METAL GEAR BEAR
It’s only when I’m cheating death on the battlefield. The only time I feel truly alive.
This build has been updated for Mayhem 11 at level 65. It can handle all content so well that it absolutely trivialises true takedown difficulty both at the Maliwan Blacksite and the Guardian Breach. Seriously, you could speed-run either with almost zero effort.
So what does it mean to make a build revolving around Iron Bear? Well the first order of business to conduct is to reveal the Metal Gear Bear skill build in its raw form. The first obvious omission you’ll notice are that there are no capstones to be seen: none of them provide any benefit to Bear, thus it’s a waste of skill points trying to reach either of them. Short Fuse is very much worthwhile in hybrid builds but not so much in a full-on pilot build such as this one.
With the gear we’re using, there is no need to stack anything remotely resembling consecutive hits, therefore Fire in the Skag Den can be completely ignored and plus it doesn’t receive the insane Mayhem scaling that Moze enjoys with it. The one omission that you might question is Means of Destruction but that’s because Iron Bear’s grenade usage does not consume any from Moze’s stockpile. The more time spent piloting Bear, the less this skill is required. And this skill as well as Pull the Holy Pin are omitted because the best type of grenade for this build does not require these skills, nor will we run short of them.
Now that the cap has reached level 65, we can claim all the best Iron Bear skills in the first four tiers of each of Moze’s original skill trees, and have enough points left over to max out Phalanx Doctrine which is Bear’s best tier 5 skill. Our choice of gear is also part of the reason why we’ve specifically chosen to invest in these particular skills.
Bear Trooper is the class mod of choice which might come as a surprise to some. The fundamental reasoning behind this is because the special effects are totally unconditional and combine to maximise fuel-efficiency in a way that no other class mod can match, not even Raging Bear which is deemed to be the meta mod for Bear-focused builds.
Because the fuel-efficiency is so high, the fuel metre depletes at a noticeably slower rate and subsequently, this leads to much shorter cooldown periods on average. Increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing cooldown duration are the two absolute best ways to enjoy more Bear uptime; killing two birds with one stone. And thanks to the extra 50% Iron Bear duration, this indirectly buffs Deadlines because the fuel refunds will have more of a pronounced effect on the fuel metre.
For skills, a really good version of this class mod begins with zero bonus points for Explosive Punctuation, with the more points in Stainless Steel Bear, the better. The best version would of course be +5 because that boosts the fuel tank capacity to its max limit. But do not lament if there are any points for Grizzled as it’s Moze’s best tier 1 skill and even a bonus of +1 or 2 in this build will make the cooldown feel almost non-existent. For passive bonuses, the trifecta would be action skill damage, splash damage and max health. Action skill cooldown rate is also a worthwhile passive bonus to have in case of an emergency.
Raging Bear is still an option for the main class mod if you really must insist upon it. However, it’s a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none class mod at its core, and it’s so reliant on kills in order to increase its fuel-efficiency. It places a little too much emphasis on reducing fuel drain which yields diminishing returns: if you invested 3/3 in Deadlines then you would get -30% fuel drain, but invest 6/3 and you only get -42%. What’s more is that even though you can get up to 12% fuel refund per kill, it’s very easy to land multiple kills in succession and lose out on significant amounts of those fuel returns as they diminish, so this bonus skill is not quite foolproof as one would expect.
The bonus damage from the class mod’s special effect is Type A damage in Bear’s formula, and it eventually caps at 50%. The biggest DPS spike from this class mod that allows it to keep up with the heavier DPS mods, stems from Stoke the Embers boosting the incendiary damage skills and augments against fleshy targets. But overall, the more consistent and reliable choice of bonus skill is of course Stainless Steel Bear and so the more points for that, the better.
Flare is the new Bear class mod from DLC4 which is on the opposite end of the scale from Bear Trooper in that it totally focuses on bonus damage with nothing to offer in terms of fuel-efficiency. The damage is such overkill that it would be meaningless to rock this COM for mobbing; it’s better used for bossing and in brief hybrid-esque bursts so as not to give yourself longer cooldown to endure. Compared to the other class mods, Stainless Steel Bear is the only good bonus skill for total pilot builds such as this one.
