I don’t mean which new families you’d like to see (though it's fine if you mention them as a small part of an overall restructure), but rather what restructuring of families and their abilities do you think are neeeded?
Here's what I've been thinking so far:
1. Multiple family specs again
Allow families to switch specs again. If not all three specs then at least allow access to two of the three. Say, if you think foxes shouldn't tank then at least give them options of Cunning and Ferocity, Bears could be Ferocity and Tenacity, etc. This would allow for at least some customization and adaptability.
If we have a two-spec system, one possibility would be to simply give every family access to Ferocity, plus one other spec. So the decision would be down to whether a family leans more towards Cunning or Tenacity as its second spec.
2. Merge some families
We now have 56 pet families, which makes it less attractive to add more, even when they're warranted. But there are some that could be merged to make room.
Note: Some of these cases would blend Exotic and non-Exotic families, but see my point 3 below on that...
- Merge Carrion Birds into Birds of Prey. They made sense as separate families back when there weren't many. Now their distinctions aren't very important and it's mostly just confusing which bird belongs where.
- Merge Wolves, regular Dogs and Foxes to make a Canine or Hound family.
- Split off darkhounds and runehounds from Dogs and instead merge them with Core Hounds and Guarm-type helhounds to make a Helhound (or Doom Hound or Nether Hound?) family of supernatural hounds. They all have a lot in common. Most of them have horns, a number of them have multiple heads, most have a demonic or underworld flavour to them. Also, Helhounds are referred to as "hounds" in almost every place they're used, so it makes no sense for them to become Hydras purely because of their skeleton.
- Merge Silithids into Ravagers (retain the name Ravagers). Especially since Draenor, these creatures have a lot of similarities.
- Place kunchong in the Ravager family too, or split them off into a family of their own, along with Silithid Colossi.
- Move the "sandreaver" (creepy-crawly) model from Silithids to Krolusks, and add the Gorms to make a "segmented crawler" type family. They have a lot of similarities.
- Merge Raptors and Devilsaurs. They're both the same size as pets so there's little difference between them in the game.
- Maybe merge Dragonhawks into Wind Serpents? They're both winged and feathered flying serpents.
- I'd kinda like to merge Goats, Oxen and Stags into a horned and hooved family, but I'm unsure how to sort out the mess. And if they stay separate, antelopes belong with goats rather than deer- they’re all closely related.
3. Untether families from the "Exotic" definition and change the meaning of "Exotic"
The original definition of "Exotic" doesn't make as much sense these days. When the category was created we had far fewer weird-and-wonderful creatures, but now we're in a situation where any hunter can tame fantastic fire birds and spiders, but only one spec can tame mundane clefthooves. The Exotic category is also troublesome in gameplay, as it makes non-exotic families a less-attractive option for BM hunters. I propose:
- Don't make any family Exotic in its entirety.
- Allow all three hunter specs to use all families.
- Give Beast Mastery hunters a second family ability (or some other bonus) for all families. Thus, Beast Mastery would become less about being able to tame more things and more about getting more performance out of any pet. Doing this would close the gap in viability between current exotic and non-exotic families. This wouldn't be so hard to achieve, and some of the existing exotic abilities could be recycled / modified for the other families.
- Exotic pet types: Some hunters still prefer that a subset of pets remain exclusive to BM. If the class designers opt for this they could classify certain unusual looks or models within a family as "exotic". "Exotic" would then come to mean purely "Beast Mastery only" and not necessarily imply more abilities than other pet families have. As a theoretical example, wolves are usable by all hunters, but a cinder wolf (if it ever becomes tameable) might not be. Unusual looks that are already tameable by all hunters would have to be grandfathered in, so I'm not suggesting anyone loses the use of their existing fire spider! Making this change would allow for much greater control in which pets become restricted.
- 'Spirit' types: I propose dissolving Spirit Beasts as a separate family and making each a "Spirit" type within their related families (all existing spirit beasts have regular family counterparts they can join). "Spirit" types could be treated as Exotic and remain BM-only. For abilities they'd get the regular ability of their related family (so a spirit wolf would get the wolf family ability) and an exotic 'spirit' ability that is common to all spirit beasts, for BM players. I thought this proposal would be the most controversial, but the replies have been pretty supportive!
4. Other classes/types/tags for special types of creatures (cross-family)
Certain other types of creatures could receive special 'type' or 'class' tags to distinguish them and give them different gameplay mechanics, while remaining in their regular families. These might be given distinctive secondary abilities for BM, (and some could optionally be made BM-only, though I'm not proposing that for all). For example:
- 'Deathly': a bunch of deathly boars, oxen, chimaeras, rocs etc. are coming in Shadowlands, and they're being placed within regular families. These could be tagged/classed as "deathly"/"necrotic"/"undead" and be given a secondary ability like an instant revive, or a necrotic plague DoT.
- There's potential for future elemental subclasses, like Fire or Void.
5. Even out family abilities
All families need to be useful. Raiders shouldn't feel restricted to just a few. Which family abilities are currently too powerful or too useless and unabalance their usage? I’d be curious what your experiences are with these.
6. Family ability customization per NPC?
This is more a rough idea for the future, and not an immediate wishlist one. And perhaps it's too much effort for too little gain, but I'm noting it here anyway....
Sometimes creatures within a family should have wildly different damage types depending on their wild NPC. Like there are chimaeras that breathe frost and others that breathe fire, or wind serpents that breathe fire or poison. I wonder if family abilities could be modified to allow customization for these situations - maybe different animations or wording depending on how the NPC is set in the database? Hmmm.