“That’s a lotta damage.”
The words that every DPS wants to hear when their friends and party members look at the DPS charts and see their name at the top. A top tier DPSer can make previously insurmountable fights possible and cut back dramatically on run times, all while handling mechanics to ensure the team’s survival.
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If you want to be among such ranks, you’ll have to learn your class inside out—how abilities interact with each other, what items to go for, and how to keep up with what nerfs/buffs Blizzard are throwing towards your class.
With all of that in mind, we’ll be going over which specs are the best DPS in WoW, what they bring to the table, and why you should play them in patch 9.1.
The Best DPS Classes in WoW Shadowlands
Starting at #10, let’s check out the best DPS classes for Shadowlands.
Beast Master Hunter
Starting off our list of best DPS classes for WoW is the beast master hunter. Working in tandem with vicious but loyal animals, beast master hunters command their pets to tear apart their prey while bleeding and poisoning targets from afar. If you’ve ever wanted to be the pack leader, then this is the class for you.
This class saw dramatic buffs to its numbers as of patch 9.1 (one of the most significant patches we’ve had in awhile). With a straight-up 15% damage buff to all of their core abilities, beast masters are now on dead equal footing with the marksmanship hunters.
However, we recommend beast master over marksmanship for a few reasons. Beast master hunters bring more utility to the table, have an easier time maintaining their damage uptake, and can always be moving while casting all their abilities. The last one is especially important, as Blizzard continues to design raid mechanics with a strong emphasis on constantly dodging.
What about survival hunters? Well technically, they’re pulling ahead by a bit on the best DPS on WoW charts… but when people say they want a hunter, they’re usually thinking about ranged DPS. The sheer displeasure when people learn you’re a survival (melee) hunter is intense. Plus, you wouldn’t get to use the new legendary bow!
As befitting the spec’s name, the bulk of your damage comes from your pets and activating Kill Command to have them do more damage. As for the hunter part, you’ll be maintaining bleeds on the enemy to send your pets into a frenzy before leading the pack in for the kill with Bestial Wrath.
The spec is rather simple to play, and as long as your pets can stay on your target, you should see rather high DPS numbers. As mentioned earlier, since you can move throughout your entire DPS rotation, expect to be assigned to doing mechanics in fights where you’re constantly running around. In comparison to other classes, your DPS will not fall off dramatically and you have the survival tools via Exhilaration and Aspect of the Turtle to stay alive.
Havoc Demon Hunter
The best way to deal with a horde of ravenous demons is to sow chaos and havoc amongst their ranks. They think themselves invincible, so full of pride, and when that invincibility is shattered… well, the defeat of the Burning Legion speaks for itself, does it not?
Much like the beast master hunter, havoc demon hunters received a very substantial 15% buff to their main abilities with patch 9.1.
One of the strongest cleave DPSers in the game, havoc demon hunters throw out considerable single target damage with the recent buffs. You can generate fury from their attacks and spend it on devastating finishers to sweep an entire pack of mobs or continuously spam Chaos Strike on a single target.
Beyond providing an automatic 5% boost in magic damage to any targets they hit, havoc demon hunters are also the go-to choice for fights with movement-heavy mechanics. With multiple dashes and the ability to double-jump/fly, they are uncontested in moving quickly and handling mechanics.
Additionally, they have one of the best raid-wide defensives in the form of Darkness, granting all members in the area a chance to negate all damage for eight seconds.
A pact was made. They answer your call. They claim your soul… or so they hope. Ignore what the little ones say — you’re the one in charge here.
Master summoners, demonology warlocks rely on summoning a veritable army of minions to do the bulk of the fighting for them. Calling out to the Twisting Nether, you pull forth a variety of demons and wield their powers for yourself.
Not much has changed for demonology warlocks with patch 9.1, beyond having access to better gear and conduits. However, these higher numbers have scaled quite well with the various minions you summon, bringing them into a better spot than the other warlock specs.
With a focus on generating soul shards to cast your demon summoning spells such as Hand of Gul’dan, you’ll find the battlefield littered with your army of imps, all casting their own spells. You’ll have a variety of other demons to summon constantly, but the most noticeable one is your Demonic Tyrant. This big old eyeball boy increases the duration of all other active demons and bolsters their damage by a whopping 15%. If the field is teeming with them, expect massive damage output.
