A D4sh of Fl4k S4dn3ss

Fl4k main here. Long-time Borderlands player. There is nothing Gbx has ever released pertaining to this franchise my wife and me have not bought. We are hopelessly lost fanboys.

With that being said, I have to say that I am deeply disappointed with this DLC/Patch. I mean, it really makes me sad.

Ever since I saw Fl4k I fell in love with them. I never wanted to play a pet build, I always thought of the pets as companions (for the feel of it) and as a stat stick which is totally fine for me. After all, it’s a RPG.
I do know some Fl4k players feel the other way around with @Boombumr being the most vocal of them. And I respect it and I am happy for those pet enthusiasts that get at least something from this DLC/Patch.

But from a Fl4k main that likes to do the work himself, I feel like we’ve got very little value out of this. See how the threads over at Amara, Moze and especially Zane explode while our section is mostly the pet guys trying to figure stuff out and the Fl4k bug Megathread? There isn’t much that could be theorycrafted on. Almost no damage skills to thee damage dealer in the game? Almost no skills that in some way or the other connect with the rest of the trees? No new interesting interactions like all the other classes got!

So, we’ve not only got very little value out of it, I even feel like Gbx ripped away Fl4ks skill personality. It’s true: Gbx did not actively take away skills or interactions from Fl4k (apart from those bugs that happen). But they distributed the key features that make up the core of Fl4k to every other class, I feel.

Fl4k always was (perceptively) the squishiest character in BL3 but made up for it with his amazing damage formula. And quite frankly, Fl4k has some more-than-decent survivability via Red Fang, Not my Circus, Fade Away and now even Dominance which was a contender for the worst capstone in BL history before the patch. (That change is basically the only true value Fl4k got with this update IF you are not a pet guy!)
Fl4k has three viable action skills with one (Rakks) being a premier ASE/anointment trigger with a bugged interaction (Headcount) ever since launch.

Fl4k is also a crit-based class. Fl4k has v2 dmg in their trees (slightly clunky but it’s there in Hidden Machine), Fl4k has a lot of v1 damage. And most of this damage persists even in FFYL (unlike Zane’s damage bonuses).

But in a way Gbx gave all other characters features that Fl4k was made of. And made them even stronger/better:

Zane:

  • Zane is already the class to have the most gun dmg (locked behind fast movement but still). Now they upped him to ridiculousness with the following:
  • Zane can now use N2M anoints instead of SNTL Cryo.
  • Zane now als has v2 dmg via his new capstone. And even the requirement was lowered a good amount while putting more benefits on top of it.
  • MNTS is just a flat-out better version of Rakk Attack with better cooldown, infinite usage, crit dmg from out of this world.
  • Zane now has crit dmg, accuracy and a whole lot of other QoL benefits.
  • Zane still has life steal (as all the other clases as well). Something Gbx ist still reluctant to give to Fl4k for whatever reason.

Amara:

  • Amara always had this amazing mobbing capabilites: TTB, Indiscriminate, Infusion, just to name a few. But I you wanted to boss you had to mostly resort to Phasecast 250% or Phaseslam 300% anointments and maybe even respec when mainly bossing.
  • That’s because Amara has great multi-target damage but was lacking single target damage and a great damage formula.
  • Not any longer: Her formula got some nice additions and her single-target damage got buffed real hard. Alongside the Ball that now allows you to spec one way and do everything with it.

There’s more but this text is already way too long for most people to read through. Thank you for doing it, by the way!

All that is not to say: Take it away from Zane or the other classes. I am sincerely happy for those players that main them. It just makes me feel like I am left in the dust from Gbx. A player who buys everything Borderlands has to offer without hesitation because I just love it.

This bad taste in my mouth doesn’t get washed away by seeing other classes take reign while my beloved robot killer is left as is and fobbed off with this disconnected skill tree and class mod. The designers of this tree cannot be the designers of the rest of the trees and COMS.

I am sad. And it grows on me. I really don’t know what I should do now.

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Good post @derwitte. This fairly well sums up how I feel about the new Fl4k skill tree.

Fl4k’s survival was not so much of a problem that we needed 26 points worth of investment to address it. One or two shield skills in the new tree and increasing health regen values in the existing trees would have resolved the survival issues entirely. Then they could have focused on more interesting, unique skills for the tree.

I spent about 10 hours of playtime testing the new skill tree and trying to figure out how to use it, and while the new tree does offer survival for sure, I just don’t understand why any build focused on Fl4k and not just the pets (which I would have to assume is probably 90% plus of builds played by Fl4k players) would want to sacrifice all the damage in their builds for this survival. Borderlands is still about killing stuff fast, and if you can’t eliminate enemies relatively quickly, a build will suffer because the player will get overwhelmed by enemy spawns.

