Although the launch of World of Warcraft Classic‘s Season of Discovery update didn’t go quite as smoothly as some hoped (try to be surprised), the update is finally here. With it comes an entirely new way to experience the “Vanilla” version of the legendary MMORPG. Well…at least until Level 25. Subsequent Season of Discovery updates will eventually raise the game’s level cap, but we don’t yet know when those updates will be released.
Focusing on the “Phase 1” update, though, it’s already clear that the Season of Discovery update will not just introduce entirely new ways to play the game but make necessary improvements to many classes that previously struggled at earlier levels. While WoW‘s various DPS options weren’t altered quite as much as the game’s healers and tanks, the tier list for the largest spec pool in the game is already starting to look a little bit different.
Before we dive into all of that, though, here are a few things to keep in mind:
– These rankings only account for the Phase 1 (Level 25) Season of Discovery content. They are also based on a combination of leveling and group content viability but do not account for PvP skills. As new content becomes available, we will update our rankings to reflect those changes.
– Raw damage output is obviously the biggest factor in these DPS rankings, though things like survivability, group benefits, and other utility abilities helped close the gaps when it came to the overall rankings.
– These rankings are heavily based on the power level of Season of Discovery‘s various Runes (which grant classes entirely new skills and modify other abilities). For the full breakdown of all currently known Runes, please consult this guide.
– Finally, I’ve only specified certain specs (such as Balance Druids vs. Feral Druids) in instances where the power gap between those specs is significant enough to warrant wildly different rankings. At this early stage in the game, though, many classes will need to rely on more specific builds or support multiple subclasses that are roughly equally viable.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into the rankings.
Every Season of Discovery DPS Class Ranked Best to Worst
Much as it is in Classic, you certainly shouldn’t expect Hunters to reach their full DPS potential by Level 25 in Season of Discovery. However, they remain an ideal leveling class due to their survival tool kit, agility, pet support, and raw DPS output. More importantly, their entire Rune set (at least so far) is designed to enhance their already excellent raw damage output and DPS viability in Dungeon/Raid groups. The DPS gains they acquire from abilities like Lone Wolf, Master Marksman, and Chimera Shot are insane at that early stage of the game. Aspect of the Lion will almost certainly earn Hunters a valuable DPS spot in many early Raid parties as well. They’re just a dominant DPS class early on.
Warlocks aren’t too far behind, though. Their demonic companions and ability to consistently generate all necessary resources make them ideal levelers, as has long been the case. What makes Warlocks particularly interesting in Season of Discovery, though, are those Runes that enhance the early effectiveness of their pets (especially in parties) as well as an important behind-the-scenes alteration that removes the cap on their active “DoT” effects. That latter change makes Affliction Warlocks even more efficient levelers and AoE damage dealers (the rich get richer), while those Runes make Destruction and Demonology Warlocks better than ever earlier than ever. You can even mix and match abilities from those trees effectively early on, which is a luxury that other DPS classes don’t necessarily have access to.
Meanwhile, Retribution Paladins are clearly the biggest DPS beneficiary of the Season of Discovery changes. The Crusader Strike Rune (which allows Plaadins to instantly deal 75% of their weapon damage and regenerate 2% of their max mana) may just be the most powerful single Rune at this early point in the game. When you factor in the healing/AoE damage potential of Divine Storm as well as the already invaluable buffs and utility abilities Paladins have always brought to a party…well, they’re just a fantastic damage class that happens to have so much more to offer. Just be mindful of their mana.
I’m a little more mixed on Mages, though I can’t deny that they belong somewhere near the top of this list. Fire Mages will almost certainly be desirable in Dungeons and Raids due to their absurd damage output, and abilities like Living Bomb, Burnout, and Living Flame already make that spec better than it usually is at that early level. Frost Mages should remain excellent levelers that now have access to better single-target options, though Fire Mages still seem like the better “endgame” (relative to Level 25) option at the moment. Mages may also have some mana issues, but being able to bring enough water for both you and the class should help make up for them.
Speaking of Season of Discovery beneficiaries, Feral Druids suddenly find themselves in a rather desirable position. I worry that I’m overrating them just slightly, but their Rune kit is just absurd. Wild Strikes is not only the only Windfury option that will be available at this stage, but it’s likely the only Windfury option that will be available to Alliance players in Season of Discovery (pending further updates). That alone makes them desirable in groups, but Runes like Lacerate, Mangle, and Savage Roar should give Fearal Druids the single-target buffs they need to feel more powerful than usual this early on.
Rogues are in a strange spot at this point. Ignoring the “Tank Rogue” options for a moment, Rogues clearly received quite a few Runes that benefit their early DPS output. In fact, abilities like Saber Slash, Mutilate, and Deadly Brew look to be some of the most powerful melee DPS Runes available so far. Unfortunately, Rogues still suffer from some practical problems at this point in the game. Namely, they remain a weapon and gear-dependant class that simply won’t have access to top-end gear so early on. Crucially, it may also be awkward to build a Rogue at this early point in the game given how many skills they won’t be able to access by Level 25. Assassination Rogues should be viable at this point in the game, but I don’t think they’ll do much more than respectable single-target damage.
Warriors are in a somewhat similar position. Fortunately, leveling a Warrior to 25 will be much more enjoyable and efficient thanks to Runes like Blood Frenzy, Flagellation, Warbringer, Quick Strike, and Endless Rage. Those Runes grant Warriors the direct damage and resource generation options they simply didn’t have access to at this stage. Unfortunately, a Level 25 Warrior is still a Level 25 Warrior in a lot of ways. They’re gear-dependent, they’re missing some valuable skills, their Hit ratings limit their equipment/build options, and they offer almost nothing in the way of true AOE attacks. They are going to be a tough DPS sell in the most efficient groups, and their leveling options will still be subpar.
Finally, I feel comfortable ranking Shamans, Shadow Priests, and Balance Druids at the bottom of this list due to variations of the same basic issue: mana efficiency vs. damage output. To be clear, Shamans will almost certainly be able to deal the most raw damage out of all of those classes thanks to some absurdly powerful new Runes they’ve been granted. Unfortunately, those Runes do not address their existing mana issues nor do they make up for the significant number of tools (including Windfury Totem) that Shamans will not have access to at Level 25. Sadly, Enhancement Shamans also didn’t get a lot of love in this update, so Shaman players who aren’t trying to tank will largely need to rely on a strangely familiar bag of tricks.
Since many of Priest’s best Runes are healing and support-focused, Shadow Priest players will still need to endure an uphill battle to Level 25. Twisted Faith, Void Plague, and Mind Sear make Shadow Priests better than ever in the early game, but those abilities just aren’t enough to elevate them over Warlocks and Mages as casting DPS options in group content. Leveling a Shadow Priest should be more efficient than leveling a Shaman, but at least Shamans may accidentally top a DPS chart from time to time despite their Mana issues.
Finally, Balance Druids simply don’t feel like a viable option right now. New Runes Wrath and Starsurge immediately elevate Balance Druid’s early game power, but they are just not good enough to rescue a class that has never really been truly viable at this early point in the game. Keep an eye on them in the future, though.