It’s no secret that when it comes to MMOs, I generally play a ranger class. In Guild Wars 1, I’ve spent over 6000 hours in the company of my Ranger – nearly half of all the time my main account has accumulated. I’ve played one in Aion and cobbled one together in Rift. Generally, I love them with a passion that’s only occasionally rivalled by healing classes. I also haven’t exactly been quiet about how disappointing my experiences with Ranger in early demos of Guild Wars 2 were. Frankly, I felt like the heart had been ripped from the profession I loved. I was not, to put it lightly, a happy bunny. But that was all a long time ago now, so on Friday night during the stress test I figured it was only fair to give the Ranger another shot. Would the changes, balances and tweaks have made my experiences better?
It seems I’d made a human ranger sometime in BWE3 to reserve a name, so hopped on and joined some guildmates in Queensdale. I wanted to get as wide a view on the profession by experiencing as many different weapons as possible, so focussed on completing renown hearts and dynamic events, trying to stay in areas 2 levels above my own. By the time I logged off at around 3:30am UK time, my Ranger was nearly at level 11 and I’d already gotten some “favourite” weapons. So, here’s my impressions of the ranger after a relatively short time together.
Let’s start with the pet. In earlier days, I’d found the pet to be more of a hinderance than a help. It frequently got lost and as it was far more powerful than the ranger itself, I felt like a cheerleader
playing it rather than a hero. I’d heard various complaints about the pet being squishy and pointless during the Beta Weekends. This was not my experience during the stress test and I felt that the pet had reached a certain amount of balance with the ranger. While the pet definiately helped with damage output and was use for aggro diversion, I didn’t feel like the pet could take down an enemy solo and I could see the impact my character’s skills were having. The pet was a necessary element of combat, but not overpoweringly so. When the pet died I felt disadvantaged and exposed. Yes, pets do go down quite quickly and switching pets and using their special abilities is something that rangers will need to get used to doing to make the most of combat. But, that’s the same with every profession’s primary mechanic. Also, pets now resurrect themselves out of combat which will most certainly take a lot of the tedium out of being a pet owner. Are they appropriately sentient? No clue. That will need more careful testing.
To the weapons then. I got to try a variety of weapons including dual wielding axes, axe and sword, shortbow, longbow and greatsword. Now, the next bit of the “review” needs to have a major caveat; the manner I was playing the stress test did not lend itself well to getting a good view of melee combat. I was fighting enemies that were over my level and I wasn’t upgrading my armor properly. So needless to say, when I got into the further regions of Queensdale using melee weaponry, I died a lot. That said, there weren’t any weapons I really hated. I had the greatest affinity for the shortbow, I think because the skills it has are similar to how I play my ranger in Guild Wars – plenty of conditions! I probably least enjoyed the dual axes build. Frankly, I still miss the “haha, you’re screwed” feeling that used to come from a well timed d-shot (and have since found from using Static Field to trap enemies in WvW), but I have a feeling that if I keep looking and play around with traits I might find it on the ranger again.
Is 3 and a half hours long enough to get a good view of a class? Probably not, but it’s enough to make up your mind about if you would be happy playing more and I can say that I’d be very willing to go back and give the ranger a bit more time; which I’ll be doing in around 30 minutes! The plan is still to roll mesmer at release, but the ranger may just make it on the alt list.
Where’s that humble pie? I need a slice.