Ranger Preview

Just a quick reminder that our fourth Closed Alpha test begins this Friday, June 2nd at 12 PM (Noon) US Central Time, lasting for 35 hours.

Today we'd like to share with you some of the changes that are coming to the Ranger class in the next test. Unlike the previous class reworks, the Ranger class was already largely how we wanted it, so the changes have been more about fleshing out the existing mechanics rather than doing a complete overhaul.

When considering the Ranger, I think it's important to consider what an amazing difference it makes playing an MMORPG in virtual reality with motion tracked controllers. When you play in a tab-targeting MMO, or even in a 2D FPS MMO, your skill in the game is somewhat by proxy. It's more about how quickly you can move a mouse or press a series of hotkeys to attack your target. Once you step into VR, though, you actually have to pull back on the string, aim the bow in the right direction, and loose an arrow that can seek its target. As you play, you get better at aiming, faster at firing, and more confident in your shooting. This is really one of the first experiences that I had in VR that really made me think, "this is something special."

As such, we've built the Ranger class primarily around that core mechanic -- aiming your shot, and shooting with speed. The Ranger sits in a nice middle ground compared to the other classes. It's not quite as physically demanding as the Warrior, but it is certainly no cakewalk, either. In terms of preparation, you choose two arrows to take with you into battle, and they each have a much more clearly defined role; you won't be doing the constant in-battle decision making of a Musketeer or Runemage. However, because of that every arrow that you imbue with a special attack carries much more weight -- miss your shot, and you've just wasted a much higher percent of your attack potential!

The key flavor of the Ranger class is accuracy, speed, and awareness. You'll frequently be tasked with dealing with additional enemies in addition to the primary target, and your trap and arrows provide you with some nice battlefield control potential as well. But more than anything, your job is to quickly strike the enemy at a distance, hitting them every single time.

Arrow Choices

The first way that we've expanded the class is to add the ability to equip a selection of two arrows, similar to how orb equipping works for the Musketeer. The arrow choices are:

Poison Arrow: An arrow which applies a steady damage-over-time effect to an enemy; very useful to keep your damage at maximum while you're busy with other targets.

Piercing Arrow: An arrow which does extra damage to a single target, especially useful when fighting elites and bosses.

Fire Rain Arrow: An arrow which, when it strikes an enemy or the ground, causes a rain of fire to occur, damaging all enemies inside of its radius. Useful when you are attacking a group of targets that will remain largely stationary.

Spread Arrow: An arrow which, when shot, will fire four additional arrows (for a total of five) in a spread pattern from your bow. This can be used to deal damage against a group of enemies that is running toward you, or if you're close enough (or skilled enough) you can actually strike the same enemy with all five arrows. Doing so is the largest amount of damage that you can deal to an enemy in a single shot, but with the tradeoff that it can be very hard to accurately hit the enemy unless they are very close.

Darkness Arrow: An experimental arrow which creates a cloud of darkness at the area where it strikes. Does nothing for monsters, but in PvP can be quite useful for hiding yourself or confusing your enemies.

As you can see, each of these arrows fills a very specific role; you'll probably develop a favorite loadout to use for various situations, such as fights with lots of additional targets, fights with a single boss, and PvP.

The Trap Returns

Another addition (or, more accurately, re-addition) to the Ranger class is the trap. This is an item which appears on your chest opposite of your Player Compass, and which you can grab with your Arrow hand (even if your arrow is still out). Throwing it onto the ground will set a trap that, when triggered, will place the enemy into a stunned, immobile state. This fragile containment will be broken by any damage done, however, so be careful.

Unlike the Runemage Polymorph spell, you can place this trap before combat has begun to help your group plan out what to do; however, keep in mind that you have the added challenge of needing to get the enemy to walk over the trap in order to trigger it...and it may not be effective against enemies that float or fly!

Ranger's Mark

Finally, we've upgraded the Ranger's charged shot (which you activate by pulling back the arrow notched in your bow for several seconds). Now in addition to dealing a great deal of damage to the target, the attack will cause a floating mark to appear above the enemy's head, visible to all of your allies.

This mark will increase all damage done to the enemy by 5%; while that doesn't seem like a lot at first glance, when you multiply that 5% by everyone in your group, it really adds up fast. In addition, the mark itself can serve as a very useful tool to coordinate your group and make sure that you're all focusing your attacks on the same target, a key strategy that you'll need if you want to defeat the challenging content in the game.

That's all for the Ranger changes! We hope you're looking forward to playing the new and improved class. We'll have one more blog post before the Alpha this week discussing a few other changes that we've made to mechanics such as loot, and unveiling our newest dungeon that will be available for you to play in the test, including three new boss fights! Stay tuned!

Riley Dutton

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