Dracthyr Evoker Class Overview
My name is Preheat, I’m the guide writer for Frost and Fire Mage. Today I’m very excited to share my opinion and speculation on Devastation, the new ranged DPS specialization coming in Dragonflight.
For the first time ever, we have a new ranged damage dealer specialization to play! If you don’t know already, Evoker has two specs: Devastation and Preservation. Today we will focus on Devastation.
What we know about Devastation so far:
- Evoker is a race-specific class. It is only available to Dracthyr, the new playable dragon race.
- Evoker uses mail armor, same as Shaman and Hunter.
- The Devastation spec is ranged but seems to be a mid-range caster, similar to Mage.
- Devastation focuses on Blue (likely a mix between Frost and Arcane) and Red (Fire) dragonflight powers, where-as Preservation focuses on Green (Nature) and Bronze (Time Magic).
- Evoker is introducing a new casting mechanic, Empower, which is a charge system for casts.
- Evoker is an intellect class. It uses Staves, Axes, Maces, Swords, Fist Weapons, Daggers, and caster offhands.
- Dracthyr have Wing Buffet and Tail Swipe as racial abilities
- Evoker uses Essence as a resource, which regens passively like energy and is used in spenders
- Evoker will likely have a raid buff that affects the cooldown of movement abilities such as Blink called “Blessing of the Bronze” similar to Symbol of Hope
This is all we know for certain, but there is also limited information about Evoker from the Dragonflight Expansion Reveal, Dracthyr Evoker & Dragonriding Preview, and various interviews. Based on these, we can make some additional assumptions about the class. Keep in mind this is my own speculation, but I will make an attempt to source my claims with footage whenever possible. Let’s jump right into it!
Update: in a recent interview we now know the cast while moving ability is called “Soar” and the resource is called “Essence”.
Gliding and “Soar”
I’m keeping these separate because I believe Evoker has two different mechanics that suspend you in the air. I’m highlighting these mechanics because I believe they will be an important part of the Evoker class concept. First up is an ability to glide while falling.
Evoker can glide, similar to Demon Hunter, but with some key differences.
This seems more like a passive than an ability, likely activated by jumping or falling. The example of gliding from the showcase is not the same as Demon Hunter since it doesn’t seem to add forward momentum. There are also no examples of double-jumps from the showcase, so I’m assuming Evoker will not have a double-jump.
Evoker seems to be able to take flight and cast spells while moving for a limited time.
Although it seems to be specific to the “Frost Beam” ability at first glace, if you look closely the clip has the Evoker flying before the beam and even appears to queue another spell at the very end. My speculation is that this is a cooldown, similar to Spiritwalker’s Grace. This ability, which I will refer to as “Soar” from now on seems to provide a speed increase and allow certain or all spells to be cast while moving (This was later confirmed in an interview with MrGM and Holinka). More on this later.
This Frost Beam seems to be a separate spell.
Empower or “Hold” Casting
As mentioned before, Evoker will have a “new type of spell called Empower“. This is a new casting mechanic where you “hold down the button to charge the spell”.
Charge your spells to empower them, increasing damage or targets hit.
Fire Breath was shown in the preview.
A frost projectile was another example shown in the preview.
This is a new mechanic to World of Warcraft but players who have tried other MMOs like Lost Ark will certainly recognize these kinds of spells from that game. Spells that are charged up this way will do more damage or hit more targets, depending on the spell. In the Preview, this new mechanic is described as a way to give the player a “physical connection” to their spells. This is a welcome addition to the game and I’m excited to see it in practice.
Devastation Evoker Spell Breakdown & Analysis
Note that the names I am using for spells are basically just made up by me and not final. The only spell with a confirmed name (as far as I’m aware) is “Pyre”. Effects of spells are also assumed, based on the description of the spell from the preview and previous examples of similar dragon abilities. Some of the animations for spells show them beginning with all 5 aspects of the dragonflight’s magic, then transforming into their proper type. I will not cover healing spells today.
These spells are not just broken up by color for thematic reasons. According to the developers, Red spells are “very fast and explosive, burning everything” while Blue spells are more “focused and overwhelming”.
A spell similar to Fireball.
Every class needs a filler ability and this seems to me like the most likely candidate, at least from the Red Spells. The animation from this spell reminds me of the Flamespit of Searing Whelp, but is cast by the character instead of shot from the mouth.
Pyre is Red damage spell that launches out of your mouth at enemies. It explodes on impact and burns enemies.
This ability seems to be a targeted AoE that affects multiple enemies. It is mentioned in the preview that this spell burns enemies, so I think it is safe to assume it applies some form of damage over time debuff to targets hit. This spell could also be cast with a reticle, similar to Shadow Crash.
Similar to Dragon’s Breath, this spell is a frontal cone that burns enemies. This spell can be empowered.
This spell was one of the examples used in the Empower preview. It is unclear if the smaller enemies are crowd controlled from this ability or if this is just their animation. If it does provide crowd control, the middle humanoid is unaffected. This breath spell seems to have a short range, but it is possible that empowering it will make it larger.
