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Bow Attack, not to be confused with the attack stat, is a feature introduced in Dynasty Warriors 2. This function enables characters to indirectly attack enemies from afar with bows. By holding the R1 button, the camera angle switches to that of a first-person perspective view. During this mode, players are limited to aiming their targets with three types of arrow attacks depending on what button is pressed. The first type of attack is an ordinary shot fired by tapping . The second type is a charged shot activated by which stuns any human unit hit by it. Last but not least, pressing while the Musou gauge is full fires a powerful shot enhanced by a portion of the shooter's own Musou, and can be held down for a continuous barrage.
The main limitation of the Bow Attack is the amount of arrows needed. Quivers and bundles of arrows can usually be found inside crates or by defeating First Bow units. Another thing to keep in mind is that some characters may do better at shooting targets than others. Obviously, those with high stats in archery are good at making full use of the advantages offered by this form of attack, as those with high Bow Attack stats can even have their normal arrow shots evolve from a normal knockback to even crashing knockback upon connecting shots (such as with Huang Zhong and Xiahou Yuan in Dynasty Warriors 4). In later installments, bows can even be used even when riding on mounts. Furthermore, it's also possible to move closer or farther by simply holding both L1 and R1. These additional movements may help players mobilize faster while drawing their bow at their intended target. Equipping certain items (such as the Fire Arrows, for instance) can imbue arrows with elemental properties, increasing their overall effectiveness.
This feature also appears in the first Samurai Warriors title. However, characters aren't restricted to using only bows in this game. Some can use different ranged weapons such as shurikens, cannonballs, bullets, etc. But from Samurai Warriors 2 onward, the Bow Attack has been omitted in favor of special moves unique to each playable officer. The Warriors Orochi series follows suit with the Type Action mechanic while Dynasty Warriors 6 and the following title convert the usage of bows into complete move sets. The feature itself eventually makes a comeback in Dynasty Warriors Next as one of the newly revamped gameplay mechanics for characters with projectile-based Musou attacks. In Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends, some EX Attacks allow players to target foes via first-person view before initiating the move.
In several of the games that have removed bow movesets however, there exists a spiritual form of bow attack via one of their bonus attributes that can be equipped to certain characters to make up for the lack of bow stats in said games. In normal cases, attacks with a bow in those games usually count more towards normal attack stats.
The Bow Attack is most useful for sniping at enemy officers from a distance and causing them to fall from horses or elephants. It even allows players to attack them from behind the openings of certain walls. Aiming is not especially useful against crowds nor does it work very well in higher difficulty stages unless the character in control has a high amount of bow attack power.
While dueling in Dynasty Warriors 4, players are free to daze their opponents with charged shots so long as there's enough distance to fire well. Charged attacks involving bows do not consume arrows the player has in their inventory, especially with characters like Huang Zhong and Xiahou Yuan who immediately switch to Bow Attacks after initiating their C1 attacks.
A thing to take great note of is that depending on the installment and series, most arrow-based moves, especially in older games with the first-person-mode, cannot pierce through any units, including allies (where they don't take any damage or flinch at all due to general lack of friendly fire). This usually means that most of the time in heavily-packed fights, it can be difficult to snipe targets without having allies or any other enemy units block specific shots.
Regarding the above, it is only in Dynasty Warriors 5 onwards there exist arrows that can pierce through multiple units at once, but at the cost of the usual distance. This only applies to Huang Zhong and Xiahou Yuan's C1 attacks, as the former's C3 finisher and the latter's C1 finishers have arrows with auras that despite flying only as far as their piercing arrows, act as non-piercing arrows. In Samurai Warriors 2 and Warriors Orochi onwards, it has become easier to distinguish between piercing arrows and non-piercing arrows as they all fly a further distance; all piercing arrows are normal arrow shots, while non-piercing arrows normally don an aura of some sort, even from the normal arrow shots of NPC/CPU archers.