[Top 10] WoW Shadowlands Best DPS Classes (PvE)

WoW Shadowlands Best DPS Class

World of Warcraft has long been cited as the go-to game in the MMORPG community, and its latest expansion, Shadowlands, has brought Azerothians to the unforeseen dimensions of the afterlife, filled with a variety of exuberant characters and gorgeous zones such as Bastion or Revendreth.

Although WoW has recently been dethroned by Final Fantasy XIV Online, and things have gone from bad to worse for Blizzard in their subsequent business scandals, few players can take away from the innovative diversities featured in Shadowlands’ endgame content. Us WoW players have it all, whether we want to kick-ass in battlegrounds and arenas with our superior rating and gear, or if we want to sit back and focus with our guildies on completing those Mythic+ keystones on time, hell we can even battle with our pets!

It is hard to write about all these components within one article, so our focus here is solely on the PvE aspects of the game. Don’t know which class to play if you’re a newcomer or an old-timer recently returning? This article has got you covered. 

Specifically, we will be describing the top 10 performing DPS/spec combinations in dungeons and raids in the game’s most recent patch, 9.1.0, starting from lowest-to-highest. Although this list has been constructed utilizing statistics and information from the top performing DPS classes in both Mythic+ and Raiding in the past two weeks (warcraftlogs.com), the same class ranking is not necessarily replicated in this article. We have also accounted for level of fun, playstyle/rotation, and other elements like survivability, class fantasy, and overall mobility. Well then, let’s dive right in shall we!

10. Elemental Shaman










Spec Intro and Overview:

Spiritual oracles who call upon forces of the elements to inflict damage of cataclysmic proportions. Elemental Shamans are a ranged DPS class with relatively decent AoE and single-target damage. They use Mana as a general resource, and [Lightning Bolt], [Lava Burst], [Elemental Blast], as primary spells through which they build Maelstrom, a unique Shamanistic resource that unlocks the use of more powerful abilities including [Earth Shock] and [Earthquake]. For single target situations, you want to apply [Flame Shock] whilst casting [Lava Burst] off-cooldown, and using [Lightning Bolt] as a filler spell to generate Maelstrom. 

At 60 Maelstrom, cast [Earth Shock] for heavy damage. In AoE scenarios, use [Chain Lightning], [Lava Beam] and [Earthquake] and [Flame Shock] on several targets, to produce torrential amounts of damage especially if coupled with the [Echoes of Great Sundering] legendary, which increases the damage of your next Earthquake by 120% if cast after [Earth Shock]. 

During burst periods, Elemental Shamans can also call upon [Fire Elemental] or [Greater Storm Elementals] to support them with crazy passive buffs. The [Stormkeeper] talent is also a great way to cause your next two [Lightning Bolts] or [Chain Lightnings] to be instant cast and hit for 150% more damage.

Why Elemental Shamans?

Elemental Shamans have a cool aesthetic and general class fantasy, whilst also being quite useful in both raids and Mythic+.  Although they have never been that popular in the game, Elemental players have experienced some extra joy during Shadowlands, and especially during 9.1. Perhaps a less adrenaline infused type of gameplay than its Fire Mage counterpart, Ele Shamans are relatively similar in the sense that they can bombard mobs/bosses with a variety of small cooldown spells (special mention for Lava Burst procs). Their ability to funnel damage from multiple targets into single targets is also something to look forward to, as opposed to something like an Affliction Warlock. Elemental Shamans also have some nice self-healing and decent mobility through [Ghost Wolf] and [Spiritwalker’s Grace]. 

Combine all these elements, and the crazy [Primordial Wave] ability from the Necrolord Covenant, and you are basically a jack of all trades, but master of none. Despite their consistent and low-down time damage rotation, Elemental Shamans are ranked last in this list simply because both their single and multi-target damage output is not as great as its other competitors. 

How to Build:

Covenant: Night Fae or Necrolord

Legendary: [Echoes of Great Sundering]

Stat priority: Crit > Haste > Versatility > Mastery


9. Shadow Priests

Spec intro and Overview:

Contrary to the two healing specs (Holy and Discipline), Shadow Priests manifest their power through the echelons of the Void, striking enemies with a variety of Damage over Time (DoT) spells [Shadow Word: Pain], [Vampiric Touch], [Devouring Plague] as well as single-target abilities including [Mind Blast], [Mind Flay] and [Void Torrent]. 

