Bow Weapon Guide and Builds in New World

Last updated on Nov 19, 2021 at 20:40 by DonTheCrown 4 comments

Unleashing brutal arrows from a distance, the Bow user is able to put foes down before they even have a chance to get close. One of the two long-range weapons in New World, the Bow rewards good aim with the ability to deal incredible amounts of damage at range.


Bow Patch 1.1 Changes

With Patch 1.1 of New World having been released on the 19th of November, we have prepared patch notes with commentary for the Bow weapon. Please follow the link below for more information.


Bow Overview

Unleashing arrows at its foes, the bow deals great single-target and area-of-effect damage at range. Arrows are affected by projectile drop, so you will have to aim above where you intend the arrow to go if shooting from a distance. Precision shots are important on the Bow, because if you manage to land headshots, then your attack will automatically be a critical strike, and there are also several Mastery bonuses associated with headshots.

With Abilities like Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows, Poison Shot Poison Shot, Splinter Shot Splinter Shot, and Penetrating Shot Penetrating Shot you can put serious pressure on an area. The Bow scales with Dexterity and its shots deal Thrust Damage.


Bow Strengths and Weaknesses

V Strengths
X Weaknesses
  • -Lack of melee options
  • -Uses ammo
  • -Requires aim
  • -Arrows affected by gravity
  • -Limited crowd control
  • -Weak against Lost and Angry Earth-type foes

How Arrows Work

Playing a Bow can be extremely easy; however, running out of arrows is a concern. Especially early on you will find yourself skinning many Turkeys for Feathers Feathers to make arrows. You can also buy arrows from the local Trading Post or Faction vendor. Note that arrows each weight 0.1 Weight making a full stack of 500-arrows weigh 50-Weight; however, arrows that are currently equipped in your equipment slot weigh nothing. You can find Mercenary's Burden Mercenary's Burden on bags which reduces the Weight of Weapons and ammunition by a percentage. This might be a nice perk to invest into if you find yourself carrying large amount of ammo.


Bow Attributes

Since the Bow scales solely with Dexterity, we recommend that you invest the majority of your Attribute points into Dexterity. Each of the Dexterity breakpoints provide a substantial benefit to your damage or survivability, with the final breakpoint guaranteeing a crit after dodge rolls. It is somewhat important to get some Constitution, especially if you plan to PvP, because you will eventually take damage and we recommend looking out for gear that provides a mix of Dexterity and Constitution. Faction armor in particular does a good job of providing a balance of Dexterity and Constitution.

If you want to use Light armor you can change the Attributes on the Faction armor by using a Seal, such as the Syndicate Brigand Seal Syndicate Brigand Seal. Take this Seal and the piece of faction gear that you want to Attribute swap to its corresponding crafting bench and there should be a new recipe for you to complete.


In PvE, your role is to engage enemies at a distance and either kill them before they can get to you or do enough damage that they are easily dispatched shortly thereafter. When in an Expedition, you will want to help take down large groups of enemies while not drawing aggro off of your tank. Unlike in other MMOs tanks have limited access to taunts and DPS have no aggro resets, so you have to be careful to let the tank get aggro before you blast the damage. For Abilities, we recommend Penetrating Shot Penetrating Shot, Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows, and Poison Shot Poison Shot, as these all do decent single target damage but great area-of-effect damage as well.

Swapping Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows for Rapid Shot Rapid Shot could be an option if you really need single target damage. It is important to note that you can fire off a Penetrating shot right after releasing another shot for a quick burst of damage. The best gem for your Bow is Cut Pristine Diamond Cut Pristine Diamond, because with your ability to engage at range you are likely to be at full health while fighting.

For armor gems we recommend either Cut Pristine Onyx Cut Pristine Onyx, Cut Pristine Malachite Cut Pristine Malachite, or Cut Pristine Diamond Cut Pristine Diamond to provide generic damage absorption.

We recommend taking the following Mastery Points:


In PvP, your objective is to deal with enemies before they can get to you. Arrows are nearly invisible as they fly, so you can even start attacking someone and they might not know where you are shooting from right away. We recommend using Poison Shot Poison Shot, Evade Shot Evade Shot, and Penetrating Shot Penetrating Shot shot for Abilities. Evade Shot can help you create a gap between you and enemies who have gotten too close, and Penetrating Shot can be used directly after firing a Basic Attack for a devastating damage burst. While this build does have a lot of headshot bonuses, sometimes it is better to just aim for the body and land hits.

