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So you want to try a Bow Build in Fallout 76

Updated: Jul 9, 2023



In collaboration with McLovin2197 and Marigoldsandviolets, mods from the r/Fallout76BowHunters subreddit.


Bowhunters subreddit - here

Bowhunters Discord - here.

Photo credits: r/Fallout76BowHunters subreddit

 

Foreword by McLovin2197


Most people think bows aren’t worth it in Fallout 76. Why do I use a bow?

Satisfaction. Pure satisfaction. You can snipe enemies before anyone else sees them, and you don’t lose any damage with distance. You will hit the damage threshold on the Queen very quickly with crits. Bows are versatile: they work extremely well at public events and in solo play. It is the highest DPS in the game? No. It isn’t about DPS when you use a bow. It is about the satisfaction of the whiz, thump, and death in a single shot.

 

This guide covers

  • Bow types explained

  • Arrow types explained

  • Crossbow mods

  • Perk Cards and Perk Card loadouts

  • Legendary prefixes and stats

  • Armour

  • Other gear

  • Mutations

  • Buffs

  • Tips and tricks


Please note this is a guide, not a rulebook. While we run these recommended builds and perks ourselves, they may not work for you or your play style. We encourage you to take the information from this guide and mix and match, tweaking until you find a build that you enjoy using.

 

Bow types explained


There are three bow types in Fallout 76: the basic Bow (recurve), the Compound Bow, and the Crossbow. Each bow type has its pluses and minuses, which will be covered below.


All three types of bows are equipped with a hidden silencer similar to the suppressor mod, which makes it an ideal sneak-build weapon.


Bow (or Recurve Bow)


This bow has a lower base damage but a higher DPS (damage per second) and a quicker draw than the other two types.


It is great for times when you need to rapid fire, whether to get more damage over time on a boss, to deal with a crowd of enemies, or to tag at a fast-paced event.


Lowest level that can be crafted:

  • Level 1


Fixed spawns:

  • No fixed spawns


Plan:

  • Guaranteed drop upon completing the Elusive Crane questline.

  • Can be purchased from Sunny in Foundation and Ae-Ri in Crater.


Mods:

  • Can be purchased from Sunny in Foundation and Ae-Ri from Crater once you have reached the reputation rank of Friendly or higher.

  • Can be purchased from the Weapons Scavenger Trader (found at Camp random encounter locations) without a reputation check. You need to be level 15 or higher for these plans to show in their inventory. Disregard the different colours on the map, the colours are for back end data reasons.


Compound Bow


This bow has a higher base damage, lower DPS (Damage Per Second), and a longer draw time than the recurve.


This bow is ideal for sniper builds. The long draw requires patience, but the extra damage is worth the wait. (You can fire before the draw is fully complete for reduced damage.)


Lowest level that can be crafted:

  • Level 1


Fixed spawns:

  • No fixed spawns


Plan:

  • Can be purchased from Sunny in Foundation and Ae-Ri from Crater once you have reached the reputation rank of Ally.


Mods:

  • Can be purchased from Sunny in Foundation and Ae-Ri from Crater once you have reached the reputation rank of Ally.

  • Can be purchased from the Weapons Scavenger Trader (found at Camp random encounter locations) without a reputation check. You will need to be level 15 or higher for these plans to show in their inventory. Disregard the different colours on the map, the colours are for back end data reasons.


Crossbow


The Crossbow is used to complete The Order of the Tadpole (backpack quest) and certain atom world challenges. In general, many bowhunters prefer the bow types above to the crossbow, which has a shorter range, lower damage, and slower rate of fire than the recurve or compound.


However, the Crossbow has its positives. Like other bows, they use very little ammo per mob killed, but unlike the other bows, they can be used while wearing Power Armour; they are therefore ideal for new-to-the-game players. While other bows require the player to draw before shooting, Crossbows are ready to fire as soon as they are reloaded, like a gun; Crossbows are thus often easier for players with limited hand movement.


Lowest level that can be crafted:

  • Level 15


Fixed spawns:

  • Map of the 8 fixed spawns can be found here.

  • Detailed list of locations can be found here.

Note: If you are collecting these to repair for the Archer Tadpole Badge, use the SPECIAL Punch Machine to reduce your Intelligence stat down to 5. This will make the condition bar smaller, meaning you can repair it right away instead of having to damage it in order to get the condition bar low enough to repair it.


Plan:

  • Can be found on one of the tables next to the archery shooting range at the Pioneer Scout Camp in the Toxic Valley.

  • Can be purchased from Grahm, Free States robot vendors, and the Watoga Train Station robot vendor once your character is level 15+.

  • Has a 0.11% chance to drop from Toxic Valley Treasure Maps.

  • Can be found in world containers in the Toxic Valley region.


Mods:


Sights mods

  • Known by default when you first pick up a Crossbow


Frame mods

  • Can be purchased from Sunny in Foundation and Ae-Ri from Crater once you have reached the reputation rank of Friendly.

 

Bow (recurve) and Compound Bow mods


Sights

Iron Sights

Increases range to 312 feet


Glow Sights

Increases range to 312 feet

Adds more accuracy but costs more AP



Arrow receiver

To produce Flame, Explosive, Poison, Cryo, or Prime effects with bows, you modify the arrow receiver rather than crafting multiple different types of arrows. All Bows and Crossbows use the same normal arrows except prime bows, which require you to craft separate ultracite arrows.

The arrow effects and their uses are explained in more detail in the "Arrow types explained" section further down.


Skins

Blood Eagle style

From: Atom Shop

Can be used on: Bow (recurve) and Compound Bow.


Bown (Bone)

From: Heart of Steel - A Dread Island Tale (season 9 scoreboard) and the Atom Shop

Can be used on: Bow (recurve) and Compound Bow.


Survivor's paint

From: Nuclear Winter (legacy)

Can be used on: Bow (recurve) only.


Flatwoods Fletcher style

From: The Legendary Run (season 1 scoreboard) and the Atom Shop

Can be used on: Bow (recurve) and Compound Bow.


