Have you recently come back to World of Warcraft with no idea what class to play? If so, you're in luck! Not only does the game offer class trials to give classes a test run before officially diving in, we also have a rundown of the different roles to guide you in the right direction.
In Legion, each class and all of its specs have unique playstyles and even more unique Artifact weapons with their own acquisition quests. It makes for a solid experience no matter what class you play. In this article, we'll be going over the game's ranged damage-dealing classes and helping you decide which ranged DPS is best for you. If you don't like the idea of attacking from a distance and would prefer hacking and slashing, be sure to check out our guide to melee DPS.
Mage (3 ranged DPS specs)
Artifact weapons: Staff (Arcane/Frost), Dagger + Off-hand (Fire)
Play a Mage if: You're a fan of the standard "wizard" fantasy and like having multiple playstyle options
Mages are never going to be a bad choice if you're looking for a solid DPS class that's not too difficult to grasp. They have Fire, Frost, and Arcane specs, and each brings something different to the table while still being viable across the board.
Consistently strong in both PVE and PVP content, Mages are not infrequently the envy of other DPS classes. They also have a couple different abilities that allow them to cast one spell while in the middle of casting a different spell, as well as ones that allow them to cast on the move. They're an excellent choice for dealing damage, albeit easily killable in solo content if you're not careful.
- Consistently one of the strongest DPS classes in the game
- Three specs means a wide variety of options
- Frost especially is typically very good in PVP
- Can be quite squishy — generally, it's the most "glass cannon"-like of the game's classes
Warlock (3 ranged DPS specs)
Artifact weapon: Staff (Affliction), Floating Skull (Demonology), Staff (Destruction)
Play a Warlock if: Mages sounded too much like good guys to you and you enjoy using dark magics or summoning demons
Warlocks are one of the game's other pure DPS classes (i.e., they have no healing or tank specs) and are, well, evil casters. They specialize in Shadow and Fire magic and summon demons to do their bidding. They're also quite durable for a cloth-wearing class, often times with higher health pools than many of the other classes in the game, comparable only to the game's tanking classes.
Their three specs are Affliction (which specializes in shadowy damage-over-time spells), Destruction (which utilizes fire and can do the most burst damage), and Demonology (which summons more powerful demons than the other specs and relies more heavily on their damage output). No matter what spec you choose, you'll be able to do solid damage and feel downright eeeeevil doing it.
- High stamina means Warlocks are incredibly durable for cloth-wearers
- Can summon demons for extra irony during Legion
- Wide variety of playstyles across the different specs
- Affliction has a long ramp-up time
- Demonology's Legion rework has received mixed reception
Hunter (2 ranged DPS specs)
Artifact weapon: Bow (Marksmanship), Gun (Beast Mastery) — Note: Beast Mastery gun causes you to gain a second pet, Hati
Play a ranged Hunter if: You've always been a fan of archery or hunting archetypes or you like the idea of taming your own pet.
Hunters, as their name implies, fill the hunter/archer fantasy role. Every Hunter role is capable of taming beast-type enemies out in the world and using it as a permanent pet (you can even name it!) One of the greatest advantages of Hunters is their ability to deal damage on the move.
With Legion, Hunters's specs have become more diverse. Survival — which we have a rundown of in our melee DPS guide — has actually been switching to melee. The other two specs, Beast Mastery and Marksmanship, focus on taming pets and dealing ranged damage, respectively. If the idea of making a Blood Elf and calling it Llegomyeggolas sounds great to you, Hunters might just be your calling.
- Able to use most abilities while moving
- Strong ability to "kite" mobs
- Can tame Beasts and use them as pets
- Everyone in the game hates Barrage because it pulls everything
- Hunters tend to be stigmatized as an "easy mode" class
Artifact weapon: Fist Weapon + Shield
Play Elemental Shaman if: Calling forth lava, lightning, and earth and a heavy emphasis on the elements is your cup of tea.
Elemental Shamans embrace the elements, but in a slightly different way than their Enhancement or Restoration counterparts. Where those two focus on waters and spiritual elements, Elemental Shamans primarily utilize lava and lightning to attack from a range.
They're a great choice if you're looking for a hybrid class that isn't too complicated but still has tools to survive solo excursions. Elemental Shamans can do some excellent AOE damage via Chain Lightning and are also pretty great at bursts of damage.
- Legion spell animations and lightning sounds are very cool
- Strong burst damage
- Solid utility and survivability
- Scaling in previous expansions has been iffy
Artifact weapon: Staff
Play Balance Druid if: You like the idea of a lunar-and-solar-based class or want to walk around as a giant chicken with the game's best dance moves.
Balance Druids make up the fourth role of the game's only four-role class, and as a result, are a good choice for someone unsure of the exact role they want to play. Balance focuses on casting lunar and solar spells, and have some very nice spell animations as of Legion.
One of the more unique aspects of Balance Druids is their Moonkin (a.k.a., "Boomchicken") form as seen above. You don't technically have to play in it, but the alternative is Astral Form, which is a transparent blue version of your character that still can make showing off armor difficult.
- "Boomchicken" form is amazing (but can be turned into Astral Form if you prefer)
- High mobility
- Druids in general have the largest variety in playstyles
- Some people don't like the Boomchicken form and prefer to use Astral Form (which still slightly obscures armor)
- Some Druid spells can easily pull more enemies than you intended
- Very few races can play as Druids, so your racial choice is limited
Artifact weapon: Dagger + Off-hand
Play Shadow Priest if: You want to embrace insanity and utilize Void and Shadow magics to deal a mix of direct-damage and damage-over-time spells to your enemies.
Okay, I fully admit bias on this one because I've been playing a Shadow Priest for about a decade now, but Shadow Priests are a versatile DPS class with several spells at their disposal.
They make up the full-on damage portion of the Priest trifecta — where Holy specializes in pure healing and Discipline toes the line of healing and damage, Shadow goes all in. As of Legion, Shadow Priests build their new Insanity resource through spells, and then activate their Lovecraftian Voidform to deal even more damage.
They specialize in a mix of damage-over-time spells and single target spells, making them good for all situations except burst AOE. They also have a few self-healing spells and an incredibly large kit of utility spells, which make them solid at soloing a variety of content.
- Best spec in the entire game (seriously though, it's been one of the most well-received specs in Legion)
- Your Artifact weapon will occasionally whisper to you — it's equal parts creepy and awesome
- Has possibly the highest number of utility spells of any hybrid class
- Shadowform cannot be toggled off unless you switch specs, which means armor is somewhat obscured
- AOE damage is laughable compared to other DPS classes
That's it for ranged DPS! Hopefully this has helped guide you in the right direction. Personally, I've always preferred ranged DPS, but it will really depend on the fantasy role you want your character to fill. Ranged DPS tend to be the most forgiving role in the game, and boss mechanics are usually easier to deal with from a range.
As I said, though, it will entirely depend on what fantasy you want to play — they're more diverse than ever now, and it's okay if it takes some time to figure out what works for you!