The hunter is the only class in the game that can deal effective damage with bows, crossbows, and guns. These are available to other classes, but only do token damage and are chiefly used for ranged pulling, while they are the Hunter’s main weapons. A Hunter’s DPS and ranged attack rating scale as they increase in level, much like a Warrior’s attack power scales with melee weapons. In addition, Hunters gain many special abilities with ranged weapons that either cause extra damage or help control the enemy in some way (slowing, stunning, increased miss chance, etc.).
By contrast, hunters do not gain significant attack abilities with melee weapons. While certainly more deadly in melee combat than most spellcasters, the Hunter will be outmatched in a serious swordfight (or axefight, fisticuffs, etc.). Close-range combat is not a strength for Hunters and is avoided as much as possible. Before patch 2.3 there was a minimum range for the use of ranged weapons referred to as the “dead zone.” This referred to an area that lay just beyond melee range and just before ranged attack range where the hunter was unable to attack. It was often exploited in PvP combat and has since been removed.
The Hunter is able to tame many animals from the wild and use them as pets, a central aspect of the class. They are the only class allowed to name their pets, but note that names are semi-permanent and need not be assigned right away, so choose carefully. (To change a pet’s name, you will need a [Certificate of Ownership].)
The Hunter class is the most well adapted class for solo play, and is often considered to be the easiest and fastest leveling class. In solo play, the Hunter will send the pet to engage the enemy and shoot the enemy from a distance during the fight. Keeping the enemy focused on the pet, rather than running back to the hunter, is a balancing act Hunters must master to play effectively. Hunters can keep pets throughout the life of the character if desired; pets level with the Hunter and can be trained in new abilities as the Hunter learns them. Specializing in [Exotic Beasts] can ultimately give the pet considerable destructive power.
Hunters also have the ability to lay traps, which can either damage or crowd control the target. Hunters are often expected to use their freezing trap in group situations to help with crowd control.
In groups, Hunters are usually considered damage dealers, using their normal modus operandi to hit the target (pet engages, hunter shoots). In instances, the skilled Hunter can often be very useful at pulling, as the Hunter has the ability to cancel the encounter using the [Feign Death] ability, presuming it is not resisted and the group is far enough away. It should be noted however that Hunters must be practiced at controlling their pets in instances for reasons of aggro control, knowing when and how to keep the pet restrained so as not to interfere with other group members’ duties.
In PvP, Hunters have traditionally specialized in ranged damage (Marksmanship) and traps (Survival), but this has been turned around thanks to the changes made to the talent trees and pet skills in Wrath of the Lich King. Beast Master tends to be a caster-killer build, thanks to all the pet damage boosts. Survival is more of a heavy-armor killer, since the powerful and dangerous [Explosive Shot] deals pure fire damage and ignores armor. Marksmanship is the middle ground, but still dangerous thanks to [Silencing Shot] and Chimera Shot.
If you think you would enjoy controlling a pet, using crowd control, generating high powered burst damage, and tackling difficult encounters by yourself, the Hunter may be a great choice.
Thanks to: Gamepedia