This is not meant as in in depth theory crafting breakdown of the ranger. It is just my observations after playing over the last BWE. I am looking for a third class to play, and the ranger looked interesting. I tend to play ranged more then I do melee, but the ranger offers the opportunity to play both. I most used ranged weapons because I have a bad internet connection right now, and ranged seemed to be better when I had little lag spikes.
I used the following weapons:
- Axe main and offhand
Other then the sword, I found all the weapon types to be pretty good. Toward the end of the BWE, and in WvW I ended up mostly using the axe/torch and a longbow. The axe/torch works well together. Lay down bonfire, and then stand just behind it to throw axes through it. Having that extra burning damage added to the axe damage itself is fun, and seeing the enemies on fire is satisfying. The longbow is kind of the traditional ranger type weapon. I found it good for walking around in PvE, because I could stand far away while my pet distracted the enemy. In WvW, the longbow was good for keeping me safe and alive while other people died.
I did not like the 1h sword to much. I made my ranger the most massive Norn that I could. Seeing him flip around like a karate movie star just looked silly. Maybe if I made a smaller character it would have worked better, but as it is I don’t know if I could use the sword for him.
After reading about pets in various places, I kind of expected them to be worthless. I started with a brown bear, and charmed an Ice Drake, Wolf, and Blue Jellyfish. I only played with the bear and drake. I found them to be pretty good. They did exactly what I expected, and that was get between me and what I was fighting. Maybe I have low expectations of a pet in games, but if I get hit less and they can absorb hits for me then I am going to be happy.
Here is me with Ralph the bear and Bob the Ice Drake
Utility and healing skills
I tried all the healing skills. None of the 3 skills really felt like it would get you out of serious trouble. By that I mean they are not large heals that will make up for bad play. I liked Healing Spring the most, but if something is smashing you in the face then Healing Spring isn’t so good because you have to be in the circle it creates for the heal. I found I liked using fire trap with healing spring for when things came after me.
I didn’t get to try many of the utility skills. Basically, I only used the Owl spirit and the flame trap enough to talk about them. The bleed from the owl didn’t seem to make much difference most of the time. I think it might be better in fights against creatures with larger health pools where conditions will have more time to work. Flame trap was great for damage if something came after me, and for setting up combo fields in certain fight types. I had flame trap on when I went into WvW, and I end up using it when we assaulted a keep. I put it near the door where the other team could come out, and it seemed effective there.
Overall I found the Ranger class to be a lot of fun. It is versatile enough to not get boring. Sick of pew pewing with a longbow? All you have to do is grab a sword and all of a sudden you are playing a totally different class. The class is durable enough to take some good hits, yet is mobile. I think there is a strong chance I will play the Ranger when the game goes live, all I need to do is give the mesmer a good try if there is another BWE.