Call of the Wild: An Introduction to Rangers
As one of the most beloved professions in Guild Wars history, the Ranger stands out in many regards, mostly for its versatility and adaptability. Never seen without and animal companion, most Rangers can be found stalking the wilds, looking for their next quarry and ever on the move. If you're like me, you picked the Ranger because of their ability to deal considerable damage both at range and in melee, and you stayed because of your stalwart animal companion. For a more in-depth look at the profession, some tips on playing effectively and general information, hit the jump.
As masters of nature and more in-tune with the world around them than most, the Ranger is most at home alongside their animal companion in the wild, roaming and hunting, tracking and foraging. With a mastery of several weapons, the ranger is truly a "jack of all trades", though most can be seen wielding the deadly longbow. Such versatility is seldom seen in the other denizens of Tyria, and they are a force to be reckoned with. Counting famous entities like the Norn Eir Stegalkin in their numbers, they are no strangers to conflict and peril, but they use their knowledge of the wilds, their nature magic, martial skill and their bond with their animal companions to overcome any obstacle placed before them.
But what is a Ranger really about? As mentioned previously, the Ranger is probably the most versatile profession in Guild Wars 2, able to dish out considerable damage both at range and in melee, and always with the aid of an animal companion. Using powerful nature magics to heal themselves and their allies, as well as empowering their animal companion with ancient rites, the Ranger always has a trick up their sleeve.
Today I wanted to do a very basic introduction to the profession, give an overview, and share some of my favorite things about playing as a Ranger. There will be more of these in the future, and I would like to preface this and further articles by saying that I do not consider myself to be an expert in this profession just a fan, really. Though I am quickly learning the ropes, you'll have to bear with me if my build isn' "the" build, it's just what I prefer and have come to enjoy over the course of leveling. So with that out of the way, let's get started.
Rangers outfit themselves in Medium Armor, and wield a wide variety of weapons, enforcing the previously mentioned versatility. At range, the Ranger can wield the Shortbow as well as the Longbow in melee they use a Greatsword with both hands, or are able to use a one-handed Sword or one-handed Axe, along with an off-hand weapon in the form of another Axe, a Dagger, a Torch or a Warhorn. The abilities available to this class vary widely based on their weapon type (especially when dual-wielding), and it depends on how you want to play, really. We won' go into exactly what each weapon does at this time, but a few general pieces of information bear passing along:
- It goes without saying that you'll either wield a Longbow or Shortbow at range, and the preference really comes down to what you'd like to do. Shortbows fire more quickly and don' require the same distance that Longbows do to be effective.
- As a result, the weapon does slightly less damage, but gives you a variety of moves intended to keep you moving, and keep the enemy at a distance. But, if you plan on engaging at a distance, the Longbow is unparalleled in damage and range, as well as unleashing the deadly Barrage of arrows on unsuspecting foes.
- You have far more choices when considering what to do in Melee range. For those that prefer raw power with a real gap-closer, go with the Greatsword. It features a charge, a crushing AoE ability in the form of Maul, as well as an interrupt and counter-attack.
- Another combination that many are fond of is using a one-handed weapon with the Warhorn this gives you access to Call of the Wild, an excellent buff that gives Fury, Might and Swiftness to yourself as well as your allies it's really a great skill.
During leveling, I've found the combination of Longbow and Greatsword to be of great use personally. I love keeping them at range for as long as possible, and then switching to melee and charging in. But, everyone will find different techniques that they prefer for their play style, so by no means are you anchored to one specific set of weapons or tactics. Mix it up and play around with it a bit, you'll be surprised what you can find.
Since I've found myself preferring just straight out combat, for stat selection on gear I've just gone with Power and Precision. Many Rangers have done well building around condition damage, but it just didn' fit my play style really. But again, it bears consideration to try each out and see what you prefer personally.
The bonus damage from Power coupled with the huge amount of Critical Hit chance from Precision made this kind of a no-brainer. The trait line that increases Precision directly for a Ranger is Skirmishing, giving you 10 points of precision per point spent, in addition to 1% increased Critical Damage per point.
Finally, we come to our animal companions. There is such a wide variety to choose from that we'll probably do a future article simply on pets. However, I've always preferred to choose based solely on appeal and preference. As such with my Norn Ranger, I chose the wolf to start, simply because I enjoy the look of the wolf and I thought it would be a great companion for the Norn stalking the frozen wilds together, surviving together in the harshest climates. So largely my choice was cosmetic. There are no doubt players that prefer to min-max their character, and I'm sure pet choice will factor into this in some way. But for me, the pet is really just a companion, and I've based my choice solely on what I think is cool. Perhaps we'll examine pets more in depth at some point in the future.