As a Shadow Priest, you rely primarily on Mana and the unique Insanity resource, which is generated by some of the aforementioned spells. In both single target and AoE situations, you will want to maximize the intensity of your Shadowy repertoire; apply all your DoTs upon entering Shadowform, cast [Mind Blast], into a [Devouring Plague] if at or above 70 insanity, then splash your foes with an array of AoE spells such as [Void Eruption], [Shadow Crash], and [Mind Sear] as a filler spell when there are three or more targets.

Why Shadow Priests?

A rather tough class to master, Shadow Priests are just too cool and powerful to be ignored from this list. Let’s imagine a scenario where your tank pulls a massive horde of mobs. You’ll spread your DoTs on a couple of them just enough for you to gain sufficient insanity, and then... BOOM! You pop your burst and release a majestic circus of shadowy proportions with AoE spells like [Void Eruption], [Shadow Crash], [Searing Nightmare] and [Mind Sear]. Just look at this nonsense!

Top all of this up with your Necrolord ability [Unholy Nova] and the subsequent [Pallid Command] legendary, and you’ll see that your shadowy crafts will significantly encumber your enemies. As previously stated, newcomers should beware of the fact that Shadow Priests are definitely not the easiest spec to play. 

They are also extremely immobile and susceptible to damage if [Dispersion] is on cooldown. Nevertheless, you will always find yourself thereabouts in the DPS charts. Focus on mastering the arts of the Void and playing around with DoT spreading, Insanity generation, burst macros, and you should be set to annihilate your enemies. 

How to Build:

Covenant: Necrolord (preferred) or Venthyr

Legendary: [Pallid Command] or [Shadowflame Prism]

Stat priority: Haste > Mastery > Crit > Versatility


8. Marksmanship Hunters

Spec Intro and Overview:

Wielders of Bows and Rifles, Marksmanship Hunters are renowned for being  the only Hunter spec which does not rely on its pets for damage. This spec demands a more attentive approach to resource regeneration (Focus), while changes in Shadowlands have transitioned it to become a more bursty spec than previous expansions.

 Marksmanship Hunters have exceptional AoE and single-target damage with spells like [Rapid Fire], [Aimed Shot], and [Explosive Shot], whilst their relatively high mobility enables them to always be shooting on-the go, unlike other ranged DPS who need to remain stationary when casting. Similar to Warriors and Shadow Priests, Marksmanship Hunters have an execution-type spell [Kill Shot] a devastating attack that only activates when your target is at or below 20% health.

 Depending on talent choice, Marksmanship Hunters can seriously overpower their [Aimed Shot] and [Rapid Fire] whilst a selection of utility spells including [Freezing Trap], [Misdirection], [Tar Trap], will ensure that you are always a decent candidate for raiding or Mythic+

Why Marksmanship Hunters?

If you want to be a non-spell caster, ranged DPS, then a Marksmanship Hunter could be the choice for you. The ability to cast spells on the go, coupled with heavy sustained single-target and AoE burst damage, proves efficacious in fights like Tarragrue from Sanctum of Domination, or Gorechop from Theater of Pain. 

If you decide to go Marksmanship, you will be advised to choose the Kyrian covenant which gives you access to [Resonating Arrow] a powerful Arcane spell that fills the surrounding area of your target with an echoing anima, causing you to ignore line of sight effects and increasing your crit by 30% on targets in the vicinity. Now imagine that combined with the [Surging Shots] or [Banshee’s Lament] legendaries, as well as your burst and lust combo, and you will slowly find yourself barraging your enemy to death with a plethora of fast-paced and powerful abilities. The Marksmanship Hunter’s utility toolkit, and variability in terms of DPS (both single-target and AoE situations) make them a must pick for any raid scenario.

