Monday, April 30, 2012

Plink Plink Fizz... GW2

Playing a ranger is a known quantity in most MMOs. You can expect to wear Medium armor, have the help of an animal companion and shoot things with a bow. You can call yourself a ranger or a hunter or a scout but in the end it comes to much the same thing.

Ranger isn't my favorite class but I've played more than a few. Usually I'll test drive new MMO with whatever passes for the bog-standard Warrior but I was apprehensive about some of the things I'd read about GW2's "action combat" so I went with a class that could stand off a ways and see what was going on.

I've been throwing my thoughts about this onto various threads in my brief spells out of game over the weekend, particularly at Hardcore Casual and Kill Ten Rats, where some lively exchanges took place. It does seem that my experience of combat has been at variance to what others have found.

Gina on the comments to my First Impressions piece described her frustration withthe difficulty of combat and I've seen advice all over the place about the need to bind Dodge keys, weapon swap, learn combos, circle strafe, never stop moving - any number of things supposedly essential if you aren't going to spend most of your time looking at a black and white world from a very low perspective.

This is variously reported as happening at level five, or ten or maybe it's not until after level 20. I was trying to get as high as I could to find the point where the unavoidable action gameplay kicked in but I didn't manage to find it in the time available. Be warned that I only managed to get to a shade short of 19th and that I can only speak from the perspective of a Charr ranger. Other classes and races may have a much harder time of it than I did. Check KTR for a picture of how different things are for melee classes, for example.

Soloing a Charr ranger is, if you want it to be, identical to soloing a ranger in any other MMO. You wander about the countryside looking for prey. When you see something you fancy you make sure he doesn't have more friends than you can handle, send your pet in to grab agro and plink away with your bow. If your target comes off the pet and runs at you you backpedal and keep firing, having of course ensured that there's nothing behind you which will object to being barged into by a ranger in reverse gear.

Do this correctly and you won't even get hit before the mob dies. I found it as straightforward to do in GW2 as anywhere. Mostly, though, I didn't even need to take all that trouble. Usually all I did was plink the mob to get its attention, let it come to me and tank it while the pet chewed away from behind. Fancy kiting tactics only came into play on mobs more than two levels above me and even then not always.

I moved to the level 15 - 25 areas when I dinged 13 and roamed around leveling up on mobs between 2 and four levels higher than me for most of Sunday. I successfully joined in lots of events, some alone or with one other wandering woodsman, some with lots of people. I only trained up Longbow until a good Shortbow dropped when I was 17 so there was little weapon-swapping. I wore gear I made myself runed with runes I made myself.

I had an absolutely wonderful time playing exactly as I am used to playing. I didn't have to adjust any more than I did moving from, say, EQ2 to Rift. Less than when learning to play Fallen Earth and far, far less than DCUO.

I would contend that this is a Good Thing. Not because I plan on stubbornly insisting on playing GW2 as though it was EQ. I will learn all the new techniques and tricks - I'm looking forward to it. No, the good thing is that I can learn them after I'm comfortable with who my character is and what his place is in the world. The time to learn new mechanics is once I'm settled in, not right at the very start. If other classes don't have this leeway, I know now that I can come to them once I am comfortably established with a character and class that I understand and can play effectively enough for my own purposes.

I would encourage anyone who found the whole action combat hype too daunting to make a Charr ranger next beta, take up leatherworking and go hunt drakes until you have enough leather for a full suit of crafted, runed armor and enough action points to buy Troll Unguent and  Signet of the Wild. which together will let your pet tank pretty much anything you're likely to want to solo. Make sure you don't pull any mob that "reflects projectiles", stand back and plink plink plink ! It's a classic and classics never go out of style.


  1. Well, I think it was also that I'm not really looking for another game right now -- I'm very happy with EQ2 and SWTOR on and off.

    I love my EQ2 Illusionist, and my SWTOR Balance Sage/Madness Sorcerer have a similar playstyle. But GW2, being a PvP game, has no CC that works in the same way. That's the way I like to play. If this game doesn't offer it, I guess I'm out. I played the Mesmer for a bit longer and found that to be the closest, but the pets do not grab aggro at all. Guild Wars 2 -- The Kiting. Blargh.

    I don't really have the patience to learn a whole new slew of gaming practices. Dodge, well, I might as well forget that until they allow me to bind it to one of my extra mouse keys. Mouse 5 worked, but not Mouse 4. And do I really want to spend my game trying to figure out when to hit my button like a console player? The answer is no. I have never been a twitch player and I sure as hell don't want to become one. I'd rather run out of the way, which is what I do with all games, really.

    I wish I'd preordered instead of prepurchased, because then I'd return the sucker.

    But, on the good side, I think I represent many casual players who don't care about "e-sports" and just want to relax instead of work in a game. So ArenaNet will have to adjust if they want that market.

    1. "I think I represent many casual players who don't care about "e-sports" and just want to relax instead of work in a game. So ArenaNet will have to adjust if they want that market."

      They already have, imo. I also don't give 2 craps about 'e-sports' or being 'hardcore' and I had a ton of fun during the BWE. I guess it's more 'different strokes for different folks' more than anything else.

  2. @Gina - it does sound as though GW2 is not for you, which is totally reasonable given your class/style preferences I think, but I just want to say in response to this:

    "I played the Mesmer for a bit longer and found that to be the closest, but the pets do not grab aggro at all. "

    Oh, dear. That is really really not what Mesmer clones are for, and that makes your squishiness make a lot more sense. (they're for blowing up and damaging the enemy, lots and lots)


    "Make sure you don't pull any mob that "reflects projectiles""

    AHA! So you DID have select strategies and chose your targets carefully. I see what you did there.

  3. @casualdoes Well yes, but that's part and parcel of soloing in any MMO, isn't it? And most aren't kind enough to post the mobs tricks under their names, either! I learned to solo in EQ where you never knew what a mob could do, or even what level it was until you pulled it so being ready to run when working out which mobs in a new area are good targets is second nature to me.

  4. Sounds like range is a tad easier atm. Kind of like WoW, in dungeons as my feral druid I sure do miss my hunter, lol. Just a bit more laid back and not so much stuff to stay away from.

    Great pics, been reading your GW2 posts and it really sounds like a lot of fun. Ranger looks cool too. I'm really interested in checking out the necro and the ranger.


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