Deep Cave Hunter paint

From: Atom Shop

Can be used on: Bow (recurve) and Compound Bow.



Sometimes items not on sale in the Atom Shop can be ordered from Bethesda's customer service. To request a bow skin, go to Bethesda’s support page; choose Fallout 76, then Billing/Purchase/Code, then your platform. Select "I need help with an Atom Shop Purchase." When it asks if you are asking about a gift, choose “yes,” then choose “a gift for myself.” Fill in your account name in the box provided. There will be two dropdown lists; choose what you want to purchase from those lists.


Customer Service will currently not sell anything that is not on the dropdown lists. At time of publication, the Blood Eagle skin is available on the dropdown lists, as is the Deep Cave Hunter bundle, which includes the Deep Cave Hunter bow skin. However, items available on the lists may change.

 

Arrow types explained


Bows work a little differently from other weapons in the sense that you modify the bow itself to produce the arrow effects and damage type you want. The exception is prime arrow mod, which requires you to craft ultracite arrows. The downside to this is that if you want different arrow effects for different situations, you will need to either carry multiple bows with multiple arrow effects or mod the bow again to change the arrow effect.


Plasma arrow mod

Description: Adds plasma (energy) damage +30.

Best suited for: All-around use


Ultracite arrow mod (Prime)

Description: Superior damage. Bonus damage to Scorchbeasts and Scorched +29% (+60% Scorched).

Best suited for: Scorched enemies and the Scorchbeast Queen


Explosive arrow mod

Description: Adds Explosion Damage +23.

Best suited for: Tagging enemies during events. Can also stagger and knock back larger enemies.

Note: Equip Grenadier and Demo Expert perk cards for higher damage and larger radius.


Flame arrow mod

Description: Adds burning damage: +3 and then +10 burn damage over 5s.

Best suited for: Tagging enemies during events and healing NPCs with the Friendly Fire perk card equipped.

Note: Equip Grenadier for larger radius.


Cryo arrow mod

Description: Slows targets for 3 seconds. Adds freeze damage: +15. Enemy movement speed is reduced to 60% of normal.

Best suited for: Works best against smaller targets and during PVP.


Poison arrow mod

Description: Adds poison damage: +5% per second 7s.

Best suited for: Not the best mod in the bunch. This deals damage over time, so it may be useful during PVP and against larger enemies. You can use the Poison bolt to tag larger enemies like the queen and then switch to a Plasma or Explosive crossbow to take out the critters and smaller enemies.

 

Crossbow mods


Sights

Iron Sights

Adds +15 accuracy


Glow Sights

Adds +10 accuracy



Arrow receiver

On a crossbow, these are referred to as Frames.

Crossbow mods work similarly to the Bow and Compound Bow mods: you modify the frame to produce the arrow effects you want rather than crafting multiple different types of arrows or bolts. The exception is prime Crossbows, which require you to craft ultracite crossbow bolts.


Cryo Frame

Description: Slows targets for 3 seconds. Enemy movement speed is reduced to 60% of normal.

Best suited for: Smaller targets and during PVP.


Explosive Frame

Description: Adds Explosion Damage +15%

Best suited for: Tagging enemies during events. Can also stagger and knock back larger enemies.

Note: Equip Grenadier and Demo Expert perk cards for higher damage and larger radius.


Flaming Frame

Description: Adds burning damage: +2 fire per second for 5s

Best suited for: Tagging enemies during events and healing NPCs when the Friendly Fire perk card is equipped.

Note: Equip Grenadier for larger radius.


Plasma Frame

Description: Adds plasma (energy) damage +20%

Best suited for: All-around use


Poison Frame

Description: Adds poison damage: +2% per second 7s

Best suited for: Not the best mod in the bunch. This deals damage over time, so it may be useful during PVP and against larger enemies. You can use the Poison bolt to tag larger enemies like the queen and then switch to a Plasma or Explosive crossbow to take out the critters and smaller enemies.


Prime Frame

Description: Superior damage. Bonus damage to Scorchbeasts and Scorched +25% (+60% Scorched)

Best suited for: Scorched enemies and the Scorchbeast Queen


Skins

There are no crossbow skins available in game or in the Atom Shop at the time of publication.


 

Perk Cards and Perk Card loadouts


To ensure that we can cover as many player styles as possible, we have reached out to fellow long-term bow users and asked them to share their bow builds with us. We include those here, along with our own builds.


As with all builds, there will be times that you will need to switch perk cards in and out to suit the situation. Examples of common card swaps include:

  • When food buff farming, switch out a Perception card (many of us drop down to rank 2 Concentrated Fire) in order to equip Green Thumb

  • During events when you need to heal NPCs, use a flame bow and switch out Tenderizer or Inspiration for Friendly Fire

  • When running flame or explosive bows, switch out a Perception card (many of us drop down to rank 1 Concentrated Fire) to equip rank 2 Grenadier

  • When running explosive bows, swap out non-essential Intelligence perk cards to equip Demolition Expert

  • Swap out Bloody Mess for Ricochet when running Decryption Daily Ops



Under Level 50/beginning players:


It is perfectly fine to pick up a bow without having all the archer cards yet. The bow is surprisingly good even without any archer cards or modifications (although you should mod it to add sights as soon as you get the mod plan).


Begin the build by adding Concentrated Fire (Unlocks at Level 2), Bow Before Me (Unlocks at Level 6), and Archer (Unlocks at Level 8) perk cards under Perception and Action Boy/Girl (Unlocks at Level 2) under Agility.


Because you are still gaining SPECIAL points in these levels, you may find that you need a backup weapon. Any weapon you prefer will do, but many people choose a melee backup, because it does not require ammo crafting.



Level 50 to Level 120 players:

Players in this level range have usually not unlocked all the legendary perk card slots or earned enough perk coins to fully level the legendary slots they have unlocked. While a pure bow build is viable in this level range, a hybrid build can also be useful. Two sample hybrid bow/melee builds, designed for this level range, are below.


