Updated Sat, Dec 05, 2009 by Savanja
During Aion's third beta event, I spent a couple of days working with my scout and learning the ways of the ranger. I had a lot of fun and have found that the ranger appeals greatly to my enjoyment of versatility and involved combat. I dislike classes that leave you feeling like you could just sit back and button mash your way to success and the ranger avoids this feeling with a plethora of combat options. At the end of the preview weekend, I found myself very pleased with the class and not only would I recommend it to others, but I have also chosen it as my favorite! Keep reading to find out the details of the ranger up to level 20.
After my initial sadness over scouts not getting ranged combat right away in the first 10 levels, I was delighted to obtain a bow right after ascending and choosing my class. Rangers focus on ranged combat and this is very apparent immediately. The first thing I did as a ranger was learn to kite. Yes, they can do it, and it is a great skill to have especially when you are as delicate as the ranger is. Learn it and love it!
Rangers have wonderful ranged “slow” skills that actually last quite a long time. These debuffs can snare your target long enough to get a couple of high damage ranged hits in before it can even get its first swipe at you.
Bows work at close range. I cried real tears of joy when I used my bow to toss a slow then actually had it work within melee range. This is great because often your bow skills will have bonuses that would come in handy at close range. The slow, for example, was awesome because it allowed me to back up and toss a couple of hard hitting ranged hits without getting beat on myself.
Continuing the trend from the scout levels, the ranger has low defense and tends to die quickly if things get out of control. Multiple enemies and surprise aggro can be a real problem. This is mostly remedied by being very aware of your surroundings so when you do need to go into a crowded area, be very careful and always pack health potions.
Balancing melee and ranged combat can be quite a trick. You really cannot be completely dependent on one or the other, so you have to work extra hard to achieve just the right combination of using your daggers and using your bow. This ends up being a little limiting in some situations that call for a lot of close combat as the ranger’s melee damage isn’t terribly high.
Yeah, I know. We are rangers, and we don’t need no stinking melee! Unfortunately you will have to use your blades at least a little in most battles so this is not an aspect that we can completely ignore.
Continuing to carry duel wield is, of course, the way to go. As I mentioned in the Scout Preview, a quick weapon in your primary weapon slot seems to be wise for the sake of critical hits. I’ve continued researching whether a dagger or a short sword is better in the secondary weapon slot and I still cannot define a difference. After several hours of playing on my ranger, I decided to go with whatever I could find in a better quality rather than limiting myself to one particular type of weapon for the off-hand slot.
Through levels 10 through 20, you will continue to get upgrades to your melee skills. During times when close combat is a necessity, using your Hide skill along with the high damage flanking shot, Surprise Attack, should always be the battle opener. Surprise Attack’s upgrade is available at level 13 along with a one minute evasion buff called Cautious Eye which will ease some of the damage you take in melee battles. One of your first melee skills, Counterslash, doesn’t get an upgrade until level 16 but you will be focusing more on ranged skills during this time so you won’t miss it too much.
As soon as you choose the ranger class, you can equip a bow. You have two weapon inventory slots on your character that allows you to equip both your melee weapons and your ranged weapon with a hotkey to switch between them at will. You will need to carry arrows in your inventory as well so be sure to pick those up right away from your local general merchant.
Always equip the best bow you can afford. As a ranger, striving to do the most ranged damage possible will make your adventuring so much easier!
Between level 10 and level 19, you will only have a couple of ranged skills, but they are all you need! Entangling Shot, often the first skill that you will use in battle, will damage and slow your target. This skill gives you the ability to get in more damage before the target reaches you, which is crucial for survivability. Another ranged skill that you will get early on is Snipe. This is a fairly high damage skill that also has a moderate reuse timer. You’ll need to be sure you are auto-attacking with your bow between skills to optimize damage from a distance.
At level 19 you will be granted Stunning Shot, which does a very nice amount of damage plus adds a stun that is wonderfully helpful to cast when the enemy has broken free of the snare.
One of the coolest aspects of the ranger is the traps that they can set around themselves. I dig the whole idea of skilled marksmen luring the foe in with arrows and finishing them off with well placed trap and a quick stab!
You get your first taste of traps with the level 13 skill called Spike. This places one trap around you that goes off when an enemy gets within 5m of you. When the mob sets it off, it will immobilize it and lower the enemy’s evasion skill so that you can back out of reach and use your bow to take it out.
At level 16, you will also score Poisoning Trap that will poison any mob foolish enough to get too close to you. Both of these trap skills will last for a minute so you can set them up early in the fight to prepare for the inevitable melee face off.
With all these tools, a ranger should be able to do most of his damage from a distance with slightly less than half of the damage coming from melee combat. The ranger isn’t built for extended melee combat so learning to use your bow and traps well will be what ends up being your saving grace in tough confrontations!