World of Warcraft (WoW) Classic is a nostalgia driven throwback to 2004’s World of Warcraft.
Classic servers have been highly demanded feature by the community for years.
If you’re a new player or if you’ve forgotten how WoW used to be back then, here’s a guide on choosing the best DPS classes in Classic WoW.
Skip towards the middle if you’re only interested in the ranking.
The build up to Wow Classic
Rogue servers like Nostalrius gave fans the chance to experience Azeroth like in the good old days. Blizzard, however, had been rather strict in shutting down these fan projects quickly.
The backlash by the community was so loud that Blizzard finally caved in and created their own vanilla WoW project. Thus, WoW Classic was announced during 2017’s BlizzCon. The response by fans has been overwhelmingly positive.
Blizzard hasn’t released any concrete numbers as to how many people signed up for WoW Classic, but has already hinted that some servers may see login queues as high as 10.000 people on some servers.
Blizzard had stopped releasing subscriber numbers for World of Warcraft during the fifth expansion of WoW, Warlords of Draenor. Nevertheless, rumors have had it that WoW’s newest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, might have less than two million current subscribers in the west.
In light of that, the projected number of people who are ready to jump back into Classic appears to be nothing short of amazing.
A wild ride for new players
Many of us still remember 2004’s World of Warcraft. Yet, there’s also a lot of newcomers who haven’t been around during vanilla WoW – it’s been fifteen years after all. So much has changed over the years it would be enough to fill a dozen articles with.
Tier sets, valor points, armor penetration, reforging, versatility and many other concepts came and went and for new players, it might seem a daunting task to get into WoW Classic.
This article is meant to serve as guide for newer players. As such, we’ll be discussing DPS classes, because that’s what most fresh starters will be playing.
Why should I choose a DPS class?
Why should you be playing DPS? There’s a variety of reasons for that. In WoW Classic, there’s no easy switching between specs as it has existed in retail WoW since the days of Wrath of the Lich King.
As such, you will most likely be leveling in the spec you plan on playing as during the endgame. Additionally, leveling in WoW Classic is slow.
The current record on reaching level 60 sits at roughly 4 days and 20 hours, but most people will be looking at way higher numbers. Choose a tank or healer, and you could be easily looking at double these numbers.
Additionally, while healers and tanks are in high demand for five man instances, most raid bosses only require two tanks and roughly ten to twelve healers. That means 26 slots of your 40 main raid comp will be filled by DPS players.
Thus, getting a raid slot is considerably easier as a DPS class. There’s also the issue of farming, and boy, you will definitely farm a lot in Classic. Reputation, crafting materials and world buffs all require you to solo single player content and tanks and healers are usually pretty bad at that.
So what’s WoW Classic going to be like? Is it really #nochanges?
Before we discuss which DPS class you should choose, we first need to discern what sets WoW Classic apart from the WoW that launched in 2004.
While Blizzard has vowed to stay true to the game multiple times with the hashtag #nochanges, WoW Classic is still a far cry from the WoW that launched in September 2004.
The most important thing to know is that World of Warcraft Classic will be based on patch 1.12. It would go way beyond the scope of this article to list all the changes that happened from 1.0 to 1.12.
However, it at least means that a lot of the classes and specs and specs are in a way better state than at launch.
Another impactful change is the rise of addons since the days of WoW 1.0. Back in the day, few people were using any addons at all. That meant that a lot of raids consisted of players that had absolutely no clue what they were doing – you could still get a raid slot if you were a hunter who did nothing but auto shot/afk in Molten Core.
These days, pretty much everyone will be rocking a DPS meter, so performances will be accurately measured and raid slots will go to the people who picked the right classes and are doing their rotation and interrupts correctly to ensure the raid goes smoothly for everyone.
We also need to remind ourselves that Classic, just like 2004’s WoW, will be only dropping two pieces of loot per raid boss. That means gearing is considerably slower than what we’ve gotten used to over the last fifteen years.
Additionally, Blizzard has revealed that some of the catchup gear that was later available through dungeons like Dire Maul won’t be in place at launch. This will mean that loot will go to the best DPS classes first.
