Archer is in a good spot since alpha and beta nerfs. It used to do more damage and there is a reason they nerfed it. It is a well balanced class that is actually really good at melee and ranged. It is a matter of knowing your surroundings and your positioning. Spear archer probably needs some work though to be fair. It got nerfed a bit too much imhod and could use a very small buff.
A good archer is going to play very close to the group and plink headshots left and right. They won’t be off in the middle of nowhere hoping on a shot from far range. Too many things can happen during the flight time of an arrow. The person can just change pathing, he could be hit by someone and change his positioning, etc. Thus the good players are up close and being super in your face and annoying. The spearman will be the most upfront obviously and bow would be next. Xbow would be the ones to sit the “farthest” but still should be close. Far enough they can get a reload and switch to melee if needed or just give themselves the time to decided to reload, retreat or go melee. It gets people to think they can rush in for an easy kill and over extend and get themselves killed instead. Tactics done simple.
I play xbow in FFA and am top 5 or winning 95+% of my games, we all have bad games from time to time. I have archer up to lvl 22 or 23 at this point as well (on PC). I can take on 2 ppl at once and in fact can make it easier sometimes. Thanks to the counter mechanic there are still many ppl not understanding it and giving me free swings at both for good dmg. Being highly skilled with a hatchet is a must as an xbowman in my mind. 80+% of my kills in FFA are from it.
Also you can defend against thrown weapons. As typically it is highly choreographed and you can dodge or you have already switch to your melee. If you are trying to push your luck and keep using ranged, then accept the risk you are taking and eat the weapon in the face if and when it happens.
Archer is in game to help counter all the 2handed fools that just swing left and right through groups of people hoping for the best. It’s the “cool/fun” way to play the game, thus archers are the sin and bane. But archers are the rock to those scissors and shields are the paper to that rock. There is NOTHING an archer can do vs a shield except go into melee or run. If positioned correctly they do at least get that choice, if not… well… get good at melee.
Now if on console the archer class plays different, I don’t know what to say. I don’t play it on those.