Guild Wars 2 Ranger Guide, Build - Nature Is Your Ally!
GW2 Ranger guide
In Guild Wars 2, Rangers are an extremely versatile profession. They can excel both as ranged and melee DPS. They can strike their enemies with powerful direct damage, or by inflicting conditions. A ranger can also use their pet companion to assist them in battle. Furthermore, with the Druid elite specialization, they can be one of the most powerful healers in the game. Rangers are one of the adventurer professions and they wear leather, medium armor. In this GW2 Ranger Guide, you will read everything that is important.
GW2 Ranger Pets
The pet companions are the unique mechanic of this profession. A Ranger can have up to four of them at the same time, but only one can be active in combat. Rangers can choose basic behavior modes of their pets and use their active skills, but besides that their companions are controlled by AI. Depending on the character’s race, the player gets to choose one out of three different pets at the beginning of the game. They can later charm other companions during their adventures. Similarly to weapons, you can swap pets during combat.
Rangers have a special category of skills called Commands that help Rangers to better synergize with their pets. They’re also the only class that has access to survival skills and can summon Nature Spirits. Furthermore, they have the ability to place traps and use signets.
In Guild Wars 2 every class has multiple options in terms of choosing a weapon. Besides the iconic bows, there are also plenty of other weapons available for Ranger to use in combat. Of course, your choice should always be based on the build and playstyle that you’re willing to roll with.
Two-handed: Longbow, Short Bow, Greatsword, Staff (Druid only)
Main-hand: Axe, Sword, Dagger (Soulbeast only)
Off-hand: Axe, Dagger, Torch, Warhorn
Specializations and traits
Choosing three out of the available seven specializations and the correct traits to optimize them is extremely important in creating a build. The specs can enhance different aspects of your character’s skillset. The elite ones can even completely change the class identity and the role it plays as a part of the team.
Ranger’s core specializations are Marksmanship, Skirmishing, Wilderness Survival, Nature Magic and Beastmastery. As for the elites, Heart of Thorns unlocks the Druid, while buying Path of Fire gives you access to Soulbeast.
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Marksmanship – this specialization is focused on long-ranged damage dealing. It provides you with a mechanic called Opening Strike – giving you extra effects on the first attack you or your pets perform while entering combat. This tree gives you extra damage and abilities focused on impairing your target’s mobility. This makes it a great option for builds based on direct long-ranged damage and crowd control.
The minor traits focus around the Opening Strike mechanic, making it inflict vulnerability, crippling your target and increasing critical hit chance. As for the major traits, Hunter’s Gaze and Farsighted give you the most extra damage in the first two slots. As for the last position, you can go for Predator’s Onslaught for extra damage against movement-impaired enemies. The other viable option is Lead the Wind that makes your longbow skills pierce through enemies, allowing you to hit multiple foes with a single non-AoE ability.
Skirmishing – this spec \can improve your traps and condition damage. It works well with shortbows and swords. It focuses on weapon-swapping, smart positioning, and critical hits. It’s mostly used in builds based on traps and condition DPS.
The minor traits focus on swapping weapons and positioning. The major ones are very situational. In the first spot, Trapper’s Expertise improves your traps, which works well with the builds based on utilizing them. Sharpened Edges fits the builds based on condition and critical damage. Primal Reflexes work great with dodging and evading incoming attacks.
In the second position, Hidden Barbs is a must-have for every condition based build. Spotter helps with the damage output of your whole team, as it increases their critical damage. Strider’s Defense has great synergy with dodging and sword fighting. In the final slot, Light on Your Feet works great with dodging, conditions and short bows, while Vicious Quarry gives you a lot of critical chance.
Wilderness Survival – this specialization also synergizes well with dodging. It also empowers your survival skills, pet companions, as well as torches and daggers usage. It’s often used for trapper and condi DPS builds.
The minor traits of this tree augment your dodging, by giving you increased endurance recovery as well as healing and short damage reduction when you dodge. Basically, all of the meta builds that use this spec, utilize the same three major traits. Taste for Danger gives you extra condition duration, Ambidexterity provides bonus condition damage, while Poison Master allows your pet to inflict poison with its attacks. Refined Toxins can be considered as a second slot possibility to get even more damage from poisons.
Nature Magic – one of the more supportive specs. It enhances your healing and boons, as well as warhorn usage and the Nature Spirits skills. It’s mostly used in combination with Druid in the healing support builds.
Your minor traits provide some sustain and empower boons for you and your pet. For a pure support build, you should go with Instinctive Reaction, Windborne Notes and Nature’s Vengeance. These will give you extra healing, quickness and they will amplify your Spirits. For an off-support build, you can consider Bountiful Hunter and Spirited Arrival to get extra boon-based damage for you and your pet.