Threat actually matters in WoW Classic. There’s plenty of classes whose damage is capped by the amount of threat the tank can generate. Some classes are not capped in raw damage capability but rather by threat.
Classes that have no way to mitigate thread are usually less sought after than classes that have an easy threat dump like rogues.
A tool for every task
There are a lot of activities even in classic WoW. A class that might be good for leveling is not automatically good for PvP or raiding. To make matters worse, the relative ranking of a DPS class might change depending on your gear.
And then again some classes have multiple specs that might perform decidedly different under various scenarios.
There’s a lot of factors in which DPS class you should choose. The first criterium you’ll probably be looking at is whether you’ll go melee or ranged, with ranged classes being usually more useful all-around and melees usually being a bit stronger at PvP.
Your next choice should be whether you want to focus on PvP or PvE. While there’s no gear and skill difference between both modes like in retail, you’ll still have to build and gear your character accordingly.
The playstyle you enjoy will definitely be a major factor in picking the correct class. If you’re a guns blazing type of guy, you’ll probably be better off with a warrior than a rogue.
Whether you’ll play alone or in groups is also important in picking which class to choose. The pet classes are usually considered ideal for solo play.
Professions are also something you should consider. While it’s entirely possibly to be a hunter and level tailoring, it’s probably not the ideal choice
Ranking of best DPS classes in Classic WoW
To accurately rank DPS classes (and specs), we’ve decided to rank them by four scores:
- The Leveling Score will describe how easy it is to bring the spec to 60.
- The Five Man Score will describe how good the spec is in five man dungeons.
- The Raiding Score will depict how useful the class is in endgame raid scenarios.
- The PvP Score will show how useful the class is in battlegrounds and duels.
Keep in mind that this list focuses on DPS capabilities only.
So let’s hop in and start with the first class, the Shaman.
Shamans are a hybrid class. Being a hybrid class in classic WoW usually means you’re better off healing than doing damage and Shamans are no exception to this rule.
Elemental Shamans can do competitive damage but run out of mana during most raiding encounters. There is barely any competitive gear for enhancement shamans in Scholomance, Stratholme and Molten Core and only a few pieces in Blackwing Lair.
Considering the low amount of gear that drops in Classic, we can’t recommend choosing a DPS shaman for raiding. They’re great however for PvP, where they can easily defeat a high number of classes in duels and are highly useful in battlegrounds.
Windfury isn’t on any internal cooldown, so the feeling when you’re one-shotting cloth and leather classes with Hand of Ragnaros will still be there.
Leveling score: B+
Five Man score: B
Raiding score: D
PvP score: A
Paladins are also a hybrid class, albeit with only one DPS spec. Much of the same that has been said for Shamans is true for Paladins as well. In addition to the shortcomings in damage, Paladins also heavily rely on procs and additionally suffer from generating a very high amount of threat, yet still do low damage.
With Paladins bringing perhaps the best buffs of all classes in WoW Classic, expect to be asked to heal in raids and nothing else. For five mans, Paladins are okay, yet still bottom of the pack.
In PvP, a well-played Paladin can be almost unkillable. Due to the low amount of damage, Paladins are not great levelers. They are however, able to heal themselves, which speeds up levelling considerable.
Leveling score: C
Five Man score: C
Raiding score: F
PvP score: B+
Druids have two damage specs: feral and balance. Deep balance is probably the worst DPS spec in the entire game, suffering from low damage and mana problems.
Ferals could be decent if they had proper gear in the game for them. Alas, drops are very rare and scaling with equipment is horrible. Unless you plan to continuously farm Gnomeregan for a consumable weapon drop, Feral damage is not competitive.
As their saving grace, Feral druids are among the best levelers in the game on the back of their HoTs and cat form. Both Ferals and Moonkins are not really viable for raiding.
Ferals have some perks in PvP like stealth and stuns, but overall, it’s nothing to brag about.
Leveling Score: A-
Five Man Score: C
Raiding Score: E
PvP Score: C
Priests have just one damage spec, Shadow. While it’s a fun spec that can do well in PvP, leveling and five-mans, it’s not particularly viable in raid scenarios due to mana shortages.
