Recently, many Path of Exile players, new and old alike, have been showing a growing interest in the Ranger class. This may be generated from the recent addition of the fifth new act. But it may also be because the Ranger has always been one of the most popular characters in Path of Exile.
Either way, it’s safe to assume with the influx of new players, she would still be the first choice for many in their first foray into the game. Building a ranger can be a little daunting, however, and I believe that with a little guidance, you can jury rig a build that works for you.
Readying Your Ranger Build in PoE‘s Early Game
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It sets the stage for everything to come — and Path of Exile‘s early game is breakfast. Deciding what playstyle you are going to adopt needs to be finalized fairly early in Path of Exile. You could always spend passive refund points to re-distribute your skills, but it’s recommended that you save these for the late game, where you can fine tweak things you didn’t have the luxury of doing earlier.
Before you get to the finale, though, you have to start somewhere. The end game in PoE is an elegant creature, with a difficulty that dictates that not all builds are equal — or even viable. But before you can reach this exciting point in your journey, you have to know and understand the best cornerstones on which to build.
From top left to right in typical reading fashion you’ll find the nodes for: Ballistic Mastery, Aspect of the Eagle, Primal Spirit, and Heart of Oak. These passive skills are the four cornerstones of your early game Ranger build. Granted, it would be more point-efficient to grab Ballistic Mastery from the northern nodes, rather than the way I approached it.
Once you get into the more experienced end game, you may eventually want to refund some, or even all, of these skills and move toward something more viable. However, during the first three or four acts of the game, these skills allow you to hold your own, and begin to formulate a plan as to where you want to take your character later on.
Ballistic Mastery and Aspect of the Eagle allow you to start dealing damage right away, and with Virtue gems such as Shrapnel Shot and Rain of Arrows, you’ll be clearing low-level mobs easily. Primal Spirit and Heart of Oak work toward giving you some sustainability because after all, the Ranger isn’t robust or naturally gifted with large mana reserves.
On top of that, the next four skills you will want to work toward lie northeast of Aspect of the Eagle. These skills are Aspect of the Lynx, Survivalist, Acrobatics, and Phase Acrobatics.
While Aspect of the Lynx grants you a little extra damage, crit chance, and some base stat boosts, the rest of these skills are entirely designed to keep you alive.
Increasing your evasion to prevent damage is one of the tried and true methods of PoE’s meta. In fact, Acrobatics and Phase Acrobatics are considered quite viable for the end game, and you most likely won’t need to refund the points you spent when you get there. Unfortunately, its very difficult to get a working Ranger build that doesn’t rely on RNG for dealing with enemy attacks: it’s Dodge or nothing. So working on increasing your chance to stay alive is well worth it.
After these segments, you’re generally able to go toward whatever style of play you want.
Path of Exile’s Mid-End Game
Entering the mid game becomes a little daunting as you begin to stray further from your starting zone. Personally, it leaves me with a feeling of “Maybe I’ve strayed too far”, but in PoE, it’s not a bad thing to branch out from your center. In fact, it’s almost necessary.
From this point, however, what you decide to pick skills-wise depends on what you’re going for. Since I typically enjoy a traditional ranged build with bows, that is the path I’ll give some examples of.
Herbalism may not seem like the most important trait up there, but I’d argue that for a Ranger, it is one of the most pivotal skills to get. Flasks are going to be your best friend come end game, and any bonuses to flask effectiveness are always useful. Piercing Shots are useful for dealing with large crowds of enemies — or bosses that summon minions.
King of the Hill, Depth Perception, and Heartseeker will all increase your chance to deal critical strikes. It will all be worth it when you see your foes get slaughtered in single hits. After all, the ranger is a kill first or be killed kind of character.
Moving on, Iron Grip is an excellent skill for archers focusing on physical damage — especially if you have the Strength to make the bonus damage worth while. And while it’s not usually what I go for in a Ranger, there are plenty of other builds that do utilize this skill quite well.
Point Blank is perhaps one of the few core end game skills for any bow Ranger; it’s increased damage when closer to targets is almost always useful. Very rarely will you kill everyone in a large group of mobs before they swarm you, so you don’t tend to put yourself in any more danger to get your points worth out of it.
Path of Exile’s End Game
Once you’ve reached the end game, it becomes less about what skills you’re not putting your final points into and more about your skill gems and equipment. This is exactly why building intelligently — and making sure your skills exist cooperatively with each other — is so important.
Now is also the time where you may want to begin spending your refund points, which can be gained either through side quests or through Orbs of Regret. It can be expensive, but if you can afford this luxury, a few extra points in more precise areas can go a long way.
Virtue Gems in PoE
While Virtue Gems are not the focus of this guide, I can briefly go over what gems will be the most useful to you as you advance through the game and build your Ranger.
- Shrapnel Shot — One of the most useful early game Gems.
- Rain of Arrows — Excellent Gem for crowd control and hitting above cliffs
- Puncture — Excellent high-damage Gem that deals bleeding
- Kinetic Blast — One of the best ranged Gems in the game; causes small explosions near a target.
Taking Your Ranger Into Battle
While the possibilities are seemingly endless, I suggest that everyone try a Ranger build that they enjoy. Even if it doesn’t quite fit the meta, I believe most people will have a considerable amount of fun learning on their own. Viability shouldn’t get in the way of enjoying yourself in a video game, neither should you be forced to play a certain way. So, find out what works for you Exile, and then work on improving it to the best of your abilities.
Be sure to check out our other Path of Exile guides! Here are just a few to get your started:
- The Top 5 Starting Builds for Path of Exile 3.0: The Fall of Oriath
- Path of Exile: How to Beat the Guardians
- Beginner’s Guide to Path of Exile