As a plus, your raid team will love you for your soul cookies (healthstones), warlock gates, and summoning portals. Especially in the latest raid, Sanctum of Domination, where running back to where you left off can easily take ten minutes. That perk alone makes them one of the best DPS classes in WoW in most players’ minds.
A storm made manifest in a mortal body, you wield the power of the elements as you blitz your enemies with a flurry of lightning-infused blows. None shall remain in your wake.
Every once in a while, the enhancement shaman will have a time where they shine. That time has at last arrived with patch 9.1.
The melee spec of the shaman class is highly prized for its Windfury Totem, granting themselves and all nearby allies a whopping 20% chance to get an extra auto attack each time they strike. This is the only real notable change for patch 9.1, as it was previously bugged and only gave 10%. However, this one bug fix has sent them careening to the top of the charts.
If your team consists of heavy auto attackers such as rogues and warriors, they’ll all fall at your feet and worship you like a god.
Beyond that massive buff, enhancement shamans focus on generating Maelstrom Weapon stacks and are able to store up to ten of them. This allows them to pool together resources for some devastating burst windows, as they fill in-between periods with a barrage of shock and strike spells. As a bonus, they have fantastic cleave opportunities thanks to Crash Lightning enhancing their other attacks into frontal cone abilities.
An avenger of the Light, you’ll strike down evil wherever it goes. Empowered by your faith, your zeal for combat is matched only by your battlefield prowess as you hammer justice down upon your foes.
With a slew of abilities to generate holy power and powerful finishers, retribution paladins set them apart from the competition by constantly empowering themselves through Seraphim before setting up devastating execution windows to create massive bursts of damage.
On fights with critical burn phases, retribution paladins will shine the brightest as one of the best burst DPS classes in WoW, even more so if they go the Kyrian covenant route with its unique legendary. Having an empowered Judgment autocast after using your covenant ability is just icing on the cake when combined with your execution windows.
As a plus, they often can fill the niche of emergency heals when the raid starts to get overwhelmed. Word of Glory and Flash of Light can be spammed out as need be. Their various blessings can also be lifesavers for negating certain kill mechanics, with their Devotion Aura providing free armor to the raid as well.
May these words guide those are who lost to the Light and devour the wicked in its shadow. If it is considered insanity to wield such power, then we are truly lost to such madness.
Wielding the power of the void, shadow priests strike at the minds of their enemies but generate insanity in the process. To avoid being devoured by it, they unleash the insanity upon their foes, eating away at their very flesh.
While no longer at the very top of the charts due to some nerfs to their legendary pieces, shadow priests continue to remain in the top echelon as one of the best DPS classes in WoW as of patch 9.1.
The class is rather difficult to play optimally, but if you can juggle your insanity and make the most of your time in Voidform, you’ll crush the DPS charts. With incredibly powerful DoTs, you’ll constantly be plaguing all enemy targets within your vicinity. When Voidform triggers, your damage will increase by 20% and refresh the duration of DoTs on all surrounding enemies.
Played properly, you’ll be maintaining DPS on enemies even during phases where mechanics are more important or enemies are untargetable. As a bonus, you bring to the table Mass Dispel which can be an absolute game changer for cheesing certain fight mechanics. The stamina bonus from Power Word: Fortitude is also very nice.
Never stop swinging. Your attacks are as relentless as the rage that grows in you. The only way to quell that rage is to slay your enemies. In life and in death.
Freed from the shackles of mediocrity, warriors have finally risen to be one of the best DPS classes in WoW with patch 9.1. However, the rise doesn’t come from any real changes to the class. The class simply scales harder than most with gear, and the latest patch gives us some considerably meaty upgrades to our gear. Plus, the raid wide attack bonus from Battle Shout helps.
The spec revolves around staying in Enrage as long as humanly possible so you swing faster and harder into your enemies’ skulls. What better way to become enraged than to Rampage around after your rage builds up to a peak?
With each blow generating rage, you’ll constantly be cycling through your abilities in a never ending blood-driven frenzy as you charge to each of your enemies to hack them apart.
If you’re the type of player who wants to be mashing every last button on their keyboard while frothing at the mouth both in game and in real life, then we strongly recommend fury warrior.
