The Daily Grind: Do ranged fighters have too much of an advantage in MMOs?

When I sit down to tally up all of the different weapon playstyles that I enjoy in various MMOs, one theme pops out at me: I loved ranged damage. Pretty much all of my characters use some sort of ranged attacks, whether they be rifles, crossbows, or spells. And I’ve always been slightly worried that devs might catch on to the fact that this playstyle is OP in some way.

Do ranged fighters have too much of an advantage in MMOs? After all, we can attack from far away, and if our opponent is melee only, then it’s like “free hit city” until or unless that character can close the gap. We also enjoy practically zero delay in starting up fights and unfettered views of the action. I honestly never understood why melee fighters would be content to only see a boss’ shin most of the time or be content with their bodies blocking out the enemy mobs.

In PvP, I know that this can be an even greater problem unless the devs and other players have ways to counter this advantage. But maybe it’s not as big of a deal? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key


Please Login to comment
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Alex Malone

Yes, ranged classes have it easy.

They basically get “free” damage in most of their fights that they do solo. They have an increased field of view. They are less likely to have to move. In group content, they are even less likely to have to move. They have increased view of the fights. They are less likely to take damage. Finally, in my experience, ranged fighters are usually the easiest to play too.

PvP is a different matter. In battlegrounds, I’d say ranged are at a disadvantage. Players usually come up with creative strategies to overcome range, allowing melee to get in close. Once in close, a melee player will usually destroy a ranged player, or at least cause him/her to flee. This only tends to work in battlegrounds where it is easy to outheal or bubble the damage received by a few ranged players. In large scale pvp, this isn’t the case as you can’t outheal 30+ ranged players.

In open/world pvp, ranged have the greatest advantage there is. They can stay at maximum range, so they are the safest. They are the first to do damage, so they are the quickest to rank up. They have the psychological advantage, because melee players know that the first few people to charge are almost guaranteed to die. Ranged classes almost always have some sort of slow / root skill too, so in world pvp the poor melee players are often half dead and limping before they ever reach the enemy.


For the entirety of the wrath of the lich king expansion, every raid and dungeon fight had mechanics that specifically and overly punished ranged players.

It’s really always been this way in pve, with melee being kind and only occaisonally having a harsh mechanic to deal with while ranged have a lot of ‘move move move’ mechanics and in most mmorpgs it’s rare for a ranged class to be fully mobile while casting/shooting/whatever.

in small scale pvp ranged dominates if the game does not give melee enough gap closing tools of one kind or another

large scale pvp? well the vocal minority seem to only focus on 1v1 performance but in general unless you are able to build a melee tank that also wrecks face and has nearly unkillable healers backing him/her up who can wade into a group and decimate then yeah, it’s all about ranged.

real ranged. many games are now calling a class that has 4ft reach on their abilities ranged. that’s not ranged!

Bruno Brito

Nowadays? Not really. Ranged classes thrive in mass combat, but that’s about it.


In large-scale PvP, where approaching the enemy lines equals nearly instant death, ranged classes dominate. In such a setting, the melee classes are there to take up space and punish anyone who steps out of line. Even ranged classes that are generally terrible tend to be pretty solid in this environment.

In almost any other setting, it depends. It’s common for melee classes to have abilities that teleport them directly to their target in various ways, rapidly eliminating the advantage of range. At that point it becomes a matter of rock-paper-scissors, mostly based around how lethal that ranged class is in melee range or how easily they can get back to range.

Kickstarter Donor

I love playing glass cannons, but, in most MMOs I’ve played in, the melee classes dominate combat. The melee classes tend to have more agility, more defense, shorter cast times, and shorter cooldowns. Ranged classes usually have fewer ways to avoid damage, less defense, longer cast times, and longer cooldowns. Anytime the ranged classes end up with an advantage, it soon gets nerfed.

When I’m playing my preferred classes, I’m regularly reduced to kiting mobs while spamming my low DPS skills and either waiting for my higher DPS skills to come off of cooldown or trying to find a spot to stand safely for two seconds while casting. All the while, being well aware that if I take just one good hit, I’m a goner.

Advantage? I don’t see any advantage, but I do see a lot more fun.

Keida Sotiri

In almost every MMORPG I’ve played pve is dominated by melee classes, and if there is/are good ranged classes they don’t even get to enjoy the range and play as a melee with lower defense and mobility. Your DPS and ability to survive in almost all these games drops by 40-75%+ (depending on game) if you’re beyond a certain point due to buffs, auras, shields, heals and sometimes requiring dps to hit the rear.

Ranged classes by default have reduce damage and reduce tools for surviving because range=safety, but people always forget being at range means you get no heals, no buffs, no shields, and in games where hitting the rear makes a huge part of your dps you miss out on it nearly 1/3 of the time.

Pvp is the only time range is ever really of any value, and even then, it’s mostly mages that are useful with anything else being utility oriented.


It’s best to play the high burst melee class in any PvP MMO, you need to land one CC to kill any range class in most MMO’s while the range class has to play perfect to kill you.

Bruno Brito

High burst melee classes tend to offer bad disengages. They also tend to blow up cds for the kill.

Dug From The Earth

Simple Answer: Most of the time, yes.

Castagere Shaikura

Sword and board used to be my first choice in every game when i first started gaming. But today i just find it boring. loved playing the Minstrel in LOTRO. Been playing ranged ever since. It really depends on the game though. Not all ranger or mage classes are the same. Gun classes can be the worse yet i loved the engineer class in Wildstar. The best range class for me was Wow Hunter because of the pets And loved using the Bow on my human hunter mostly because the bows looked cooler than guns and were quieter.

Kickstarter Donor

I think it depends on the game to a degree as the Ranged classes can vary a lot, though typically they fall into the high DPS glass cannon category.
So with that perspective in mind I find them largely disadvantaged (dependant as mentioned before on the game) because although they do high DPS unless they have abilities to keep things at bay they die real quick once things get close and MANY games give monsters the ability to close quickly making them largely handicapped as a class.

However in group play they can really take the day, with someone to keep monsters off them they can typically dish out some ridiculous DPS.

My own personal favourite ranged class is LOTRO’s Hunter, it has a great mix of abilities that can make it effective at range, while retaining moderate survivability up close.

But on the whole no, I do not thing they have too much advantage as the need to keep things at range and limited individual ability to do so is a pretty significant handicap intended to balance the classes.