Meet the Ranger:

Now that the two Soldier-class armor professions have been covered, it is time to move onto the Adventurer-class armor, or medium armored professions. The first profession on the docket is the warrior of the wild, the Ranger! The Ranger can wield a combination of melee, thrown and ranged weapons, and lacking guns or magical implements. Their usable weapons are:

  • Main Hand: Sword, Axe
  • Off Hand: Axe, Dagger, Torch, Warhorn
  • Two-Handed: Greatsword, Longbow, Shortbow

Rangers are thus far (and quite likely) the only profession with both longbows and shortbows at their disposal. There are several key differences between the shortbow and the longbow. The most notable is the range, which is fairly self-evident, but of equal importance is the fact that most of the shortbow skills can be shot on the run whereas fewer of the longbow skills can. The longbow then will likely be more of an artillery type of weapon. Of further note, due to the mobile nature of the shortbow, its skills also tend to be more effective when used from behind the enemy, making positioning not only more possible but also more pivotal. Their first skill deals more damage from the front or the side, and their fifth skill dazes from the front but stuns from behind. Both weapons have a form of distance creator, the shortbow giving a roll back and the longbow giving a knock back.

Interestingly, although the axe and dagger are seemingly melee weapons, the Ranger uses both as thrown weapons instead. When in the on-hand, an axe has an attack that hits multiple enemies, one that knocks back, and the third throws several axes in a spreading pattern, or a cone. In the off-hand, axes provide Whirling Defense, a skill that both hits nearby enemies and reflects enemy projectiles while it is held down, and Path of Scars which throws an axe like a boomerang, damaging foes in both arcs of the throw. Daggers can only be used in the offhand, giving a ranged cripple and a melee poison stab.

The sword has so far been notable for being a mobility based melee weapon, and the Ranger uses it in this manner as well. The main skill chain does damage, then knocks the foe back, and then lunges at them. An interesting feature to note is that you can break the chain, thereby allowing the Ranger to attack, knock back, and then simply stay farther away and use its ranged attacks. Serpent Strike makes the ranger do a leaping roll around the enemy and backstabs them, inflicting the poison condition. The final sword skill is Hornet Sting which hits the enemy and then makes the Ranger jump backwards. Overall, the sword seems like it has ways to get you where you want to be, whether that is dancing around foes or backing away from them.

Like the Warrior’s war horn skills, the Ranger gets an attack and an ally buff when wielding one in its off hand. Hunter’s Call summons a flock of birds to attack an enemy. It seems to be rather expensive, but at least it has a pretty short cooldown (20 seconds). Call of the Wild grants the Ranger and its allies the fury, might and swiftness boons and has a 30 second cooldown. Being in the off-hand slot, it has to go with either a sword or an axe, and I’m not really sure which one complements it better. I’m leaning towards the axe simply because the axe is a more ranged weapon, and if you want to run melee and ranged separately you can just use an alternate weapon set.

The Ranger can use the torch to throw a fireball-like attack, or to light an area on the ground on fire. If used in the latter manner, the Ranger and other allies can shoot projectiles through it to light said projectiles on fire. Overall it doesn’t seem to be terribly powerful when compared to the likes of the other off-hand items, but I suppose it could be good for a quick weapon swap to create a fire zone, then back to the bow of your choice.

Rangers are also able to use greatswords, but no builds have been released to the public in which greatswords were demonstrated, so there really isn’t much to say here. I assume that it will be a mobility based melee weapon, likely with some form of CC (like a cripple or knock down), and potentially some AoE powers.

The unique mechanic

Pets are the unique mechanic of the Ranger. Like the original Guild Wars, the Ranger can tame a wide variety of creatures to fight with it permanently. Pets can be downed and resurrected just like party members, and they even have their own skill sets, though far more limited than a player’s. In Guild Wars 2 the Ranger can have 3 pets following it at the same time, with one active and the other two in some form of reserve. The pets have one of three environmental categories: Terrestrial (land only), Aquatic (under water only) and Amphibious (both). The benefits (if any) of having a terrestrial pet on land vs an amphibious pet on land are completely unknown at this point. Each type of animal that can be tamed has multiple versions, for example bears can be tamed as brown bears, polar bears, etc., each with different mechanical themes.

Amphibious Pets:

  • Bear
  • Dog
  • Drake
  • Lizard
  • Cat
  • Wolf
Aquatic Pets:
  • Armorfish
  • Jellyfish
  • Shark (Bolded for emphasis!)
Terrestrial:
  • Devourer
  • Moa
  • Spider
  • Raven

Concerns

Pets kind of suck. Both in general, and as we have seen them in Guild Wars 2. The reasons they suck are severalfold: they are largely out of the players’ control, they are hard to balance, and if a pet dies, the Ranger in theory will be losing effectiveness. The AI for the pets has thus far been pretty laggy. They are slow to acquire new targets, and there is obviously a travel time between when they decide who to attack and when they physically get there. If they are essential to the Ranger (which as a unique mechanic they ought to be), then the ranger should be doing some amount less damage than other ranged characters because their pet will be making up the slack. Of course if the pet doesn’t because either it is too weak or too stupid to not stand in the firestorm, then the Ranger will be severely handicapped. Fortunately, ANet is well aware of these issues and have assured us that they are working on them right now, so hopefully when we see the Ranger next its pets will suck less.

Why this profession is for you

The ranger is the only nature-themed profession in Guild Wars, filling the role of both druids and hunters in other MMOs. They are strong ranged artillery characters with a focus on both positioning and escape mechanisms. In Guild Wars 1, Rangers were often the last members of the party to die simply because it was not worth trying to catch them. If you like a beastmaster feeling, or a medium armored melee or ranged fighter with a focus on escape mechanisms, the Ranger might be right for you.

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