How to Build:

Covenant: Kyrian (preferred) or Night Fae

Legendary: [Surging Shots] or [Banshee’s Lament]

Stat Priority: Crit > Mastery > Haste > Versatility


7. Affliction Warlock

Spec Intro and Overview:

Affliction Warlocks are necromancers of chaos who specialize in the spread of contagion . These horrifying sorcerers are the perfect class to play if you seek to cause multi-target decay through consistent damage windows. As an Affliction Warlock, your primary job is to apply your DoT’s [Corruption], [Agony], [Unstable Affliction], and [Soul Rot] on foes, whilst draining the life out of them with [Drain Soul] and [Malefic Rapture] in between DoT spreading.  

Warlocks use Mana and Soul Shards as resources, with [Malefic Rapture] and [Seed of Corruption] being the latter’s main spenders. It is important to note that the damage of [Malefic Rapture] is scaled based on the number of active DoTs on different mobs/bosses, and in conjunction with [Haunt], [Summon: Infernal], and [Dark Soul: Misery] you are looking at some absolutely insane numbers popping up on your screen. Despite their ability to slowly eradicate everyone in their path, Affliction Warlocks are quite hindered by poor mobility and mediocre single-target damage.

Why Affliction Warlocks?

Although I haven’t played my Affliction Warlock in 9.1, I do not regret levelling and playing him in 9.0. I cannot exaggerate how much fun it is to be in a scenario (usually raids or high level Mythic+), where there are a lot of mobs with a lot of durability and health. 

Apply all your DoTs, get your fingers ready to click that macro, and start spamming [Malefic Rapture] into [Soul Rot] and [Drain Life], only for you to witness absolute obliteration. Considering the 30% haste buff from [Dark Soul: Misery] and the 15% extra haste and crit buff of the [Decaying Soul Satchel] legendary, your DoT’s will be proccing at light speed and completely overwhelming anyone afflicted. 

Nevertheless, you may sometimes find yourself applying DoTs to all available targets, and before you can do anything else, their life-force has already diminished. This is most often the case if you’re doing content you and your teammates are overgeared for. So, if you are ready to commit to being a full time spreader of infection at the expense of single-target burst, an Affliction Warlock may not be the best choice for you.

How to Build:

Covenant: Night Fae

Legendary: [Decaying Soul Satchel] 

Stat Priority: Haste > Mastery > Crit > Versatility


6. Havoc Demon Hunter

Spec Intro and Overview:

Havoc Demon Hunters are an excellent choice for anyone who loves fast-paced gameplay. They are also the only class that can double jump in the game. Combine that with movement enhancing abilities like [Fel Rush] and [Vengeance’s Retreat], and you will often find Demon Hunters randomly charging across your surroundings and dealing terrifying amounts of damage. 

These harbingers of doom specialize in AoE and cleave damage, unleashed through the use of their Fury resource; abilities like [Eye Beam] and [Immolation Aura], and [Blade Dance] will ensure that you’re always challenging for those top DPS spots. Havoc Demon Hunters do sometimes fall behind in the charts in single-target situations, but they are still strong enough to be included in this list.

Why Havoc Demon Hunters?

Havoc is an extremely fun spec to play considering their unparalleled mobility and ludicrous AoE dmg. If you choose the Night Fae covenant (which you should), you will also have access to [The Hunt], a two second channeling spell which propels you to your target, dealing insuperable amounts of damage and leaving behind a DoT on all enemies hit in its path.Perhaps the most special thing about Havoc Demon Hunters is their ability to metamorphosize into a demonic avatar, empowering the[Chaotic Strike] and [Blade Dance] spells, whilst also significantly increasing their Leech. Equipping the [Collective Anguish] legendary will further boost theirdamage, given [Eye Beam] will also summon an allied Vengeance Demon Hunter who casts Fel Devastation, a weaker, tank version of [Eye Beam]. 

Although I am primarily a PvP player, I cannot devalue my love for my Havoc alt. It is absolutely dopamine inducing to get your AoE spells combining simultaneously, while double jump and glide ensure that you will never get hit by those annoying raid mechanics. Nevertheless, the class lags behind others due to its weak single-target damage output.

