Unlike Blademaster weapons, Gunner weapons don't have as much combo potential. You shoot, then you reload/reposition/evade, and shoot some more. All of the complexity of the Blademaster combos have been shifted to the preparation and the weapon itself. Gunner weapons have multiple different types of ammo, so unless you're using a Bow, the element/damage of your Gunner weapon depends more on your ammo choice.
Let's break it down. When you're at the Smithy viewing weapon stats for the Heavy Bowgun, you will notice that the display is very different from Blademaster weapons. Let's take a look at the Todlicher Abzug **** because it looks the coolest (don't try to argue).
Attack is the same as the raw of any other weapon. In this case, the Todlicher Abzug (Lv.1) has a raw of 150. Reload refers to how fast the Heavy Bowgun reloads. In this case, "Average". Recoil that is very drastic will slow you down and hamper your battle flow. Todlicher Abzug has "Average". So, not ideal, but we can give thie a pass. You want to stay away from "Above Average" and higher Recoil ratings. Press R twice to see an Ammo table. This shows you the types of Ammo this gun will accept . Not every Bowgun can use every type of elemental-less ammo, or elemental ammo, or status ammo, etc.
In this case, the Todlicher Abzug is capable of using all three types of Normal Ammo. It can use Paralysis shots but cannot use any other status (aside from Exhaust). Pressing R to reveal part 2 of the table will show it can only use Dragon shots. Note that Heavy Bowguns are less dependent on elemental damage and can easily use the elemental-less ammo to great effect. Page 4 shows you the internal ammo , ammo that will be available to use for free at the start of every quest. Hooray! The last page of the Heavy Bowgun will talk about Siege Mode, a special thing Heavy Bowguns can do. You fire tons for high damage but are rooted to the spot.
As you can see, Gunner weapons may not be "complicated" to fight with in the field, but the weapons themselves are extremely sophisticated and multilayered. So be sure to read through everything and decide carefully which Heavy Bowgun you want to make.
|Lots more damage than the Light Bowgun||Very slow movement when gun is unsheathed compare|
|Can fire from range, letting you avoid many melee attacks Blademasters fear||Gunner Defense has half the Defense of Blademaster armor|
|Siege Mode lets you assault the monster nonstop||Siege Mode roots you to the spot|
|You can purchase a shield attachment||Keeping up with Ammo can be very resource intensive|
|R+X+A||Draw weapon and reload simultaneously|
|R||Go into a zoomed mode to finetune aim. Note that you are immobile during this period|
|L+X or B||Scroll through your ammo|
|X+A||Enter Siege Mode. Directly after rolling, press A instead|
Just like Light Bowgun, Heavy Bowgun has a critical range. The screen shakes when you land a hit and that's how you know you're within critical range. Critical range maximizes your damage. Too close or too far and your damage output will be greatly reduced. Stay within critical range whenever possible! Be sure to reposition as needed, preferably by rolling instead of having to sheathe, run, and unsheathe. Enter Siege Mode if the monster is downed and incapacitated to unload massive amounts of damage within a short period of time, then exit when the monster gets back up.
You can equip two Hunting Arts.
Heavy Bowgun loses the Siege Mode entirely and in exchange can equip three Hunting Arts. So be sure to choose three good ones that compensate for your (rather hefty) loss and then just play it like a simple gun. Easy, right?
Naturally, instead of an evasive roll you have the somersault. Vault successfully off of a monster and you can press X to immediately reload without costing any time, or press X+A to shoot downwards and propel yourself forward a bit. Good for repositioning. Immediately after landing you can press X to quickly enter Siege Mode. Unlike Guild and Striker Style, you can cancel Siege Mode very quickly by rolling out of it either forwards or sideways, making Siege Mode a much more effective tactic to use in short bursts to bring the monster down faster!
Aerial Style can equip one Hunting Art
Similar to Aerial Style, you don't lose any of your attacks and you don't lose Siege Mode (you can still roll forward out of it by the way). A successful perfect evade causes a short spring to occur. Press X during this time to instantly reload all of your ammo. Perfect evade with your weapon unsheathed and press X to do a power reload which reloads and bolsters the power of all of your ammo for 10 seconds. After that you can immediately press X to enter Siege Mode! Thanks to perfect evade you have a lot more survivability. You can reposition by perfect evading, for instance.
You can equip one Hunting Art.
Armor skills become much more nebulous for Gunners than for Blademasters. Every Heavy Bowgun will need its own unique skillset to best optimize and use it to its full potential. So just a few cookie-cutter skills is actually a nonideal way to run Gunner. If you are going to focus on element shots, make sure you have the respective Element Up skill equipped. If you're using a lot of Normal ammo, bring Normal Up, and so on.
If you need help as a beginner, or find it to be useful/more convenient, Dead Eye (also known as "Trajectory") will increase the range in which you still have critical distance. Other situational skills such as Recoil Down can be helpful, but should be sacrificed in favor of more offensive skills if you have the chance. I also highly, highly recommend you pack Evade Distance Up . Since you're a Gunner and you'll need to reposition quickly, being able to cover more distance via rolling will help you. It'll also let you roll out of the way of incoming attacks in a shorter amount of time and with fewer rolls.