The best gem for your Bow is Cut Pristine Onyx Cut Pristine Onyx, because it synergizes well with Surprise Attack Surprise Attack and Opening Strike Opening Strike, allowing you to start fights with a gigantic Heavy Attack paired with a Penetrating Shot. For armor gems, we recommend either Cut Pristine Onyx Cut Pristine Onyx, Cut Pristine Malachite Cut Pristine Malachite, or Cut Pristine Diamond Cut Pristine Diamond to provide generic damage absorption.

We recommend taking the following Mastery Points:


Traveling with a Bow

The Bow is unique among the weapons because it provides the potential for a significant movement speed increase with little effort or investment. Dodge and Weave Dodge and Weave provides speed whenever you Dodge and Archer's Speed Archer's Speed when you switch to the Bow. Archer's Speed even activates when you unsheath your weapon which has default keybind of 'X'. Unsheathing also has the added bonus of making the Light Equipment Load dodge roll have a smoother animation. To maximize your movement speed and comfort the best rotation is to start with your bow in hand then sheath, dodge, sheath. This should cause you to have a fast animation dodge roll and always have your bow in hand, which is important because you cannot heavy attack unless your bow is unsheathed. Make sure you never run out of stamina by only dodging when you have enough stamina. Also important to note that Dodge and Weave Dodge and Weave will fade if you swap to your other weapon but Archer's Speed Archer's Speed will not.


Bow Abilities

The Bow, like all other weapons, has six abilities; however, you can only use three abilities at any give time on your action bars. While you can spend Mastery Points on more than 3, it is a waste of points since respeccing is rather cheap to do.


Poison Shot

Poison Shot Poison Shot — Shoot a poison arrow that, on hit or connecting with terrain, creates a cloud of poison 3 meters wide that lasts 6 seconds. Foes entering the cloud are poisoned, dealing 10% weapon damage per second for 20 seconds.

This Ability allows you to drop a poison cloud on the ground that poisons any foes that pass through it, which can be great for dropping on a choke-point or on top of a PvP objective. Although 10% weapon damage does not seem like all that much, it does add up and most importantly will force enemy players to play around the cloud or take damage.


Evade Shot

Evade Shot Evade Shot — Leap back 5-meters and shoot an arrow dealing 125% weapon damage. This move looks like something out of an action movie, as you leap into the air and shoot off an arrow. With Evade Shot Evade Shot adding knockback and Go the Distance Go the Distance adding Haste, this skill is really great for keeping distance with foes in both PvE and PvP.


Rain of Arrows

Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows — Shoot a barrage of arrows 7 meters wide that deals 150% weapon damage. Activating this Ability will show you a circle on the ground that you can move around to place the location of the Ability.

Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows is good for dealing some area-of-effect damage; the Barbed Arrows Barbed Arrows passive adds a damage-over-time Bleed, while Hooked Arrows Hooked Arrows adds a slow.

Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows is great for both solo and group content this can help you kill multiple foes. With its ability to apply a slow at range this is also really great for chasing down other players in PvP.


Rapid Shot

Rapid Shot Rapid Shot — Shoot 3 consecutive arrows. The first two deal 100% weapon damage each. The last shot causes a knockback and deals 125% weapon damage. This Ability pumps out three fast shots but forces you to stand still. It is great for single target but does not have any area-of-effect component.


Penetrating Shot

Penetrating Shot Penetrating Shot — Shoot an arrow dealing 150% damage that passes through targets and continues for 100-meters. This shot fires off nearly instantly and can be fired immediately after firing a Heavy Attack for big burst damage. Great for hitting multiple foes that are lined up either chasing you or hitting a friend.


Splinter Shot

Splinter Shot Splinter Shot — Shoot an arrow out 10 meters; it then splits into 3 arrows dealing 50% weapon damage each. This Ability requires nearly perfect range in order to use it well and generally does not do enough damage to make it a better pick. If looking for an are-of-effect skill, we recommend checking out one of the other bow Abilities.


Bow Mastery Trees

Like all other weapons, the Bow has two Mastery Trees. You can spend Mastery Points in either Tree but must have a Mastery from the preceding row to select deeper Masteries. Likewise, if a Mastery has a vertical line connecting it to a Mastery above it then you must first select the higher Mastery in order to unlock the lower ones. These linked together Masteries typically support Abilities which are denoted by a square-shaped icon. While you can unlock all six Abilities at once, you will only be able to place three Abilities on your action bar at a time. It is unwise to invest in more than three Abilities, because it is easy to respec when needed.

