I have logged almost 500 hours into Guild Wars 2 thus far and have played every profession to an extent - with most of my time on the Mesmer, Elementalist, and Ranger.
The Ranger is a class that gets a lot of flack on the Guild Wars 2 forums, almost to the degree that ranger players believe that their profession is the weak, unplayable, poorly-designed red-headed step-child of Tyria.
I'm not going to say that we do not need some tweaks on our spirits, a couple signets, and a couple shouts, but overall, I would say that the Ranger is the most well-designed and well-balanced class in the game.
Your Pet Is Everything
What a lot of Ranger players don't understand is that without proper pet selection, "micro-management", and swapping, they are GIMPING themselves. A Ranger's pet is roughly half of his damage, depending on the build. More importantly, however, is the fact that Ranger pets provide valuable utility in both their passive skills and their F2 skills that a Ranger player needs to take advantage of to master the profession.
"But I can't control my pet!" BULLSHIT. With proper use of active/passive controls, calling your pet's target, calling your pet back to you, and swapping your pets out, you significantly increase the life-span of your pet, especially if use your healing skills to support it.
One of the most important things a Ranger player can do is coordinate his pet choice with his build and learn how the pet's naturally act. I, for example, use two Canine pets and swap between them, taking advantage of the fact that they often open up with their knockdown leap immediately upon being summoned.
Everything is Designed Around Your Pet
Contrary to popular belief, MOST of the Ranger's design is not incoherent or random. It's weapons are not bad and the class is not thrown together.
Your weapons are weak because they are only half of you. Furthermore, they are clearly designed to support your partner.
It is held together by Hunter's Shot. While Vulnerability is normally one of the weaker conditions, it synergizes beautifully with the direct damage role of the weapon and your pet. Also, the swiftness makes your pet more difficult to kite.
Designed expressly to make foes incapable of kiting you and your pet while buffing your pet and evading damage. It does have some oversights and flaws on its abilities, however.
Designed for bursting with your pet while providing defensive utility.
Designed explicitly for AoE boon support - IE: Your pet.
Designed for synergy with your traps and for pets that have combo finishers.
Anti-kite, just like the sword. Evades help keep you alive while your pet does your job for you.
Slow down foes for your pet to damage while you attack from afar. Basic skill set, really.
Designed for BEASTMASTERS. Swap for quickness and use crowd control pets to unleash PAIN with the 5th skill.
Designed to synergize with ranged pets, primarily. Try using Crippling Shot with a Lashtail Devourer's F2 Skill. You will be pleased.
Beast Mastery is a Good Trait Line
Yes, the majors mostly suck. Never speck 30 points into the line, because the Grandmaster Majors REALLLLY suck.
THE MINOR TRAITS ARE SOME OF THE BEST TRAITS IN YOUR ARSENAL. I can't emphasize that enough.
I speck 25 points into Beastmastery to take advantage of the powerful minor traits:
When I swap pets, my swap cooldown is 16 (living) and 48 (dead). That is considerably better than the agonizing 20/60 second pet swaps when untraited. With this reduced cooldown, I can easily keep my pets alive and take advantage of their pet skills.
When I swap pets, I gain 2 seconds of quickness each time. Can you name another profession that gets a burst of Quickness - the most overpowered mechanic in the game - every 16 seconds? This is quickness that has no downside. No reduced healing. No endurance drain. No increased damage taken. Use this to greatly increase the damage you put out and unleash devastating comboes (such as those involving Whirling Defense).
10% of my healing power becomes Power. This allows my damage to be relevant in a support build by using Cleric's equipment.
Your Pet's Do Have AI Tendencies
With my dogs, for example, I quickly learned that they often use their leap (if off cooldown) immediately after I swap them in. This means that I can swap my pet to gain the quickness and trigger the knockdown to follow up with a Whirling Defense for a powerful combo - much like the Warrior's Hundred Blades combo or the Mesmer's Blurred Frenzy combo.
That's beautiful synergy between the pet and their master.
You Have the Best Attribute Combinations in the Game
Power / Condition Duration (Used by every profession)
Precision / Prowess (Natural combinatin. Much more effective than Precision / Malice).
Toughness / Malice (Durability naturally synergizes with a condition damage build).
Vitality / Boon Duration (Probably the odd one out. No particular synergy, but the line itself works).
Healing Power / Pet Bonuses (With this, you buff your pet in 4 areas while increasing your survivability + support capabilities, making this the most beneficial point allocation attribute-wise IN THE GAME).
The only other class that can approach you attribute-wise is the Elementalist, which is unfortunately shafted by poor trait synergy and a need to speck highly into a line that gives no character stats (other than boon duration). This on a class that needs to play catch-up because of their low bases.
We have some of the BEST trait compression in the game
We have a lot of traits that offer a lot of things in one neat package:
Off-hand Mastery (Wilderness Survival)
Buffs all off-hand cooldowns and increases their cast ranges. No other profession can claim a trait compression of this level.
Martial Mastery (Wilderness Survival)
Reduces Sword, Greatsword, and Spear cooldowns by 20%.
Range and damage on longbow are buffed by the same trait. Engineers, on the other hand, have to take two traits to receive this benefit on their rifles.
Trap traits are highly compressed: 50% larger + ground targeted for one and Cooldown Reduction and condition duration for the other.
Does that Mean We Don't Have Issues?
Of course not!
Every class currently has issues. What are ours? Our spirits suck, some of our signets suck, some of our shouts suck, a minority of our major traits suck, and our sword has a gamebreaking bug that causes you to be rooted in place while attacking with it.
Trait compression on the spirits could also use hefty improvements - especially considering almost all of those buffs should be baseline.
If those are fixed, the profession will be remarkably solid.
It is already a decent profession, even if the holy qua.... quad..... SOMETHING of Warrior / Mesmer / Guardian / Thief is still superior to it.