Similar to Deep Breath from Onyxia, this spell has the caster fly over 30 yards forward
while delivering a devastating Breath attack.
It is safe to assume this Deep Breath attack is a cooldown, similar to Frostwyrm’s Fury. It’s important to note that this spell moves your character, which means it could put you in harm’s way. It also looks awesome, I especially like the lighting effects on your character as you scorch the ground. I’m really interested to see if this spell can be used near a wall to get your character stuck and deal a ton of damage to a tight stack of enemies, or if it can only hit a target once.
With this spell, you imbue your claws with Blue magic and cleave enemies from afar.
I’m calling this ability Arcane Claws (see Breakflip interview) but it appears to be similar to Howling Blast. In the example we see this ability used 3 times in a row, so it’s safe to assume it either has charges or is spammable. Because of this, I’m assuming this is a Blue filler spell used for cleave.
Conjure frost projectiles from a magic rune above the caster. This spell can be empowered.
This is the other spell shown when the empower mechanic was explained. In the preview this spell took 4 full seconds to cast when empowered! I think it’s safe to assume that empowering this spell will increase its damage, since you have to give up so much time to fully empower it.
Shoot a beam of energy at one target, similar to Ray of Frost.
This is a channeled spell that deals damage to only one enemy. It is likely a cooldown. Note that this spell can be cast while moving during the “Soar” buff.
Wing Buffet is a racial ability that appears to damage enemies while knocking them back in a cone in front of the caster.
This is likely similar to Typhoon. This is a racial ability.
Tail Swipe is an additional racial ability that has an AoE knockup effect.
How Does Devastation Evoker Fit into the Ranged DPS Meta?
We still aren’t sure how Essence will work as a resource or how the playstyle will with with it, but with these examples in mind: the picture of the Devastation specialization begins to form. The bigger question is how Devastation will fit into the game as an additional ranged DPS? Are there enough unique niches left? Until we know exactly what Devastation is good at we won’t know where it’s strengths will lie. Based on the information we have so far, Devastation seems to have strong AoE cooldowns. It also has the ability to modify abilities by empowering them, which in some cases will make them hit more targets. Since Devastation has many abilities that have a shorter reach (similar to Fire and Arcane Mage), it has to be played closer to the boss and will likely have to move more than most ranged. This is why the “Soar” cooldown I pointed out before is so important, because having to be mid-range without mobility would likely make it frustrating to play.
As a ranged without dots and short reach, it will likely not be able to spread cleave. To me this implies that the strength of the class will likely be its versatility in cleave and stacked AoE (again, this seems familiar as a Mage player). The ability to do a lot of cleave AoE is something that many classes already have, including classes with strong spread cleave (looking at you Destruction) so it really is up to what the other classes can do, since no niche exists in a vacuum.
Personally I would like to see Devastation have different phases in its playstyle depending on what spells you have available. With your Red spells you have strong cooldowns, burst AoE, and mobility. Blue spells will be a way to fill time between cooldowns with deliberately long casts and arcane claw cleave. I believe this design fits well with the stated goal of Red spells being “very fast and explosive” and Blue spells being “focused and overwhelming”.
My primary concerns about adding a new ranged DPS without spread cleave is that it could easily fill the niche of an already established spec instead of finding its own. There are also many specs that don’t really get play because they just don’t have a spot to fill, or are on the lower end of balancing and overlooked. There are already so many issues with balancing, especially with healers and ranged, but that is more of a general problem. Even with fewer options, I expect there would still be balancing issues! I hope Blizzard is mindful of how other classes with a similar role stack up to Evoker when designing it, and that they don’t go the route of giving it spread cleave as a way to find a spot for it.
Other issues I could see with Devastation have more to do with just being a ranged in (or around) melee. There are a lot of abilities in M+ and raid that are really nasty to ranged and cause them to have to play far from the target. In a situation like this, Devastation would have to choose to stay with the melee or do less damage. Staying in melee is also a problem if Devastation isn’t exempt from abilities that can affect ranged, similar to Mistweaver Monk or Holy Paladin. Hopefully Blizzard takes this into account when designing ranged mechanics in future encounters.
My last concern is how the spells will all fit together. How will Essence be used by Evoker? There is a lot we don’t know yet, so for now we have to just be patient.
Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic about the design of Evoker and very excited to play it to figure out exactly what it’s about. I can’t believe after all these years they finally added a new ranged DPS, and that it appears to be somewhat similar to Mage, my favorite class! I’ve always wanted to play a spec that mixes Frost and Fire spells (ever since Frostfire Bolt) so this class seems like a dream come true, but I want to know more. I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
Thank you for reading this writeup, I hope you enjoyed my insights into Devastation. What do you think? Are you excited to make an Evoker? If you have any thoughts or insights about the class please leave them in the comments below. Hopefully we get a launch date soon!