The idea of disengaging when taking damage, and re-engaging to use procs is great for leveling, but doesnt translate well into endgame. The damage I recieve in Darknessfalls far outweighs what my character can passively regen, as it would take tree of life 20 seconds to regen my 30k HP life pool. And trying to disengage when I have taken damage is a difficult affair, as I often loose over 50% of my health just on the engage, with my only means of quickly recouping that health via life steal while meleeing. This presents me with a conundrum, do I attempt to disengage and run around in range of my tree while ranged attacks continue to chip away at my health, or do I stay and fight and hope that my life on hit and mitigation exceeds thier damage dealing capacity.
The fact that the combat ranger is unique in its complete lack of spammable ranged abilities means it must be in melee, but endgame melee is an extremely dangerous place. I have been instantly killed engaging on trash mobs, because RNG said my 80% missle reflection was insufficient to deal with the spell that was cast as I was mid-closure. The only way I have made any progress in DF is by face tanking and spending a lot of time on a casual setting. I have played the combat ranger on elite and made some progress, but with a lot of deaths (from trash and bosses alike). If elite is what the ranger is to be balanced for, and I regularly die to the trash with fully survival focused enchants/gemmed tier 1 gear, then perhaps endgame combat rangers need a different approach.
In my time playing a combat ranger, one thing has become apparent. We need a form of crowd control. Breathing room is generally when they are already ontop of you, and bramble wall only immobilizes, leaving them free to bombard you with spells. If bramble wall had the ability to lock them inplace similar to what "freeze" does, it would allow us to keep some enemies at range while we selectively pick off the ones closest to us. If the enemy is facing you, they can still attack/cast spells, meaning positioning and flanking would be paramount in survival. Currently, I know the only way I can progress through a level is to dive into enemies, and pray my lifesteal is sufficient to let me survive the encounter. But if I didnt have to go 1v5 each time, I think darkness falls would be less of "You have died" over and over again.
If the ranger healing is meant to be passive regen, can tree of life be changed from a flat value, to a % based over time. As I said earlier, 20 seconds is too long to try and avoid enemies in Darkness falls, so I have bypassed the skill entirely. And without a passive way to build up nature counters, bramble wall with its 4 second cooldown is a very clunky mechanic to gain them. I dont mind spamming it to get them started, but I would love a method to maintain what I have. Perhaps give the trees an ability to give a nature counter at the rate they would normally degrade if you are in proximity? That would further encourage thier use, as only giving 1 or 2 nature counters upon cast, and then having a long cooldown for the skill usually means the counters are not used.
I continue to enjoy the ranger class, you have done an amazing job in it mechanics and gameplay salan. It just suffers from the same issue all melees do endgame, how to balance them against the ranged classes who can engage enemies individually from range, and not get hit. The best answer I can come up with is to allow the ranger to engage enemies individually via some form of cc, so that thier defensive abilities are not being overwhelmed on each engage.
And since I have finished my gemming, here are my offensive stats for Miothan, these are taken while in DarknessFalls with a full charge bar:
73% attack speed
22% cast speed
100% crit chance
500% crit damage
4% fumble chance
377% dual wield bonus
61% execute chance
62% physical damage bonus