Rangers carry with them a name that certainly has some expectation alongside it, with epic fantasy sagas such as Lord of the Rings and of course the previous Guild Wars honing ranger characters, this is something that carries with it a sense of predictability in a number of aspects. Cloaks, bows and arrows, striking from the shadows, but in Guild Wars 2 the ranger is more broad, with a wider sense of ability to it. It takes what you expect of a ranger and then adds to it from the original game to make it a truly special profession.

Dangerous at any distance

As mentioned, rangers initially are seen as characters with keen senses you’d expect at the back of the pack with a quiver full of arrows ready to unload them into opponents from a distance. This is the case of the ranger in Guild Wars 2 if you choose it to be, but in fact, they are blessed with the ability to wield not just bows, but daggers, swords, axes, and even greatswords.

This is excellent for those whom wish to mix up their play-style now and again. Remembering that each different weapon type can offer an array of new skills to use with them, this means that the ranger proves to be one of the most diverse professions you will find. Clad in medium armor, the ranger can survive a moderate amount of damage so choosing to sit back with your longbow for slow but long ranged attacks may have its advantages but jumping in with a dagger in each hand could deal damage at a faster rate at risk of taking more damage yourself. In the end, the style of play is down to the player and if you know what you are doing and consider your current set up then your ranger will fly through levels like arrows through air or daggers through flesh.

What goes up must come down...and cause plenty of damage

The actual abilities that come with each weapon type further help to mix things up. Axes may be used as throwing weapons along with a whirlwind kind of stationary attack that damages nearby enemies and increases your defense. Longbows provide abilities such as launching a quick succession of arrows skyward to come down on your foes along with knockback attacks and skills that can cause bleeding damage and hinder enemy movement if hit successfully. It’s very interesting to see a profession that while you could think to be so bogged down in a cliché is actual more like a pick ‘n’ mix that helps it appeal to however you wish to do things depending on your situation.

The Ranger has a few healing abilities that can aid allies as well as pets

This is my pet bear named ‘Cuddles’ and his favorite food is faces

One big feature of the ranger is pets. A ranger is able to tame certain animals in the wild and use them as allies to fight alongside. This helps a ranger in terms of not only dealing damage, but also avoiding harm in that sending your pet into the fray first can help to distract enemies and keep some of the damage off of you (even if you feel terrible sending your pet wolf into a suicide mission to save your own skin).

Each ranger starts off with their own pet right off the bat. The pet at this point depends on the chosen race. Norns can choose to start with a bear, wolf or snow leopard, Charr may choose a drake, devourer or stalker, etc. This helps you get used to the pets system which is pretty simple to wrap your head around once you know what you’re doing with it. Each different pet has an ability to use in battle along with orders that allow you to send them head first into battle and return to you. You may have four pets in your pet management but only one may follow you at any time. This again helps with developing whichever play-style you go with along with the situation at hand. You may send a bear out to deal out damage and distract hordes of enemies, or you may call out your raven to peck at the eyes of your assailants and blind them so you may re-evaluate your scenario.

Pet management offers all the must know details of your pets, except toilet training...

The pet management allows you to go over the skills of your pets as well as name them, which is of course, a nice personal touch. You could walk around without a pet following you if you really wanted but frankly the appeal of walking around like a badass with a giant scorpion at your side sounds too cool to pass up. Pets help to add to the unique feel of the ranger and overall help it stand out as its own profession rather than just a “weaker” soldier.

I am one with nature and nature hurts

One aspect of the rangers abilities that does sit in with the cliché is their tuning with the wild. Their understanding of nature and hunting gives them the ability to use traps. These traps allow the ranger to plant a trap at their feet with a radius that once an enemy steps into, will trigger the trap. They come in a variety of flavors such as flame, frost and spike. These can either cause fire damage, frost damage or bleeding damage and act as a great means of defense for a ranger should an enemy draw too close to comfort. These traps are also capable of being used in cross-class combos, should there be allies nearby who know what skills they must use to coincide with these traps.

Even at a low level, the traps can prove vital for countering enemies getting too close for comfort.

Rangers may also call upon spirits to help them. These ethereal entities come in differing types such as frost, storm and stone. These grant the ranger’s nearby allies’ bonuses such as 20% bonus damage, 20% protection and healing, curing conditions and even reviving downed friends. You can then further amplify the spirits to become aggressive to your enemies. For instance, if a storm spirit is in use, the ranger can have it strike down and    emit a powerful blast of electricity. This helps to make the spirits an option for both the ranger that sits back with a longbow and the ranger than runs in with a greatsword, making it a viable and useful option for both.

The ranger is a class that can be seen as a kind of jack of all trades. It is a varied and diverse profession that could appeal to a great number of players no matter how they wish to play. While the pet is one of the key features of the ranger, it’s very possible that it could stand a very good chance without it but that by no means thing the pets are useless. They help to make the class what it is and combine that with its dynamic usability and you have yourself a profession that is not just effective in most if not all situations, but is exceedingly fun to play. Whether you choose to stick to ranged weaponry, or close combat, so long as you take advantage of the ranger’s abilities you will find yourself mowing down all in your path whether alone or in a group.