World of Warcraft: Dragonflight’s Evoker is the first new class in two expansions (and can only be played by the game’s new Dracthyr race). During a special alpha preview of Dragonflight, I quested for about a level and a half in one of the new zones, playing exclusively as the new class.
Despite the Evoker being a spell-slinging caster class — the first non-melee ever added in an expansion — I believe it’s most comparable to the melee-focused Demon Hunter, added in World of Warcraft: Legion in 2016. This isn’t necessarily due to shared spells, but rather their more modern style, which game director Ion Hazzikostas said was no accident in a group interview.
“When we add a new class,” said Hazzikostas, “certainly to a game that already has 12 classes, 36 [specializations], a threshold question, or almost requirement, is ‘What is the thing that’s immediately going to make this feel fresh and feel different?’”
The Evoker and Demon Hunter both have wings that let them glide from great heights, and the Evoker is surprisingly mobile for a caster. It has big, flashy spells (just like the Demon Hunter), where you can stun enemies with a long-range blast of rocks or fly mid-combat from one side of the arena to the other, breathing fire down on unsuspecting enemies.
In our interview, Hazzikostas cited the Evoker’s action-heavy traversal, animation integration, and new Empower spells as the way Blizzard intends to make the new class pop — or, at the very least, make it feel like it belongs to a popular MMO in 2022 rather than one released in 2004.
Empower spells are the most notable addition for Evokers. The idea is that instead of hitting a spell and waiting for it to cast normally, some Evoker spells have a modular cast bar. By holding down the ability for only a moment, you’ll be able to cast a quick, low-powered version of the spell. However, holding the button down for several seconds produces a far more potent version of the same spell.
During our playtesting time we saw a fire breath spell where holding down the button increased the damage over time. That was interesting enough, and the type of thing you’d expect from class that can only be played by dragon people. But we also spotted a spell on the Evoker’s healer tree that healed more and more targets the longer the player held down the button before casting it, the use cases of which will change drastically depending on the type of content you’re running.
Simply adventuring around the world and beating up quest monsters, I didn’t get a great sense of the varying power of these Empower spells — when the monster isn’t much of a threat, there isn’t a reason not to hold down the button the entire time and get the most bang for your buck. But after spending just a short time with my Evoker, I can already see where the varying charge times could be really interesting in higher-level content like raids and dungeons.
With Dragonflight’s reintroduction of talent trees and my limited time with the expansion, it was difficult to get the flow of what an Evoker “rotation” would look like — especially before some of the top World of Warcraft theory crafters are able to get their hands on the class. But just fiddling around to the best of my ability, it was exciting to play a class that felt uniquely Warcraft.
World of Warcraft: Dragonflight will launch later this year for Mac and Windows PC.