Beastmastery – as the name suggests, this tree is focused mostly on increasing the power of your pet and command skills. It also helps with pet swapping. The weapons that synergize with Beastmastery are axes and greatswords.
Minor traits of this tree improve your pet’s attributes and damage, as well as lower your cooldown for pet-swapping. In the first major slot, Resounding Timbre is a good all-around trait for companion-focused builds, while Potent Ally is great for the setups with a high critical chance. Two-Handed Mastery synergizes well with greatswords and grants extra critical hits.
The third position is entirely situational. Beastly Warden allows your pet to role-play as a tank since it will now taunt enemies with its abilities. This can work with a durable companion in relatively low damage locations to keep foes grouped together. Zephyr’s Speed accelerates the actions and movement speed of you and your pet. Honed Axes provide interesting synergy with axe weapons.
Druid – Heart of Thorns provided some revolutionary changes for almost every profession, but Ranger’s case is definitely up there, as one of the most extreme examples. The Druid elite spec made this class into possibly the best healer in the whole game, when earlier their team utility was average at best.
This tree gives Rangers access to staves, Glyph Skills, and a completely new mechanic – Celestial Avatar. It’s a transformation skill that consumes newly introduced resource called Astral Force (you can charge it by dealing damage and healing). When you take the Celestial Form, your weapon skills get replaced with a new set of abilities. Four of them are healing spells. Unsurprisingly, this elite specialization is a staple of every support and off-support Ranger build.
Your minor traits further enhance your healing skills. The major traits are most often the same: Cultivated Synergy, Verdant Etching, and Grace of the Land. The first two increase your healing capabilities and empower Glyphs. The last one improves your allies’ damage.
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Soulbeast – this elite spec allows Rangers to use daggers as a main-hand weapon and enter stances. It also introduces a new mechanic called Beastmode that gives you the ability to merge with your pets. It provides you with new skills, based on your pet’s family. This elite spec is used in various DPS builds, both condition and power based ones. Having the right companion is a crucial part of builds that involve this elite spec.
Minor traits increase your damage output when you have fury* and after you disable an enemy. In the first major slot, you can use Live Fast or Fresh Reinforcement to get extra boons. For the second position, Essence of Speeds empowers your boons even further, while Predator’s Cunning synergizes well with condi DPS builds. Finally, Oppressive Superiority is a great overall damage boost.
*fury – a boon that increases critical chance
GW2 Ranger Builds
Now we’re going to analyze some of the standard Ranger meta builds for PvE. We’ll take a look at examples of combining different specializations and traits to get the desired effect with the correct gear. This should help you understand the basic principles of creating an efficient build. It can later allow you to find your personal favorite GW2 Ranger build and playstyle. We're not going to talk about WvW and other PvP situations since the top builds for those game modes are based on completely different concepts. Moreover, some skills and traits are balanced differently for PvP.
Longbow Power DPS
The first build we’re going to talk about doesn’t rely on any of the elite specializations, so it can be efficiently played with only the core version of the game (the expansions give you access to some worthwhile pets though). This playstyle is the closest to the classic Ranger identity from the early days of the first Guild Wars. You deal damage from a safe distance with a longbow, while your pet is acting as a pseudo-frontliner. This build is really efficient in the open world and has a fun and relaxing play style.
It provides a lot of direct damage and decent crowd control. It's great for players who enjoy dealing damage from range and utilizing pets when playing this profession. Moreover, a longbow is a great option to aggro enemies from a distance with the Long Range Shot. You might be able to burst down and kill some of them before they even get to you or your pet. When your companion takes aggro, you can simply stand in one place and continue DPSing your enemies, but sometimes you're going to have to kite or switch to another weapon.
The specializations of choice are Marksmanship, Skirmishing, and Beastmastery. Most of your traits provide you with various power, critical chance and critical damage bonuses. You also get the piercing arrows from Lead the Wind. Your secondary weapon for melee fights should be a greatsword since you have Two-Handed Mastery to amplify the damage that it deals. This is one of the builds that utilize Beastly Warden, because you want your enemies to focus your pet instead of you.
The choice of companions and pet swapping during combat depends on the situation. In general you definitely should have a high-damage pet (Lynx, Stalker, Tiger or Jacaranda if you have Path of Fire) and a tanky one (Brown Bear is great here). For the easy locations, you should always use a DPS companion, to plough through foes even faster. Some more situational picks are Wolf, as it brings some AoE crowd control and Marsh Drake for durability and AoE damage. When your beast is getting low health, pull it from combat and switch it to the other one.
It’s best to utilize the Beastmastery tree and get a lot of Command skills in the available slots. “We Heal as One!”, “Protect Me!”, “Sic’Em!” and the elite “Strength of the Pack!” provide extra strength to you and your pet. Signet of the Wild passively gives you and your companion extra critical chance and upon activation, it can provide additional crowd control. This setup can work in some dungeons, but it's mostly designed for running around the map in the open world.
