Ranger nerf was one of the biggest nerfs and was one of the reasons I quit the first time. I came back 2 years ago only to find out it got worse. Don't know why they tried to make ranged attack more real like in a fantasy title. I'm Still upset at how useless ranger is.
I know theme tends to take a back seat to efficiency in MMOs, but there were basically two things going wrong when it came to Ranger back then. First was people simply shooting at point blank range. Really, when I consider archers or other forms of marksmen, I think of people trying to shoot **** from a distance. Execution style may have its appeal to gangstas and the like, but it's still not really in the fantasy mold. Second would be people using things like the Kraken Club to get TP really fast and just crank out WS far faster than they would've spamming RAs. Nice for parses, sure, but still not very range-y.
Mechanically, there were other issues like different damage formula favoring ranged attacks on higher level prey, which when paired with some of the above, eventually lead people into arrowburns. And since it was better, theme be damned, you were basically playing a gimpy THF/NIN until it came time to WS. Even after the nerf, the damage of RNG has not been the problem. The real hurdles the job now faces are a mix of ammunition costs and enmity issues making it difficult to actually maintain range on a mob if you're doing respectable damage. Some might also make a case for lacking auto-RA and the clumsiness of rapid shot gear, but I also don't think some realize that RAs are really just JAs with a cast time and that making such happen would be more complex than just copy/pasting the melee code. People, have, however fallen into the trap of believing that because RNG does shoot ammo, thus spend money, they deserve being a top DD. Actually being able to attack at range is a definite defensive benefit and even made some fights like Dark Ixion a breeze. The unfortunate truth is, as long as other melees have to get in range of this deadly TP wtfpwnurass **** mobs throw out, the best RNG could hop for is being on par or slightly less effective. But then we hit the problem of people only wanting the most effective jobs for a given task. That just brings us full circle to ammo costs. If 1k could get you 100 shots of any kind of ammo, I doubt people would give a **** about being less effective. But when you have to pay 15k for those 100 shots... yeah. And this is one of those cases were it's not really the crafter's fault due to either rarity or forced minimum pricing via NPC materials.