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Yeah, I've done a bow build. Its pretty much all about rapid, low damage shots. Not half bad, but it almost requires a decent charisma to have some support characters. No, Str does not have any effect on bow damage.
How does it compare to throwing and firearms from mid to late game?
Firearms were absolutely horrid at first until about halfway until I had access to some of the stronger one-handers and later 2-handed ones, and became cake once I got the elephant gun and its sub-guns and drochs. I this playthrough I only used thrown grenades for packs of enemies, not chakrams, boomerangs, etc.
I actually one did Tech bow run with only body armor being a smoking jacket.
It involved lots of bear traps, but in general, Pyrotechnic bow is rather good at dealing damage.
No idea about magick bows though.
I've done a grenadier (throwing), a few firearms runs, and the first character I beat the game with back when it first came out used bows (well, it was primarily a thief, but in combat, yeah--bows).
Throwing boomerangs/chakrams are horrible if you play real time. While they DO receive the strength bonus AFAIK, they wait to fire again until the animation completes, which is usually MUCH slower than the true attack speed. You can tell this because spamming left click actually causes a faster attack than the auto attack.
Bows are quick and chew through ammo, but give you RIDICULOUS amounts of experience. A 15-20 speed bow or so (I think you can get a great, super-fast one from a quest in Qintara) with good training can level you up so easy.
Firearms can be good on their own, but they're much, much better if you are willing to invest in various tech disciplines. Gunsmithy is a given, but you can make grenade launchers, etc. from found/bought schematics that are SO much more powerful than the elephant gun. One of my favorites--although it's not necessarily all that great--is the Tranquilizer Gun. It basically requires maxed chemistry and near-maxed gunsmithy, and it has a speed of 1, but it deals something like 100-150 fatigue damage per shot. For most characters in the game, that's an instant KO.
The grenadier was probably the most fun character I'd played in a long time. Max out explosives and chemistry and work wonders with all the hilarious purchasable schematics that use those two. Spammable paralysis grenades, knock-out gas grenades, hallucinogenic grenades, the works. That doesn't even take into account some of the things you can do if you dabble in mechanical or other colleges... Time Bomb is like a blame-free dynamite, and Plastique is just sick beyond reason.
Throwing (Grenades)>/=Firearms>Bow>>>Throwing (Knives/Boomerangs/Chakrams)
That said, if you're looking to supplement magic with a ranged weapon, bows are pretty much your only choice. Not that I recommend this course. Go fisticuffs + hardened hands + body of earth/fire!
Oh, I met a pretty girl the other day, out in the graveyard... - Ghost
That's so Celesta, it makes me sick to even think about it. - Elaine
The thing i feel about a bow build is that it's better to have a backup way of attacking your enemies once the arrow of your bow runs out. It's a bit expensive to keep buying bows all the time to refill your ammo compared to bullets as arrow doesn't have any schematics to be made upon, unlike bullets and fuel. Also like the above user mentioned, bows will chew through your ammo very quickly (even more so if you play in real time combat).
However, it's not impossible to roleplay as a pure bow build character who chooses solely to attack using only bows with arrows and nothing else, though you will have to account for the costs of refilling your bow supplies constantly if you choose to go down that route.
Big Smoke: "All we had to do, was follow the damn train, CJ!"
CJ: "Yeah, and all you had to do, was hitting the damn target, Big Smoke!"
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