by: Tony "RadarX" Jones
Many of us glanced over the Test server notes last week regarding lots of interesting changes. Unless you were a Sniper, Spy, or aspiring Ranger, you might not have noticed the total revamp of abilities for this subclass. In an attempt to re balance what they feel are skills that don't quite fit, NCsoft developers seem to be making some sweeping changes to improve the class. What will be different? Is there something the patch notes isn't telling us?
According to Patch 1.7.2 we will see the following changes to Rangers:
Fire Support (Replaces Carpet Bombing) - HQ has tactical weapons such as various bombs and ion cannons on hand and ready for a Ranger to call into use. By using micro-mech, the Ranger can flag areas or specific enemies with beacons to be the targets of these weapons. Once a beacon is in place, a delay occurs while the weapons are prepped and teleported through logos to the target.
Spotter (Replaces Reinforcements) - Tap into the Waypoint Network and open a gate, bringing an ally on to the battlefield to provide combat support. Once the ability's energy is expended the ally will return to base. While active, this Spotter will enhance your Radar by negating the effects of enemy Stealth technologies. Spending more skill points will add to all spotters ability to see enemy stealthers.
Did we Mention Hoorah?
Tactical Evasion (Replaces Polarity Field) - The Ranger can utilize Logos to get themselves into and out of a fight while suffering minimal damage.
Fire Support appears to work in a manner similar to Carpet Bomb with one small exception, Fire Support adds certain effects to it's attack. Pump 2 for instance will actually stun it's targets for a few moments making different levels useful in different situations. Situational utility is never a bad thing but it raises an important question. Was the original skill broken to begin with?
In this writers opinion it worked just fine as an area of effect ability providing significant firepower to the battlefield. This could be an example of additional polish the development team wanted brought to what was already a fairly cool ability. Granted it may not see a lot of use from Snipers who fire from a distance or Spies who hack and slash at point blank range, but it should please any Ranger who needs to take out multiple targets.
Spotter attempts to convince Rangers to reinvest their points in the ability to call an NPC controlled friend for a few minutes to assist you in battle. From what we've seen and heard on the Test server there have been amazing enhancements to the AI so say goodbye to the days of having your ally run circles around you shooting the wrong target.
Each pump of the Spotter ability will work in a similar manner to Reinforcements by calling forth a Pistoleer, Rifleman, Medic, Grenadier, etc... to do your bidding. Once locked on a target they will continue to attack until it or your ally has died. From the testing we've seen a Spotter can take out a creature usually a level beneath it or more. They also have the skill to negate stealth abilities which has the potential for use in PvP but it's overall utility will certainly require further testing.
The last of the changes effects what most would probably regard as the least useful of the Ranger skills, Polarity Field. The new Tactical Evasion offers players the ability to escape hostile situations and takes a page from the Spies Magnesium Flash skill. Pump 1 and 3 will negate the enemies ability to target the Ranger, while 2 and 4 reduce the amount of ranged damage taken. Pump 5 seems to be the odd duck because it "Creates a beacon that the Ranger will teleport back to after a short time." Unless you can control when you can teleport, I can't see how this would be really useful in most situations.
What will Tactical Evasion bring to the table? The ramifications for PvP are obvious. Allowing players to move about even for a few moments untargetable would provide a significant advantage, especially to Spies. Even in normal gameplay, the ability to have an "Oh %@!" button that can readily save your hide? That right there should be worth a few invested skill points.
Overall the patch changes to the Ranger class look extremely pleasing and should satisfy most players. We can expect this will further augment the Sniper/Spy and provide a new tier of abilities they probably haven't been using for quite some time. Will it be enough to make the Ranger class sit on par with Commando, Sapper, and Biotechnician? We should know soon when update 1.7 hits the Live servers.
What do you think of patch 1.7 and the Ranger changes? Is it enough or too much? Stop by our forums and let us know what you think!