Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai lead designer on the rise of guns and "the last hurrah of archery"

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Which are better, guns, or bows and arrows? Guns, of course, you might think, but then you have to consider the long reload times, their tendency to explode, their unreliability in wet conditions. These are some of the issues that Total War lead designer James Russell and the team at The Creative Assembly think about every day as they balance the clash of old and new weaponry in Fall of the Samurai.

"Bows can be better than guns in the hands of a skilled user" says Russell. "If you fire arrows more frequently than you a fire a gun it can be more lethal. It's not direct fire, you can fire above, and behind a rank of guns in front of you."

But then there's the cost of teaching men to wield a bow effectively. It can take years of training and strong arms to fire a bow effectively. A unit of marksmen can be taught to use guns in weeks. A big advantage. The improving technology and craftmanship also made guns a tempting option.

"This is the era where the guns start to become more effective than bows," Russell says. "The effective ranges start to become greater. This is the last hurrah of archery, guns are really taking over."

In Fall of the Samurai you can choose to embrace the new gunpowder weaponry being brought into Japan from the West, or you can fight for the Shogunate and try to save the Samurai, and find out once and for all whether bows can beat an army of gatling guns and rifles. The standalone expansion is out on March 23.

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.