As some players start diving into the beta of World of Warcraft Classic and the rest of the world gears up for the official release in August, it’s becoming apparent that things have changed dramatically since this game exploded onto the scene in 2004.
Some classes like Death Knight don’t even exist and many abilities and balance changes have been rolled back to their original vanilla state. For those who can’t remember the game from those early days and want to explore this nostalgic world with a new character, it’s important to know which classes were best and which weren’t so great.
The Hunter was a rough character back in the day and all those old annoyances and weaknesses are apparent in Classic. To be fair, any class is perfectly fine and can do well in the right hands, but not many players had the patience for the micro required for Hunters and their pets.
Hunters are DPS focused, arguably one of the best in the game in fact, but they were very much glass cannons and less skilled players struggled in PVP. In PVE they faired a little better and could gain levels very quickly, but this advantage doesn’t mean much when it was necessary for their survival.
Any kind of healer was very much in demand in the beginning days of the game, and for good reason. Being a healer wasn’t very fun and made for difficult gameplay. The Druid was primarily a healer, but seemed weaker at the role when compared to other healing classes.
They could step in as a tank, but there were better tanks that could live longer. Druid’s problem was that it seemed to be able to fulfill every role if needed but was like the last kid to get picked in gym class. Sure, Druids were adaptable and better than nothing, but they never really thrived at anything.
The Paladin was admittedly the best at single target healing and very handy to have around for bringing a player back from the brink. But other than that specific role, they weren’t good for much else. They could step in and serve as tanks, but it wasn’t their primary strength and they were very slow to level in the game.
For being the champions of the Alliance, they were remarkably lackluster. It’s almost as if they were meant to be a midground between Warriors and Priests for solo players. Again, good at keeping key players alive, but not exactly key players themselves.
The Shaman performs a little better as a healer than the Paladin for having the best area of effect heals. They were invaluable to groups looking to do a raid or some heavy grinding and were almost always welcome.
However, that fame came with a class that struggled to perform on its own, meaning solo players tended to avoid them for anything other than roleplaying. They could dish out fast attacks, but those attacks were always in the yellow and never excelled at raw DPS. Elemental damage was helpful, but raw power almost always outperformed the rock, paper, scissors game in early World of Warcraft.
Admittedly, this is a controversial entry because, right out of the gate on day one, Warlocks were beastly both in PVP and PVE. After a short time, Blizzard realized how strong they were and quickly nerfed some of their abilities and brought them down the ranks.
They remain arguably one of the best in terms of raw DPS with their pets dishing out lots of quick hits that, while individually weren’t that great, added up to some serious damage. Warlocks in the hands of skilled players were ferocious in PVP, and beginners like how easy there were to play and level in PVE.
Rogues required a bit of skill and planning before battle to be used effectively, but with the right teammates, they performed very well. Their hits were almost always in the white, but they hit so fast it made up for it. They also performed well as flag carriers, assuming the enemy didn’t have a Warlock and the Rogue had healers and tanks to back them up and protect them.
A solo Rogue felt very underpowered and the early nerfs didn’t do them any favors, which is why this class doesn’t rank higher. But it performed so well in groups and PVP that it deserves the number four spot.
Mages were the high damage dealers of the game in the early days. In terms of overall DPS, for extended periods of time they weren’t all that impressive, but for quick battles or when comparing single attacks, they were brutal hitters.
Their casting was also quicker than Warlocks, which meant they could hold their own in PVP, but if the fight went on too long, they were goners. Your goal was to turn your enemies into frosted ruins before they could muster an attack against you. They earn the number three spot for their explosive power, minimal skill requirements to play, and being decent to level.
Priests were by far the best healers in the game. While Shamans were better at group heals and Paladins were better at single target heals, Priests could do both almost as well, which made them more adaptable and useful in a variety of situations.
Their mind control was also beastly in fights, as it turned enemies against each other and took some of the heat off your team, although this did draw a lot of aggro for the Priest. Their ability to provide and remove buffs for allies also made them powerful teammates to have in battle. Pair one of these with a Warrior and you had a dangerous duo on your hands.
Hands down the strongest character class in the early days of World of Warcraft, Warriors will be the reigning kings in Classic. They were the best tanks in the game, allowing them to take some serious damage to keep other players alive. Pair their tanking abilities with a good healer like the Priest and they were unstoppable.
Even without the healer, they were capable of going toe-to-toe with two to three players and come out the victor. They were heaven sent when it came to raids, as they could take the punishment from bosses and groups and come out strong. The Warriors were absolute beasts in the early days, and when Classic comes out in August, you better believe there will be lots of Warriors running around.