Each blast of magic slows the enemy, freezing the very blood in their body. They struggle in vain to lumber towards you, only to receive another bolt of ice to the face. If only freezing to death truly were a peaceful way to go…
In one of the biggest upsets in recent WoW history, frost mages have overthrown the fire spec! With each spell slowing the enemy in their tracks, frost mages are a very proc-heavy class, relying on their main spell Frostbolt to activate their damage spikes by freezing their enemies. However, the proc chance is fairly high and grants them a smooth damage output instead of the incredibly parabolic ones of fire and arcane mages.
With many of your abilities such as Ice Lance gaining empowered effects against frozen enemies, expect to see high spike damage windows as you bombard them with a flurry of spells.
Additionally, frost mages are one of the few classes left in the game with a priority cleave system that lets them put out AoE pressure without relenting on their main target. Proper talents and legendary gear will have you sitting at the top of the DPS charts on any 2–3 target fight. If there’s more enemies, than a combination of Blizzard and Frozen Orb will more than take care of them as you climb their frozen bodies to the top of the DPS charts.
It’s time to set up the perfect kill. Weaken them with poisons, bleed them to reduce their strength, and finish them off with a relentless flurry of strikes. On to the next target.
It’s a good time to be a rogue, as all three specs are considered top tier DPS at the moment, if not the best DPS class in WoW overall. However, we recommend assassination for its overall flexibility. Despite having a focus on strong single target damage, assassination rogues can easily swap focus and DoT up other targets to maintain pressure throughout the fight. Plus, they’re rewarded for doing so with additional energy regen!
Assassination rogues truly shine once after getting all their DoTs rolling and their Slice and Dice up, they just churn out powerful crit after crit with their combo point builders and finishers. On top of that, they have a fairly high chance of proccing free Ambush strikes and additional bursts of poison damage if talented properly.
The rotation is fairly simple but rewards players for responding quickly to crit procs. Additionally, you’re not locked behind procs like the other two rogue specs and can put out very consistent damage without having to constantly calculate minutes ahead into the fight.
As a bonus, your ability to respond to mechanics quickly with Sprint and Shadowstep make you invaluable for fight mechanics with short response windows.
Played properly, you’ll be sitting comfortably near the top of the DPS meters every time as one of the best DPS classes in WoW.
What looks like an asteroid impact site lays before you, if said impact involved dozens of asteroids concentrated in one location. You can still see faint streaks lingering in the air, tracing a path of the destruction. Only a single creature could do this much damage.
What is the what is the best DPS class in WoW? You’ve found him — the astral space chicken reigns supreme!
Rain stars down from the heavens to bombard your enemies while weaving back and forth between your two eclipse states to absolutely tear through your enemies. When the situation calls for it, activate Celestial Alignment and wield the power of both eclipses as the incantation of the heavens’ wrath!
Despite a slew of number tweaking and nerfs designed to bring boomkins more in line with other DPS specs, balance druids continue to hold the number one DPS spot for patch 9.1.
Balance druids continue to do what they do best and pump massive amounts of damage into a single target, bombarding them with Starsurges and layering powerful DoTs on the enemy to chew away their health. Able to easily switch between AoE and single target situations on demand without giving up any pressure, you’ll find yourselves at home in any fight.
While they’re expected to be at the top of the DPS charts over a long fight, they also hold the position for having the strongest burst windows in the game as well. Popping all of your cooldowns allows you to do nearly twice as much DPS than the next strongest burst class (let alone the rest), making you invaluable in dealing with priority targets.
In addition, you come with all the fantastic utility that being a druid brings! Switch into bear form to soak a massive hit, battle rez your fallen comrades, and laugh manically as you root your enemies in place with Mass Entanglement and follow up with a Solar Beam silence to keep them all helpless.
With your damage, survivability, and utility show the world why space chicken reigns supreme!
Become a High Grounder
And that wraps it up for our best DPS classes in WoW: Shadowlands! Do note that these recommendations are more of an overall analysis. Your actual DPS will depend on the player, their gear, and what fight mechanics are going on. What you get from the class will reflect the effort you put into learning all of its mechanics and interactions. Additionally, be aware that Blizzard can hot-fix changes to each class’ numbers at will, so keep an eye out on the patch notes!
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