The Crossbow is a weapon that appears in BioShock, the Challenge Rooms, BioShock 2 Multiplayer and Burial at Sea - Episode 2.


Main article: BioShock

The Crossbow is the final ranged weapon obtained in BioShock. It is located in Fort Frolic. It fires single bolts with high damage that are effective at any range. Bolts that are fired sometimes do not break on impact, allowing them to be recovered and reused. Its main weaknesses are a slow rate of fire and reload time. The damage can be increased and the chance that a bolt will break can be reduced with upgrades at a Power to the People station, making the Crossbow an efficient weapon with nearly limitless ammo. Head shots with the Crossbow will inflict 1000% damage against Splicers. Especially with the aid of the weapon's zoom function, head shots kill all Splicers in one hit, regardless of difficulty. It is an accurate weapon that does a significant amount of headshot damage to enemies. The Crossbow appears to have been made out of items found around Rapture, including several rulers and a cigarette case that bears the Le Marquis D'Epoque logo.

Power to the People UpgradesEdit

  • Bolt Breakage Decrease
  • 25% Damage Increase

Ammunition Types - CrossbowEdit

Crosbow Bolts

A Steel-tipped, Incendiary, and (active) Trap Bolt.

  • Steel-Tip Bolts - standard ammunition for the Crossbow, inflict a very high amount of (piercing) damage.
  • Incendiary Bolts - rare ammunition for the Crossbow, inflict a very high amount of (fire) damage and ignite the target.
  • Trap Bolts - rare and inventable ammunition for the Crossbow, inflict a moderate amount of (piercing) damage upon impact and a very high amount of (electrical) damage when set off, as well as electrocuting the target. Deployed onto the scenery as a trap, it will shock the first enemy or object that trips its wire.


  • The Crossbow is one of the best long-range weapons in the game. It is also one of the most powerful single-shot weapons in the game, along with the Grenade Launcher. This means that if the player is getting harassed by a tough Splicer, shooting them with a Bolt without zooming in is a viable option.
  • A single headshot from the Crossbow, even with a simple Steel-Tip Bolt, is enough to kill even the toughest of Splicers on any difficulty setting. As such, always try to headshot when possible. If the player possesses sufficient twitch-aim capabilities, they may even attempt to headshot an enemy in the middle of combat. Most melee splicers simply run in a straight line towards the player, so backing up is a good way of lining up for an easy headshot.
  • To headshot effectively (or otherwise shoot enemies from long ranges), aim slightly ahead of the enemy if they're mobile, as Bolts take a certain amount of time to travel. The farther the enemy, the farther ahead the player must aim. Knowing the enemy's movement patterns can aid in accuracy.
  • After shooting a Bolt, one can quickly switch to a Plasmid, and then switch back, cancelling the bolting mechanism and greatly increasing the rate of fire. This strategy eliminates the biggest downside of the Crossbow and is also very efficient in a Big Daddy battle.
  • Incendiary Bolts are recommended if the player is not very good at headshotting, or when fighting Big Daddies. In addition to dealing more damage, incendiary bolts set the enemy on fire, eventually killing them. Incendiary Bolts are capable of killing Elite Big Daddies on Easy and Medium difficulties in one shot. This is accomplished by fully researching the target Big Daddy, purchasing every related damage-increasing upgrade and Tonic and shooting the Big Daddy in the torso.
  • Incendiary Bolts and Trap Bolts have the same effects on the environment as the Plasmids they share their elemental abilities with. So, for example, Incendiary Bolts can set oil slicks on fire and Trap Bolts can electrify water if correctly deployed. However, this is a rather costly and inefficient strategy, as Crossbow ammunition is very rare while the same effects can be achieved using cheaper forms of ammunition (such as the Chemical Thrower) or Plasmids.
  • Trap Bolts are a very versatile form of ammunition, and have several uses:
    • They can be used as defensive traps. One can simply deploy a Trap Bolt in a passage or in the way of a hotspot such as a Health Station or a body of water if the player is setting Splicers on fire (hacked Health Stations already poison enemies who try to heal there, so placing a Trap Bolt there would be redundant).
    • A costly but effective strategy involves laying several Trap Bolts in a passage and provoking a Bouncer into charging through. Usually six or seven Bolts are necessary to kill a Bouncer instantly.
    • Trap Bolts can be fired directly at an enemy for minor damage, while the other end can shoot into another target. The player can use this to their advantage: for example, hitting a Splicer with one end of the Bolt and hitting another Splicer with the other end will electrocute both enemies. This is not only very entertaining, but is also a very efficient strategy as the player will effectively kill two birds with one stone.
  • Even friendly Trap Bolts damage the player upon contact, unless the player is equipped with the Electric Flesh line of Tonics.
  • Both Steel-Tip Bolts and Incendiary Bolts can be recovered if they are still intact. Since Incendiary Bolts emit sparks on impact, they are easier to track and recover. Trap Bolts cannot be picked up normally. However, if shot at a door that can open, the Trap Bolt will not deploy and will ricochet around the area, and thus will be recoverable. However, if the bolt is levitated with Telekinesis and then dropped, the trap line will discharge and the bolt will be destroyed.
  • Steel-Tip Bolts are also effective at killing enemies feigning death. Simply shoot at their heads to down them without further hassle.