Deathless is chosen here largely in part so that Bear (and Moze) can get the full benefit of Desperate Measures without butchering Bear’s max armour. Normally, it’s not such a wise idea to remove Moze’s health gate seeing as there are enemies in end game who can destroy or bypass your entire shield with one hit. But in a pilot build with emphasis on max fuel-efficiency and reduced cooldown duration, the risks to Moze’s 1 hp are reduced substantially.
The prefix doesn’t matter much in this context seeing as Moze is invulnerable while in the cockpit. But outside of it, the Snowdrift prefix makes a tremendous difference for her survivability which you can see for yourself during any of the Takedowns, by allowing her enough movement speed to dodge almost any attack that comes her way. Passive bonuses should at the very least be AOE damage and max health. The final slot can be anything else that is relevant to Bear, but I would recommend either action skill cooldown rate or a weapon type damage for Moze.
Plus Ultra made its debut in DLC4 and it instantly became the new best shield for Iron Bear and not just because of a 25% chance to absorb bullets with 30% action skill cooldown rate for a few seconds. The card doesn’t state it, but an unlisted bonus is that it gives the owner +100% max health, which gives Iron Bear GARGANTUAN armour capacity! And because it’s a Pangolin shield, you can get the Multivitamin prefix (x2 HEALTH parts) for an additional 25% max health on top of the hidden double bonus. Combine all this with the anointment where each kill grants Moze +30% CDR per kill for 10 seconds, and you’ve got the perfect shield for Iron Bear.
It’s Piss isn’t a compulsory pick here but is arguably the best legendary grenade you can choose for this particular build. I’m of the opinion that because Bear’s DPS and sustain from grenades are 100% contingent on the 20% chance granted by the anointment, it’s significantly lower than the DPS and reliable sustain Bear can muster with his own arsenal. Combine that with the fact that Moze’s max health is 1 and she can’t use Vampyr for herself in this build, you may as well go for an option that debuffs enemies and makes your strongest weapons hit even harder. The 20% debuff occupies its own slot in the damage formula and with the Railguns in action, the bonus damage itself can potentially be millions and millions if you match the right elements!
Unforgiven is really the only specific weapon worth mentioning for this type of build, and that’s because it can be used with Dakka Bear to buff the critical shots from the turret so long as Moze is holding onto it when either she or a friend hops onboard. Furthermore, the Urad anointment works by applying radiation damage to the turret rounds, allowing for the turret to easily deal a few million damage per critical shot!
For weapon anointments though, there’s only one worth talking about for this build and that’s 100% bonus Railgun damage while Iron Bear is active. This occupies its own slot in the damage formula so Bear’s hardpoints are literally doubling all the damage they already inflicted before DLC5 touched down. You can literally buy a crappy white-rarity gun with this anointment from a vendor, and you’re ready to make true takedown difficulty an utter joke!
Because this build is primarily rocking Railguns, you want to switch the augments when the scenario calls for it. For example, fleshy bosses? Double up on Hell on Rails. Fighting a boss with heavy armour such as Wotan or Scourge? Get Corrosive Sabot Round on both hardpoints!
But for general use, Capacitive Armature is so good for mobbing that you want it on Bear’s right hardpoint. And having Corrosive Sabot Round (with its mag size of 3 rounds) on the left hardpoint makes the most sense because it’s the side that can utilise the fire rate bonus from Scorching RPMs, gets the Type B damage bonus from Phalanx Doctrine and thus extract more from the splash/AOE passive bonuses that come with the gear. This combo is arguably the best for negotiating the crystal phases in the Guardian Takedown.
I play with my Guardian Rank disabled so I know that this build works and is effective enough in performance without the bonus perks. But if you’re not of the same inclination, then Topped Off is just going to make life even easier for you as a pilot. Better yet, if your artefact has the Snowdrift prefix, you can simply dodge enemy attacks by sliding all over the place.
Even though Gearbox gave Iron Bear a massive helping hand in Mayhem levels with the damage-scaling, the fundamental thing to remember with Iron Bear is that increased fuel-efficiency is key above all else when it comes to prolonging your Iron Bear duration and getting the most performance out of him. This is something that is explored in further detail in this guide for beginners or for those who don’t understand Iron Bear that well. But there’s never been a better time to be a pilot than right now. Bear Troopers, assemble!