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Discussion > WoWJun 25, 2024 8:00 am CT

Are certain classes more likely to be toxic than others?

While writing our less-than-serious guide to choosing a character for WoW Remix: Mists of Pandaria, I went back and forth over the Demon Hunter entry a lot. If you’ve played at any point since Legion, you’re probably aware that the DH has a poor reputation. It isn’t about the class’ mechanics, or its performance, or even PVP balance concerns: It’s about Demon Hunters being strangely magnetic to the game’s most toxic players.

I was skeptical when I first heard it. All MMO stereotypes paint with a broad brush, and game design can incentivize behavior that has little to do with someone’s actual personality (e.g., someone unfamiliar with the game might perceive Warriors as aggressive and impatient, when the reality is that they minimize downtime due to a resource system that decays out of combat). However, I found myself rethinking this as time passed. It’s rare for me to cross paths with a genuinely rude or unpleasant player, but I started to notice that when it did happen … it was disproportionately likely to be a Demon Hunter. Most were still nice, but the pattern was too consistent to ignore, especially with Havoc. But why?

This isn’t the first time a particular class has been considered more likely to attract toxic players. My amateur guess is that classes or specs encourage toxicity when they combine the following traits:

  • Relatively easy to play to a decent level: It’s seductive to think you’re a great player when you’re at the top of the meters, even if it didn’t take much effort to get there. When the DH debuted, and for the length of its status as a meta pick, players conceded that it was among the easiest specs to play in high-end content. (Though this has started to change: Momentum builds in Dragonflight have made Havoc tougher to play to its potential.)
  • Above-average survivability: Players can be pissy toward people they see as making mistakes or letting the group down. Someone playing a class with better inherent survivability can get irritated by player deaths, even when the real problem is elsewhere (i.e., divided healer attention, poor overall DPS extending a fight).
  • Mechanics that don’t always play nice in groups: With respect to the DH, it’s a fast, high-mobility class that can easily find itself waiting for slower players. A DH may well be tapping their feet impatiently while the tank is catching up for the next pull.

None of these traits necessarily matter on their own, but taken together, you can see where the conditions for toxicity can develop, and why previous “toxic classes” also had issues. A class that overperforms relative to the skill required to play it, and more likely to outlive its mistakes than other classes, isn’t inherently toxic. However, it will give mean players more opportunities to be toxic, if that distinction makes sense.

So, what do you think? Are any classes in your favorite MMOs magnets for toxic players?

Originally published May 21, 2024

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