All right, this one is a lot less literally a rocket launcher than the one Medic talked about. But since it’s my favorite primary weapon in the entire game, I couldn’t resist writing an article on the Plainsrider Bow with explosive arrows from Payday 2.

Long ago I included the Western Pack on a list of DLC I recommend because, since Payday 2 didn’t (and still doesn’t) have any free grenade launchers or poison weapons, the Plainsrider Bow unlocks both playstyles in a single weapon. Firing arrows tipped with dynamite, the Plainsrider has a number of advantages over other explosives. The self-damage is laughable, so don’t worry about firing it right in your own face, and it has a ridiculous 50 arrows in reserve.  Because the game considers it an arrow instead of an explosive, police can’t blast your shots out of the sky, and if you spam m1 you can drop the arrows on the ground without them detonating. Combined with Swan Song aced, this lets you completely replenish your arrow supply!

Since the Plainsrider invented the playstyle, Overkill added the Chivalry Pack, which released a couple crossbows (and a longbow) that give the Plainsrider a serious run for its money. The main counterpart is the light crossbow, which has almost identical stats but slightly adjusted mechanics. You don’t need to draw back the arrow before firing, which means you can’t cancel a shot if you change your mind, but you can fire the weapon during bleedout. I mostly prefer the Plainsrider because it fires and reloads faster (in fact, it’s way faster than anything in the Chivalry pack) and you can fully replenish ammo with the silly Swan Song exploit. Also the Plainsrider has full 30 concealment, whereas the Light crossbow only has 29, but that rarely comes into play anyway.

Also I have a snazzy red skin for it.

I should at least mention both of the other ammo types available to the Plainsrider bow, even though I never use them. The default arrows deal decent damage and are usable at very long ranges, and I think the Plainsrider can be a great weapon for builds where you don’t want to spend any skill points on your primary weapon, but there are certainly easier weapons to use without having to learn the arrow’s arc and deal with the slow rate of fire and inability to replenish your supply from ammo drops. But even in normal combat I think the poisoned arrows are strictly better. Sure, they deal less damage, but they leave the cop perma-locked in the vomiting animation until their health runs out, which effectively kills them but also delays their respawn.

It’s so difficult to use other weapons and sacrifice the many, many utilities of the Plainsrider bow. Once you’ve got a handle on the arc, you can do almost anything. Snap off shots to eliminate pockets of enemies, or take your time and target specific opponents like Shields, and rely on your secondary for low-stress moments to conserve ammo. Personally, I recommend the Bronco revolver because it’s one of the most versatile secondaries in the game with its heavy-hitting six shots and lightning-fast reload. Or, if you’d rather have your cake and eat it too, why not bring a second rocket launcher?