But yeah really hoping with the addition of subclasses we can get some more active variants of the more docile classes if they decide to keep the "set and forget" type classes as such. Trying to get back on topic, Ghost Heart at least adds an active of summoning a ghost pet. Sounds like that subclass could end up swinging more the way of a caster type which would hopefully translate to more active abilities involving ghost.. stuff? Anyway curious to see where it goes. Which leads into me wondering how much subclasses will add or change from the base class in general?
I think the Ghost Heart can offer a opportunity to have your cake and eat it too. At least for the people who want a more "Strider" type Ranger, but also like the pet concept (e.g. me).
As far as I know from the lore, the souls of Ranger and his/her Companion share a symbiotic bond. Perhaps that's why the Companion can still be summoned by the Ranger, as it cannot truly "move on" while its master is still alive? Anyway, you can easily justify, based on the existing lore, that the pair can utilize this bond even after one of them dies (hence the summoning mechanic). But then it can also be used in reverse - instead of allowing the Companion to help directly, the Ranger can draw upon its soul power to strengthen himself. Such Ranger would be considerably more powerful than his peers who haven't lost their animal friends, but would naturally lose this edge if he decides to summon his ghostly pet (because all that soulpower is spend on maintaining the summon).
From mechanics perspective this would translate into additional effects for the Companion upgrade talents/abilities. These would improve both the Ranger and the Companion, with Companion side being a bit weaker than its living counterpart. The catch is that the Ranger buffs would be suppressed while the ghostly Companion is up ad about. Additionally, the Ranger part of the talents would not just mirror the Companion's, but be their own thing with emphasis on more active effects (hopefully).
The end result would be a flexible Ranger that is much more powerful on their own, but has the option to summon his Companion when the situation requires less raw power and more numbers. The latter however, would not be on par with vanilla Ranger and his permanent ally, for obvious balance reasons (hence why slightly reduced buffs for the ghost pet).
As a side note, this also solves a minor inconsistency regarding the petless Ranger's power source (i.e. why is it called Bond if there is no pet, alive or otherwise).
Anyway, they can take this subclass in many different directions, which is awesome.