I have always liked the idea and style of the blood hunter, and am currently playing the old version in a game. While I have yet to test this new version, so take all that I say with a pinch of salt. There are several changes that have been made here that are welcomed, and some I thoroughly love, the Brand is a great new feature that really fits the theme of the class.
Many of the features have been streamlined, making the class far more accessible and easy to play, however doing so feels like it has sacrificed some of the theme of the class. Changing the Crimson activation damage away from HP Max reduction is something I understand mechanically, but it loses a lot in the style of the ability, rather than something that uses your life essence to be maintained, as it was described, it feels more a fire and forget now, as you can simply heal the damage dealt. Or at least that is how it seems, the actual wording seems a bit fuzzy on that.
Similarly, changing the stat from wisdom to intelligence is something that feels like it is meant to scratch an itch. As there are currently so many wisdom based classes. And like the above that seems to differentiate away from the idea of the class being a hunter. However within the description Matt has said that he believes it more appropriate, so that may well just be a differing on what people see a Blood Hunter as. Matt focuses on the Blood, me more on the Hunter. But in itself this is something that people can homebrew out if they so wish, nothing complex or strange about that. Personally, I would be very interested to see a Constitution based class outside of a barbarian, and this seems the most promising candidate. But that would require a lot of messing around and altering with.
Leading on from the change of wisdom to intelligence, one of the features that I feel is a flaw in the class design, maybe an oversight is the Order of the Lycan. Several of the changes within the class are very good, the reduction in the number of hybrid forms feels more balanced, however the Bloodlust ability has become far more complicated. The change to make the trigger your current HP rather than damage makes staying in the form odd. Lasting for an hour there is a strong chance that you could keep the form up and combat another encounter after the first. If lacking in spells, there is a good chance that between encounters you will not have a high level of HP (I know playing a Bloodhunter I spend most of my time below half HP, though that might just be the character), meaning that theoretically if you were to wander around in the hybrid form at less than half HP, every six seconds you will have to make a Wisdom save, which feels a bit counter productive. Which brings me neatly to my main issue with the Order of the Lycan. The Wisdom save. Before, you would be using the stat that was associated with the class, it was a nice way to make sure you could not just pick Lycan if you had no wisdom, as the others all needed it for a feature. However now that the class stat has been changed from wisdom to intelligence, it has left you at a major disadvantage. If using an Order of the Lycan character, you require high values in too many stats. Str/Dex for attack (If using Str, you would still need a decent Dex, as you would not be able to gain the full benefit of the class wearing Heavy armour), Constitution for HP for rites and maladicts, Intelligence for Class abilities, and then Wisdom to remain in control. Totalling to 4-5 abilities out of 6 that you would need to be above average at the very least. Not only is this hard/very hard to achieve, it also limits your character, as such a character would be forced to place their lowest stat in Charisma, having little option in the matter, reducing the amount you could make the character your own. (Since writing this, the class has been updated, and the Bloodlust ability’s save has been reduced, which makes it far more doable. Though I personally still preferred the old version where it was when you took damage like a Concentration save.)
I could go on and on about things I love and things I would change. In fact, I think I have, whoops. Anyway, the main thing I am trying to say is that the class itself is good, the flavour is great and unique. The general changes of the class have brought more balance and structure to a budding idea. However I would say such class needs more play testing/player feedback before it makes its way into a staple D&D diet, and hopefully eventually into the official game, now that Matt has been working with wizards of the coast.
[3 of 5 Stars!]