Recommended PlasmidsEdit

  • Combining a Cyclone Trap with a Trap Bolt will kill any Splicer on any difficulty by itself.
  • After firing a Bolt at an enemy, the player can use Telekinesis to pull it back out and fire it back again with a minimal cost in EVE as well as virtually no reload time. The Plasmid can also be used to reposition deployed Trap Bolts, friendly and unfriendly alike.
  • Using Winter Blast on a Splicer and shooting them afterwards with a Steel-Tip Bolt will shatter them in one hit. This is a costly strategy, though, and will also render the player unable to loot the victim afterwards.
  • Electro Bolt stuns most enemies, leaving the player with an easy headshot, killing all Splicers in one hit.

Recommended TonicsEdit

  • Natural Camouflage makes it easier for the player to line up a headshot, as they won't be attacked while standing still unless an enemy bumps into them.
  • The Damage Research line of Tonics significantly increases damage against enemies researched using the Research Camera. However, this is only useful for this weapon if the player isn't good at making headshots.
  • The Human Inferno line of Tonics, in addition to making the player resistant to fire damage, significantly increases damage dealt by Incendiary Bolts.
  • The Electric Flesh line of Tonics, in addition to making the player resistant and even immune to electrical damage, significantly increases damage dealt by Trap Bolts.

Help CaptionEdit

Press _ to fire.

Fires highly accurate crossbow
bolts. Its accuracy and higher
head-shot bonus makes it an
excellent sniper weapon.

Base ammo: Standard Bolt -- Large
amount of piercing damage.

Advanced ammo: Incendiary Bolt --
Large amount of heat damage.

Inventable ammo: Trap Bolt --
Creates a electric wire which, when
triggered, does a large amount of
electric damage.


BioShock 2 MultiplayerEdit

Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer
Icon crossbow

The Crossbow returns as a usable weapon in multiplayer, and is unlocked at Rank 10.

Multiplayer UpgradesEdit

  • Piercing Shot: Unlocked at Rank 10 with Sinclair Solutions Tester Pack. Enables shots to pierce through multiple targets, but reload time is increased.
  • Damage Boost: Unlocked at Rank 21. Increases the Crossbow's damage output, but greatly slows its fire rate.
  • Rate of Fire Boost: Unlocked at Rank 35. Increases the Crossbow's rate of fire, but makes it do far less damage per shot.


  • Crossbow bolts tend to drop over long distances, which can be countered by aiming slightly above the head.
  • In addition, Crossbow shots don't travel through the air instantaneously, so it's recommended to aim ahead of the target rather than directly at them. The farther the target, the farther ahead the player must aim.
  • The Crossbow is rather impractical in mid-range combat, but is surprisingly effective in close combat, as two shots will almost completely drain the target's health.
  • With Headhunter equipped, the Crossbow is preferred by a majority of players for headshotting over the Elephant Gun, as the Crossbow has a much larger hitbox. A headshot using Headhunter with a Damage Increase bolt will instantly kill any player. A shot of Electro Bolt (or any other Plasmid) will need to precede the headshot for it to be an instant kill if using the Piercing Bolt attachment, or no attachment.
  • On the other hand, the Crossbow's Rate of Fire Boost upgrade makes it much more potent in mid- to close-range combat, at the expense of sniping capabilities and damage. Three shots (two, if they're headshots) will kill any enemy at any range. Although costly in ammo, this enhancement greatly reduces the penalty for missing.
  • The Crossbow's Piercing Shot upgrade's use is situational, as rarely there will be enemies close enough together to be hit by the same bolt, but it allows players to effectively shoot through their teammates.