How to Build:

Covenant: Night Fae

Legendary: [Collective Anguish]

Stat Priority: Crit > Haste > Versatility > Mastery


5. Subtlety Rogue

Spec Intro and Overview:

A surreptitious ninja residing within the shadows, the Subtlety Rogue is another melee DPS choice with impressive single-target damage and fairly short, fast-paced damage windows. Like the other two Rogue specs, Subtlety uses Energy to attack targets and to accumulate Combo Points, a resource used for more powerful abilities such as [Eviscerate], [Black Power], [Rupture], and your go-to [Slice and Dice] which increases your attack speed by 50% for a period of up to 36 seconds (if you have 5 combo points). 

As a Subtlety Rogue, you are heavily dependent on Stealth damage done through [Shadow Dance] and [Symbols of Death], whilst also being attentive to conserving your energy/combo points in between transition phases where you cannot re-enter or use Stealth abilities. Subtlety Rogues are also renowned for their incredible utility  with abilities like [Sap], [Blind], [Cheap Shot] and [Kidney Shot] giving you the opportunity to control certain trash fights, or even skipping them entirely.

Why Subtlety Rogue?

In my opinion, Rogues are the most difficult class to master in WoW. They require constant attention to detail and given their reliance on damage windows where they can use Shadow/Stealth abilities, it is imperative that you always think one step ahead, something which you don’t necessarily have to do with other classes.

 So why play a Subtlety Rogue you may ask? Well, why wouldn’t you want to play a mobile and stealthy bandit who wreaks havoc upon his prey. Find yourself in trouble? Just vanish, wait for a heal or two, and go back in with your sinister slashes of formidable doom. The low downtime on your burst windows will essentially allow you to output crazy amounts of damage in contrast to more high-downtime susceptible classes like Havoc or Retribution PaladinsYou can also cloak your allies in your shadowy embrace, allowing you and your group to skip certain trash pulls so that you can time and possibly even upgrade your Mythic+ keystone. Look at it anyway you want, the Subtlety Rogue is a great choice for any PvE situation. 

If you are a newcomer however and are worried about your concentration levels, ability to conserve resources during downtimes, and would like to pump damage without doing too much, then the Sub Rogue may not be the best fit for you.

How to Build:

Covenant: Venthyr

Legendary: [Flagellation] 

Stat priority: Crit > Versatility > Mastery > Haste


4. Fire Mage

Spec intro and Overview:

Archetypal wizards who demolish foes by setting them ablaze with fiery combustions and explosive flamestrikes. The Fire Mage is one of the most fun classes to play in the game given their adrenaline-junkie playstyle.

 The rotation is simple but highly effective. The key is to manage the sequence in which you cast your primary spells [Fireball], [Fire Blast], [Phoenix Flames], and the devastating, [Pyroblast]. You will most often be casting [Fireball] in order to proc [Heating Up] at which point you cast [Fire Blast] to get a guaranteed Crit, which will then cause your next [Pyroblast] to be instant cast; in AoE situations, you bring down fire from the heavens with [Flamestrike]. 

Fire Mages also never really have to worry about dying due to their extreme survivability with [Alter Time], [Blazing Barrier], and [Ice Block]. [Blink] is also a very nice spell which propels you forward relatively quickly in case you need a safe haven before getting hit by telegraphed boss spells.

Why Fire Mage?

My first ever class in WoW was a Fire Mage. Even though I switched to a Balance Druid for a few years, and then finally to my Windwalker Monk, I never stopped checking how Fire Mages have been performing over the years. Like I said before, Fire Mages have the most adrenaline inducing playstyle. Popping burst through [Combustion], [Rune of Power] and relevant racials/trinkets, grants you 100% crit on your target for the next 10 seconds and then... KABOOM! [Fire Blast] into [Phoenix Flames], into [Pyroblast], into another [Fire Blast], into another [Pyroblast], going on and on for another 4-5 seconds. Imagine if you have lust, oh god. 

As such, these fiery sorcerers possess one of the strongest single-target, if not THE strongest, burst sequences currently available in the game. Adding to that their mobility, utility, and survivability toolkits, as well as the generally insane fun playstyle, you’d be blind to not agree with us on the inclusion of Fire Mage as one of the top 10 performing classes in Shadowlands PvE. 

