Amara, a good siren but not a good Amara


I would first like to say that I’m not the first to feel disappointed about Amara’s lackluster action skills, this post on reddit came out before the game released and I found it right before launch and it did make me realize that Amara really wasn’t living up to the potential she has. She is a force to be reckoned with, self-assured, and pulls no punches when serving justice with her mystic arms of fury and that’s why she’s regarded as a champion on Partali and wherever she goes. Unfortunately, her personality and everything she’s about is poorly represented in her gameplay.

Reminiscing about that post recently it motivated me to make this post. Keep in mind both u/StoriedStorm and I love her backstory, design and what she represents, we aren’t criticizing those aspects of her. I commend GBX for creating her. I’d like to elaborate on why two skill trees in particular do not fit the design of the character.


  1. Fist of the Elements
  2. Avatar
  3. The discrepancy between her play style and design
  4. Brawl
  5. Current state of melee builds and suggestions

1. Fist of the Elements

Now, can you guess what’s considered the best action skill for Amara? Without a doubt it’s phasegrasp, aka phaselock 2.0… Despite the fact that Amara has the phasetrance ability. If you were gonna mention it, I know Amara isn’t the only new vh (vault hunter) to have a similar ability an old vh, Fl4k’s fade away is similar Lilith’s phasewalk. Both go invisible and move way faster, but Lilith has the effect of explosions and Fl4k, lots of buffs to crits and health regen, whereas the difference between phaselock and phaselock 2.0 is only a hand being beneath the enemy. I personally refuse to use this action skill because it makes me feel like I’m playing as Maya, not Amara. Why couldn’t GBX be bothered to make a new action skill?

The fist of the elements (fote) tree features only one skill that encourages actual use of her fists, other than phaselock 2.0, illuminated fist… Isn’t it a bit ironic that a tree with the name “fist of the elements,” only has one skill that resembles punching? It’s seriously the afterthought of this tree despite the name, it’s just about being at a distance and shooting your enemies from afar. Anyway, any Maya main surely recognized the two skills and augments in this tree that we’re taken from hers, I’ll fill you in if you don’t which ones I’m talking about. They took wreck, converge, sub-sequence and chain reaction and changed their names to (in the same order) dread, allure, the eternal fist and indiscriminate. I wouldn’t be against bringing back these skills if they didn’t come back with the same action skill. Nevertheless, all of this combined makes it the most unoriginal tree of all the new vault hunters that were introduced in bl3, its weirdly uninspired considering they have Amara, I mean just look at her arms…

Just look at u/StoriedStorm’s suggestions, one of them I’m particularly fond of is the idea of having Amara’s six extra arms and replacing the left trigger and right trigger for punches, left hook, right hook. They would take on the element you have equipped or possibly switch every punch. That’s what I call “fist of the elements.” As for the rest of the tree I’m not sure but I have faith in GBX.

2. Avatar

Now phasecast, admittedly, this is the action skill I used the most in the beginning, even if it’s dull action skill for Amara, goes straight and it’s gone, she does deserve more than this. But nothing else like it came before and it’s pretty cool how easy it is to stack effects with this action skill especially with augments. The problem is that it doesn’t ooze with the immodest flashiness I expect from her, it’s rather reserved and too sophisticated for Amara. I look at it and can’t help but get the feeling this suits Maya more, it’s very composed and the individual would need to be very levelheaded, but that’s not Amara and GBX knows that yet they still gave her this ability. “ A hero born in the slums of Partali,” is where GBX says she grew up, so do you think Amara who was born and raised on the streets, or Maya trained in a monastery with monks would use a move like this? There’s one obvious answer here.

“Ohh but Maya doesn’t have the phastrance ability so she can’t possible use phasecast,” so? Amara can actually phaselock herself despite it making zero sense, just look at her stillness of mind action skill augment.

Stillness of mind description:

Enemies damaged by Amara’s Action Skill become phaselocked until they are damaged or the duration ends. However, Action Skill Cooldown is increased. If Amara targets an enemy with Phasegrasp, enemies near the Grasped target are phaselocked.

I guess phaselock sirens are just a worse version of phasectrance, since phasetrance can apparently do it all.

3. The discrepancy between her play style and design

I thought this was a new game, a new siren, and what do we have to show for that? Two action skills that don’t suit her one bit. Just ask yourself, do you think Amara’s skill trees is GBX’s best work and it couldn’t possibly get any better? I’ll wait for your answer. I expect skills from her that make her get up close and are actually viable (more on that coming up), “I’m always looking for fight,” Amara says, yet the majority of her skill trees encourage keeping her curbed to just take firefights… This is contradictory to her character.

