Ranged Specialization Guide - Dungeon Siege 2
Ranged builds in Dungeon Siege 2 are the highest physical damage characters in the game. While they do more damage than Melee builds they typically lack the same amount of survivability that Melee can offer you. If you're playing with the Broken World Expansion Pack then you'll be able to access the Blood Assassin skills which compliment Ranged characters quite a bit.
Aside from Blood Assassins there are 2 main Ranged specializations that you can go into. The upper half of the skill tree covers Bows and Crossbows whereas the bottom half is made for Throwing Weapons. I find that Bows and Crossbows are better for single target damage whereas Throwing Weapons seem to be made more for AoE damage. You will also get significantly more range with a Bow and Crossbow; not only from the Far Shot Ranged Skill but also because Bows and Crossbows naturally have better range.
Below I will break down the distinct differences between the two play styles and what you should expect from each.
Throwing Weapons: Shorter attack range and more AoE damage. Ricochet as well as Penetrate makes it so your attacks will almost always hit multiple targets. If you plan to use Blood Assassin Powers such as Execute and Mark of ____ then I recommend Throwing Weapons. You won't apply Marks unless you hit an enemy so obviously the more enemies you hit the better.
Bows and Crossbows: Further attack range and more single target damage. Shockwave deals some AoE damage with this build but the main difference is Bow and Crossbow gets Mortal Wound which boosts your Critical Hit Damage significantly. It's worth noting that Penetrate works for Bows and Crossbows as well as Throwing Weapons.
When it comes to spells for a Ranged build there isn't much for you to use either. I don't recommend a Nature/Ranged combination - instead do Ranged/Combat Magic. Shade's Agility is great and will be the Weapon Enhancement you use for most of the game unless you choose to be a Blood Assassin (then use Marks). Or if you want more Armor later on in the game you can use Repulsion instead.
I'd recommend you raise Nature a little bit so you can use Resurrect as well as Transmute/Summon Teleporter but that is all. As far as Summoned Pets go it is your call, I like pets so I often use them but you most likely won't have many Skill Points to spare until late game. Corpse Transmutation will be your best friend when you get higher level for a boost in survivability.
Since Ranged doesn't get many extra Skill Points I don't really recommend you get an Embrace/Wrath buff on this character or dive too heavily into pets. There are a lot of abilities in the Blood Assassin tree that are huge boosts in damage along with the obligatory abilities you have to get in the Ranged tree.
First and foremost you need to ask yourself which Powers do you want to use as a Ranged character? Thunderous Shot is really good Power that I recommend you use until you get Charged Shots which is probably the best Ranged Power in the game for Bows and Crossbows. Charged Shots is fantastic for both AoE as well as single target damage and is my favorite Ranged Power.
Throwing Weapons will not be able to used Charged Shots since it requires Shockwave. Instead you'll want to use Shrapnel Blast (AoE) or Flurry (Single Target) for characters you plan to use Throwing Weapons on. Take Aim is a good Power too (it's the same as Brutal Attack Melee Power) but I find that it never works unless I am controlling the character when I use it.
Nature will have some good skills to get if you plan to use a Summoned Pet or if you plan to use an Embrace/Wrath buff, otherwise you can skip most of what is in Nature Magic. Melee you'll want to invest enough into to get the survivability skills in here as well. As for the rest of your Skill Points, the upper half of the Blood Assassin skill tree is probably the best place to put most of them.
Shred Blood and Ignite Blood will give you some DoTs that go along with your regular attacks. These skills really shine with Throwing Weapons but are useful for Bow and Crossbow too. Improved Weapon Enhancement as well as Blood soaked Shots will give you flat damage increases which are both very beneficial to all Ranged builds.
Below you'll find a list of the more universal skills in this game that are good for all classes and builds. You'll want to invest in these skills too throughout the game since most of them will boost your survivability.
General Purpose Skills:
Fortitude (Melee Skill): Increases your total health. This is a must have for basically all characters, it also leads to an important skill too.
Toughness (Melee Skill): Decreases Physical Damage taken. Equally important for casters and tanks as it'll make everyone in your group less squishy.
Reinforced Armor (Melee Skill): The more armor you have the more you'll benefit, definitely a useful skill for everyone though. Getting this skill requires you to get Barricade which will allow every character in your group to use a shield if you'd like to. Some 2h weapons grant a lot of damage boosts to casters but using a shield and a 1h for defensive purposes will allow you to spend more points on DPS Skills, if you want that trade off.
Dodge (Ranged Skill): Gives you a flat chance to dodge melee and ranged attacks. I usually put about 5 points into this skill on each character by the end of Mercenary difficulty; I am someone who really likes tanky characters and this ability is a great boost to survivability.
Survival (Ranged Skill): Increases your Fire, Ice and Lightning Resistances as well as gives you the ability to harvest Health Potions. Much like with Dodge I find the survivability this grants to be very important and put at least 5 points into it by the end of Mercenary.
Brilliance (Combat Magic Skill): Flat % increase to your mana pool. Both DPS casters and healers will want to invest points into this
Natural Bond (Nature Magic Skill): Decreases the mana cost of spells by a flat % as well as letting you harvest Mana Potions from bushes. Again, both DPS and healers are going to want to invest into this since it works for all spells.
Chant of Stone (Fist of Stone Skill): This ability will give you a boost to Armor and Health depending on how much Intelligence you have. You'll find this skill most useful for casters because they stack Intelligence. I have more Armor on Finala (my Combat Mage) than on my tank because of this ability as well as Corpse Transmutation and Repulsion.
If you decide to use a pet:
Summon Fortitude (Nature Magic Skill): Increases the health of your Summoned Pets. Usually I put 3 - 5 points into this skill and that's it. Diminishing returns start to kick in the higher you go.
Summon Might (Nature Magic Skill): Increases the damage of your Summoned Pets. This skill is very important for increasing your pet's damage I put about 10 points into it (to give 100% bonus damage).
Summon Bond (Nature Magic Skill): Shares incoming damage with your Summoned Pets. As a caster I typically put 5 - 10 points into this ability to boost my survivability. Melee, Fist of Stone or a Tank I often put 1 or 2 points into it and that's it.
Summon Alacrity (Combat Magic Skill): Will increase the attack speed of Summoned Pets, giving you a minor DPS boost.
If this character is using a Wrath/Embrace buff:
Enveloping Embrace (Nature Magic Skill): Will increase the power of any Embrace buffs that this character is using. You can use 1 Embrace and 1 Wrath spell on your group; only get these skills on the characters who are using the buff. They're a complete waste on any of your other characters.
Feral Wrath (Nature Magic Skill): Will increase the power of any Wrath buffs that this character is using. You can use 1 Embrace and 1 Wrath spell on your group; only get these skills on the characters who are using the buff. They're a complete waste on any of your other characters.