PvE Survival Hunter DPS Guide

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Venture forth deep enough into the wilderness, and you may find yourself becoming prey to a specific type of Hunter that embraced it as its home. Often seen as primal or simply savage by other denizens of Azeroth, few live to tell the tale of encountering such deadly prowlers who choose to use complicated explosive traps, and animal venom as their weapon of choice. Survival Hunters are known as trackers or poachers, coating their arrows and bullets with deadly toxins and complicated explosive charges, delivering excruciating deaths to any who dare cross their territory.

This guide will teach you how to play a Survival Hunter in PvE encounters, no matter if they are difficult dungeons or terrifying raids. We will be covering everything from enchants and consumables, to talents, rotations, macros, and addons.

Survival Hunter in Cataclysm

Hunters are one of the few classes that received a complete overhaul when it comes to their resource system! They get to say “goodbye” to Mana and welcome their new Focus resource. Focus is now used in Cataclysm for the majority of their abilities, with most abilities acting as Focus spenders and two abilities acting as Focus generators. Survival Hunters will use Steady Shot as their main Focus generation tool until they unlock Cobra Shot, with the latter ability replacing the former entirely upon acquisition.

Additionally, Hunters no longer require any ammo to fire their weapons, whether we talk about Guns or Bows. This is a huge quality-of-life improvement for Hunters, as they no longer need to clutter their bags with endless stacks of ammo!

In terms of actual gameplay, Survival Hunters in Cataclysm work very similarly to how they worked in WotLK, with only two particular changes to this overall rotation. Their main damage tool remains Explosive Shot with the Lock and Load mechanic continuing its vital role into how the specialization functions. The main changes revolve around Cobra Shot, replacing Steady Shot as a Main Filler. Since the new Cobra Shot also extends the duration of Serpent Sting, they only need to use it once during an entire encounter as long as they properly use Cobra Shot to extend its duration. The rest of their rotation plays exactly the same as it did in WotLK, with Kill Shot, Arcane Shot, Black Arrow, and Explosive Trap representing core parts of their kit.

Survival Hunter Strengths & Weaknesses


  • High Single-Target & AoE Damage
    Survival Hunter currently represents one of the strongest DPS specializations in the entire game, dealing astonishing amounts of damage in both Single-Target and AoE encounters.
  • The New Resource System is Easier to Manage
    Being one of the few classes that received a resource revamp, Hunters now have a way easier time with the new Focus resource system. No longer needing to manage their mana has simplified and enhanced their overall playstyle!
  • Easy Learning Curve
    Survival Hunter is among the easier DPS specializations to learn at a basic or intermediate level. Their relatively easy rotation makes the specialization fun and engaging while also making sure that there is close to no downtime.


  • Gear Dependent
    Just like with most specializations in the game, Survival Hunter requires a considerable amount of gear until its true potential can be experienced. As such, the specialization feels underwhelming while having weak equipment.
  • Hard to Master
    While Survival Hunter is a relatively easy specialization to learn, mastering it is an entirely different story! For players that want to top the Damage Meters, proper use of the Lock & Load mechanic is mandatory, along with the ability to min-max your cooldowns and instantly adapt your rotation to any situation that you may find yourself in are crucial aspects for mastering the specialization.

Best Races

Wow Horde CrestHorde

The horde has the better races from a PvE point of view, with most of their racial abilities providing direct damage-enhancing effects. The strongest available race for Survival Hunter is Troll as it has access to Berserking and Bow Specialization, followed by Orc with Blood Fury and Command, and Goblin with Time is Money and Rocket Barrage.

Wow Alliance Crest Alliance

The Alliance has stronger PvP racial effects than PvE racials, with most PvE racial effects being represented by passive effects. Worgen is the strongest option due to Viciousness, followed by Dwarf with Gun Specialization, and Draenei with Heroic Presence.


We hope this guide has been able to help you decide if PvE Survival Hunter is the class/spec for you. Make sure to check out our other sections, such as talents, gear, gems, etc, to get more information on how to improve your performance as a Survival Hunter in Cataclysm!


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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David Bowman
David Bowman
1 month ago

Thank you! Very helpful to this hunter returning to the game after a long absence.

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