Low Health Hybrid build - Credit to u/sebwiers

Full Health Hybrid build - Credit to u/sebwiers



Level 50+ advanced players:


The below perk card loadouts assume that you have all standard and legendary perk cards unlocked. These are target builds meant to guide you as you level up, allowing you to pick perk cards with the end goal in mind. Higher level players with a solid grasp on builds and perk cards can modify these builds to their personal preference.


Low Health Perk Card loadouts:

Low Health Build - Credit to u/TodayIComment

Low Health Explosive Arrow Build - Credit to u/marigoldsandviolets

Low Health Tank build - Credit to u/toxicfuzzball


Full Health Perk Card loadouts:

Full Health Build - Credit to u/milo-ipkis

Full Health Build with Food Buffs - Credit to u/McLovin2197

Full Health Tank - Credit to u/Desmo13

Full Health, No-Stealth Tank - Credit to u/Odd-Ad5008


Hybrid Perk Card loadouts:

Low Health Hybrid build - Credit to u/Odd-Ad5008 (Bow, shotgun and minigun shredder build)

Bow and Melee build - Credit to u/somewherein72

Bow and Melee build alternative - Credit to u/KVirus70


Power Archers (Power Armour and Crossbow) loadouts:

PA and Crossbow build - Credit to u/Odd-Ad5008

PA and Crossbow build - Credit to u/sebwiers



Make-your-own-build Perk Card tips and suggestions:

If you want to make your own custom bow build, we recommend that you include the following cards.


Archer, Expert Archer and Master Archer

Rank 3 is recommended, but bloodied builds can get away with only running rank 2 of each.


Concentrated Fire

While rank 1 Concentrated Fire is more than fine for commando builds, we highly recommend running rank 3 for bow builds; it makes a noticeable difference in VATS accuracy (especially important for full health bowhunters).


Bow Before Me

You would be crazy to turn down a bonus 36% armour piercing.


Strange In Numbers

Greatly buffs your mutations, food buffs and other stats.


Sneak

Rank 3 if you are running a full health build. Players who run a full set of UNY and/or buff agility or sneak in other ways can often afford to drop back to rank 1 or 2 of Sneak.


Action Boy/Girl

You can get by with 1 Action Girl/Boy if you are using AP regen buffs and have AP refresh on your armour.


Class Freak

Class Freak is one of those cards that are go big or go home, because the lower ranks of this card do not make much of a noticeable difference. Either run rank 3 Class Freak or be cautious with which mutations you run. You will be surprised how much mutations can cripple your build.


Good with Salt

If you run food buffs then rank 3 Good with Salt is a must. Note: this perk card does not stack with the Refrigerated backpack mod.


Tenderizer

The more people on your team who run this card, the better benefits you receive.

For example: If two people are in a team and are both running this card, then when one person hits an enemy, both teammates will receive the bonus damage boost.

More suited against larger or swarming enemies such as the Queen or Moonshine Jamboree and Radiation Rumble.


Gun Fu

This card is a personal preference. It is probably more suited to players who are comfortable using a bow, as it can be difficult to keep up with Gun Fu jumping to different targets while drawing back your bow.



Legendary Perk Cards


Follow Through

Ranged sneak damage (landing a hit while in sneak) increases damage to your target.


Taking One for The Team

Enemies take more damage if you are on a team with other players.

Note: An enemy needs to hit or tag you first for this to proc, which does not make it ideal for sneak builds. If multiple teammates are running this card, then the damage bonus is given to all players who have this card equipped.

Stacks with Tenderizer perk card.


Far Flung Fireworks

Enemies killed with a ranged weapon have a chance to explode and cause damage to nearby enemies. Not suited for sneak builds.


Agility

The higher your agility, the better your sneak and the longer your AP bar, which gives you more VATS.


Perception

The higher your Perception, the longer the range at which enemies and locations appear on your HUD.

The higher your Perception, the better your VATS accuracy is.


Luck

The higher your Luck, the faster your VATS crit meter refills. For VATS crits to proc every other shot, you need either 33+ Luck or (for full health players) +23 Luck, max rank Crit Savvy, and a bow with the Lucky legendary effect "VATS crit meter fills faster."


Funky Duds

Reduces the damage taken from poison attacks. This is a personal preference card.


What Rads

If you are a full-health build and can spare the legendary perk card slot, then this is a very handy card to run. It offers a high level of rad protection and removes any rads that you receive at the same time.

 

Legendary Weapon Prefixes and Stats


Depending on your build and play style, you may prefer a one-bow-fits-all type scenario or you may prefer to switch to different bows depending on what enemy you are facing. Here are our Legendary Prefix and stat suggestions.


Weapon Legendary Prefix


Recommended:

Anti-Armour

Description: Ignores 50% of your target's armour.

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: This is a great all-around daily driver weapon prefix. If you are running a full health build, you may need to look at food buffs to increase your damage output.


Instigating

Description: Double damage if target is full health. (+100% of your base damage, not your pip boy damage number)

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds

Notes: Do not mod these bows with fire or explosive arrows as the AOD will void the Instigating effect. Stick to the plasma or ultracite arrow mods.

If you have an Instigating bow equipped and use grenades, the grenades will also benefit from the instigating effect.


Bloodied

Description: Damage increases as health decreases.

Best suited for: Low health builds.

Notes: Excellent all-rounder main weapon for Low Health characters, with consistent damage across all shots.


Vampire

Description: Gain brief health regeneration when you hit an enemy.

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: If modded with the explosive or flaming receiver, this can be useful for keeping you alive and getting tags on enemies during crowded events such as Radiation Rumble and Moonshine Jamboree. You may struggle to get high damage from this prefix.


Alternative:

Aristocrats

Description: Damage increases as caps increase.

Best suited for: Full health builds

Notes: Packs a noticeable punch. Above the cap threshold, it gives damage comparable to Anti Armour and Instigating against level 100 Super Mutants.


Berserkers

Description: Lower damage resistance increases damage dealt.

Best suited for: Full health builds

Notes: Best for advanced players. This is a fun build to run. It makes you a lot more aware of the game and its hazards.


Executioners

Description: +50% more damage when your target is below 40% health.

