I love Dungeons and Dragons, it's my favorite hobby and I play every week. For over a year now, I've been playing in a great campaign with my closest friends, and I am... a ranger. I know, I know, how dare I? I am aware that, to be honest, rangers are pretty under powered compared to other classes in D&D 5th edition. When I told my party I would be playing as a ranger, the first thing my dungeon master said to me was "Why not just play a fighter?" My answer was, simply, RANGERS ARE COOL!
It's very obvious to see that D&D was heavily inspired by the classic Lord of The Rings series written by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the ranger class specifically was inspired by Aragorn, who was himself a ranger. Aragorn has always been one of my absolute favorite fictional characters, so when I started playing D&D my first instinct was the gravitate towards a class that so closely resembled him. Aragorn, also known by his ranger name Strider, is straight up a bad ass sword fighting king of men. Of course I want to be just like him! But, I admit, when I began creating my ranger Jaime Summerborn, I quickly realized that many of this abilities were relatively useless compared to the abilities of my fellow party members. But I really, really wanted to play this character, so I pushed forward. Now, one year into the game, I can happily say that Jaime has made himself very useful in many situations. He's been a ton of fun to role-play, and I'm happy I ignored everyone telling me to "Just play a fighter."
I love creating characters, and creating a ranger provides a good opportunity to really get creative and make a cool character. Rangers are masters of the wilderness, and have learned how to navigate through the terrain with no delay and protect nature. For one, it's easy to come up with a reason for them to go on the adventure, because they feel it's their duty to do good and protect the world. Like cool police of nature. And never getting lost because you always know which way is north is lowkey an extremely useful skill to have, especially if your DM runs a survival heavy game. If the party needs food, supplies, or directions, the ranger is your guy.
If you build your ranger correctly, and your DM provides opportunity to get some nice gear, you can become just as good a fighter as, well, a fighter. Plus with the added abilities of a ranger, such as tracking and being able to detect if any creatures are nearby.
Reaching level 20 as a ranger is, yes, kind of lackluster. While other classes are unlocking powers that allow them to basically change reality at their will, a ranger unlocks the ability to add their wisdom modifier to damage rolls... I mean, that's cool I guess, especially if your DM allows for gaining feats through training so you can spend your level ups upgrading ability points. But obviously, it's not great. But that is why you simply have to build your character correctly. And hey, don't forget that having a character with many flaws and weaknesses can make the game a lot more fun. So play up your weaknesses as much as your strengths to have fun. It's important to remember that you play D&D to have fun, not win by having the best character.
As I was writing this, a brand new unearthed arcana revision of ranger dropped. And uh, it's pretty damn good. It makes a few changes to the ranger that balance the class out and really plays up the idea of them specializing with an enemy type. It's a good revision, and I hope to see it added to official game soon.
Dungeons and Dragons is a role-playing game, which to me means the role play part of the game is the most important. And roleplaying as a ranger is super fun! But, if you are what is called a "minmaxer" and your focus of the game is to make the most powerful character possible, then that's fine, you probably shouldn't play ranger...