As I'm currently downloading the game client I figured it wouldn't hurt to jump into the forums to ask a couple of questions. I've been away from the game for several years and as such my knowledge about the game and the ranger profession is probably a bit outdated and I would appreciate it if you could take your time to answer them. Mostly because I want to determine if I should bother to play my old ranger - or if I should swap to a different profession.
Yes that statement makes it fairly obvious that I'm sort of biased about the ranger profession. But here is hoping that maybe some of the - less call them less enjoyable - gameplay elements were addressed in the past years.
I'll add an explanation whenever I feel like it is neccessary and later add my question below said explanation to keep this post from turning into an unclear mess.
Starting up with pets. In my time pets had a series of issues. One of them being that pets had a tendecy to implode in group PvE encounters whenevery they got hit by random AoE abilities or just basic cleave attacks.
Next pet related issue were conditions applied by pets. If a pet applied a conditation that - let's say deals 200 dmg a tick - and you swapped the pet out for your second pet. Said condition's damage would drop down to ~10 dmg a tick. Because the game couldn't find the source of the condition anymore and therefore the pet's conditiom damage was no longer factored in. Now with the new specialization on the table that will give the ranger a new option to swap/remove the pet it feels like this could cause a lot of problems depending on how they've fixed the issue.
The ranger's direct damage builds always had an issue with the scaling due to the fact that the ranger's damage is split between the pet and the ranger. Sadly the pets didn't scale with the equipment of their master and that ensured that they've become weaker and weaker the better the equiptment of the ranger got. Now I've read that HoT did introduce a new tier of equipment above the core game's exotics. This brings a couple questions to the table. Both for core gameplay and for the new soulbeast specialization how the pets are fairing in this new environment and if the dev team ever added a scaling option for them.
Some PvE encounters were quite frustrating for rangers because the pets refused to attack certain targets. Like constructs, walls, cannons, but also massive targets like dragons were often ignored by pets.
The following question may make me sound lazy. But it was nevertheless an issue in my opinion. As a ranger you brought a couple of aoe buffs with your pets F ability that you could manually trigger. Sadly those buffs all had an extremely short range so you basically had to 'find' your pet and go hug it to get the benefits of your own profession. Even then it was not guaranteed that you would get the benefits of your own buff as other players or npcs could just consume the buff instead of you. It always felt weird to me that they never included a guaranteed buff for the ranger on those F abilities.
One last point about pets before I move to other topics. I've watched the soulbeast showcase from Woodenpotatoes and the 'math person' in me can't help but notice that the soulbeast transformation sounds like a huge self nerf. We get two of the pet's skills as F skills. (the 2 abilities that the pet uses without our control). But we sacrifice the pet as a dps source for that and those 2 abilities would be used regardless of whether or not we merge with the pet. We just get more control over 'when' they are used. It really sounds bad to trade the pet for 200 or 300 attribute points. Maybe attribute points are much more valueable these days. Yet as far as I remember a character easily got up to the 2-3k mark on them.
Onto some non pet related questions.
The 2handed sword was a great weapon and it had a really strong dps and scaling on the basic attack in the beta of the game. Sadly it got nerfed prior to the game release and for straight direct damage we were sort of forced to go with the irky 1handed sword. Well several years have passed since then and this brings up the hope that some things may have changed.
Sticking with swords. The 1handed sword. The mother of all nightmares as I used to call it. The basic attack chain of the 1handed sword was driving people insane in my time. In addition the other two abilities on the 1handed sword also had some issues. Mainly that they failed to hit mobile targets and especially targets on elevated positions like stairs or ramps. Your chances of your character jumping all over the place - but not towards your target - on a ramp/stair were sadly really high.
Regarding traps and spirits. I've sort of absorbted the information that rangers can't trait for traps to be thrown or spirits to be mobile anymore. A quick look at a trait builder confirmed that for me. This opens up to options. They are now either baseline mobile/throwable - or those abilities are now limited to very static fights and barely useful outside of such stationary-esque fights.
Ranger and ranged weapons. People coming from different games had to adapt to the fact that ranged weapons would never be the top dps weapons for a class. That took some time to get used to, but I've learned to accept it and to work with it. Still it always bothered me that the ranger was the only profession which had to invest into traits to get their ranged attacks to affect more than just 1 target. While others had aoe or cleaving attacks baseline baked into their ranged attacks.
Last but not least. Opening strike. A mechanic that sounds so great on a first impression until you realized the massive restrictions on it. First of all the once per fight part was fitting for the name. But obviously decreased the value on longer fights. But there was a way to regain opening strikes during a battle. Sadly the 'once per fight' part of opening strike was not the worst part about it. The main issue was that most of the strong ranger abilities were multi-hit attacks. The issue here with opening strike was that all the benefits of an opening strike would only affect the 1st hit of such an ability and it was completely pointless for the follow up hits. To go with a simple example. If you had an ability that hits 5 times and you had an opening strike ready. The 1st of these 5 would be a crit and deal more damage. Yet the remaining 4 hits would not get any benefits. I've heard that thieves got a mechanic that is very similar to opening strikes with stealth attacks and that they would get the full benefit for an entire ability. So this brings up the hopeful question.
That is all I can think about right now. Thank you for taking your time. I appreciate every little bit of information that you can toss my way.