I initially kind of liked some of the ideas in the skill tree, but in practice, my findings have been that on every build that I have tried to use or modify to take advantage of skills in the purple tree, that build is materially worse in every way for trying to take advantage of the purple tree vs. using skills in the other trees. The builds I have tried (and I have theory-crafted, spec’ed, and play-tested a bunch of variations) are just simply more effective if you ignore the purple tree - which is kind of what I have started doing.

One potential easy fix here that the devs could do is to add in Fl4k damage or benefits in the purple tree in each place (or at least in some places) where the pet gets damage. This is the same approach GBX took to adding pet damage shortly after release. Unfortunately I am not sure what other band-aids could work other than completely reworking this tree. I guess I would have to think about that a little more.

In any event, I have found the new skill tree for Fl4k to be extremely underwhelming. Hopefully they will figure out a way to address this, because otherwise I don’t see the purple tree having a lot of staying power for Fl4k mains.

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Thank you, @tysonyar
Exactly my findings as well.
Since I cannot help but to theorycraft builds, I tried. I specced into purple, shifted skill points around but I always feel what the math already predicted: I just spec into a lose-lose situation.
I gave up trying to make purple work for my non-pet builds.

Work-arounds, bandaids, …? Yeah, there might be possibilities. But why should we want to have them? Gbx put in a lot of work into Amara and Zane, also Moze. But Fl4k just feels neglected. As if the person in charge of Fl4ks new tree had already quit his/her job or just joined the team and that’s the first assignment in a Borderlands game.
I really wonder what happened there? This feels disconnected on all levels.

The other day I heard Quag say in his stream this:
“Every single Fl4k build has been invalidated by Zane, including Rakk Stab.”

They didn’t take any skills or interactions away from Fl4k.
But Fl4ks forte was to make guns work due to their damage formula and interactions. For that advantage, Fl4k was arguably squishier than other classes who all have life steal in their kits.
Now, especially Zane, has better access to Fl4ks advantages while keeping life steal.
It’s actually a joke. A sad one.

See how all other sections started to theorycraft and have already spawned new builds? I want to be part of that: Find things out, shuffle skill points and have active conversations about our favorite robot.
But over here, it’s more like Tumbleweed Town if it wasn’t (weren’t) for Boombumr and his relentless pursuit of pet build happiness.

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Well said. I myself haven’t tested new skill combinations but given that so far there is limited viable Fl4k-focused builds that incorporate purple tree, it’s probably not worth investing points into. That said, purple tree is supposed to be a pet-centered tree, which we see from those build videos by streamers such as Joltz and Moxsy, but honestly, it just seems really clumsy - you have to wait for the pet AI to kick in, which is not really controllable, and Fl4k has very limited damage source, which is why I never really liked the idea of a pet build. (also using GB on a loader bot is, weird, to say the least)
Having a tree dedicated to shield regen is cool imo, but I was hoping that the purple tree could have more damage skills that would play around with shield to compensate the damage loss from specing into this tree, things like the higher the percentage of your shield you have left, the more damage you deal, or when your shield is below a certain threshold, Fl4k have higher critical hit chance, so they can get the shield back up through fuzzy math. But instead we only get the lame bonus from Monkey Do, smh.

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@derwitte You and I probably could have a fight over who is the bigger Borderlands fanboy - I have bought every Borderlands game and DLC, sometimes even multiple times for different platforms. Got more than my money’s worth each time. With this DLC so far, I feel more than a little bit like I wasted my money. I am willing to give them some leeway because not everything can be great, but this feels like a really big swing and a miss for Fl4k players.

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It makes me sad, but I’m not really surprised. Amara has always been the Dev favorite hence why the only “nerf” she has received in awhile was addressing the fakegrasp spam but oh boy do they try to give her the best of everything else. Zane seems to be the begrudging well the fans like him so I guess we have to give him some love via this tree but how long have they ignored Seein Dead is the only consistent high performer com option? Moze looks like an after thought that they wanted to go away so here is super bear with a little attention. But FL4K? Oh this skill was awesome nerf it to oblivion. Oh this is bugged? Hey let’s add some extra nerfing on top of fixing it. How dare the glass cannon actually have ammo for his cannon it should just be glass.

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Fanboy-ism is not worth a fight though:-)
Leeway … yes, that’s true and maybe rightfully so. But still: This is a big one. Not only a patch but an entire DLC with an all-new skill tree. That’s something that might not happen again in the lifecycle of this game. And they dropped the ball on this one for Fl4k. This just makes me sad as I was hoping to get deeper into the game.
Now I am coping to stay in it despite the feeling of being left behind.

Even Moze’s skill tree is better than what we’ve got. There’s Mayhem scaling craziness going on on Tier 1 (Big Surplus) just like Gbx likes to add to random skills.
And at least the skill tree opens up new options for her. The fact that Moze is already ridiculously strong per Mayhem scaled skills doesn’t diminish her new skill additions.
But us Fl4k players got almost nothing and that frustrates me to death.

