The ranger has always held a special place in my heart. It was my very first Guild Wars character, and continued to be my main for four years. I purposely stayed away from it during the beta, so I could get a fresh experience come launch. When it finally came, I loaded up my character with great expectations, watched the now-familiar introductory scene, and then reached for my beloved bow… only to find they gave me an axe for a starter weapon! For a short period of time I assumed the expression of an extremely confused dog (head tilt included). But as I continued forward, I started to settle in and get used to this new iteration.
I used the axe as both a main hand and an offhand weapon, and it was surprisingly enjoyable. Splitblade and Path of Scars were both fun, as I’m a big fan of AoE. Next there came a slew of melee weapons, such as the dagger, greatsword, and sword. I was impressed with the power of the greatsword, as I was doing 3-hit kills with it. Who cares if they were level 4? So was I. The dagger was nothing to write home about, but the sword was great fun for someone who can’t sit still, as you constantly roll around while fighting. It can be a little confusing at times, but all that evading definitely pays off when you’re the one doing a victory dance in the end.
The other two offhands, the warhorn and torch, I only spent time with long enough to unlock the skills. I can definitely see myself coming back to them in the future, but I was eager to see what the other options had to offer. Hunter’s Call and Bonfire were both visually satisfying and effective. I especially liked the torch, because I have a bit of an obsession with fire (maybe I belong in the Flame Legion?).
When I first came across the shortbow, I proceeded to do the equivalent of quick-scoping everything in sight. The sheer speed of it was impressive, and the condition damage was an added bonus, plus I was finally back in familiar territory, though not yet to my Holy Grail. I think I saw the heavens themselves open up and angels descend when I was handed this heavenly creation. Alright, it was just the longbow, but still. It was my favorite weapon in Guild Wars, and I’ve never felt as at home as I did when I finally equipped it. It isn’t quite as fast as the shortbow, but Rapid Fire just about makes up for that. What it lacks in speed, it makes up for in power. I was also thrilled to discover that Barrage had made a return, and that it wasn’t even an elite skill anymore. It’s a perfect example of how they’ve upped the ante with the visual capabilities in Guild Wars 2. In the original game, you saw a few extra arrows come out of your bow, because bows can obviously fire multiple arrows at once. Then again, you still pull arrows out of thin air, but no one’s really complaining about not having to buy arrows, right? But now, you see your character fire multiple arrows into the sky, then watch as gravity does its thing and your enemies drop like flies.
Overall, the ranger is an engaging, yet not too complicated profession. And let’s face it, they’re just plain awesome. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of making it rain (arrows, that is), or piercing the heart of your enemy – or at least pressing the keys that make those things happen. There have been many variations of the ranger throughout gaming history, but in my opinion (alright, it’s a little biased), Guild Wars 2 has one of the best. And that’s why I’ve chosen it to start off my adventures in this amazing game.
For future columns I’ll include other professions, but with the ranger being my first love, I’ll delve deeper into that profession first. Next up, a look at our loyal, sometimes furry companions.