You can have a shark as a pet: ArenaNet unveils the Guild Wars 2 ranger

It's been one of the hottest topics among the Guild Wars 2 community for over a month. The warrior was revealed on June 9th, and once the excitement of that died down, it was back on board the speculation train. What's the next class?

Speculation was all over the map: necromancer was a popular choice thanks to the recent sneak peek of Ghosts of Ascalon. Mesmers and some sort of paladin class were suggested, as well as rangers. Things got even more interesting on Monday, when ArenaNet teased the upcoming reveal of a new class. Well, it looks like rangers won out -- ArenaNet announced the ranger class for Guild Wars 2 today.

Rangers are getting some serious upgrades -- follow along after the jump for all the exciting news about rangers, their companions, and why it's a terrible idea to get on their bad side.

Animal companions will play a much bigger role in Guild Wars 2. The reveal focused heavily on pets, and for very good reason. How many times have you wished that your animal companion could have a skill bar of his own, rather than taking up valuable slots on your skill bar? Beast Mastery skills are great, but a bit limiting when you want your attacks to extend beyond just that of your pet. It looks like ArenaNet has taken care of that in Guild Wars 2. The introduction of customization options will allow rangers to give his or her pet its very own skill set.

You'll obtain your pet in the way that we're used to, by interacting with a juvenile version, but that's only the beginning. Pets are incredibly versatile in Guild Wars 2, particularly in comparison to what we're familiar with now.

Let's begin with what sort of pets are obtainable. " A ranger has three active pet slots. Outside of combat, or through the use of utility skills, the ranger can swap their active pet. There are 12 different types of pets, including some terrestrial (spiders), some amphibious (lizards), and some aquatic (sharks)." Since pets from Elona and Cantha won't be an option. ArenaNet has beefed up the selection in Tyria. "Within each type there are subtypes that can influence pets' abilities. For example, a polar bear might have an Icy Roar, while a brown bear might have a Fearsome Roar."

Yes. Sharks. You can tame a shark. While the idea of having a shark pet is awesome just on its own, the implications are even more exciting. First of all, you've got a pet that can accompany you in underwater combat. But since your faithful aquatic pet can't go traipsing through the woods with you (sadly, it is not a landshark), rangers need a bit more variety available to them. This limitation is removed through the ability mentioned above, allowing rangers to have up to three pets "on call." You can switch between your pets to adapt to your enemies or your surroundings as needed.

Pet evolutions and control

You begin with a juvenile version of your pet, but where it goes from there depends quite a bit on you: A ranger's pet gets its level from its master, which determines their basic attack, armor, and health." Pets advance from there by way of "evolution levels," gaining type-specific bonuses at certain evolution levels. In addition to bonuses of their own, pets will unlock ability slots that are similar to player skill bars. You can slot abilities according to pet type -- there are up to four available for each pet.

It's interesting to note the phrasing regarding pet evolution: "Pets gain evolution points when the player gains XP while the pet is active." Active seems to indicate "not dead," so we can probably assume that the handy trick of leveling a dead pet is no more.

Finally, rangers will have a bit more general control over their pets through a combination of commands and control modes. You can set your pet to aggressive, defensive, or passive mode overall, as well as giving specific attack, heel, and stay commands.

Beyond pets

While the text of the ranger reveal centers around pets, there is so much more. Skills, traps, weapons, spirits and so on, but in the case of these ArenaNet prefers to show rather than tell, and that is just fine with us.

The video and screenshots give us a look at a variety of skills, both new and old. Whirling Defense, Spread Shot, Serpent's Strike, Hunter's Call, and Barrage make up the list, and even old, familiar skills got a gorgeous new makeover. Hunter's Call summons a flock of angry birds (and a few dozen Hitchcock jokes) to take out your enemy. Serpent's Strike sends a fairly devastating phantom snake after nearby foes. Whirling Defense looks better than ever, as does barrage.

The sheer versatility of the ranger should tempt even those who dislike the rangers in Guild Wars. They're not just firing arrows -- watch the swift changes in the trailer. They're throwing knives, summoning various animal assistance, kicking, wielding swords, dual-wielding, and zipping about at superhuman speeds.

The new screenshots provide a closer still look at some of the new skills as well as some serious eye-candy for those of us who love Guild Wars armor. Armor design has always been a strength of Guild Wars, and the ranger designs don't disappoint. We get a look at armor for humans, charr, asura, and norn. The armor detail -- even on the enemies -- is outstanding. If you look closely at the video and still images you'll see all sorts of small touches like handwraps for protection, holsters, stitching detail, and even ragged edges of fabric.

Enemy armor got the same treatment. Small details like differently-shaped skulls (indicating trophies from different conquests) make all the difference. It's attention to detail far beyond what we've seen in the game before, and it absolutely deserves as much attention as the flashy combat animations. The combat animations are stellar, but it really is ArenaNet's meticulous work in every aspect of the game that makes this world a place we're all dying to experience ourselves.

Check out the gallery for 12 brand-new screenshots, take a look at the trailer below, and check out all of the ranger information at the Guild Wars 2 site.


This article was originally published on Massively.