Path of Exile 2’s Ranger Class Benefits Greatly from Recent Control Changes
10 mins read

Path of Exile 2’s Ranger Class Benefits Greatly from Recent Control Changes


After dying several times to an introductory worm boss that Path of Exile 2 had me face, I started to wonder if I was missing something while playing as the Ranger class. The grind to this early-level boss hadn’t unlocked a ton of Skill Gems for me, and the few I had slotted weren’t combining together to make a power combo like I had become accustomed to during the Affliction League that’s currently ongoing in Path of Exile. Speaking with other, much better players than myself who I met at the event it turned out I wasn’t the only one that took a try or two on the boss. It was time to get back to the grind and come back at it with better gear.

So far I had unlocked Lightning Arrow and Escape Shot thinking that the AoE ice projectile from escape shot would help me get out of any tricky situation I had found myself in. But it felt like I had made a mistake pairing this with Lightning Arrow which arced to 2 additional enemies near my target. I was also too slow, and the mouse controls made it difficult to stand in place and use my bow without walking into a pile of enemies. So I committed and made the change to WASD controls and that’s when this class really opened up.

The Ranger is very powerful, and being able to precisely move is a gift I didn’t realize I wanted from this action RPG. It made me nearly unstoppable, even in missions I’d tackle later in the day where I was definitely underleveled. WASD controls give you complete control of how your character moves on the screen in a PC game, and while I hadn’t used it before, it may now have become my favorite control scheme. At least for this particular class. An archer needs to have complete control over their movement, and as Jonathan Rogers said during his opening speech it helps sell the fantasy they’re trying to deliver: that’s you’re Legolas from Lord of the Rings, in complete control of every arrow you release from your quiver.

Being able to precisely move is a gift I didn’t realize I wanted from this action RPG.

The first thing I’d do is start working toward my Honed Instinct passive skill which would increase my Attack speed for the Ranger. While on the journey, I also acquired the first piece of gear that would help my build come together. A ring that gave me plus 24 Maximum Mana. Then, I’d find a Fire Arrow Quiver which added 3 to 5 fire damage to my attacks. A nice passive boost of damage can go a long way in a fight. This alone would be enough to defeat the Devourer Worm that had given me trouble and finally get me to level 6.

The Devourer would drop Suede Bracers which added more physical damage to attacks, added a level to my melee skill gems, and most importantly gave me 2 mana per enemy killed. I had also acquired the Shortbow of the Pugilist which would give me a 45% increased stun buildup which would be extra handy against those lumbering baddies who needed a stun to be taken down quickly.

But the next skill gem I received from Renley for defeating the Worm is what made the whole thing come together harmoniously. Lightning Rod is an arrow that you shoot into the air creating a lightning burst that will remain on the ground. When you shoot it with your lightning arrow for example, that will create beams that chain to it and cause the Lightning Rod to release another Lightning Burst. It stays there for 12 seconds, an eternity in an ARPG and it will convert 100% of physical damage to lightning damage with a burst radius of 2 meters. And if all that doesn’t sound like much, just know that you can lay down several lightning rods and absolutely melt any pack of baddies coming at you, or a boss that decided to spawn in the wrong place at the wrong time. It is deadly.

After an hour and 30 minutes of game time, what started out as a somewhat slow burn finally clicked for this class. The Ranger had its starting kit, and I felt unstoppable.

Anyone who plays a lot of ARPGs knows how good it feels to have something that works for your class after you’ve played for a bit and unlocked a few skills and abilities that pair well together. Path of Exile 2 is proving again that Grinding Gear Games understands how to mix and match different abilities together to make compelling gameplay moments that keep you coming back to get that next piece of gear to make it just a tad bit better. Jonathan Rogers demoed some of these for me back at Gamescom 2023 showcasing how the Warrior, Huntress, and Druid will mix and match their skills to give players that satisfying loop of gameplay. And Path of Exile 2 is proving, yet again, that the team gets what the player wants.

One example of this team getting it is the drastic overhaul the game has been given since Gamescom. Since August, the team at Grinding Gear Games has added WASD controls to every single character, added moving while shooting to all classes, redone many of the animations, and as Rogers said during the introductory presentation this not only improved WASD, but also had a beneficial effect to how click to move felt as well.

Path of Exile 2 is proving, yet again, that the team gets what the player wants.

To get into more specifics, we were given a hands-off demonstration of the changes to each class. For the Warrior, the new usable shield was shown alongside a one-handed weapon with a shield. By holding a button you can keep your shield up for full damage immunity including from spells. Not from the ground or sky, but still a neat option for Warrior players. There is a gauge that can fill up for this class now which will stun you out of your block animation. There are some unblockable attacks from bosses that you’ll still need to pay attention to as noted by a red flash.

Attacks for the Warrior that have changed include rolling slam which will now add a follow-up if an enemy has been hit with bone shatter which gives enemies another debuff to consider. And we also got a sneak peek at Shield Charge, which knocks down Monsters leaving them vulnerable to follow-up attacks. And you will block attacks while doing a shield charge.

The Sorceress benefits a lot from being able to move and shoot at the same time and the precision WASD offers makes the class look like one I’d consider maining for the full release. A quick demo of Flame Wall, which sets projectiles ablaze as they pass through, makes even a spark flame wall build viable according to Rogers.

While my playthrough detailed the early game in Path of Exile 2, we were given a tease of a high-level Ranger using the full swath of support gems in a fight. I already loved the basic version of Lightning Rod, as it gave me a huge boost to damage against enemies. But we were given a sneak peek at the “Multiple Projectiles Support” gem, which would create 3 arrows each time Lightning Rod is cast, just to give you an idea of one way you could build out your Ranger to do tons of damage.

Then the “Chain Support” gem will make it so your attacks chain an additional time, plus an additional time for each chain from other sources. Put it all together and you create an electric disco deathfield. And this is just a taste of the electric options the Ranger has. They also teased a vine build, poison build, and a ton of support gems you can see in the full gameplay video on IGN, or in our Path of Exile 2 wiki.

Besides the fact that they added mounts in Path of Exile 2, the most important takeaway from my nearly 3 hour play session, and the 45-minute demo of mid to late-game builds from Grinding Gear Games, is that Path of Exile 2 is improving in a lot of important ways and taking the lessons others have learned in the ARPG genre to heart. They aren’t afraid to delay their highly anticipated beta so players have a better experience. They aren’t afraid to implement entirely new systems like WASD, or moving while firing to all classes. And it’s because of this commitment to making something great that Path of Exile 2 has my attention.

For more on Path of Exile 2, don’t miss our Druid class hands-on preview as well as some Warrior and Huntress gameplay. And for everything else in the world of video games, keep it locked to IGN.



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