Every fantasy world now needs a bow specialist ever since Legolas graced us with his superhuman feats in The Lord of the Rings. And if you want your very own Legolas in Baldur’s Gate 3 (or maybe Aragorn if you’re averse to hair conditioner), the Ranger and its Ranger subclasses in Baldur’s Gate 3 offer that template.
For those who wish to embrace the natural world and the art of the hunt or just want to keep their enemies at a distance, the Ranger class beckons. Before we get to arrow-shootin’, we will need to explore the three Ranger subclasses available in Baldur’s Gate 3, offering insights into their abilities and playstyles.
Beast Master: The Call of the Wild
The subclass’s description reads, “Beast Masters bind themselves to an animal companion, sharing an intelligent bond that flourishes in and out of combat.”
The Beast Master Subclass offers a unique twist on the Ranger class by allowing players to summon and bond with animal companions. It’s pretty handy as a class feature when you consider familiars as additional combatants in the turn queue. Beast Master Ranger familiars are of a higher quality compared to the cannon fodder from Warlocks and Necromancers.
Key features of the Beast Master Subclass include:
- Ranger’s Companion (Level 3): The core ability of this subclass allows Rangers to summon a range of animals, such as bears, boars, giant spiders, ravens, or wolves. Each animal has unique abilities, making them versatile additions to the party.
- Companion’s Bond (Level 5): This feature enhances the health and abilities of the summoned companions, making them more formidable allies.
- Exceptional Training (Level 7): Your animal companion can Dash, Disengage, and Help as a bonus action.
- Bestial Fury (Level 11): Your bond with your companion has deepened, unlocking their inner strength and giving them an Extra Attack.
You’re essentially going all-in with your companion or familiar, especially since they get an Extra Attack, and you’re sacrificing a class feature slot in what could have been a boost to your effectiveness as a Ranger.
It’s not the most powerful way to play the Ranger, but who could say no to having an in-game pet?
Hunter – The Classic Ranger
The Hunter subclass is the basic archetype you would think of when you talk about Rangers. Their description reads “Hunters seek the most dangerous prey in Faerun, from ancient dragons to massive hordes of undead, and excel at slaying them all.”
Hence, the Hunter subclass embodies the cookie-cutter image of a Ranger, specializing in taking down prey with precise and powerful (and usually ranged) attacks. This subclass grants Rangers a set of features to choose from:
- Hunter’s Prey (Level 3): Allows you to choose one of these three powers:
- Colossus Slayer: This ability allows Rangers to deal extra damage when attacking a target below its hit point maximum. It’s a solid choice for those looking to maximize their damage output.
- Giant Killer: Rangers with this ability can make a melee attack as a reaction when a Large or bigger creature attacks them, making them effective against larger foes.
- Horde Breaker: Horde Breaker enables Rangers to target two creatures standing close to each other, attacking them consecutively. This ability is excellent for crowd control.
- Defensive Tactics (Level 7): Allows you to choose one of these three self-preservation abilities:
- Escape the Horde: Opportunity Attacks against you have a Disadvantage.
- Steel Will: Advantage on Saving Throws against being Frightened.
- Multiattack Defence: Enemies have a -4 penalty to additional Attack Rolls against you until the start of their next turn.
- Volley | Whirlwind Attack (Level 11): A powerful ranged and melee action or attack move that lets you attack multiple enemies in a cluster.
For players seeking a straightforward Ranger experience focused on ranged combat and killing enemies, the Hunter Subclass is an ideal choice.
It synergizes well with races like Wood Elves, Humans, or Strongheart Halflings, as these provide stat boosts that enhance hunting capabilities. Backgrounds such as Hermit or Outlander are suitable for this classic Ranger archetype.
There’s not much versatility at play here, but oftentimes, a simple and powerful attack is what you need. No need to make things more complicated. Do keep in mind that you don’t have to limit yourself to ranged combat, as the Hunter subclass also works well with melee finesse weapons.
Gloom Stalker – The Stealth Archer
The Gloom Stalker subclass is an interesting case that’s still somewhat similar to the Hunter. This subclass allows players to play as a Ranger that uses mainly stealth. While all Rangers will use stealth to an extent, this subclass goes above and beyond when it comes to how often they use it.
It’s the premiere stealth archer build base that’s all too common in RPGs now, thanks to Skyrim.
This subclass combines the deadly duo of ranged attacks and stealth, both of which are more advantageous in Baldur’s Gate 3 than most other straightforward or even complex forms of entering combat.
Key features of the Gloom Stalker Subclass include:
- Disguise Self (Level 3): Allows the caster to change race or appearance from a select configuration.
- Dread Ambusher (Level 3): This ability grants an Initiative bonus and additional damage in the first round of combat, making Gloom Stalkers deadly initiators.
- Superior Darkvision (Level 3): This creature can see in the dark within 24m. More potent than regular Darkvision.
- Umbral Shroud (Level 3): Gloom Stalkers can become invisible while obscured, providing them with unparalleled sneakiness.
- Misty Step (Level 5): Short-range teleport as a bonus action.
- Iron Mind (Level 7): This ability enhances the Ranger’s ability to strike from the shadows.
- High-Level Fear (Level 9): Gloom Stalkers can induce fear in their enemies, further enhancing their control over encounters.
- Lethal Surprise (Level 11): Gloom Stalkers add even more lethality to their surprise attacks while cloaked in shadow, solidifying their status as assassins.
To excel as a Gloom Stalker, consider Races like Wood Elves, Strongheart Halflings, or Humans, which complement the stealth and agility required for this subclass. Backgrounds such as Urchin, Criminal, or Charlatan can be advantageous for those embracing the shadowy arts of the Gloom Stalker.
This subclass is stacked, alright. It’s even more appealing compared to the shorter bonuses list of the Hunter subclass, which is why a lot of ranged bow builds simply end up picking the Gloom Stalker in Baldur’s Gate 3. It also pairs well with the Rogue Assassin subclass for the ultimate stealth archer build.