Why are they not ranked higher on the list? Primarily because of their weak cleave and very passive damage throughputs during non-burst windows. According to warcraftlogs.com, They generally perform poorly in raids whilst currently holding the #1 DPS spot for Mythic+ dungeons, which comes as a massive surprise given the nerfs they received in 9.1. Nevertheless, Fire Mages are a top choice for any WoW player, whether new or returning old.

How to Build:

Covenant: Night Fae

Legendary: [Disciplinary Command]

Stat Priority:  Haste > Versatility > Crit > Mastery


3. Balance Druid

Spec intro and Overview:

Master shapeshifters who channel powers from the sun and moon to deal Nature and Arcane damage. In my opinion, Boomies have one of the coolestclass fantasies currently available in retail WoW. In terms of DPS, you will find yourself casting two filler spells [Wrath] and [Starfire], with either being cast two-to-three times in a row in order to activate the respective eclipses (Solar or Lunar) as well as upkeeping your [Moonfire] and [Sunfire] DoTs on a variety of mobs at all times. 

During an eclipse, your [Wrath] or [Starfire] damage is significantly increased and you will have gathered a lot of Astral power, at which point you should spam [Starsurge] insingle-target situations, and [Starfall] in AoE situations.Boomies  are also renowned for their extensive hybridity and insane burst damage. You can shapeshift into a Bear to take less damage, or into a speedy Cat should you require to evade enemies and enter stealth. Boomies rarely have to worry about getting healed, considering abilities like [Rejuvenation] and [Regrowth] are actively at your disposal.

Why Balance Druids?

I think it’s fair to say that Boomies have never been as popular as they have during Shadowlands. A majority of the player base would put that down to the Night Fae covenant and its ludicrous ability [Convoke the Spirits]. If allowed to channel, as is often the case in PvE situations, [Convoke the Spirits] will cast 10 random spells in a span of 3-4 seconds, most of which will be damaging spells such as [Wrath] and [Starsurge]. 

Combine that with the dual-wielding eclipse power of,[Celestial Alignment], your active DoTs, and the incredible damage of both [Starsurge] and [Starfall], and you are good to go on destroyingthe health of all bosses and mobs in your PvE ventures. It should be noted that a significant chunk of the Boomy player-base have switched to Venthyr in 9.1. given the buffs to[Ravenous Frenzy]. In fact, the top 50 Mythic + rated Boomies, are ALL Venthyr now.

 If you are solely going to focus onPvE, you should definitely stick to Venthyr, however if you prefer to rotate between PvP and PvE, we would strongly advise you to pick Night Fae. Regardless of what Covenant you decide to go with, Boomies are effectively one of the most excellent DPS spec choices in patch 9.1.

How to Build:

Covenant: Venthyr (preferred) or Night Fae

Legendary: [Sinful Hysteria] or [Primordial Arcanic Pulsar]

Stat priority: Mastery > Haste > Versatility > Crit


2. Windwalker Monk

Spec intro and Overview

Masters of Chi energy who excel in hand-to-hand combat, Windwalker Monks are a chaotic melee class with insane amounts of burst damage and relatively sustained amounts of self-healing. Theyrely on the use of two resources, Chi and Energy. The latter builds over time (faster the higher your Haste %,) whilst Chi is generated through the use of your primary Energy expending ability, [Tiger Palm]. Chi spending abilities: [Rising Sun Kick], [Fists of Fury] and [Blackout Kick], will be your main sources of DPS, whilst the Windwalker mastery (which increases your damage if your next spell is not a repeat of the last) will keep you on your tippy-toes to ensure that you’renever casting [Tiger Palm] or [Blackout Kick] twice in a row. 

Playing either Kyrian or Necrolord will enhance your arsenal with incredible burst oriented spells, so you canfeel free to choose whichever(Necrolord preferred). Windwalker Monks are also infamous for their incredible mobility. Spells like, [Roll], [Flying Serpent Kick], and [Tiger’s Lust] will ensure that you’re always escaping puddles of blood or that burning fire your healer is warning you about.

 Why Windwalker Monks?

