I have always been fond of archer, hunter, and ranger classes in MMOs. Something about the aesthetic of arrow-shooting, taming a wild beast, and cavorting around the forests, at one with nature and poison and fire and all those wonderful things make those kinds of classes my second favorite right after the mages. However, bow-hunting classes have not always been as fond of me. When I was introduced to the Ranger class in Guild Wars as a lowly newb with no concept of skill synergy or “builds,” I could find no way to make a Ranger profession useful except as a secondary to my Warrior, because unlike my Elementalist who could at least dish out lethal amounts of damage from afar, my Necromancer, who could steal life, and my Warrior, who could take a beating, my unsubtle play-style fit into the Ranger circle rather like the square it was.
I later came to really enjoy the type of archer represented in games like LOTRO and Warhammer, who function more like less-flashy mages who are nonetheless equipped with a number of melee abilities for when dropping an enemy at your feet is unsuccessful. Both my LOTRO Hunter and my Warhammer Shadow Warrior became my favorite classes within each game, even with the more flashy Bright Wizards and Rune Keepers at my disposal. Unfortunately, every time I have tried to roll a Ranger in Guild Wars – and there have been multiple times – I have lacked the patience to get to a point where I have a strong poison or trap build, or a strong beastmastery bar. I want, I admit, to be able to eat my cake and have it too – to be able to carry both a long bow and a big stick.
Guild Wars 2 has come to the rescue with its 10-skill bar, 5 of which are directly tied to the player’s weapon choice, which can be changed out on the fly. Finally, I foresee a day when I can strike down my foes with a bow from afar, then pull out a sword and carve them to pieces face to face. It will be a glorious day. I had previously staked my claim on a Norn Elementalist when the first caster videos hit the GW2 website, but upon review, and despite fans’ doubts about the new skill system, I now look forward to possibly creating my first Ranger main.
Or whatever their equivalent in Guild Wars 2 will be called, of course.