A hero born in the slums of Partali, Amara is most at home on the battlefield or in a brawl. Never content to stand idly by, she uses her Siren abilities, to smash oppressors and dismantle her foes. While in her Phasetrance, she channels her Siren energy to form powerful arms that can shoot blasts of force or crush enemies in their grip. Brash, aggressive, and self-assured, Amara doesn’t let anything stand in her way.

Quoted from GBX themself, but I recall nothing of the sort in her skill tree where she “shoots blasts of force,” other than do unto others and downfall, the one skill and action skill augment out of all the trees to fit this description. Only phaseslam matches the , “crush enemies in their grip,” description, and no, fist over matter doesn’t count as it’s still phasegrasp 2.0 for the most part. The majority of her trees, unfortunately, do not express this “brash” and “aggressive” side of her. When you compare this quote to her trees to see if they succeeded in portraying her through gameplay, I’m sure you will notice they have failed at this, the play style that suits this description is the minority.

4. Brawl

Compared to her fote and avatar trees, the brawl tree is the most redeeming to her design. There’s a melee focus (obviously) and it has the only action skill that fits her design, phaseslam. You can argue that’s its not very inspired, that’s it’s a titan slam clone from destiny, which is where the one-off slam super became popular again, but I’d say it’s here to stay. If you say they stole it from the titan, then the titan stole it from Mario, you didn’t forget Mario basically invented the ground pound, right? Phaseslam could use some i-frames though, I’ve been downed mid slam plenty of times.

There’s only two issues with this tree, first, it’s helping hands. This is a good skill, I’ll give it that, but her arms are delegated to a spectacle being just fancy damage reduction and its potential is left untapped. Just imagine it works the say but in addition to that, the arms will catch projectiles near you even rockets and just throw them back the direction they came, similarly to one of u/StoriedStorm’s suggestions. This would put it further down the tree but this upgrade would be totally worth it. The second issue with this tree is glamour, obviously this is thoughtlock with a different name but it’s supposed to be phaselock exclusive when it comes to lore.

5. Current state of melee builds and suggestions

However, her melee tree is underwhelming compared to the rest of her trees and “melee” builds are unviable without select gear, face punch, good luck if you try to make a melee build without it. And don’t forget, Amara is this games melee vh, forego the issue with her misrepresentation gameplay wise, her melee builds are unviable without shooting, the crutch is face puncher, good luck getting anything remotely close to a melee build to to work without it. If we’re not getting another vault hunter, is Amara at her best as a melee elemental vault hunter? I’m afraid she’s severely lacking compared to Krieg, who could get up to +500% melee damage from silence the voices skill and +600% more possible with other skills, while Amara gains +275% from her tree the most. She needs more melee damage, period.

I suggest adding a skill that buffs her melee damage the higher her health is and the more enemies that are taking damage from her dots (status effects).

I have two suggestions for this brawl tree that could help, make the increased melee range from the skill, find your center, permanent. And can blitz’s cooldown reset from melee kills? These can help make her feel so much better, imo.

For fote tree, put sustainment higher up so melee builds have easier access to this skill, putting it from tier 5 to tier 4 is all that’s needed, unless they change the tree to focus on melee.


This glaring discrepancy has caused me to want GBX to rebuild the foundation of her fote tree and change the action skills of both the fote and avatar trees, I know lots of you won’t be because like playing Amara like Maya, I respect your decision but I don’t agree with it. Maybe GBX can make her fourth skill tree melee and element focused at the same time, that would be really nice. I know GBX is capable of making good trees and skills, just look at the rest of the vault hunters Amara arrived with, that’s evident enough.

Well GBX, it’s your move, either change these fix these trees and/or make the fourth one match her design and the lore, or we can keep going in this direction of misrepresenting her.


Posted in another thread recently that something about Amara just doesn’t feel all that inspired to me. You definitely hit on the same kind of feelings I have toward her. For someone who was blessed with an ancient magical power her action skills are a bit boring. I get she’s super powerful so players like her but… the gameplay often just feels boring to me lately. Even melee builds which I had a bunch of interest in just lost that spark that made them cool to me.

Least favorite character of mine at the moment by far. Hardly ever play her and when I do I quickly get bored.

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She definitely feels like a half-hearted melee character. She has SIX giant arms! That’s a goldmine of ideas!

How cool would it have been to see the projection move around like a pet and pummel enemies? Running around with six fists active and rapidly punching bandits? Uppercutting them into the air and using Blitz to close the distance?

