Rangers sometimes feel like the odd class out in Dungeons & Dragons, and in Baldur’s Gate 3 this is true as well. The class has a ton of utility and can output solid damage, but it’s the conundrum of always being worse than its peer classes that make playing the Ranger a challenge.
The Ranger has Rogue-like qualities but outputs less damage. It has spellcasting abilities that are nowhere close to the Wizard. You could also certainly make the argument a Fighter with a bow can deal much more damage then a Ranger could with other useful skills. Still, the Ranger can be a lot of fun and always provides a lot of fun roleplaying options in Baldur’s Gate 3.
Baldur's Gate 3 Ranger - Best Stats to Focus On
Dexterity should be your primary stat if you intend to focus on being an archer. Bows use dexterity for chance to hit enemies and how much damage you do. After Dexterity, consider trying to max out your Wisdom stat as well. It’s a lot of points to commit to two stats, but wisdom is the Ranger’s primary spellcasting stat. If you intend to use spells, then it’s essential to keep this stat high in order to make sure your spells are more likely to hit.
Strength can be an interesting stat choice if you’re planning to use larger weapons, but it usually isn’t something you’d use for a Ranger. Constitution on the other hand is always a strong contender for your third most focused stat, particularly if you plan to be a melee Ranger and will be in the thick of battle. It’s never a bad idea to have more health though, even if you focus on keeping your distance.
The remaining stats could be Intelligence or Charisma, depending on how you want to interact within Baldur's Gate 3. Charisma is great if you like to talk your way out of situations, but Intelligence is a fantastic stat if you like to utilize more skills like investigation or history.
Your final stats can sort of add flavor to your character, but don’t expect them to make a big impact on your play outside of perhaps Charisma because of how frequently the persuasion skill is utilized. With the recommended stat choices below, it’s strongly recommended at level 4 to put your two ability points into Dexterity and Wisdom in order to increase their modifiers. If your character isn’t one point away from two stats, put both points into Dexterity in order to increase your hit chance and damage with a bow/finesse weapon.
Suggested stats (using Drow as the race):
Baldur's Gate 3 Ranger Class Passives
For your Baldur's Gate 3 Ranger, Mage Striker is one of the more solid passive choices to start with, as not only does it give you arcana proficiency, but you get access to the True Strike cantrip, which can be useful when dealing with difficult-to-hit opponents, such as bosses or heavily armored enemies. Bounty Hunter is another solid choice as it makes it more difficult to break free from your Ensnaring Strike shots.
Picking the Natural Explorer passive is a bit more of an interesting choice. Nothing really stands out, but in my experience thus far I would lean toward taking Wasteland Wanderer: Fire. Quite a few enemies in the early game utilize fire, and the burning damage can be quite a pain to deal with. This passive halves the damage, which is pretty significant, and should remain useful as mages sure seem to love setting you ablaze.
At level 2, you’ll get a chance to specialize in your combat fighting style. Of course, this is completely dependent on your style, but archery is a fantastic choice if you plan to go ranged combat. Getting an additional +2 to attack rolls is massive, and you’ll find yourself hitting much more frequently.
For melee, two-weapon fighting can be great if you’re using two melee weapons. Typically, with your off-hand attack, you don’t get to add your damage modifiers to the weapon, which results in relatively low damage. Two-weapon fighting solves that problem, and it will allow you to stack far more damage onto your enemies.
Baldur's Gate 3 Ranger Subclass Choice
Preference is always pretty big when it comes to subclass selection, but as a Ranger, Hunter is an incredibly strong choice. If you’re looking for maximum damage as a Ranger, pick the Hunter subclass. The potential for an additional 1d8 damage every round when choosing Colussus Slayer, particularly when you only have one attack, is very strong right now in the early levels of Baldur's Gate 3. Horde Breaker is another viable prey choice, but it does rely on enemies being closely grouped, which is not always possible in combat.
Beastmaster is a fun subclass choice, as it gives you options to summon a companion animal with different characteristics. Companions, or pets, do add a bit of damage but are often easy to kill. Bears are good option if you need a little bit more tanking for your party. Consider the wolf, too, as it can do big damage and knock enemies prone on hitting them. Spiders are extremely good and add quite a bit of versatility with their ability to slow targets down with webs and weaken them with poison attacks. Lastly, the boar is solid for dealing with large groups of enemies as it can charge through, hitting multiple targets and potentially knocking them down too.
Baldur's Gate 3 Ranger Best Spells
While not the primary focus of your class, one benefit of the Ranger is they do get limited spellcasting abilities in Baldur's Gate 3. Many of their abilities focus on enhancing their attacks, but there are some solid spells you can utilize for the benefit of you and your party. Here are some of the best spells:
- Hunter’s Mark (Level 1): By far the best spell as a Ranger, no matter if you’re ranged or melee. It only uses a bonus action to cast. Casting Hunter’s Mark on a target will automatically add 1d6 damage to any target that is marked by the spell. This adds up significantly, especially in drawn-out fights. Best of all, after you kill a target, you can spend your bonus action again to move the Hunter’s Mark to another target and keep up the damage.
- Cure Wounds (Level 1): It’s always useful having to rely on your overpowered Cleric for healing all the time. Equipping Cure Wounds ensures a good backup healer in case your Cleric ever gets knocked out.
- Ensnaring Strike (Level 1): Keeping opponents rooted can be particularly useful. I used this spell frequently when tearing through the Goblin Camps to keep them from playing the war drums and calling in more units.
- Hail of Thorns (Level 1): Probably the best damage-based attack you can use at level 4 or lower. Hail of Thorns slams opponents with 1d8 damage, plus your modifier. On impact, the spell deals an additional 1d10 to everyone in a two-meter area. A really good lead off spell to use when units are closely grouped together at the start of combat.
Baldur's Gate 3 Ranger General Tips
The Ranger relies heavily on distance and movement. While it may not be "brave" running behind cover frequently or gaining distance from enemies, it should be your prioity after each combat action. Whenever possible, cast Hunter's Mark if there's more than just a few enemies in an engagement. While it's generally not worth burning a spell slot for just a few enemies, it's definitely worth using and recasting if necessary during a big fight. Here's some other general tips for playing a Ranger in Baldur's Gate 3:
- If you intend to be an archer and focus on ranged damage, be sure to keep an eye out to see if you’re threatened by enemies. It will be a red icon to the left of your “end turn” button. If you’re threatened, it means you’ll have disadvantage or a lesser chance of hitting your target.
- Occasionally you will find special arrows that have additional effects. Save them and use them for bosses or difficult fights as some of them can make a massive impact on the battle. The pushback arrow can be particularly effective if enemies are near ledges or cliffs.
- If you play a Beastmaster, consider the right animal companion for your party. If you’re lacking in tanking, use the bear. If you need more damage and utility, the wolf is a good option as it knocks enemies prone.
- Hunter's Mark can be moved from target-to-target using just a bonus action. Make sure to move it each time you slay an enemy.
How are you enjoying Baldur's Gate 3 so far? If you're looking for more tips, check out our other guides on Larian's newest RPG.