Hands-On With Neverwinter’s New Hunter Ranger Class
From the back of the room, or in your enemy’s face. It’s your choice with the new Neverwinter Hunter Ranger class.
There is plenty of new content and improvements to talk about in Neverwinter‘s second module content update, Shadowmantle, but perhaps the biggest addition is the brand new Hunter Ranger class that is being added to the game. The Hunter Ranger will be free for all players, and there are sure to be plenty of brand new characters running around with bows and quivers strapped to their backs.
The new class has been on the Neverwinter Preview Shard for a few weeks now, and I’ve been spending some time testing and trying out the Hunter Ranger, so let’s take a look at what this new class has to offer.
The new Hunter Ranger class does indeed bring a unique class aspect to Neverwinter, and not just because they like to shoot things in the face with a bow. The class offers a pretty open-ended approach to how it can be played, and shooting things from a distance isn’t the only thing this new archer can do.
Perhaps the most important ability the Hunter Ranger offers is the ability to switch between ranged and melee combat at any time. The unique class mechanic of the Hunter Ranger switches him from ranged assassin to up-close and personal duel-wielding combatant in a flash. This ability has no cooldown and can be used at any time to swap back and forth from ranged to melee, often multiple times while in a fight. This ability is unique in Neverwinter and grants a level of versatility to the Hunter Ranger that no other class has at the moment.
When your stance changes from ranged to melee, the weapon you use is not the only thing that changes along with it. Each ability you equip on your action bar has two functions; one is a ranged version, the other is a melee version, so you won’t have to worry about setting up two different action bars. When you swap stances between melee and ranged your abilities will swap to the proper version automatically.
Even sweeter is the fact that the Hunter Ranger’s abilities do not share cooldowns between stances, meaning that you can burn through your ranged ability cooldowns as your enemy approaches, then swap to melee and have all of your abilities’ melee alternatives available to use.
Your Daily powers remain unchanged while swapping stances and all Dailies can be cast from any stance regardless if they are ranged or melee oriented.
Along with the ability to swap stances and use multiple sets of cooldowns, the Neverwinter Hunter Ranger also possesses a fairly high amount of mobility. The Hunter Ranger’s evade mechanic dashes a shorter distance in the intended direction than the other classes, but also uses less stamina allowing for more dodges. This leaves the Hunter Ranger free to perform multiple quick dodges out of harm’s way, then dodge right back into the fray or to a safer location.
This combination of versatility and mobility make for a really fun gameplay experience, and the Hunter Ranger does feel different from the other classes in Neverwinter. The stance swapping is smooth and the attack animations are crisp and exciting to watch. If there’s one thing this game does extremely well it’s making your character look like a total badass while it’s killing the baddies.
To get the most out of the Hunter Ranger you will need to be able to swap in and out of melee and ranged at the most opportune times, but you can definitely build your Ranger to be more ranged or more melee oriented.
The Neverwinter Hunter Ranger will have only one Paragon Path at launch, Stormwarden, but the class’s Feats and Paragon Trees allow the ability to customize your Hunter Ranger to your liking. I asked the developers earlier this week when we might expect to see the second Paragon Path for the Hunter Ranger, and they said right now the plan is to introduce the second path whenever the next Module launches for Neverwinter.
The three Paragon Trees available to the Hunter Ranger are Archery, Combat, and Nature.
The Archery tree, as you might expect, really builds the Hunter Ranger into a long-ranged killing machine. By spending points in the Archery tree you can increase your damage done at max distance, reduce Encounter power cooldowns when you crit, and increase your critical chance with ranged abilities. Critical chance and damage is the recurring them here, so building your Hunter Ranger for more crit is a good bet.
The Combat tree then takes care of those players who want their Hunter Rangers to do more damage of the up-close and personal kind. This tree focuses mostly on increasing melee damage and critical strike chance (there’s that crit theme again), as well as increasing run speed and stamina gain. The master ability in the Combat tree gives a chance for your melee attacks to strike a second time, doing damage that cannot be mitigated.
And finally the Nature tree is for those players who want to bring a little support to their team. The Hunter Ranger has plenty of abilties that can be added to their action bars which give bonuses to damage and survivability to you and your allies, and the Nature tree makes many of those boons more powerful.
Each of the three trees have viable options that can be picked up early in the tree with remaining points after filling out another tree. Players can easily pick up increased stamina regen when in ranged stance and increased melee Encounter power damage after using a ranged Encounter power out of the Archery tree; extra Action Points when Shifting and reduced ranged Encouter power cooldowns after using melee Encounter powers out of the Combat tree; and increase the effectiveness of healing on you from the first tier of the Nature tree.
So far the Hunter Ranger’s Paragon trees seem well thought out and offer each player the ability to create the experience they want with the newest class in Neverwinter.
As with the other classes in Neverwinter weapon and armor drops for the Hunter Ranger are class specific, so don’t worry about having to fight with some rogue over an awesome melee weapon drop. You have one gear slot for your ranged weapon, and another for your melee weapons which come as a set so you also don’t have to worry about main hand and off-hand for your duel-wielding melee needs.
Other than weapon slots the typical gear and accessory slots apply, and as I said earlier crit seems to be king on the Hunter Ranger but that will be sorted out as the community becomes acquainted with the new class and how to squeeze the most damage out of it.
Breaking It Down
The new Hunter Ranger class is definitely going to bring a unique gameplay experience to Neverwinter and is just flat-out fun to play. The high mobility and versatility to meet any challenge with either a rain of arrows or flurry of blades keeps combat fresh.
If you enjoy playing Archer/Ranger/Hunter type classes in other MMORPG’s you’ll likely not be disappointed with Neverwinter‘s Hunter Ranger. The ranged attacks are powerful, diversive, and rewarding.
If you enjoy smacking things around with duel-wielded blades of fury, the Hunter Ranger has got you covered as well with high impact and both AoE and single-target type skills. You can quickly move in on your target and move in and out of danger as you empty your enemy’s health bar.
The Hunter Ranger will be my new main once the Shadowmantle Module patch goes live, and I have a feeling there will be a few other Neverwinter players making the switch right along with me. May your aim be ever true.