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The Hunter ranger's 11th-level Multiattack feature has two options. One of them is Volley:

You can use your action to make a ranged attack against any number of creatures within 10 feet of a point you can see within your weapon’s range. You must have ammunition for each target, as normal, and you make a separate attack roll for each target.

My original interpretation is that you make a large number of single attacks as a result of your action, but the I read this section of the "Sage Advice Compendium":

No. Whirlwind Attack is unusual, in that it’s a single attack with multiple attack rolls. In most other instances, an attack has one attack roll.

The description of Whirlwind Attack states:

You can use your action to make a melee attack against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you, with a separate attack roll for each target.

Since Whirlwind Attack is worded almost identically to Volley, is Volley considered a single attack?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If it's a single attack, how would it interact with a feat like Sharpshooter? "Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack's damage." \$\endgroup\$ – Rykara Jun 10 at 19:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rykara Sounds like you might have a basis for a good question there! Consider asking it. I might recommend waiting to see how this Q&A goes first though since people might argue it is not a single attack. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jun 10 at 20:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Another use case is the same one that is addressed in "Sage Advice Compendium" (Moving between attacks) \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Jun 10 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Related question - volley with extra attack \$\endgroup\$ – JohnP Jun 10 at 20:13
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Sage Advice sets the precedent that Volley is one attack with multiple rolls

At level 11, a Hunter/Ranger gets a "Multi Attack" per the PHB. That multi attack manifests in one of two ways: Either a ranged type (Volley) or a melee type (Whirlwind).

In essence, a Hunter/Ranger gets the same multi attack ability but can tailor it to match the melee or ranged combat style they have chosen to develop.

The Sage Advice Compendium specifically states:

[The] Whirlwind Attack is unusual, in that it’s a single attack with multiple attack rolls.

If we assume that the multi attack feature is meant to be essentially the same thing but tailored to two different combat styles, it follows that, like the melee version (Whirlwind), the ranged version (Volley) is also one attack with multiple roles.

This is supported by the fact that both Volley and Whirlwind use the same "to make a [type] attack against any number of creatures" wording. If Sage Advice informs us that Whirlwind is one attack with multiple rolls, Volley must necessarily be treated the same way.

Lead rules designer Jeremy Crawford has tweeted that the interpretation of this answer matches designer intent:

Like Whirlwind Attack, Volley is a single attack with multiple attack rolls.

(Hat tip Speedkat & Rubiksmoose.)

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