The hunter forums currently hold many threads that claim that there is a new bug with Disengage. What is this bug?
The change that Blizzard made to Disengage in 4.3 is subtle but powerful. To explain what happened, and what all the complaining on the various forums is about, we have to first talk about how Disengage works.
Disengage is effectively a self-induced knockback. The game treats it as a very large jump, and you can make that jump off a cliff, over a shark, or into a wall. I use the word “jump” intentionally because, in terms of effects on the hunter, the game reads a Disengage and a jump in similar ways. The game reads the Disengaging hunter as being at the point that she Disengaged from until she lands. This means that effects that occur at that origination point can continue to affect the hunter despite the hunter being airborne and on the way to somewhere else. These effects include melee abilities, as I discuss in examples below.
The fresh complaints over Disengage relate to how CCs affect hunters while they are in the air. Some hunters complain that CCs are affecting them midflight, but this as a general principle this is not new. We have no immunities granted by Disengage and the knockback provides little protection from other movement-affecting effects like CCs and even other knockbacks. However, with 4.3, Disengage is getting overwritten in new ways and by new effects (at least to my knowledge).
While I was running arenas with a friend the other night, I disengaged off some stairs to get away from a warrior. The warrior cast Intimidating Shout as I was in the air. It affected me, owing to how the game reads my location mid-Disengage. Instead of being feared when I eventually landed, or just dropping out of the air like a stone, I actually reversed course and flew back to the stairs that I had Disengaged from. It was like getting Death Gripped. There was no full or even partial Disengage; instead, I was feared, my Disengage was on cooldown, and I was back in melee range of the warrior as if I had never moved.
In a different situation in a battleground, I was coincidentally again disengaging away from a warrior. He landed a Hamstring (a snare) on me while I was in the air and several yards out of melee range. This time, I did not get Death Gripped. Rather, I simply dropped like a stone midflight like this. There were about five debuffs on me at the time since I was defending a node alone, and so I can only say that Hamstring is my best guess from my glance at my debuffs as to what stopped my Disengage.
Posters in a thread over at the official forums suggest that my anecdotes reflect the way that things are working with Disengage these days. Different CCs affect us differently: roots, snares and stuns appear to cause a hunter to simply drop mid-Disengage. But other CCs cause us to get Death Gripped back to the launch point. I can vouch for fears doing this, and forum posters suggest that disorients do this too. I would speculate that this has to do with the ways in which CCs now overwrite Disengages. Since fears and disorients cause a character to need to actually move differently rather than simply canceling an existing form of movement, they could be Death Gripping hunters (in effect) rather than simply dropping them. Of course, I’m no programmer, so that is only a guess on my part.
Why this change with 4.3? It allegedly relates to a fix that Blizzard made to help warrior charges. For years and years, players were able to avoid warrior charges owing to the way that the game treats jumps (as described above). If a warrior charged a player while he or she was in the air, the warrior would charge to the location that the player jumped from rather than to where the player was or where the player landed. This was, understandably, a problem for warriors. Blizzard apparently did something to fix warrior charges in 4.3 that allows the warrior to path correctly to a target that moved during the charge. This somehow changed the way that jumps were treated by incoming effects and, allegedly, also affected Disengages.
Regardless of cause, though, the effects are clear: our Disengage now gets canceled if not reverted by CCs midflight. Snares, roots and stuns now drop us. Fears and disorients Death Grip us rather than dropping us. It is a shift for the worse across the board.
It is hard to argue that Blizzard should simply reverse the patch change because, after all, charge jumping was a bug that warriors had been dealing with for a very long time. However, it would be nice if their gains did not have to come at a cost to hunters. Disengage being read as a jump seems like an awkward design decision that leaves developers in a position where unintended consequences are bound to result from changes to either jumps or Disengages.