I love Amara’s personality. She’s a damn good fighter and she knows it. Imagine if we had something similar to Salvador’s Come At Me Bro but we get to use all six arms to taunt enemies? Show us how cocky she is! I wanna see her make fun of her opponents. I wanna see her beat up baddies. The Brawl Tree is the closest we have to that but even so its underwhelming.

I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks this. Especially coming from TPS which had EXCELLENT skill trees. They weren’t just strong vault hunters, their trees communicated their personalities perfectly. Amara could’ve been so much more.


I don’t like phaseslam as a concept for a melee character when you compare it to the melee characters we’ve had in the past Brick, Athena , Zero, and Krieg it to me always felt lackluster. I remember when I first heard of Amara and her multiple arms I’d imagine with she would have a super verison of Brick’s action skill just able to punch twice as fast as Brick maybe throw in the ability to grab enemies and use them as shields and toss them like trash at other enemies or use them as a weapon. When I found all she got was this garbage I was so disappointed on the lack of imagination of GBX.


Pretty sure that’s intentional. GB wanted to cater to people that loved the Maya playstyle (this includes me).

Totally agree about her other ASs being less interesting or underwhelming, though.

I wouldn’t mind if they copy and pasted from another VH. Something that let’s Amara use Blitz continually like Athena did Blood Rush (like you mention).

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Just my own personal experience. I’ve taken a Phaseslam Amara through Normal, TVHM and a number of DLCs punching from L1 onwards. I do use a ranged weapon if there is absolutely no way I can punch an enemy but that’s rare. I haven’t been able to do that with any other Borderlands character. That’s all I can ask from a melee character.

One proviso. I don’t care for endgame and so this only applies to campaign play but that’s how I’ve played all the Borderlands games.


Tbf, this question can be applied to most (if not all) BL3 skill trees.

The only new and original action skills are Iron Bear and Phaseslam.

Everything else was already there in one form or another. Mostly they are just variations and a mixture of various action skills from BL1, BL2, TPS.


Yeah I’m fully aware that not all of them are completely original, but ones like digital-clone and sntnl, are a little different. Digi-clone’s inspiration, expendable assets, is about losing the clones to benefit you for the most part, while digi-clone is a single one and you benefit the most from keeping it alive. While sntnl one of the most unoriginal action skills, at least you can choose who the drone attacks, unlike like lots of other action skills that were about roaming AI.

Digi clone really doesn’t play like anything before it. Imho, it has more depth than it might at first seem.

SNTNL, otoh, yuck. Especially late game, there’s minimal player involvement. It ends up being little more than a buff condition (anointment).

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Digi Jack played both ways. You can have it die for benefits or keep it out forever and have it buffed, similar to digi clone.


I agree with a lot of the OP’s post. I agree that her tree design is often at odds with her purported personality, though in a game as silly as Borderlands, I personally don’t think things like character development have much meaning, so I don’t really care. As long as the jokes are good and the characters aren’t annoying (eg. Ava) I’m happy - I don’t need Borderlands to be Dostoevsky.

Though more prescient for me is the matter of her 6 arms not really doing much. (In her default state, she doesn’t even punch with her fist!) I agree that some different moves would have been nice: uppercuts, one-twos, or one-two-three-four-five-sixes for that matter. Or what about a move where she grabs a nearby enemy with two of her arms, then thumps him into the ground with a third. Or a crowd control move where she does a windmill spin with all six arms and knocks all nearby enemies to the ground. Or grabs two enemies and clonks their heads together 3 stooges style. There are certainly a lot of possibilities.

You do know that hands (or fists if you prefer) can grasp things as well as punch, eh? Also, it kinda makes sense that another siren could have similar powers/abilities to another. As far as I know, there is no law stating that every siren has to have different abilities than the others, and even if so, who really gives a ■■■■? Maya was by far my favorite character from the last game and I’m overjoyed I have a similar playstyle to roll with. And, at the risk of sounding even snarkier, you do realize there are 3 other characters to use, right?

I wish the phaselock aspect of phasegrasp had been taken out, and the fists had popped up around the enemy, either pinning the enemy between them or pummeling them down into the ground (or one other hand’s palm). So it’s still a skill that holds the enemy in one place, but it doesn’t LOOK like phaselock with a hand drawn in. Even if they’d removed the bubble and had a huge hand wrapped around the enemy, it would have looked better.

I play a melee/fote build using phaseslam, without using facepuncher, and it does OK, even on M10, but I definitely feel like the fote is the bigger boost. It’d probably be better with facepuncher, but using a gun to melee just feels wrong to me.

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