Ahh… my personal favorite.. I have mained a Windwalkerever since Mists of Pandaria came out in 2012, and to this day, I find it the most entertaining class in the game. Why do Iit dub it as “the chaotic melee class”? Well, Windwalker Monks do a ferocious amount of AoE damage, considering their ability to split into three different spirits, all dealing 45% of your damage and mimicking the abilities that you cast. 

On top of that, specing into [Dance of Chi-Ji] can make your [Spinning Crane Kick] do at least 200% more damage, stacking up to 100% more per unique character that you have recently attacked, should it effectively proc. With this combo, you can quite possibly wipe out trash pulls single handedly, just make sure to always use an ability that is not a repeat of the previous! 

Did you think that was it? Windwalker Monks can also call upon a lightning-barriered bad-ass tiger, Xuen, who enhances your mad burst damage by tormenting foes with lightning strikes and other cool abilities. There is just something about bombarding targets with this kung-fu style of play that really invigorates me. 

If Kyrian, you get a 30-second burst spell which increases your Mastery and decreases the cooldowns of both [Fists of Fury] and [Rising Sun Kick], while [Bonedust Brew] of the Necrolord covenant allows for more frequent, and even more damaging burst at the expense of burst longevity. Take it from a Monk Veteran, you will not be disappointed if you play a Windwalker in 9.1.0

How to Build:

Covenant: Kyrian or Necrolord

Legendary: [Keefer’s Skyreach] or [Invoker’s Delight]

Stat Priority: Crit > Haste > Mastery > Versatility



1. Arms Warrior

Spec intro and Overview:

Devastating plate wearers who brutalize foes with mighty weapons and powerful abilities, Arms Warriors rank first in our list of top performing DPS classes in Shadowlands PvE. These battlefield berserkers utilize Rage as a resource, allowing them to cast staple abilities such as [Mortal Strike], [Overpower], [Colossus Smash], and [Execute]. While technically not considered to be the most fun class, due to its somewhat bland rotation, Arms Warriors are nevertheless masters in the art of DPS, primarily in raids where bosses have chunky health pools. This is due to the relentless [Execute] spell, an ability which, as it sounds, deals tremendous amounts of damage

The key to mastering an Arms Warrior is to sequence your abilities appropriately so that you correctly manage your Rage, ensuring that you always have enough prior to bursting. Start off with [Colossus Smash], to sunder your enemy’s armor, into a [Mortal Strike], and [Overpower] on procs. You should also always use [Execute] when it procs, as well as [Bladestorm] off-cooldown and when under 50 rage. Arms Warriors, and Warriors in general, are also quite mobile given the distance-closing [Charge], and the titanic jumping [Heroic Leap], whilst generally being considered as one of the tankiest DPS specs in the game.

Why Arms Warrior?

As previously stated, Arms Warriors are somewhat renowned for their slow and boring rotation. So how come these guys are at the top of this list? Well, that is because their DPS is simply too insane to not be.

The fun part starts when you spec into [Massacre], and [Sudden Death] allowing your [Execute] to be both usable on targets below 35% health, and sometimes proc on any target regardless of their health, dealing damage as if you spent 40 rage.

 Now think about this the next time you are mad you lost top DPS in your guild raid to your Arms buddy, that guy has had like 5 minutes to spam [Execute] on the boss, probably in conjunction with [Avatar] and [Bladestorm]. Add theElysian Might legendary, which increases crit by 25% as long as the Warrior is  in the short circumference of [Spear of Bastion] for a duration of 4 seconds, and it all makes sense!

This is why according to the latest DPS ratings, and judging from personal experience, Arms Warriors deserve the #1 spot as best DPS class in Shadowlands.

How to Build:

Covenant: Kyrian (preferred) or Venthyr

Legendary: Elysian Might

Stat Priority: Crit > Haste > Mastery > Versatility



We hope that this article has helped you decide who to main in 9.1.

See you in the Shadowlands, mortal.


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A bearded warrior who has spent his years concocting a perfect symbiosis between creative writing and competitive gaming.
Gamer Since: 2001
Favorite Genre: FPS
Currently Playing: World of Warcraft
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