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds

Notes: Ideal on tougher enemies where a boost in damage is needed toward the end of the fight. This is a good prefix to switch to if you started the fight with a bloodied or anti armour bow.


Junkies

Description: Damage increases when suffering from addictions.

Best suited for: Full health builds.

Notes: I would run Aristocrats over Junkies. Aristocrats gets the same damage boost as a Junkies build with none of the side effects or negatives. If you do wish to run a Junkies build, then please refer to this chem addiction and Junkies negative effects infographic to help you choose chem addictions that will not cripple your build.


Nocturnal

Description: Damage increases with the night.

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: During the day, this weapon offers base damage. During in-game night hours (6 pm to 6 am), the weapon receives a damage boost. More of a fun build than a long-term high-damage build.


Stalkers

Description: If not in combat, +100% VATS accuracy at +50% AP cost.

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: Stalkers will lose the hit chance as soon as [caution] appears. Bows with this effect can be useful for snipers to help with landing every shot from a distance. However, a damage boosting bow with a permanent +50 vats hit chance second effect is a better choice than Stalkers, which is a base damage bow that offers a better hit chance only in the [Hidden] state.


More experienced players may want to try enemy-specific prefixes such as Mutant Slayers, Troubleshooters, Ghoul Slayers and Zealot's for their corresponding enemy types.


Second Stat/roll/star


Recommended:

Lucky

Description: VATS critical shots do +50% damage

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.


VATS Enhanced

Description: +50% VATS hit chance

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: This stat gives you a higher chance of hitting your target in VATS.


Crippling

Description: +50% limb damage

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: The perk card Tormentor does not work with bows. To cripple an enemy like the Queen, use a bow with limb damage on wings or legs, then switch back to your main weapon of choice.



Third Stat/roll/star


Recommended:

VATS Enhanced

Description: 25% less VATS Action Point cost

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.


Lucky

Description: Your VATS critical meter fills 15% faster

Best suited for: Full health builds.

Notes: This is a very important effect for full health builds. Without the crit fill effect, you need a 33+ Luck stat to get a crit every second shot; this is difficult for full health builds to achieve. With the crit fill effect, you only need the rank 3 Crit Savvy perk card and a +23 Luck stat to get a crit every second shot.


Alternative:

Perception

Description: 1+ Perception

Best suited for: Full health builds.

Notes: The higher your Perception, the longer the range at which enemies and locations appear on your HUD. The higher your Perception, the better your VATS accuracy is.


Agility

Description: 1+ Agility

Best suited for: Full health builds.

Notes: The higher your agility, the better your sneak and the longer your AP bar, which equals more VATS.

 

Armour


Unless you want to go hard-core sneak, it doesn't really matter what armour you wear, because anything over ~350 DR, ER, and RR gives diminishing returns. What really matters is the armour effects, mods, and legendary prefixes and stats.



Armour Types


Pick a type that suits your play style.

Wood Armour

Best suited for: Full health builds and players who are new to sneak builds


Leather Armour

Best suited for: Full health builds and players who are new to sneak builds


Covert Scout Armour

Best suited for: Full health builds.

Notes: Covert Scout Armour has a built-in sneak bonus that can be useful to Full Health players, who struggle to obtain the high agility stats that bloodied players can get with Unyielding armour. However, be prepared to grind for the Covert Scout plans.


Secret Service Armour

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: Highest RR on in-game armour. Generally recommended as an all-around armour because of its high DR, ER, and RR. Has a Jetpack mod.


Brotherhood Recon Armour

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: Highest DR on in-game armour. Has a Jetpack mod.


Solar Armour

Best suited for: Full health builds.

Notes: Ideal if you run a medic's build or enjoy running in a team due to its regenerating health bonus. The regenerating bonus works while in combat.


Thorn Armour

Best suited for: Full health builds.

Notes: A full Thorn armour set reduces detection by 5% and adds 15% sneak. The bleed damage will only proc if you have an unarmed or melee weapon equipped.



Mods


First Slot

Pick a mod that suits your play style.


Buttressed

Description: Exceptional Damage Resistance, Radiation Resistance and Energy Resistance.

Best suited for: Low health builds or players who need a little extra DR, ER or RR.


Polymer

Description: Improved Damage Resistance and Energy Resistance

Best suited for: Low health builds or players who need a little extra DR, ER or RR.


Shadowed

Description: Improves stealth in dark areas.

Best suited for: Full health sneak builds.



Second Slot


Recommended:

Ultra-Light

Description: Greatly reduced weight and increased AP bonus

Best suited for: Full health builds or lower-level low-health builds who are still working on their build and cards.


Dense

Description: Greatly reduced damage from explosions.

Best suited for: Reducing the damage you receive from your own explosive arrows.


Alternative:

Padded

Description: Reduced damage from explosions.

Best suited for: Reducing the damage you receive from your own explosive arrows.


Asbestos Lining

Description: Reduced energy damage and immune to being set on fire.

Best suited for: Reducing the damage you receive from your own flaming arrows or from other players' fire weapons in PVP. (Note: asbestos does not reduce explosion damage, only fire damage.)


BioCommMesh

Description: Increases duration of chems by 50%

Best suited for: XP farmers and chem users.

Notes: Stacks with Chem Fiend perk card under Endurance.



Armour Legendary Prefix


Recommended:

Unyielding

Description: Gain up to +3 to all stats (except END) when low health.

Best suited for: Low health builds


Overeaters

Description: Increases damage reduction up to 6% per piece (Max 27.8% damage reduction with a full set of 5 pieces) as you fill your hunger and thirst meters.

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds.

Notes: Use Perfect Bubblegum to keep your hunger and thirst meters full and become a walking talking tank.


Alternative:

Vanguard

Description: Grants up to +35 energy resistance and damage resistance, the higher your health.

Best suited for: Full health sneak builds.

Notes: Because of the diminishing returns on DR, ER, and RR, it is not worth running a full set of Vanguard's unless you are really struggling with the game or are a low-level player.

If you are a higher-level full health player, you could run 3 pieces of Vanguard and 2 pieces of Life Saving or 2 pieces of Vanguard, 1 piece of Life Saving and 1 piece of Unyielding or Bolstering; these combinations would give you a little extra protection and buy you time to stimpak yourself and get out of a sticky situation.


