I've done some more playing around with the beta so far, and I think I've got some more coherent thoughts on it.
First: as they currently stand in the beta, hunters are mostly the same.
Every spec has a their big nuke, and that nuke is hard-limited by a cooldown. Every spec uses a 2-second cast time focus generating shot and dumps excess focus using 1 or 2 abilities that don't have a cooldown. The differences between the specs, as I see them, are:
- BM managing Focus Fire and Bestial Wrath.
- MM maintaining their 15% haste buff.
- SV managing an additional cooldown (Black Arrow) and Lock and Load procs.
In fact, I'll go ahead and say that if the current Aspect of the Iron Hawk goes live as it is on beta and you don't take it, you're wrong. A flat 15% damage reduction that's on almost all the time renders the other choices nothing but traps. That will be the talent we'll look at to instantly dismiss hunters as being clueless or being worth a further look.
Obviously it's beta and that may change. Obviously I haven't used those abilities in a raid environment. Nevertheless, I find it hard to see any counter-arguments against them as of yet.
Third: glyph choices have some fun tradeoffs, but I think there are going to end up being standard PvE glyphs as well. They've turned the Cataclysm MM talent Marked for Death into a glyph, and I think it's probable that most raiding hunters are going to take that glyph.
I'm also pretty sure that not taking the glyph that adds another 20% damage reduction on to Deterrence would also be a mistake.
The third major glyph spot seems more up for grabs. I'm currently using the glyph that strips DoTs from anything that hits a freezing trap. It's not super useful in the beta at the moment - no one uses CC in the one dungeon that's available - but it may be a good choice for heroic trash mobs.
Or it may not. We'll have to see how the release heroics are tuned when Pandaria goes live.
Miscellaneous thoughts: I can't get a good feel for the Call Beast talent right now, because it's bugged and has no cooldown and no cost.
Lynx Rush felt great as a BM hunter on the Sha of Doubt - it ate really significant chunks of health off of all the adds in a hurry.
Binding Shot also feels pretty good. It's instant with no travel time, and I think it's going to be a near-universal choice for hunters in PvP. Take the following with a grain of salt because I am not a PvP hunter, but: the class is looking very strong to me with the current toolkit. Lots of survivability, lots of control, lots of utility, no minimum range. I wouldn't be surprised to see hunters considered a dominant class in the first season of Pandaria's arenas and RBGs.
Unrelated to hunters: I love the animations for female Pandaren monk healing. Love. Love love love them. And their animations for fighting, for that matter. I am almost certainly going to roll one when the pandatimes strike. Who knows if I'll level cap her or anything, but they really do look absolutely amazing. I can not give the art and animation teams enough accolades on this one.
I've been taking some screenshots, but of course they're on my desktop at home. I'll comb through them and see if any are worth posting tomorrow.
I have to say folks, I'm actually really optimistic and excited for this expansion. How's everyone else feeling?