The Ranger class in Guild Wars 2 is arguably one of the most underpowered classes at the moment. This is due to an over-nerf of several builds and traits during the beta weekend tests and a sudden shift to a more beastmaster-esque idea instead of the Ranger we're all familiar with from a game like World of Warcraft with its Hunter class, where you can choose to spec further into Beastmater, Survival or Marksman. In Guild Wars 2, you also have this choice. However, the choice is not as clear-cut and there are several slight differences between them. The skills and traits you can take determine which facet of Ranger you focus on. What's nice about the Ranger class is that they can do everything well. This is a double-edged blade in the fact that they can't really do anything better than anyone else.
I've played Ranger since PBW1, and I've logged over a thousand hours on my Ranger. It's been my experience that a Ranger is often an excellent choice to fill any role, and they are best when the Ranger realizes that he's not just one person, he's two. With the right skills and spec, you can be two people whereas other classes are just one. You can revive two people at once, you can revive someone while your pet deals damage or vice versa. Your quickness revives are the strongest in the game. With a vast multitude of pets within arm's reach, you can pick a pet for every situation. My recommendation is to take a Drake and a Devourer, as they have a nice mix of tankiness and damage, and you also get the melee and ranged choices on your F4 swaps. As for weapons, I usually rock the Shortbow/Greatsword for the conditions and control they offer, as well as the increased bleeds and damage for your pets. My build is a mix of condition trapper/beastmaster, focusing on keeping my pet alive so he can make up for my lower damage.
My gear is a mix of healing power/condition damage gear to help my heals and the passive regen for my pet as well as the spike/flame traps I carry with me at all times. The elite I take is usually Rampage as One because I can rapidly stack might on my pet and myself with the fast attack speed on the shortbow. Using a Drake's F2 with over ten stacks of might deals a considerable chunk of damage, same with the Lashtail Devourer's F2, which also increases the damage of bleeds applied by the F2.
This build is good for both PvE and PvP. In PvP, try to kite the enemy around as much as possible and keeps slows up so your pet can get his auto-attacks in and try to land that F2. Done properly, a Ranger can even handle 2v1's with ease. The amount of regen provided by Natural Healing and Signet of the Wild should keep you up if you time your active heal properly. I tend to use Healing Spring for the condition removal, since this build is in desperate need of it.
If you're leveling a Ranger, focus on beastmastery so your pet can tank all the random trash you'll have to kill for you, and your pet will also likely deal more damage than you do while you level because he doesn't depend on gear. Your weapons don't matter as much, but a Shortbow/Greatsword choice would be preferable, just like before, or perhaps add an Axe-Warhorn to replace your Greatsword if you want more AOE damage and swiftness.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me in-game. Leoth Shadowclaw of the Tarnished Coast server.
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