The Ultimate Mastery point will unlock once you spend 10 Mastery Points in its Tree. You will be unable to add additional Mastery Points, respec your Points, change your action bar, and unequip your weapon while any Ability is on cooldown.


Skirmisher Tree

The Skirmisher Tree focuses primarily on making you faster while slowing down your foes. Evasive Tactics Evasive Tactics is a great first row Mastery that provides a flat 20% "more damage" buff for 5 seconds after you dodge. This is great because traveling with a Light Dodge Roll is rather common and this will give you a significant buff after every Dodge. Archer's Speed Archer's Speed and Dodge and Weave Dodge and Weave will grant you Haste to help you travel around faster. Its Ultimate Mastery, Knee Shot Knee Shot, only causes a 10%-Slow for 2-seconds which is a bit underpowered.


Hunter Tree

The Hunter Tree focuses primarily on increasing the damage you do, especially with Heavy Attacks. A staggering six out of nine minor Mastery points increase your damage in some way. Long Range Long Range increases the damage you do to foes that are 10 meters away, Aim True Aim True makes Heavy Attack arrows fly faster and do 30% "more damage", and that is just the first row of Masteries.

Arrow Range Arrow Range increases the distance your arrows fly before gravity starts to pull them down. If you are looking to do big damage with the Bow you will likely find yourself spending a lot of Points in this tree. Its Ultimate Mastery, Concussion Concussion, increases the damage you do after a headshot and gives you a chance to get your arrow back on headshot.


Bow Perks

Every Weapon Ability in New World has a corresponding Perk that can be found on armor and weapons. Most perks scale in power with the Gear Score of the item they are on. You can only benefit from one instance of a Weapon Ability Perk at a time. These can be rare to find on gear and are mostly just a bonus.

  • Enfeebling Poison Shot Enfeebling Poison ShotPoison Shot Poison Shot's arrow also applies Weaken, reducing target's damage by percentage for 4 seconds. This perk is not that great since you typically want to shoot Poison Shot into the ground to make sure you do not miss your poison cloud. This could be a decent perk for group PvP or Expeditions to help reduce damage if you can land your shots.
  • Energizing Evade Shot Energizing Evade Shot — Gain some Stamina after hitting a target with Evade Shot Evade Shot. This Stamina perk is rather nice because it can help provide enough Stamina to Dodge Roll. Since Evade Shot is normally used to create distance, being able to combine that with a Dodge Roll can help get another Dodge in.
  • Fortifying Rain of Arrows Fortifying Rain of Arrows — Hitting a target with Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows grants Fortify on self, increasing damage absorption by a percentage for some seconds. This Perk is nice for adding a bit of survivability to the Bow, which is always nice to have. As this Perk scales with Gear Score in terms of Fortify amount and duration of the buff so you can potentially keep this buff up almost all the time at high Gear Score. If you are using Rain of Arrows in PvP then this is a surefire good Perk to pick.
  • Penetrating Rapid Shot Penetrating Rapid Shot — Increase armor penetration of the final arrow of Rapid Shot Rapid Shot attacks by a percentage. This Perk increases the damage done by Rapid Shot; if you are using Rapid Shot then this is a great Perk but is not mandatory.
  • Refreshing Penetrating Shot Refreshing Penetrating ShotPenetrating Shot Penetrating Shot kills reduce this ability's cooldown by percentage. This Perk is great simply because reducing the cooldown of one of the best damaging Abilities is always a good option. This is a great Perk to pickup on gear but is not mandatory.
  • Empowering Splinter Shot Empowering Splinter ShotSplinter Shot Splinter Shot hits grant Empower, increase damage by a percentage for 10 seconds or until the next attack. This Perk is not all that great. Since the Empower granted by it is limited to the next attack, it really is only slightly noticeable.