Shadow Priests are great for leveling with low downtime, but you can fully be expected to be asked to heal in all endgame activities.
Leveling Score: B+
Five Man Score: B-
Raiding Score: E
PvP Score: B+
Warriors are a semi-hybrid class. They have DPS and tank specs. Warriors start out horribly, with low rage generation, low mobility and very few useful abilities for PvE.
All in all, they’re considered terrible at leveling as well. Warriors are amongst the worst duelers in the entire game. Their saving grace is that they scale amazingly with gear, so by the time Naxxramas rolls around, they’re competing with fire mages for the top DPS spot.
They’re also quite viable in group PvP and battlegrounds.
Leveling Score: F
Five Man Score: D
Raiding Score: B-
PvP Score: B
Hunters are one of, if not the most popular class of classic WoW. Beastmasters were considerably buffed in patch 1.12, so beastmastery and marksmanships specs are both playable.
Beastmastery is arguably being the best leveling spec in the entire game and marksmanship is one of the most useful raiding specs. Full survival isn’t particularly viable, but the tree offers worthwhile choices both for PvE and PvP hunters.
Hunters are great in five mans too, with traps offering some form of crowd control (albeit not as good as the much coveted sheep) and good damage from range. They also wear mail gear, which isn’t shared by many classes – that means more drops for you.
Hunters are probably the best damage dealers in Molten Core and get a unique tool in tranquilizing shot. They fall somewhat behind the pack in AQ40 and Naxxramas, but until then, they’re absolutely invaluable.
They aren’t the best in duels, but in battlegrounds they are still great thanks to traps and viper sting.
Leveling Score: A
Five Man Score: B+
Raiding Score: B
PvP Score: B-
Warlocks make up the other class that uses pets. Pets make the leveling process a lot more smooth and lifetap ensures that they are not quite as reliant on food and drink as other classes. Warlocks have some crowd control through seduce, and banish is an invaluable tool especially in Molten Core.
In general, Warlocks are considered among the best PvP classes in the games. In raids, Warlocks suffer from limited debuff slots (although Blizzard has increased the limit considerably) and also from the fact that they generate so much threat.
The bane of warlocks in PvE is that mages can do nearly everything better than them. It’s still an amazing class and you can’t really go wrong rolling a warlock.
Leveling Score: A-
Five Man Score: B+
Raiding Score: B-
PvP Score: A-
Rogues are a great class. When starting out, they feel quite weak due to low damage and leather armor. At level 60 however, they’re absolutely a force to be reckoned with, rocking stealth, high burst and high sustained damage.
Rogues are also the class with the best threat management, something which is very important in WoW Classic. They bring a lot of tools to control a PvP fight and if a rogue opens up on you, you’re generally going to die.
A lot of gear drops for rogues and with Feral druids most often relegated to healing, rogues gets first dibs on everything. Rogues are less good in group PvP, but are still highly useful for capping flags in battlegrounds. Sap is also one of the best forms of crowd control in five mans.
Leveling Score: B-
Five Man Score: B+
Raiding Score: A-
PvP Score: A-
Mages are quite possibly the best DPS class in WoW Classic. With high numbers of humanoid enemies being everywhere, their sheep spell is widely considered the best form of crowd control in the entire game.
Mages do high damage, have massive crowd control, bring an interrupt and are ranged to boot. On top of that, they’re also able to quickly travel around the world with portals and can conjure food and drink. Mages are indispensable for decursing in dungeons and raids.
They start out strong throughout the raids and stay strong, with fire mages being possibly the best DPS in Naxxramas, the final raid in WoW Classic.
Mages are also great in PvP, although they suffer a bit against Warlocks and Shamans.
Leveling Score: B+
Five Man Score: A-
Raiding Score: A
PvP Score: B+
If you’re entirely new to WoW Classic, we recommend picking a mage, hunter or warlock if you’re into DPS.
You can’t go wrong with any of the pure DPS classes, but we feel those three classes are best suited for beginners.
Hunters and warlocks have a bit of an edge through the leveling process, while mages are simply the swiss army knife of WoW Classic.