I've said on this very site at least a dozen times that I think survival should be a melee class. Despite the title I actually still do believe that. Survival should have been made as melee. The issue I have is that should is past tense. When they were first created if they were melee it would have been fine. But you can not change them now, it is just not right.
I am not just saying this because I do not think survival should be changed without giving any reason. While I do always voice my opinion I also always have a reason for my opinion and I am not shy about sharing it agree with me or not.
1) Too Late Blizzard:
Classes change, specs change, it is all part of the game but no class ever in the history of the game has ever had to change what the class actually does. Except maybe the death knight that used to be able to tank on all three specs and DPS on all three. But they do not count because no spec was ever fully declared a tank spec or a DPS spec, it was just a hero class that could do whatever it wanted.
Hunters have already been subjected to the largest change any class has had to go through when they changed from mana to focus. So it is not like the hunter community is not capable to rolling with the punches, we have been doing it for the past 10 years.
A change like this however is much bigger than even changing the resources of the hunter. No class ever in the history of the game has had to change like this and none should have to. They have never changed a healing class into a DPS class, a tanking class into a healing class, a DPS class into tank or healer class, a melee class into a ranged class or a ranged class into a melee class. That is because you just do not do things like that.
If you change something like this with a new class on the beta it would be fine but you can not change something that has been in game for 10+ years.
2) Taking Away Choice:
It might seem odd that I am saying that adding melee to the hunter class is actually taking away choice. While it is true that they are actually adding the option to play melee at the same time they taking away the players choice. Sometimes adding an option actually means they are taking away choice. This is a case of that.
There are many players in the game that roll their class because they do not want to do something. People that roll a class that can't heal so they can never be asked to heal. People that roll a class that can't tank so they don't have to be asked to tank. People that roll a class that can't play at range so they can't be asked to go to ranged. And last but not least, people that roll a class that can't melee so they can't be asked to go into melee.
While it is true that there are two classes that already have both a melee and ranged specs, but these specs were like this from their first release, people that roll them roll them knowing that. It is not changing thing so people that roll those classes know what they are in for from the beginning.
Bottom line is that there are a great many people that rolled hunters so they could never be asked to tank, heal, or be in melee. If that is the reason someone rolled a hunter it is extremely wrong to take that choice away from them, to have their class not be asked to go into melee.
3) Adding is Better Than Taking Away:
I will start this by saying I feel bad for warlocks who lost a key abilities from one of their specs so that they could create an entire new class around that one ability. It just feels wrong and it should never happen.
If blizzard really wanted to add a melee spec for hunters it should have been added as a forth spec. Only earlier this week , before the announcement oddly enough, I wrote a post that I never liked survival and that was in part because it always felt like it should be a melee spec. That is only one elves opinion however, there are a massive amount of people that play hunters out there that love survival.
Change happens, it will always happen, it is part of the game, but changing how a spec works is fine, changing what a spec is, is wrong. When large changes like this are made they will always be met better if they were additions to the game, such as in a forth spec, than a removal from the game, which is removing ranged survival and replacing it with melee survival. No one likes losing stuff, everyone likes getting stuff. Hunter will lose survival, the ranged spec, and that sucks.
Lets not worry about balance in PvP right now, lets talk about something a lot simpler. What happens if survival becomes the best raiding spec?
Tens of thousands of hunters game wide will either be stuck trying to learn how to play in melee, and trust me it is a lot of learning because it is a completely different style of game play if someone has never done it before, or they can continue to play a sub par spec because they refuse to be in melee, or they could quit the class completely even if they did not want to do so because they would rather play at ranged.
People who roll hunters do so knowing they are a ranged class with pets. People that do not like having pets do not roll hunters. People that like being in melee do not roll hunters. These are just the basics of the game.
If survival is ever the best spec for hunters to be you will surely see a lot of people quitting their hunter and leaving it to rot. The hunter class is a great class, the hunter community is a great community, and people should never be put into the situation where they feel they have to learn a brand new play style this late in the game or quit their class and leave their community behind.
Better players will adjust and do it, but the vast majority of players will just quit playing a hunter or play a sub par spec. They should never be put into that situation.
There are already too many melee classes, there is a new melee hero class being added that will have a lot of people playing it, and now survival is adding even more to that clutter in the melee pool.
Many fights are melee unfriendly. While I am lucky in my guild were we have a boatload of hunters, mages and locks, many guilds get into trouble on some fights because they have too many melee and there are many melee unfriendly fights. So why add more clutter to the already cluttered melee scene?
If, as in the above, survival becomes the best spec for hunters than that just adds more melee to the game. Personally I think the next hero class should have been a healer / ranged class, but being it is going to be melee this is the worst time they should be considering changing one ranged spec into a melee one. Not like I think any time would be a good one, but that is beside the point, this time is the worst time to do so when you are already adding a melee class you know everyone and their mother is going to want to play. They are effectively adding two now classes of clutter to an already full zone, the melee zone.
Every type of weapon in the game is getting the artifact treatment. Beast mastery hunters are getting a gun and marksman hunters are getting a bow so it would only make sense for the survival hunter to get the crossbow.
Oddly enough, this should be a good reason alone to keep survival as a ranged. They are the only other spec in the game that could use the crossbow and there is at least one of each type of weapon as an artifact, why now have one with a crossbow as well.
The gun fits well with the opening cinematic of the game in vanilla for beast mastery, that works perfectly. A bow really fits the marksman feel, light, quiet, and deadly. And the crossbow with its compact power can fit well as the survival toolbox of powerful traps and a powerful weapon.
Add the that, it fits with the fact they are the only spec that can use it and all other weapons are getting the artifact treatment, it just makes sense to let the survival stay at ranged and use it and maybe, just maybe, if they plan on changing survival, do it in another expansion. Let them stay ranged for this class, let there be a crossbow artifact, and let hunters get another expansion as a pure ranged class.
I know these bullet points might not be the best, and will surely have absolutely zero impact on blizzard and will not change their opinion on changing the survival spec into melee, but maybe if we speak up, they might at least consider it.
Please blizzard, let survival stay ranged and give them a crossbow artifact. It is the right thing to do. If you really do desperately want hunters to have a melee spec, add a forth spec. And I am saying this as someone that does not like survival, so I am sure that the people that do like do not want to see it changed either for a much better reason that the six I gave. They like that spec and they like that spec being at ranged. That is the best and biggest reason not to change it.