Vanguard can be useful on wood or leather armour, as it will help to make up for the low DR and ER those armours normally provide. However, If you take damage while running Vanguard, you will reduce or lose the damage resistance and energy resistance bonus; this is why it is normally recommended for sneak builds.


Mutant Slayers

Description: -15% damage from Super Mutants (maximum 75% reduction for a full set).

Best suited for: Eviction Notice event in the Savage Divide.


Troubleshooters

Description: -15% damage from robots (maximum 75% reduction for a full set).

Best suited for: The Encryptid Imposter event in the Ash Heap. In a full set of Troubleshooters armour and with a Vampire's bow with explosive arrows (explosive works well against robots), you'll be pretty much indestructible at this event.


Armour Notes:

The second and third stats on armour should be used to fill in gaps in your perk card loadout or to replace certain perk cards so you can run other perk cards in their place.


Chameleon and Weightless are cool and all, but there are better and easier ways to run a sneak build.



Second Stat/roll/star


Recommended:

Powered

Description: Increases Action Point refresh speed

Best suited for: Low health builds and full health builds

Notes: This stat helps to refill your AP bar faster.


Poisoner's

Description: +25 Poison Resistance

Best suited for: Low health builds and full health builds

Notes: Useful if you can't fit Funky Duds into your legendary perk card loadout or if you strongly dislike Mirelurk Queens and Mirelurk Hunters poison attacks.


Luck

Description: 1+ Luck

Best suited for: Full health builds

Notes: The higher your Luck, the faster your VATS crit meter refills. You need +33 Luck (or +23 Luck, 3* Crit Savvy in Luck, and the "VATS meter fills faster" legendary effect on your weapon) to have VATS crits proc with every second shot. Luck does not affect your event reward drop/drop rate; that is purely down to RNG.


Hardy

Description: Receive 7% less explosive damage

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds

Notes: Reduces explosive damage taken in PVP or from your own explosive arrows or secondary explosive weapons


Alternative:

Intelligence

Description: 1+ Intelligence

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds

Notes: The higher your Intelligence, the more XP you receive, the more materials you receive back when you scrap weapons and armour, and the longer the duration bar on any weapons and armour you craft.


Perception

Description: 1+ Perception

Best suited for: Full health builds

Notes: The higher your Perception, the longer the range at which enemies and locations appear on your HUD. The higher your Perception, the better your VATS accuracy is.


Agility

Description: 1+ Agility

Best suited for: Full health builds

Notes: The higher your agility, the better your sneak and the longer your AP bar, which equals more VATS.


Hazmat

Description: +25 Radiation Resistance

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds

Notes: The extra 25 Rad Resis this offers covers most day-to-day tasks in the Wasteland and is a handy set and forget effect. If you run through a lot of water or get up in the Queen's business, then you may need to consider Radshield or Rad resistance foods, or (for full health builds) the What Rad's legendary perk card.


Third Stat/roll/star


Recommended:

Improved Sneaking

Description: Become harder to detect while sneaking

Best suited for: Full health

Notes: It is hard to obtain very high Agility while running a full health build, so anything that adds to your sneak is a useful bonus.


Sentinel's

Description: 75% chance to reduce damage by 15% while standing still.

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds

Notes: If you break your sneak or don't run a sneak build, then this can help to reduce any damage you take, providing you are firing from one position and not moving from that spot.


Alternative:

Dissipating

Description: Slowly regen radiation damage while not in combat.

Best suited for: Full health

Notes: If you don't want to carry RadAway or if you like to jump from event to event to event, this passive rad removal effect can help you manage rads while you roam around the Wasteland.


Cavalier's

Description: 75% chance to reduce damage by 15% while sprinting.

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds

Notes: If you like to run about like a maniac in the Wasteland, then this stat could be very useful and replace certain damage reduction perk cards.


Reduced FDC weight

Description: Food, Drink and Chem weight reduced by 20%

Best suited for: Low health and full health builds

Notes: If you run food buffs and you can't fit Thru Hiker into your Agility branch or get the Grocer's backpack mod from the Settlers, then this stat will help. The armour stacks on itself and caps at 90%.


Note: Bows and arrows don't weigh a lot, so the ammo and weapon weight reduction armour effects aren't necessary unless you run hybrid builds.

 

Other Gear


Underarmour

Look for underarmour that buffs Agility, Perception and Luck.


If you are running a sneak build, then Damage Resist isn't as important; ideally, the enemies will be dead before they can damage you.


Agility

The higher your agility, the better your sneak and the longer your AP bar, which equals more VATS.


Perception

The higher your Perception, the longer the range at which enemies and locations appear on your HUD.

The higher your Perception, the better your VATS accuracy is.


Luck

The higher your Luck, the faster your VATS crit meter refills. You need +33 Luck (or +23 Luck, rank 3 Crit Savvy in the Luck perk card tree, and the Lucky "VATS meter fills faster" legendary effect on your weapon) to have VATS crits proc with every second shot.


Backpacks


Backpacks should be used to fill the gaps in your perk card loadout.


If you don't have room for rank 3 Good with Salt, you can run the Refrigerated backpack mod instead. Keep in mind that the backpack with the Refrigerated mod only gives you 30 additional pounds of carry weight. It also only reduces the spoil rate by 60%, compared to rank 3 Good with Salt's 90% reduction in spoilage rate. The Refrigerated backpack mod does not stack with the Good with Salt perk card.


If you can't fit Thru-Hiker into your build, look at the Grocer's backpack mod from the Settlers.


If you use a lot of chems but don't have room for Travelling Pharmacy, then the Chemist backpack mod from the Raiders might be more up your alley.


If you are a high-level player or have maxed out legendary perk cards, then you might have room to run all the weight reduction perk cards, so the High Capacity backpack could be a possibility.


Other backpack mods and where to find them can be found here.

 

Mutations


Low Health Builds

(Note: the numbers below are calculated without the Class Freak perk card or the Strange in Numbers perk card equipped.)


