Vault Hunter! We’ve been watching your progress. Those explosions. Rampant looting. Your flagrant disregard for traditional pants fasteners. Impressive. We were talking about you at our Annual Clone Conclave & Spitoon Gala™ last week, and frankly, we like what we see. So we want to make you an offer…
Join the Kill Skill Cult Today!
It doesn’t cost anything¹, it’s 96% human sacrifice free², and you might even have some fun³. This build grew organically over play time from level 1 to 50, and then into the Mayhem modes. There’s been loads of respec’ing and play-testing along the way of course, but the aim has always been to get the most bang for your ordinance from Zane’s Hitman tree capstone: Seein’ Red. Zane has a great bunch of kill skill options, so we want to keep them all activated. All. The. Time.
¹Eridium donations are tax deductible. ²Elemental deaths excepted. ³Fun sold separately.
Overall, this is a relatively flexible build, with some options for adjusting to your preferences. That said, the Suggested Build linked above is what we’ve found most effective so far. Despite the focus on raw damage output, there is still plenty of utility, versatility, and survivability, to be had with Zane’s kit. If you’re wanting to dig deeper into the skills, or switch things up a bit, check out the Skill Building & Options section near the end of this guide.
The basis of this run-and-gun style build, is alternating between your two lowest cooldown Action Skills, being Barrier and Digi-Clone. Reactivating your kill skills every 15 seconds or so, and with Death Follows Close, you essentially get 100% uptime. It’s like celebrating Mercenary Day every fifteen seconds, but with a lot more kill skills, and a lot less less tinsel.
In general terms, your two Action Skills are used more tactically than for raw damage output, though the multiplicative Barrier amp damage buff can be very useful. Good placement for both the Barrier and Digi-Clone is key to getting the most out of them, though the specifics of that will be situational of course.
You also have the option to trigger both Action Skills simultaneously, and take advantage of the added damage from Synchronicity. While this will throw your Cooldown cycle out of whack for a short time, it can sometimes help burst down more difficult enemies in clutch situations.
Being a flexible skill build means the loadout can be equally versatile, and we’ve found success with many of the recommendations below. The recommendations aren’t intended to be exhaustive by any means, but they should give you somewhere to start at least. Before we launch into all that however, an important note on Cooldown Reduction for this build…
One of the things that makes this build really tick is a low enough cooldown on both of your Action Skills. At the time of writing, there are a number of ways to approach this, including the Guardian Rank ‘Hunter’ tree buffs (and “Topped Off” perk), the Adrenaline skill, and of course your gear. A minimum of about +30% Cooldown reduction across all sources should get you pretty close to that 100% uptime, so bear this total in mind when choosing your loadout and/or skills.
This is primarily a run-and-gun style build, centered around high damage, low rate of fire weapons. Most of the play testing has been done with big damage shotguns, and beefier Jakobs pistols, though it could work just as well with snipers, or perhaps even heavy weapons if you have enough ammo. High rate of fire weapons are generally not as strong here, but can still be fully viable if you spec into skills like Violent Violence and/or Brain Freeze.
Recommendations: The Duc, One Pump Chump, Cutsman, The Flakker, Monocle, The Flood, Jakobs Shotguns, Pistols & Snipers, and many, many more.
Other than weapons, your artifact is probably the second most important loadout choice. Without spec’ing into Adrenaline, you’re going to need a total of around +30% Cooldown Reduction between your gear and Guardian Rank to maintain those kill skills. A decent cooldown artifact can really help boost this number, and any other helpful artifact buffs you can get are an added bonus, but not essential.
Recommendations: Cooldown Reduction artifact (up to +30%)
Fast, high rate shields probably complement Zane’s skills and run-and-gun playstyle the best here, so, you’re mostly looking for low Recharge Delay (< ~3s) and high Recharge Rate (usually at the expense of Capacity), to keep those shields returning fast while you’re in the thick of things. That’s not to say you can’t make other options work just as well however, and amongst others, we’ve had a lot of fun with amp shields too. For amp shields, the Re-Router can be particularly useful, as it adds some decent burst heal along with a big chunk of extra damage. If needed, big shield buffs from Ready For Action, and/or health regen from Rise to the Occasion, can both provide solid survivability bonuses to mitigate the biggest drawbacks of an amp shield like this one.
