For years World of Warcraft players have wanted a non-healer class that can help allies from afar, a mix of support and DPS. Recent datamining from the game's upcoming patch 10.1 suggests that the wait might almost be over.
Admittedly, the evidence for a ranged support class specialization is slim, but it would fit with the recent direction of the MMO. The entire Dragonflight expansion was pitched as a return to the game's high fantasy roots, and Blizzard keeps adding features that players have wanted for years.
The Dragonflight expansion's new race and class, the Dracthyr Evoker, only has two specializations to choose from: healer and DPS. Most of WoW's classes have three. Paladins can be healers, DPS, or tanks, for example. While having only two specializations isn't unheard of (poor Demon Hunters), the Dracthyr have a strong narrative reason for having a third.
Patch 10.1 will dig into the origins of the Dracthyr, a race of dragon-human hybrids created by one of the original Warcraft villains, Deathwing (aka Neltharion). You might remember him as the dragon that burned Azeroth to a crisp in the 2010 Cataclysm expansion. The Dracthyr have the unique ability to blend the powers of the various dragonflights (helpfully color-coded) in WoW's lore, but they're notably missing a specialization that revolves around Deathwing's black dragonflight.
Yesterday Wowhead datamined a quest in 10.1 that makes it seem like the Dracthyr are about to get a new specialization. The work-in-progress quest text literally says Dracthyr players will get a pop-up window that reads: "New specialization remembered." WoW doesn't use the word "specialization" for anything else, so unless this is a mistake, it almost has to be pointing toward a new role for Evokers.
The final part of the quest includes a boss fight and the text says you can "boost/heal" your ally. Dracthyr can't currently buff or boost allies, even in their healing specialization. "Boost/heal" could be a unique mechanic for this specific quest, or it could simply be a typo. But if the "specialization remembered" text pop-up is true, it could be a quest that introduces you to a new specialization.
In a recent interview with associate game director Morgan Day, WoW streamer Towelliee asked about a potential tank specialization for Evokers. "We've never really added a spec, so I can't really speak to that," Day said. "Tanks were discussed in the early days when Evokers were a glimmer in our eye."
Day's response is just vague enough that it doesn't rule out the possibility of a ranged support class. It's a role that WoW has never had and is commonly asked for in the form of a bard class, similar to the one in Final Fantasy 14. The idea is that you'll be able to cast helpful buffs to your allies that feed back into your own DPS rotation. This theoretical class/specialization would probably not top the damage meters or anything, but it could be useful for the game's tough endgame content. It's the kind of specialization that would make sense as a post-launch addition because of its supplementary role—I doubt it would grab the attention of all the players who want to be as self-sufficient as possible.
That's all the evidence there is for the moment. Although these quests were datamined from patch 10.1, which also includes a raid about the Dracthyr, Day's comments could be interpreted as a confirmation that it's not happening quite yet. The quest text could be a placeholder for a specialization that isn't ready for the patch's supposed late-spring release. WoW's 2023 roadmap doesn't have any clear indications of it either. My guess is that if we don't see it in 10.1, it'll come in patch 10.2 near the end of the year or in early 2024.
Morgan Day was right: WoW has never added a brand new specialization to a class (Druids' fourth spec barely counts) in its almost 19-year history. But WoW keeps making unprecedented moves; enough that it has players discussing what other long-requested feature will arrive next. A ranged support class would be a very welcome surprise.