Druid Boon Support Healer
This build is mostly used for endgame content like difficult dungeons, fractals, and even raids. We decided to break it down in order to highlight how a single elite specialization can provide a possibility of an entirely different playstyle to an existing profession. This setup is so meta-defining that other Ranger builds are a really rare sight in the endgame content since there's simply no other way to bring that level of value to your group with this class.
Druids currently are one of the best healers in the whole game. They take advantage of the spells provided to them with the Celestial Avatar and extra utility from Nature Magic specialization. Traits from both of these trees enhance your healing, boons, Spirits, and Glyphs which makes this setup a supportive powerhouse. The second core spec is not set in stone, but Skirmishing is a viable option, due to the Spotter trait and the critical chance bonus it provides to your allies.
You should have a warhorn in the off-hand in one of your weapon sets. You can match it with basically any weapon. Your second set should be staff. Of course, the weapon skills are not that important, since you want to remain in the Celestial Form for as long as possible. If you play it our perfectly, this is one of the most effective supports in the game. It's possible to keep many permanent boons on your teammates and greatly amplify their damage output. Druid can easily work as the main healer in every dungeon, fractal and probably every raid boss. Some of the bosses might be more difficult though. Make sure to practice in some of the easier areas first, you're going to need some experience to really master the supportive playstyle of the Druid.
As we mentioned before, transformation requires Astral Force that is collected mostly by healing or dealing damage. A great trick to increase your Celestial Avatar uptime is the smart usage of Seed of Life. It provides powerful, delayed healing. You can cast it on allies, transform to your regular form and when seeds pop, you get tons of Astral Power to ascend again. Pulling it off flawlessly is necessary to succeed in some of the most difficult GW2 content. You don't have to focus that much on DPS, but in the easier fights, when your heals are not that important, you can use the free time and resources to accelerate your team's clear speed a bit.
This build contains traits that empower traps, Glyphs, and Nature Spirits, so all the non-weapon skills belong to one of those categories. The choice of nature rituals is situational. In general Frost Spirit and Storm Spirit are great boosts to your team’s direct damage. You can take Sun Spirit for extra burning damage or Stone Spirit if you need some more defense. Spirit of Nature is a great elite skill for longer, stationary fights.
In this case, we'll talk a bit about the runes. Superior Rune of the Monk, Superior Sigil of Water and Superior Sigil of Transference are all strongly recommended for this build. You probably shouldn't run it with any other rune and sigil setup.
Soulbeast Condi Trapper
Trapper is an interesting playstyle available to the Ranger class. You can set up traps and lead enemies straight into them, to later finish them off with your short bow. It deals a lot of AoE condition damage with bleeding, burning, and poison. This variant has a great addition to Beastmode. You can enter it when you’re facing more durable foes to finish them off.
Most of the traits in this build provide extra condition damage or duration. Additionally, you get a piercing effect for your shortbow with Light on Your Feet and extra sustain from Taste for danger and Predator’s Cunning. Furthermore, the Soulbreaker tree empowers your stances. This build is mostly used in the open world, but you can adjust it to a not bad condition DPS for dungeons and fractal runs.
As far as weapons go, short bow is a must-have for this setup. The other set requires an off-hand torch that you can use alongside a sword, axe or optimally – a dagger. The last one optimizes your critical damage output and lets you kill enemies in the quickest fashion, without any problems.
You’re going to spend a lot of time in the Beastmode - merged with your pet. Soulbeast builds place even more emphasis on choosing the right companion than the other Ranger builds. In this case, we need something with condition damage. Lynx is great for optimizing DPS, while Warthog provides some additional crowd control.
Skill-wise this build is based on traps and stances. Use Flame Trap and Viper’s Nest to inflict AoE burning and poison on your foes. Vulture Stance provides extra damage and poison, while Bear Stance heals and removes conditions from you and your pet. An elite stance called One Wolf Pack allows for squeezing in extra attacks to improve DPS even further.
You can definitely run a core condition trapper build without the Spellbreaker spec. You can replace it with either Marksmanship or Beastmastery. The main problem is losing access to stances.
Guild Wars 2 professions
This is a guide for Ranger. The other GW2 classes are Necromancer, Mesmer, Elementalist, Thief, Engineer, Revenant, Guardian, and Warrior. To learn about them, check out our Guild Wars 2 classes guide! You can also read all the specific guides on our site!
Guild Wars 2 is a successful MMORPG developed by ArenaNet. The game's story mode is really friendly to casual, solo players, but at the same time, there's plenty of demanding endgame content for people who are looking for a challenge. That includes fractals, raids, completing achievements and collecting rare items. The base version of the game is free-to-play at the moment, but to access the elite specializations players have to buy the expansions.