Class Freak uses 3 points in Luck, which is hard to give up in a VATS crit build. Be prepared to sacrifice 3 points under Luck or pick your mutations wisely.


Adrenal Reaction

Positive - Weapon damage increases as HP goes down

Negative - Lose 50 points from your health bar (Note: with Max HP food buffs, this is barely noticeable.)


Bird Bones

Positive - Gain 4 points in Agility (boosts sneak and Action Points)

Negative - Lose 4 points in Strength (equals 20 pounds of carry weight)


Eagle Eyes

Positive - Adds 60% VATS Crit damage and 4 points to Perception (gun accuracy)

Negative - Lose 4 points in Strength (equals 20 pounds of carry weight)


Egg Head (Optional)

Positive - Gain 6 points in Intelligence (for XP farming)

Negative - Lose 3 points in Strength (equals 15 pounds of carry weight) and 3 points in Endurance (health bar)


Empath (Optional)

Positive - Your teammates take 25% less damage

Negative - You take 33% more damage

Note: You must run on a team with at least one other person who is also running the empath mutation for this to proc. Running Class Freak will reduce the damage taken and Stranger in Numbers will buff the take less damage number.


Grounded

Positive - Adds 100 Energy Resistance

Negative - You do 50% less damage when you use an energy weapon

Note: Damage reduction is important for low-health players; the Grounded mutation does not affect plasma arrows.


Healing Factor (Optional)

Positive - Will regenerate health without stimpaks when you are not in combat and all enemies in the area are dead.

Negative - Any chems you take, including stimpaks, lose 55% of their efficacy

Note: Running Healing Factor on a bloodied character can cause the fast travel bug, so don't take it unless you are very patient.


Herbivore

Positive - Fruit, Herb and Vegetable based dishes give double (x2) the benefit.

Negative - Meat and Meat based dishes provide no benefit nor fill your hunger meter.


Herd Mentality

Positive - You gain +2 points to all SPECIALS when you are on a team. You can be alone on a public team and the Herd Mentality will still proc. You can gain +3 while running Stranger in Numbers perk card, while on a team with another player.

Negative - You lose 2 points from all SPECIALS when you are running solo and not on a public team.


Marsupial

Positive - Jump higher and receive a bonus 20 pounds carry weight

Negative - Lose 4 points of Intelligence


Scaly Skin

Positive - Gain 50 Damage Resistance and 50 Energy Resistance

Negative - Lose 50 Action Points on your AP bar

Note: With Max AP type food buffs, this is barely noticeable.


Speed Demon

Positive - Move and reload your weapon 20% faster (does not stack with Gun Runner and Dead Man Sprinting perk cards)

Negative - Your food and drink bar drains 50% faster. This can be a problem if you are running the Rejuvenated perk card. Popping a Perfect Bubblegum overrides this negative for an hour.




Full Health Build

Bird Bones

Positive - Gain 4 points in Agility (boosts sneak and Action Points)

Negative - Lose 4 points in Strength (equals 20 pounds of carry weight)


Eagle Eyes

Positive - Adds 60% Vats Crit damage and 4 points to Perception (gun accuracy)

Negative - Lose 4 points in Strength (equals 20 pounds of carry weight)


Egg Head (Optional)

Positive - Gain 6 points in Intelligence (for XP farming)

Negative - Lose 3 points in Strength (equals 15 pounds of carry weight) and 3 points in Endurance (Health bar)


Empath (Optional)

Positive - Your teammates take 25% less damage

Negative - You take 33% more damage

Note: You must run on a team with at least one other person who is also running the empath mutation for this to proc. Running Class Freak will reduce the damage taken and Stranger in Numbers will buff the take less damage number.


Healing Factor (Optional)

Positive - Will regenerate health without stimpaks when you are not in combat and all enemies in the area are dead.

Negative - Any chems you take, including stimpaks, lose 55% of their efficacy

Note: Running Healing Factor on a bloodied character can cause the fast travel bug, so don't take it unless you are very patient.


Herbivore

Positive - Fruit, Herb and Vegetable based dishes give double (x2) the benefit.

Negative - Meat and Meat based dishes provide no benefit nor fill your hunger meter.


Herd Mentality

Positive - You gain +2 points to all SPECIALS when you are on a team. You can be alone on a public team and the Herd Mentality will still proc. You can gain +3 while running Stranger in Numbers perk card, while on a team with another player.

Negative - You lose 2 points from all SPECIALS when you are running solo and not on a public team.

Marsupial

Positive - Jump higher and receive a bonus 20 pounds carry weight

Negative - Lose 4 points of Intelligence


Scaly Skin

Positive - Gain 50 Damage Resistance and 50 Energy Resistance

Negative - Lose 50 Action Points on your AP bar

Note: With Max AP type food buffs, this is barely noticeable.


Speed Demon

Positive - move and reload your weapon 20% faster (does not stack with Gun Runner and Dead Man Sprinting perk cards)

Negative - Your food and drink bar drains 50% faster. This can be a problem if you are running the Rejuvenated perk card. Popping a Perfect Bubblegum overrides this negative for an hour.


Unstable Isotope (Optional)

Positive - If you are running a non-sneak build, this mutation can be useful, as it will provide a small area of effect (AoE) and tag any enemies nearby.

Negative - You will receive a small amount of radiation damage. Also note: if you are running a sneak build and an enemy gets too close, it could proc the AoE, notifying the enemy of your location.

Note: Works well with Ghoulish.


Plague Walker (Optional)

Positive - If you are running a non-sneak build, this mutation can be useful, as it will provide a small AoE and tag any enemies nearby.

Negative - You need to have active diseases for this mutation to proc. Some diseases (like Rad Worms) are easy to ignore; other diseases (like Jelly Fingers, The Blight, Rattle Hands and Shell Shock) can be build crippling. Also note: if you are running a sneak build and an enemy gets too close, it could proc the AoE, notifying the enemy of your location.

 

Buffs


Food Buffs

Bow builds greatly benefit from a Herbivore diet because it provides high Perception, Agility, and VATS crit boosts.