Complementary WeaponsEdit

  • The Pistol can be used to finish off enemies after shooting them with the Crossbow. A single shot from the Pistol will kill an enemy that was previously shot in the head with the Crossbow.
  • The Tommy Gun excels in mid-range combat, compensating for the Crossbow's weakness there.
  • Likewise, the Nail Gun will give the player a chance to excel in mid-range combat, as well as provide an edge against groups.

Recommended PlasmidsEdit

  • Incinerate!, coupled with a Crossbow headshot, will kill an enemy at full health.
  • Winter Blast will not only make headshots easier to achieve, but will also allow the player to kill any enemy with a single shot to the head.
  • If the player is at mid-range, Aero Dash can help the player either get up close to the target, or far away from them. In either case, the player will have an advantage.
  • Geyser Trap will allow the player to reach sniping perches much faster, as well as set up defensive traps.
  • Telekinesis can be used to pull Crossbow bolts out of enemies and shoot them back again, with an almost nonexistent hit interval.

Recommended TonicsEdit

  • Leg Up can be used to reach high areas much more quickly.
  • Headhunter will allow the player to kill any enemy in a single headshot.


Burial at Sea - Episode 2Edit

Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2

The Crossbow makes its return for the second part of BioShock Infinite's story-driven downloadable content, Burial at Sea. It features three new types of nonlethal Bolts: Tranquilizer Bolts, Noisemaker Bolts and Gas Bolts. The main difference between this version and the BioShock version is that it's a pistol-sized weapon, rather than a larger weapon. Also, this version appears to be factory-made as opposed to being pieced together, and seems to be quite new. The player will find the Crossbow in the Ryan the Lion Preparatory Academy, stuck in the door to the cafeteria, which forces the player to obtain it.

Some Splicers, Ryan Security, and Vox Populi Soldiers also use crossbows, but they use arrows rather than nonlethal bolts. These arrows cannot be looted or used by Elizabeth.


Tranquilizer BoltsEdit

  • A Tranquilizer Bolt is a type of ammo that Elizabeth uses to defend herself with in Rapture. A single bolt can knock out any non-heavy hitter enemies (Big DaddyHoudini Splicer or Frosty Splicer) with one shot. Even though she can carry four bolts at once, Elizabeth can sometimes recover bolts from enemies.
  • Houdini Splicers require two bolts to be knocked out, while Frosty Splicers usually require three or four. A more ammo-saving way is to hit them first with the bolt and then one final blow with the Air Grabber.
  • This bolt is really useful when fleeing: If an enemy comes in your way, one quick shot will get rid of them and so reduce the amount that's chasing you.
  • Try to get somewhere high (a chandelier for example), with a good view of the area. This gives you the advantage of spotting many enemies at once and taking them out, securing the area.

Noisemaker BoltsEdit

  • A Noisemaker Bolt will attract enemies in the nearby area, to the location where the noisemaker is fired, by making a loud ringing noise.
  • If the player needs to get to a location, but the pathway is surrounded by enemies, you may fire the Noisemaker at a different location. The noise will attract the enemies, which will give you the ability to sneak past them.
  • Enemies gathered by the noise can easily be dealt with, by your choice of weapon or Plasmid/Vigor. But the most efficient way would be with the Gas Bolt, which takes out many enemies at once.
  • Noisemaker Bolts are acquired by probing a blue pin while lockpicking. 

Gas BoltsEdit

  • While Elizabeth can only carry two bolts at once, they more than make up for it by being able to knock out large groups of enemies at once.
  • Gas Bolts can be set as traps. If an enemy approaches it will go off.
  • Gas Bolts are also able to incapacitate Houdini Splicers, Frosty Splicers, and Beasts in a single shot if they are caught in the gas radius.
  • Enemies with gas-masks cannot be knocked out and require other methods to handle them.
  • Use the Noisemaker Bolt to gather enemies and take them out at once with a follow-up Gas Bolt.



  •  Icon pc In BioShock and BioShock 2 Multiplayer, there is a glitch which enables the player to greatly increase the Crossbow's rate of fire. In BioShock, after firing a bolt, switching to Plasmids and then back to the Crossbow will skip the reloading animation, supplying the weapon with ammunition instantly. In BioShock 2 Multiplayer, the player needs to reload before switching their plasmid, which allows them to fire again immediately.
  •  Icon pc In BioShock 2 Multiplayer it is possible to "eat" a headshot by shooting a plasmid at the precise moment a Crossbow bolt would hit the player's head; the game registers the bolt as hitting the player's hand instead.
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