The ranger in Guild Wars 2 excels at both melee and ranged combat, and is the game’s only true pet class. Rangers also make effective use of a suite of Traps that are capable of crippling foes, or spreading various Conditions to further augment the damage caused by their core weapon attacks.
- One of GW2′s three Adventurer professions
- Able to wear Medium armor
- Able to charm Animal Companions to fight beside them in combat
- Offers a highly mobile, evasive combat style in melee
- Able to equip both short- and longbows to excel at ranged combat
- Uses a variety of Traps to cripple and damage foes
- Can summon Spirits to support allies
Ranger Themes and Combat Roles
Unlike the necromancer which deviates from its traditional RPG archetype in some significant ways, the ranger in Guild Wars 2 neatly incorporates many of the hallmarks of a more traditional ranger. More so than any other profession, the ranger is in tune with nature, and able to summon temporary Spirits that augment their allies’ combat effectiveness, a variety of animal companions, and even set a variety of traps to hinder and damage their foes. We’ll take a closer look at each of these core aspects of the ranger below.
In terms of combat roles, the ranger excels in two important areas: direct damage output, and group support.
For damage output, the ranger uses a fair amount of direct damage skills that can be further augmented by plenty of Condition based attacks. Your choice of focusing on melee or ranged combat will largely help decide which Attributes will be the most vital for your overall build. For example, the necro benefits most from increasing Condition Damage, while themesmer tends to focus a bit more on increasing the Power attribute. For the ranger, the choice isn’t quite so cut and dried.
Both greatsword and longbow attacks tend to focus on direct damage, or conditions that hinder rather than damage foes. As such, builds focused on these two weapons can greatly benefit from increasing Precision for a higher crit chance, and Critical Damage.
On the flip side, the sword and shortbow main-hand weapons rely far more on condition damage to wear enemies down over time, and can greatly benefit from increasing Condition Damage, especially if you utilize traps for your utility skills to deal even more damage through conditions.
Eir Stegalkin, shown above, is a norn ranger that characters from that race will interact with throughout their personal story in Guild Wars 2
Bear in mind that these are not hard rules to follow, but rather a more general thing to be conscious of while getting a feel for which combat style – melee vs. ranged – you prefer the most. Rangers are also capable of providing plenty of group support through traps and spirits, and excel in World vs. World, PvE, and structured PvP equally unlike many other professions.
Before moving on to other aspects of the ranger profession, I would also note that they tend to be one of the less complex professions to play and eventually master. As such, they can be an excellent choice for both traditional MMO gamers, as well as those a bit newer to MMO combat mechanics.
Animal Companions (Pets)
The unique profession mechanic for the ranger is its ability to summon a persistent Animal Companion (also simply called pets) to fight alongside them during combat. During character creation you will be able to select from a few different pets that you will begin the game with, with the available options dependent on your character’s race. There are no wrong decisions to be made here, as you will have the opportunity to charm or tame all available pet species through normal gameplay.
To see a complete list of the ranger pets currently available, be sure to check out The Complete Ranger Pet Guide Portal. From there you can view a mini-guide for each pet species with full skill descriptions, locations for where to charm them in-game, and any additional notes for each specific pet.
We’ve also put together a listing of the starting pet options for each race below:
|River Drake||Brown Bear||Fern Hound|
|Whiptail Devourer||Brown Bear||Alpine Wolf||Red
|Jungle Stalker||Jungle Stalker||Jungle Stalker||Snow Leopard||Jungle Stalker|
The skill bar for your active pet will be displayed directly above your weapon skills (shown below), with the F1-F3 keys used to command your pet to attack your current target [F1], activate its unique skill [F2], or toggle between passive and aggressive mode [F3]. Each pet species has 1 unique skill (activated by pressing the [F2] key) with the remaining three shared between other pets from the same family. This unique skill should be considered an active part of your normal skill rotation during combat, and as such you will want to use a pet that compliments your overall build in some way.
Once you’ve tamed at least one additional pet, you will be able to switch between them during combat by clicking on the small arrow icon to the right of the pet skills. You can have a total of 4 pets slotted; 2 for combat on land, and 2 for underwater combat. Your slotted pets can be changed at any time by opening the Pet Management [K] window.
To tame new pets, you will need to locate a “juvenile” version of that animal type in PvE and WvW zones. They will be easily distinguished from other creatures both by having “juvenile” in their name, and their nameplate will also be green.
Once you’ve found a juvenile animal you would like to tame, simply walk up to it and interact with it by pressing the [F] key. This will bring up a window that tells you a little bit about that particular pet, and also gives you the option to equip your new pet at that point as shown above. Once equipped, you can also give your pet a new name by opening the Pet Management [K] window, and clicking on the small quill icon located at the top of the window.
Ranger Weapon Sets
Starting at level 7, the ranger is able to equip two unique weapon sets. These can be actively swapped by pressing the [`] key at any time out-of-combat, though there will be a short cooldown after swapping weapon sets during combat before you will be able to swap back again. For more information on how this system works, please refer to our Intro Guide to Builds.
The weapons that rangers can equip along with their associated skills can be seen in-game by opening the Hero window [H] and selecting the Skills and Traits tab on the left. We’ve also added a list of available weapons for the ranger below:
Ranger Trait Lines
Upon reaching level 11, you will begin earning Trait Points (1 per level for a total of 70 at level 80) that can be spent in any of the five available Trait Lines. Each point spent will increase 2 primary or secondary attributes, with every 5 points spent unlocking either a Minor or Major trait.
The trait lines for the ranger are listed below, along with their associated attributes and weapon or utility skill type associations.
- +10 Power per point spent
- +1% Condition Duration per point spent
- Improves – Longbow and Harpoon Gun range, Signets
- +10 Precision per point spent
- +1% Critical Hit Chance per point spent
- Improves – Axe and Shortbow, Traps
- +10 Toughness per point spent
- +10 Condition Damage per point spent
- Improves – Sword and Off-Hand skills, Traps, Survival skills
- +10 Vitality per point spent
- +1% Boon Duration per point spent
- Improves – Greatsword, Boons, Spirit skills
- +10 Healing per point spent
- +1 Empathy per point spent (improves pet attributes)
- Improves – Greatly enhances pet usage and skills
Additional Ranger Notes
While many professions have high survivability due to large health pools or the ability to mitigate incoming damage in some way, for the ranger this is caused by a combination of high mobility and avoidance capabilities. For example, the Sword / Warhorn set offers an extremely evasive combat style through sword attacks, while offering Swiftness via the warhorn skill Call of the Wild
In terms of utility skills, the ranger has some of the most clearly defined skill lines in GW2. For example, Traps can allow you to slow your foes, and cause a decent amount of condition damage while Spirits provide excellent group support.
As noted above, the ranger can be one of the easiest professions to learn early on, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have plenty of subtle complexities that can take a while to properly master.