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ArenaNet has finally bestowed upon us some new information via their latest blog post, detailing improvements to the ranger and engineer professions as well as featuring a tiny taste of the cross-profession combo system. Ranger and engineer have both been professions long considered to be in need of some loving, particularly involving their primary profession mechanic, so this update is much welcomed. Personally I think the changes to engineer are utterly positive, especially because I was one of the fellows who believed the previous incarnation of the engineer primary mechanic was silly and not very profession defining. The improvements basically give engineers secondaries to all of their skills and grants them a heavy dose of complexity and versatility which is all great stuff! What I want to focus on however are the changes to ranger pets. Before I start however I want you all to know that I do realize that the changes to pets are mostly wonderful. A lot of that is because a good amount of would-be ranger players see pets as a hindrance while another meaty portion sees our furry companions as ability bars they don't particularly want to have to micro. I'm on the other hand one of those few players who actually enjoys the playstyle revolving around a pet class with plenty of control, especially one where the focus is on the pet. I've played both beastmaster and puppetmaster in FFXI, both melee pet classes where a pet wasn't merely a detached skill bar or some sacrificial distraction to keep foes away while you pewpew'd with a bow. Believe it or not, for both classes your pet was actually more important than you were and acted as your primary source of damage, defense, and abilities. I found both beastmaster and puppetmaster incredibly challenging and enjoyable and they were actually both my first real taste of a pet focused class, leading me to keep an eye out for more! Unfortunately it wouldn't be until years later that I had the opportunity to really experience the joy of a pet focused class again, this time surprisingly in PvP, through Warhammer Online's white lion career. Tricking players into attacking me, the tanky player, while allowing my dps specialized lion to tear them apart was an interesting change of pace, even if it was still imperfect. The balance of power was divided between you and your lion in a back and forth sort of way. This allowed them to be more powerful and harder to kill, unlike most pets which are left weak to compensate for player strength. Like Guild Wars 2's ranger several abilities also activated maneuvers for both you and your lion. Some of the lion related abilities were even pretty amusing, like commanding my pet to fetch a foe and fling it back to me, which was war lion's much loathed PvP pull ability. Then we come to Guild Wars 2. Though my eyes are on the final profession one of my characters will definitely be a melee only ranger with as strong an emphasis on my pet as possible. However I fear that the recent changes have reduced the identity of pets, making them nothing more than living skill bars once again like those found in far too many MMORPG titles. Worse than that is reduction further caused by the new swap system. I feel that there's simply less importance placed on your pet when you can simply swap it out for a fresh one, wait on the timer to swap it again, and even revive-summon your companion if your pet was previously dead. Yes, I know there are timers and all that good fluff, but I can't agree with you if you think this won't change the mentality with which ranger pets will be looked at. I know I only represent a single viewpoint of pet lovers, and maybe I'm blowing this completely out of the water, but we've already got the sacrificial minion master and the automated structure builder. Ranger was supposed to be the pet profession in which pets meant something and I was honestly hoping that there would finally be another MMORPG where that was true even if only by build choice rather than as the basis of the class. It just feels like ArenaNet went in a different direction and made pets simpler objects rather than actually fixing and enhancing ranger as a viable pet profession, but I guess we'll actually have to see them in action to know for sure. What do you all think? Do you want to see deeper individual pet options or is making them adaptive/reactive tools and keeping them out of the way the right thing to do for ranger? (comments)
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