges forward doing fire damage to anyone in your path. This works pretty well in most cases, but it doesn’t path well up hills and stops often short of your target. Get used to zooming past enemies and turning around to attack.

Spectral Sight is one of your other key features, a spell that slows you down like Stealth, but instead of making you invisible it makes every enemy and treasure around you visible --- no matter if they’re behind walls or stealthed themselves.  It’s fantastic in practice, and I can imagine it’ll be great in PVP. But not sure how many applications it’ll have in PVE.

There’s a pretty sweet passive skill for the DH too. Shattered Souls means anytime you kill an enemy that gets experience or honor, they’re likely to leave behind a soul fragment. If you pick it up it’ll heal you for 25% of your total health. If they’re demons that leave the souls, it’ll also increase your damage by 20% for 15 seconds. Chain killing will be nuts for the Demon Hunter, that’s for sure.

They’re also a leather-wielding Tank/DPS class. Most of the way through the starter zone you’ll get your choice of Mastery to follow: Havoc (the DPS and only playable one here) or the Vengeance tank spec. These play into the skills you get later in the game, as well as the Metamorphosis skills you use. The hellish demon form (on a ten minute cooldown) either makes you insanely powerful or insanely formidable depending on your mastery. Think “ultimate” skill and you get the idea. 

One of my favorite skills was the Eye Beam though. It’s a channeled frontal AOE spell that does insane amounts of fire damage in front of you. I mean insane damage. It’s on a 45 second cool down, so it’s really only good every couple fights, but when you want to burn down a bunch of lesser mobs fast it’s absolutely welcome.  You also get interrupts and silences, but there wasn’t much use for them just yet.

Overall, the Demon Hunter was impressive. If you loved the Death Knight when it came out with Lich King, you’ll love this class. It’s far more entertaining than the previous new class (Monk), and seems to have the right mix of mobility and flashy skills to make you feel powerful.  Stylistically they’re gorgeous, even if you’re basically all cosplaying Illidan.  The metamorphosis into your fel form is great, as is the gliding animation of your wings popping out as you take to the air.  The one thing that seems weird is the size of the Glaives you duel-wield as the Demon Hunter. They’re massive on your back. If people make fun of WoW shoulderpads, they’re going to have a field day with the glaives.  I’d like to see them scaled down a bit, but they’re the class’ silhouette identifier, so I doubt it’ll change. 

In all, I definitely can see myself playing this class after I get my original main (Orc Hunter) to the new cap come launch. Now… what other class do I want to instantly boost to 100? Legion is due to release in the summer of 2016. Hopefully Blizzard will run some cool events leading up to the new expansion, or at least give us a reason to keep logging in for now. Summer is a long way away. Oh, and the Fel Saber mount is damn cool. Just saying.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.