I feel you fully. At this point I have a build each toon that incorporates the new tree except for FL4K. It’s still get Megavore and then debate how far down the blue and green tree do I want to go. I started with FL4K because his original game design sounded like a terminator/predator hybrid with pets which is just awesome on paper. But it hasn’t changed in over a year.

Also I can accept for every yin there is a yang or however you want to phrase it. FL4K was burst damage for being squishy. But where is that on the other vault hunters? The life steal Zane and Amara have mean you have to try to die or just be really unlucky with a spawn while Moze can always hop into bear if she starts to feel the heat. All of that for no loss in their damage. Our robot friend though yeah you have to make the trade. And the sad thing is all they had to do was adjust FL4K’s natural regen to be worthwhile or put more oomph into the purple tree to couple with the shields.

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As you have pointed out at least implicitly, what concerns me most is the idea that the devs either do not, did not, or apparently could not see that the new skill tree is a pile of hot garbage. Which kind of indicates to me that they either do not understand Fl4k or they do not understand the player base. Either way, not great.

Yes, that could’ve been one way. And it would’ve been better.

Exactly what I’m thinking.
Did they outsource it? Was this somebody’s first piece of work? Did they make somebody do it who does not play Fl4k at end game? Or the game at all?
Something went horribly wrong there. And I fear without a complete rollback and overhaul we will get nothing but fixes. If that.
I mean there are really players out there that vocalize their satisfaction with this tree.
Checkout discords and streams of players with more than surface level of knowledge on Fl4k to reverse that opinion in a blink of an eye.

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@derwitte For me personally (and I will repeat again that this MY opinion), I think we should try to be really careful about assigning blame for something like this to one specific person. Yes, there probably was one single person that did the primary skill tree creation and programming (not actually sure if that would be one person or, more likely, two, but either way the exact number does not matter for my point), but there was also:

  1. That person’s manager;
  2. The team lead;
  3. The creative director;
  4. The game director;
  5. A QA team (some people might argue this point LOL)(
  6. The QA team lead;
  7. The business owners and managers at GBX Software;
  8. Whatever teams at Take-Two/2k reviewed and approved this.

I feel certain that I have missed some levels too.

The point is that there were at least several hundred people who would have had direct and/or indirect input on the design, creation, and end product for a game like Borderlands 3. A lot of people saw and signed off on this terrible decision. The blame is non-specific as to any particular person - the purple Fl4k skill tree was a group-approved bad call.

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I feel like what should have happened here, was the Blue tree should have been altered to add skills for the pets that are in the purple tree. this could be accomplished by adding the skills to empty spaces in the tree, replacing some of the lesser quality/lesser used skills or update some of the skills to match whats in the purple tree.

The purple tree should keep the shield skills and the reload skill, and add recoil reduction, fire rate, melee dmg, movement speed and gun damage. Effectively making the tree all about getting in the mix and hitting hard n fast, with the shield skills to help tanking/survival

I’d have liked to seen a capstone or 1 point skill down the tree that would sort of mimic Mordecai’s Gun Crazy by giving you a 40% chance to fire 2 shots for the price of one for a time after crit or kill
Maybe even trow trespass in there too.

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I’d be in favor. It’s not like 90% of the skills in this game aren’t already reworks of skills from the older games. Which is fine, by the way. Sequels are supposed to be evolutionary more often than revolutionary.

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This would have worked perfect with the Gravity Snare skill too, as you could lock up/slow down enemies and weave around them with with high movement speed and hit hard with big melee attacks, and gun blasts. It would also have synergy with just about any other tree too. Especially red tree.

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I feel like one of the biggest misses was that the Tier 1 pet movement speed skill did not also boost Fl4k’s movement speed. Deathless Fl4ks would take that all day because you cannot use FAF with a Deathless build. Boom! Perfect skill tree synergy. How hard was that?

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I get that. And for the record I wasn’t blaming one specific person per se. I wasn’t even blaming at all.
More like sincerely clueless as to what really happened there.
You are right though: it was a team effort. Although not everybody needs to be ok with what they are doing but have to do it anyway.
And in the end there is always one person in charge, at least in every company that I worked for which are a few:-)
Still, I would love to know what happened and why. W/o marketing blah blah.
I guess we’ll never know.
Doesn’t help me though. I feel like at a party where everybody is having fun and getting drunk and I’m the only one that is not drinking and getting out of touch with the rest of the party. Usually, that’s when I leave …

I know we are all sad about purple tree and gravity snare, but how about that dominance change though??? Such a ■■■■■■■ good skill now, it’s probably a top 5 capstone in the game now. You now can either invest in green tree for more damage, or blue tree for sweet ass crowd control. Just trying to keep things positive lol.

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@Gl0weN So would it be possible now to run a GB build without the Red Fang?