The new blog post by ArenaNet (posted 60 mins ago!) gives a much needed update on the state of the game at this stage in development. As well as a clarification on cross-profession combos and the Engineer’s tool belt, there’s also a brief overview of changes that the pet has undergone.
Firstly Rangers now have 2 terrestrial and 2 aquatic pet slots, which can all also hold amphibious pets. Rangers can swap between them during combat, but the cooldown will increase if the pet was downed when the swap occurred. It’s an interesting mechanic – if you’re under pressure and your pet goes down, you can summon up a new one (perhaps more suitable) to help turn the tide. I like it.
Second, pets now have 2 new states – active and passive. Active meaning the pet will attack if you do, and passive meaning it won’t attack unless you order it to. I’ve asked for clarification on the trigger for when the pet starts attacking if it’s in active mode. If it waits until the Ranger’s first attack “lands” before starting to make its way to the enemy, the change is largely irrelevant. The state switches should have been if the pet starts attacking when the Ranger fires or when the arrow lands. If the pet is meant to be half your damage, it should be as effective as you are. Or we should all use Devourers which are ranged pets. I’ll update this post if I get a response.
Thirdly, pets are unlocked in families and have set skillbars. The skillbar change and consequential pet-for-situation change could have held back players a lot, so I’m glad ArenaNet have brought in family unlocks. If you capture a polar bear, the “bear” family will be unlocked for you and you can slot any members of that family. However, for a Ranger to be effective and flexible for set team situations (eg pvp with a pve character, dungeons) they will need to have all the pet families unlocked as well as having their utility skills unlocked like the other professions. I’m not saying that all pets should automatically be unlocked the second you capture one of them, but making them all different does force an extra barrier that is unique to Rangers.
Anyway, those are some initial thoughts. Looking forward to hearing yours.