When Destiny first launched, or even as far back as the first-look Alpha and Beta, most players instantly fell in love with a particular class of Guardian. There was the magical Warlock, whose Radiance ability looked to be, quite literally, a lifesaver; the hulking Titan, whose melee punch and Fist of Havoc smash were devastating and brutish; and the nimble Hunter, whose primary focus was on precision and stealth.
As with any MMO, or in this case MMO-lite, picking a particular class comes down to personal preference and play style, but with Destiny the choice was a little less clear. Because each class could use every weapon type, the choice ultimately came down to the abilities of the Warlock, Titan, or Hunter, or in some cases which one simply looked the coolest, design-wise.
Hunters at the Bottom
However, while those three distinct Destiny classes were all intriguing, eventually a hierarchy developed that put the Hunter at the bottom of the tier. By no means was the Hunter considered a terrible Destiny class, but when it came to utility for endgame content, many players labeled it as the weakest and least useful of the three classes.
Why exactly that happened is unclear, but it appears the Vault of Glass is partly to blame for the Hunter’s perceived lack of utility. With the hard mode version of the Vault of Glass, players found that the Warlock’s self revive became a huge help, as there was no revives in Hard mode, and the Titan’s Defender Bubble became a great double damage buff for killing Atheon quick. Not to mention, Titans have the highest armor in Destiny, and therefore can take the greatest beating.
And then there was the Hunter; left as the least viable option for Destiny’s most exciting content. Several times during my experience with the Vault of Glass, I was told that many players actively avoid inviting Hunters simply because they were a liability – they couldn’t take a lot of damage and their supers weren’t terribly useful. That isn’t to say Hunters are the worst class in total, but they certainly were at the bottom of the pecking order for specific instances.
For a while that trend continued, at least as far as PvE was concerned. For Crucible, the Hunter was always seen as an extremely viable class, easily one of the strongest no matter if the player is running Bladedancer or Gunslinger. Then something changed; Bungie took what was once the class that “no one wanted” for PvE and made it the most sought after class. What’s more, Bungie added a Crucible mode in Trials of Osiris that further exemplified the Hunter’s PvP prowess.
Hunter Swordbearers to the Rescue
It all started with Crota’s End, though, the second Destiny raid. At first, most of the classes were evenly matched, with Warlocks having the added boost of two lives per turn. But once players started facing off against Crota, it soon became clear that Hunters were the clear favorites for Swordbearers.
Thanks to the Bladedancer subclass’ invisibility perks, a Hunter could get right up close to Crota for the sword swings and not have to worry about getting hit. Then when the first round of hits was done, they could ‘Blink Strike’ Crota, turn invisible, and be able to get him again. It was the easiest Crota takedown by far and became an essential part of the equation when Crota’s End hard mode launched in January.
Sure, a Warlock and a Titan could take down Crota with a sword, but many teams valued the Hunter above all else. Where DestinyLFG was previously used to weed out Hunters, now there were posts requiring a Hunter – teams of 5 that needed one desperately to complete their Crota run.
Make no mistake, every class had its strengths and weaknesses; it was just that the Hunter soon became the go-to class for everything during The Dark Below DLC. And it was still a beast during PvP.
Trials of Osiris’ Greatest Weapon
Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, when Destiny launched the House of Wolves DLC and with it the Trials of Osiris event, and once again Hunters were back in the spotlight. Prison of Elders’ combat arenas didn’t necessarily favor any class over the other, although the self revive always comes in handy and the Titan’s ‘Weapons of Light’ Ward of Dawn is good for quick elemental burns. But it is Trials of Osiris’ tense 3v3 matches where the Hunters are the most deadly. Bladedancers and Gunslingers, if they are quick and strategic, can squash an entire 3-person team and take a round. And as any Trials PvP pro will tell you, winning just a single round is huge.
It took some time, but Bungie took Hunters from the bottom of the food chain to the top. No one can say whether that was intentional or by accident, but it’s fair to say that many of Destiny’s latter content offerings forced players to rethink their strategies. Hey, few Titans used their Ward of Dawn bubbles until realizing how important they are in raids.
Now those of us who do run Hunters can bask in the glory, and the rest tremble in fear. When you hear the pop of Gunslinger or Bladedancer, know that trouble is right around the corner.