For Masteries, we recommend starting off with Evasive Tactics Evasive Tactics first; this will increase your damage by a noticeable amount after every dodge and you will likely be Dodge Rolling a lot to travel around. After that, grab your 3 Abilities: Rain of Arrows Rain of Arrows, Poison Shot Poison Shot, and Penetrating Shot Penetrating Shot. Note that Penetrating shot can be fired immediately after a Heavy Attack for a massive burst of damage. When using Poison Shot you can aim at the ground to ensure that you do not miss the shot and are still able to apply the damage-over-time poison. Pick up Dodge and Weave Dodge and Weave and Archer's Speed Archer's Speed next for the Mastery, as this will allow you to travel faster. For more information check out the Traveling with a Bow section above.

Next we go back into the Hunter Tree to get all the damage. Start off with Aim True Aim True and Long Range Long Range for a solid damage boost. Finishing Shot Finishing Shot, Opening Strike Opening Strike, Arrow Range Arrow Range, Surprise Attack Surprise Attack, and Bullseye Bullseye finish out the minor Masteries for tons of damage. Really, this entire Tree is just filled with great damage-boosting Masteries and you should feel increasingly powerful with every level-up. After that, grab the Ultimate Mastery Concussion Concussion, which makes you do more damage after a headshot and gives you a chance to return your arrows. Mark Mark increases the damage you do against foes with debuffs and Barbed Arrows Barbed Arrows makes Rain of Arrows apply a bleed and Hooked Arrows Hooked Arrows applies a slow.

For more information about leveling strategies, please refer to our dedicated guide.


Bow Weapon Combinations

  • Rapier — The Bow's one weakness is that it does not do as well in close range and the Rapier helps give you a solid melee option to switch out to. Scaling primarily with Dexterity, the Rapier is a fast and light weapon that has several defensive options from Riposte Riposte to punish foes who swing wildly at you to Fleche Fleche to escape. This weapon has an extremely active playstyle that involves zipping around foes using Evade Evade to reposition. One downside of this pairing is that both weapons deal Thrust damage, which is weak against Lost and Angry Earth-type foes. We recommend this combination if you want to be extremely elusive in PvP and PvE, picking when you engage with those whom you are fighting.
  • Spear — Pairing the Bow with a weapon that provides a lot of crowd control helps deal with foes that get to close. The Spear has three Abilities that can apply crowd control, Javelin Javelin, Sweep Sweep, and Vault Kick Vault Kick, while also scaling with Dexterity. The Spear the ability to apply Rend a powerful debuff that makes foes take more damage and is incredibly useful in group content. One downside of this pairing is that both weapons deal Thrust damage, which is weak against Lost and Angry Earth-type foes. This playstyle is perfect for an archer who wants to stand their ground and then punish those who get too close.
  • Hatchet — Scaling with Dexterity secondarily, the Hatchet can help provide some much needed self-healing to the bow. Berserk Berserk offers a solid 30% health heal over 12 seconds while also providing some additional run speed. The Hatchet allows you to dish out decent melee damage if foes are too close and even has a cheat death with Defy Death Defy Death. One weakness would be the lack of crowd control but the self-healing can somewhat make up for that.
  • Musket — While somewhat of a strange combo, it is possible to go Musket and Bow together. The Musket has a 2-second long reload animation that can be bypassed by switching to another weapon for those 2 seconds, allowing you to fire off a shot, switch to your Bow, shoot some arrows, then switch back to Musket, and fire right away. Both weapons deal Thrust damage and are weak against Lost and Angry Earth-type foes. Also, with double ranged weapons you will have limited melee options if someone gets too close, so Evade Shot Evade Shot might be a good idea. If you enjoy the ranged playstyle and have great aim than this may be the combo for you.

Do Abilities Consume Arrows on Use?

Yes, every Bow Ability does consume arrows on use and cannot be used without arrows equipped.


Where do I Get Arrows?

You can loot arrows off of foes or find them in boxes. You can also craft at the Workshop crafting bench or your campfire. You can buy arrows from your Faction vendor or the local Trading Post.


How do I Aim a Bow?

Holding right-click will cause you to aim down sights with the bow. This allows you to press and hold left click to charge up a Heavy Attack and once you are fully charged the arrow will have a white glow effect on it.


Why are Arrows so Heavy?

All arrows weigh the same; however, any arrows that you have equipped on your character will not weigh down your bags at all.


How Far Can Arrows Fly?

Arrows can shoot beyond the distance that the game normally renders for a player.


Do Arrows Have Damage Fall-Off Over Range?

While arrows do drop with gravity they have limited damage fall off.



  • 19 Nov. 2021: Added link to Patch 1.1 Bow changes.
  • 28 Sep. 2021: Guide added.
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