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 Light Bowgun, you will notice that the display is very different from Blademaster weapons. Let's take a look at the Astalos Gun 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 Astalos Gun (Lv.1) has a raw of 150. Reload refers to how fast the Light Bowgun reloads. In this case, "Above Average". Recoil that is very drastic will slow you down and hamper your battle flow. Astalos Gun has "Some". 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 Astalos Gun is capable of using Normal 1 and Normal 2 ammo, but not Normal 3 (it's not upgraded high enough). It can use Paralysis shots but cannot use any other status. Pressing R to reveal part 2 of the table will show it can only use Thunder shots (understandable, as Astalos is a Thunder-element monster). Be sure to have Light Bowguns that can handle multiple types of ammo across all of them. The last page of the Light Bowgun will talk about Rapid Fire , something you can add to upgraded Light Bowguns. Rapid Fire fires multiple shots without expending multiple shots (you only use one) but you are locked in place. So consider whether the trade-off is worth it.
New to this game is something special called "built-in ammo". This is ammo your Light Bowgun will automatically have. It takes up no space in the inventory and is present at the beginning of each quest so why don't you use it just for the sake of it? The amount and type of built-in ammo depends on a weapon's upgrade level and what weapon it is.
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 Light Bowgun you want to make.
|Since you have range, many attacks that would devastate Blademasters you can safely ignore||Gunner armor has half the defense of Blademaster armor|
|You can aim for parts that many Blademaster weapons cannot reach||The Light Bowgun has lower raw and relies more heavily on elemental damage which can be nonideal|
|Wide variety of ammo that you can bring to adapt to any situation||Constantly maintaining ammo supply is very resource-intensive|
|The Light Bowgun is more mobile and light|
|Controls||Attack (Guild Style)|
|D-pad or right circle pad||Adjust aim|
|R+X+A||Reload while sheathed|
|B||Evasive roll, or sidehop|
Playing Gunner involves knowing your distance. Critical distance refers to a distance range between you and the monster where your bullets deal maximum damage. You will know when you're in critical distance because as you shoot, the screen visibly shakes. This is good! It is safe to be super far away but you will gimp your damage heavily in doing so. So constantly be rolling and sidehopping to reposition yourself.
You must always be on the watch for the monster. As a Gunner, you can avoid most of the monster's melee attacks, but things like charges and ranged beams can spell your doom because your armor has half the defense of Blademaster armor! Always keep this in mind. You are very fragile as a Gunner and you don't want that monster messing around with you at all.
You lose the ability to sidehop and that's it. It might affect you more strongly than you realize just reading this statement, but in exchange you get to equip three Hunting Arts! Just make sure you adjust your playstyle accordingly because you'll be rolling around instead of sidehopping.
When you successfully vault off of a monster you will have unlocked a realm of further possibilities for attacks. Press X while the weapon is unsheathed to do a small rifle smack and reload instantly. Press A to shoot in any direction (Hold R and press X+A if your weapon is sheathed to unsheathe and shoot). Or press X+A while your weapon is unsheathed to shoot downwards, and also propel yourself forward through the air. Similar to Striker Style you lose your sidehops. You can equip one Hunting Art.
You also lose your sidehops. If you perform a successful perfect evade, you will begin a power sprint and you'll also automatically do a Power Reload. This reloads all of your ammo and also powers up your ammo for 10 seconds . After the power reload, press X to do a power run where you'll run very far forward very quickly (steer carefully). End early anytime by rolling. The most valuable part of this whole deal is obviously the buff to your ammo for a short period of time so be sure to take advantage of this to riddle the monster with bullets!
Armor skills become much more nebulous for Gunners than for Blademasters. Every Light 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. General skills such as Attack Up are helpful especially since Light Bowgun suffers from lower raw.
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.