Tactics and Strategy
In PvE Content
While out questing, doing events, or even during dungeon runs, you'll find that you have several ways to help your group complete its objectives. Most will prefer to just deal out as much damage as possible, and this is always a good thing naturally. However, some thought should be given to what kinds of enemies you'll be facing during whatever content you're planning on doing. We feature many abilities that will provide buffs and healing effects to our allies, and these can often change the tide of the battle. A few examples:
- During our group run of Ascalon Catacombs, I don' think I could've managed without the use of the Longbow's Barrage ability. Providing an AoE dispersal of arrows, it was invaluable in delivering damage to all the various adds that are spawned for basically half of the encounter.
- As I mentioned in the Equipment section, wielding a Warhorn in the off-hand slot will give you access to Call of the Wild, providing various buffs to yourself and your allies this is just an excellent ability to have and you should consider having it on hand just for the boons you will give to everyone around you.
- Your choice of healing spell is going to be a tough one in some regards. Healing Spring will provide an AoE circle of healing and provide regeneration for all those that stand in it this will typically be the go-to heal for Melee Rangers. Troll Unguent and Heal as One provide potent heals for the Ranger and their animal companion, and in different ways Troll Unguent will provide regeneration over time, while Heal as One will provide a one-off heal for a moderate amount. Choice will be greatly affected by situation and play style, so choose carefully.
In PvP Content
Most Rangers will find themselves in a variety of situations during PvP, especially dependent upon which type of PvP you plan on participating in. Let's take a very general look at each and how they might affect your play style.
In World vs. World content, you'll find a great home for yourself up high and far away, dealing as much damage at range as possible. For this reason, the Longbow is a great choice. The previously mentioned Barrage ability will allow you to lay down moderate damage and a cripple in an AoE fashion, allowing you to defend walls, gates and bottlenecks with ease. I generally tend to avoid fighting in melee range if I can help it, as you can become easily overwhelmed by an invading horde of enemies. For this reason, I recommend sticking to walls or generally high areas where you can most effectively deal damage without becoming overly exposed to enemy attention. Call of the Wild is a great boon to distribute when moving in between areas, and Signet of the Hunt is useful for this reason as well, providing a 10% boost to movement speed.
You have much more latitude when considering options in Structured PvP versus WvW. You'll often find yourself in melee situations, and these are much more manageable given the limited size of the opposing force. Generally your melee encounters will be very limited in size and scope, so you can feel free to open up a bit more and break out of that ranged box. Similar tactics do apply here however point defense is accomplished greatly by using AoE abilities such as Barrage, but you might also consider a Condition damage based build and switch over to traps, which are excellent for guarding points. Pet abilities such as Guard are incredibly useful as well putting your pet into stealth and having them protect a given area. Another generally useful pet ability that transcends PvE content but is particularly useful in PvP is Search and Rescue. Using this ability, your pet will go out and find the nearest downed ally and attempt to revive them this skill is invaluable and can often save the life of a teammate.
As I've said before, I very much prefer to keep at range for the majority of my PvP encounters. The Ranger has many abilities designed to keep enemies at range, and to punish them for being there. As such, I will generally try to find good spots to snipe from, bottlenecks to litter with AoE or traps, and other areas that give me a range and height advantage over the opposing forces. Each player is different, and while I'm sure there are many who are successful at engaging in melee combat en masse, it's just not for me.
Once again, I'd like to say that this initial article has just been a very general look at the Ranger and what they are adept at doing in a variety of situations. I think that most players who are currently enjoying the Ranger profession would attest to the versatility of the class and personally I can't imagine it being any other way. The adaptability of the class is fantastic, and if played correctly, you almost always have an out a way to get away from your foes, to snare them, or just generally make it difficult to get up close. Coupled with the presence of a stalwart animal companion, I felt this profession was incredibly appealing, but from a performance standpoint, as well as general lore and roleplaying approach as well.
We'll continue to bring you more Ranger based content in the future, and I would like to know what you all want to hear about. Would you like a more detailed guide on PvP? How about an in-depth look at the role of the Ranger in a PvE setting? Let us know in the comments below and we'll do our best to bring you exactly what you want. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you've enjoyed this initial look at the Ranger profession. Happy hunting!