You can run Carnivore but it is not as effective and you miss out on the VATS crit bonus buffs.


Rank 3 Good with Salt perk card under the Luck tree is essential when running food buffs, as it slows spoilage down by 90%.


Note: Food buffs that give the same buff (for example, carrot soup and Sweetwater Special Blend) will not stack.

Food buffs, chem buffs, camp item buffs, alcohol buffs, and magazines (ie separate categories) that provide the same buff do stack.


Recommended:


Perception

Reason

The higher your Perception, the longer the range at which enemies and locations appear on your HUD.

The higher your Perception, the better your VATS accuracy is.


Food buffs:

Carrot Soup or Sweetwater Special Blend (complete the daily "Strange Brew" at the Giant Teapot for 6x Sweetwater Special Blend).


Camp buff item:

Radiation Glove Box


Agility

Reason

The higher your Agility, the more Action Points (AP) you have. AP is used for VATS, sprinting, gun bashing, power attacks and jet packs.

The higher your Agility, the better you will remain at being undetected during sneak.


Food buffs:

Mutfruit Juice or Steeped Melon Blossom Chai.


Camp buff item:

Antique Speedbag


Luck

Reason

The higher your luck, the faster your VATS crit meter refills. You need +33 Luck (or +23 Luck, rank 3 Crit Savvy in the Luck perk card tree, and the Lucky "VATS meter fills faster" legendary effect on your weapon) to have VATS crits proc with every second shot.


Food buffs:

Chally's Feed


Camp buff item:

Fortune Teller Machine and West Virginia Slot Machine


Max AP

Reason

This makes your AP bar longer, meaning you have more AP points to spend on VATS and sprinting/jumping.


Food buffs:

Tato Juice or Infused Soot Flower Tea

All recommended AP Regen and Max AP food buffs here.


Camp buff item:

N/A


AP Refresh/AP Regen

Reason

The higher your AP Refresh/Regen, the faster your AP bar refills.


Food buffs:

Corn Soup, Steeped Fever Blossom tea, Company Tea or Lemonade

All recommended AP Regen and Max AP food buffs here.


Camp buff item:

Musical Instruments (in-game and atom shop)


VATS Crit Damage

Reason

VATS Crits ignore most enemies' damage reduction. Each successful hit in VATS builds up the crit damage meter. When the meter is full, trigger a VATS crit to guarantee a hit with extra damage.


Food buffs:

Blight Soup, Sweet Mutfruit Tea, Steeped Thistle Tea or Firecracker Berry Juice.


Camp buff item:

N/A


Optional:


Damage Resistance

Reason

The higher your Damage Resistance, the less ballistic damage you take from enemies using standard/ballistic weapons.


Food buffs

Cranberry Jam or Silt Bean Puree


Camp buff item:

N/A


Max HP

Reason

The more HP you have, the more damage you can take before dying.


Food buffs:

Tato Salad or Pumpkin Pie


Camp buff item:

N/A


Intelligence

Reason

The higher your Intelligence, the more XP you receive per completed task or kill. (Intelligence works on a curve, so having super high INT will reduce the amount of XP per point of INT you receive.)


Food buffs:

Brain Fungus Soup, Brain Bombs or Steeped Aster Tea.


Camp buff item:

Mechanical Derby Game


XP

Reason

Increases the number of experience points (XP) you receive per completed task or kill. XP is used to level up your character.


Food buffs:

Cranberry Cobbler or Cranberry Relish


Camp buff item:

N/A


For those who run Overeaters armor, Perfect Bubblegum keeps hunger and thirst meters full for one hour and can be purchased at Foundation for gold or from the Atom Shop for atoms. Perfect Bubblegum stacks on top of food buffs, chem buffs, alcohol buffs and magazines.



Infographics:

Recommended herbivore food buff list.

Recommended carnivore food buff list.

AP Regen and Max AP food buffs here.

AP Refill food buffs here.

Camp buff items here.


Magazines

Magazines do not stack, so you will need to pick one and run with it. Make sure to equip the Curator perk card under luck to make your magazine last for an hour. The following magazines work with bows:

  • Live Love 2: +5% damage boost

  • Live Love 3: +50% healing, increases the bonuses gained from fruit or vegetable foods

  • Guns and Bullets 7: +10% unscoped weapon damage

  • Tesla 8: +50% Critical damage

  • Backwoodsman 6: +50% health from cooked food


Chems

Chems that give the same effect do not stack. If possible, equip rank 3 Chem Fiend perk card under Endurance to double the time your chems last. The numbers below assume you do not have chem perks mounted.

  • Overdrive: +15% Damage, +30% Critical Damage for 3 minutes

  • Psychotats: +15 DMG Resist, +25% Damage, +3 PER for 3 minutes (More suited for full health players due to the damage and perception bonus)

  • Psychobuff: +65 Max HP, +3 STR, +3 END, +25% Damage for 3 minutes

  • Calmex: +3 AGI, +3 PER, +15% to Sneak Attacks for 5 minutes

  • XCell: +2 STR, +2 PER, +2 END, +2 CHR, +2 INT, +2 AGI, +2 LCK

  • Mentats: +2 INT, +2 PER for 5 minutes

  • Orange Mentats: +5 PER, +10% VATS accuracy for 5 minutes

 

Tips and Tricks from Bow Experts


Some important things to note while learning how to use a bow:


Shooting in 3rd Person

Although testing indicates that draw time is approximately the same in first and third-person views, shooting in third person simply feels faster to many bow players. Third person has other benefits too: the wider field of view means that you can acquire targets faster, and VATS can pick up targets in a wider area. Third person can be confusing in interiors, so some players swap between first and third when they are not in combat.


Draw, [Jump], VATS, Crit, Shoot, Repeat

Bows have a very different hand motion pattern than guns. It is very important to get the rhythm down to continuously target enemies. It takes a significant amount of practice. It is particularly complicated to get both the jump and the crit in there. (On Xbox, the crit and jump buttons are the same, so you have to jump before you enter VATS if you’re going to jump; some people swap the crit button in-game settings to alleviate this problem. This will make you jump when you are looting sometimes, but it is more effective than jumping when you are trying to crit.) Many bow players hold a shot at full draw when in potential combat situations so they can loose instantly when an enemy appears.


Crit shots

Crit shots are very important to bowhunting, and it is especially important to figure out how to crit every other shot when fighting larger and tankier enemies. Low health players have less of an issue with getting regular crits than full health players. To have VATS crits proc every other shot, full health players need to have Luck +23, rank 3 Crit Savvy in the Luck perk card tree, and the Lucky "VATS meter fills faster" legendary effect on their weapon. To get your Luck above that threshold, you can stack extra points in luck with a legendary Luck card or use food buffs (Chally’s Feed) and/or the fortune teller machine.


A bow is fully drawn when the sights close in

When the bow is fully drawn, you will see the crosshairs close in tight; in first person view, you will also see the bow shake. To reach full draw, a compound bow takes a little longer (about 2/3 of a second longer) than a recurve. You can fire before either bow is fully drawn for less damage, and even a partial draw shot can still one shot squishy mobs. However, there is a point in the draw before which you will fail the shot entirely. With enough practice, you will learn how fast you can shoot without dropping the shot completely. It is worth it for fast fire situations.


What to do with that drawn arrow

Most bowhunters do not wait until an enemy is spotted to draw; instead, they often keep their bows drawn during combat, so that there’s always an arrow on the string ready to fire. If you draw an arrow and don’t want to fire it, just put the bow away, and the arrow will go back too.


Stealth is your friend

Bows have a built-in suppressor and are silent (unless you are running explosive arrows), so they are natural sniper weapons. However, they are versatile, and you can move in and out of mobs commando style or even do a no-stealth tank archer build. (There are examples of no-stealth tank builds in the Builds section above.)


A backup weapon can be helpful when swarmed

Many archers are "bow or die" and carry no backup weapons; if the bow can't do the job, we die and respawn and try again. Others carry backup weapons or even use hybrid builds to deal with swarms of enemies in melee range.

If you do not want to run a backup weapon, jumping around (with Marsupial or a jet pack) can save your hide. Jumping can give you time to draw the bow, or it can get you up onto high ground (where most sniper-type archers tend to stay most of the time).

In addition, explosive arrows are useful for crowd control as they can stagger and knock back enemies. If really in a pinch, a Vampire bow modded with flaming arrows can help to keep you alive if you get swarmed.


Bowhunters that do run backup weapons will utilize all types of weapons. Some have mentioned the cryo two shot alien blaster, chainsaw, or shotgun. Others run melee weapons, such as power fists or deathclaw gauntlets. Archers who use explosive arrows and run explosive perks find that an explosive backup weapon synergizes well with their archer build. The M79 is popular for this.


Large enemies

You aren’t likely to take down the Scorchbeast Queen alone with a bow. However, 6-7 bowhunters can absolutely take her down. We have done it! (Crit shots ignore her damage resist, making up for bows’ slower rate of fire.) Other large boss enemies such as Mirelurk Queens, Super Mutant Behemoths, etc. are not a problem, especially for low-health builds.


Getting XP at Events

You can outshoot most other players because of the bows’ range, killing enemies before they come into other weapons’ target range or before their guns can spin up. Often bowhunters have to hold back to not kill everything too fast.


Tagging (rather than shooting crit headshots) is a good solution. Many of us use weaker bow types to tag, shooting for legs or arms and avoiding crits so as not to one-shot enemies.


Explosive and Flaming arrows are your best friends when it comes to tagging for XP.

Explosive arrows do significantly higher splash damage numbers than flame arrows; often, squishier mobs will already be taken down to half health simply from being in the AoE of an explosive arrow.


Flame arrows are a good alternative for tagging. They do very little damage to other enemies within the AoE, but they do tag them. The flames spread well, and you can target the ground around enemies instead of hitting the enemies directly to save on ammo. The added bonus of healing when using Friendly Fire makes flame arrows an excellent choice for tagging.


Bows are heavy on VATS

Bows are primarily a VATS weapon, and it's useful to have AP Refill buffs on hand (see Buffs section above) to refill your AP bar quickly. You can free aim bows; it is tough (especially with moving targets), but it improves with practice, and it is fun to try.


When free aiming, you must account for arrow drop, which increases over long distances.

A tip from one of our bowhunters is to aim using the lower left quadrant of the crosshair rather than the very middle of the crosshair.


PVP

Doing PVP with all bowhunters is really fun. Using the same weapon really evens the playing field. Some of us gave Hunter/Hunted and Monster Mash a try and found it to be awesome with our group. We also have some archers who do bounty hunting with bows. Bows are not ideal for the typical Fallout 76 PVP against non-archers, though, because of the slow rate of fire and the PVP damage cap.



Bows take patience, planning, and problem-solving. It is not spray and pray. It’s hunting. Enjoy the hunt!


 

Hi, I'm Kat or Duchess

I'm an Australian data miner who writes farming, event and food buff guides for Fallout 76.

I believe that all knowledge and information should be free which is why my guides will never be locked behind a paywall. However, running a website and photo and video editing software does not come cheaply.

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So, If you found my guides useful, please consider buy me a ko-fi (coffee) using the link below.

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All monies go towards the tools for writing my guides and maybe for an actual cup of coffee or 3 ;)

Alternatively, share my guides with your fellow vault dwellers and help them to survive the wasteland.

 



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Vael
Vael
02 nov. 2023
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

Very good tips. I tried the bow a few months ago and it is incredible how satisfying it is to play with it. Thank you very much for your fantastic guide, it has helped me. All the best.

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Franco Ace
Franco Ace
20 oct. 2023
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

It is very interesting how you were able to discover the advantages of using a bow in the game Fallout 76! I already know which weapon maintains it's damage even at max range! This is an excellent find! Thank you!

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Duchess Flame
Duchess Flame
23 oct. 2023
En réponse à

Really glad that our guide helped and thank you for your kind words :) The credit all goes to the lovely McLovin and Marigolds, I just took their knowledge and skills and put it into words.

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