Recommendations: Fast Delay High Rate Shields (< ~3s Delay), Stop Gap, The Re-Router
Builds are often centred around a specific class mod, though this is not the case here. It’s still important to respec accordingly however, and be mindful of the buffs they can provide. These buffs can often make an even bigger difference than the skill bonuses, with buffs to Weapon Damage, or Critical Damage amongst the best options for Zane here. As far as legendary CMODs are concerned, the Legendary Executor complements the playstyle of this build well, especially with the added buffs on kill. That said, of the three skills it buffs, Good Misfortune is counter productive to our fast action skill triggering. Ideally, you want an Executor without this skill at all to keep those Action Skills firing quickly.
Recommendations: Legendary Executor (ideally, without Good Misfortune), Troublemaker, Rabble Rouser (ideally, without Good Misfortune), or Ruffian (ideally, without Hearty Stock), but with right passives, many others could work too.
The idea of this section is to provide newer Zane players with some options to switch things up from the Suggested Build presented earlier. Skills considered as core to this build have been indicated on each of the three skill tree images below, and the additional options discussed.
In total, you have anything up to (11) Skill Points to reassign if you so choose. To reach the relevant core skills, at least (5) of those must be spent in the Hitman Tree; at least (5) in the Under Cover tree, and the remaining (1) can be placed pretty much anywhere you like. Have at thee!
In addition to the core skills shown in the image way down below, there are (5) more points that need to be allocated to reach the Seein’ Red capstone. Whatever you choose, and unless you plan to mix and match with skill bonuses allocated by your Class Mod, it’s usually better to add all five points into one option rather than spread them around. We usually prefer to put all five points into Violent Speed. Mostly for the extra mobility, but it does bring a small damage buff from Violent Momentum too. Both suit the run-and-gun playstyle of our suggested build nicely.
Violent Violence is a solid alternative if you want to add high rate of fire weapons into your loadouts. It shines with most SMGs, Assault Rifles, or Pistols, not unlike Maya’s ‘Wreck’ skill from BL2. While adding this skill to your build can certainly help make these weapon types more viable, it’s worth noting that not all weapons will see a tangible benefit; most Jakobs weapons perhaps being the easiest example of some that miss out.
Cold Bore is a third option that can work well with this build, if you’re prepared for some consistent fast-swapping hijinx that is. The cryo bonus is significant, and can be very effective, though you may find it to be a lot of micromanagement when coupled with the rapid rate of Action Skill activations, clone swaps, and shield pickups/drops. Certainly not a bad option otherwise however.
The skills to absolutely avoid here would be Good Misfortune, as added Action Skill duration will only make us wait longer to trigger those beautiful Kill Skills, and Drone Delivery, as you won’t be using SNTNL as an active action skill, making it a waste of a point.
CORE SKILLS ONLY: HITMAN
Five additional skill points must be allocated in this tree.
SKILL BUILDING & OPTIONS
SKILL TREE: UNDER COVER
Much like the Hitman tree above, there are (5) points you need to allocate here to reach the third tier damage bonus from Confident Competence. What may be most surprising, is the lack of Adrenaline in our suggested build. Given the dependence on Action Skill activation and fast cooldowns, it would be fair to assume this skill would be a must-have choice. In practice however, and after a great deal of play testing, a simple Cooldown Relic (+20%) and a small Guardian Rank Cooldown bonus (+10%) have been enough to effectively maintain our kill skill uptime. On top of these modest bonuses, the difference from Adrenaline seems fairly negligible.
The five points are there to be spent if you wish to try it out for yourself, but as per our suggested build, we prefer to use them elsewhere. Specifically, we opt for the powerful shield utility of Ready For Action instead. Depending on your loadout specifics, faster shields are almost always useful for a run and gun style approach, and complement other aspects of this build too.
The skills to avoid would probably include Hearty Stock, mostly as it can be detrimental to the time taken in regenerating your shields back to maximum. Having a higher capacity without a comparable increase in Rate, means shields will be slower to charge to capacity. This difference is particularly noticeable if using amp shields like the [color=orange]Re-Router[/orange], as you’ll get notably fewer amp shots in the same timeframe.
Rise to the Occasion is a very powerful regen skill for the points, but with fast shields, and avoiding hits, you may not see much benefit from it. Again though, it’s worth mentioning that this skill can shine with an amp shield, as it will rarely be at full capacity for long with continuous weapon firing.
Stiff Upper Lip could be an alternative option for improving survivability also, as it provides some very solid damage reduction for the points.
AUGMENTS: UNDER COVER
All three of the available augments here have some utility, though we generally avoid All Rounder due to the significant cooldown increase it brings (+20%). This leaves us with Charged Relay, and Nanities or Some ■■■■■ , both of which provide decent enough buffs for this build.
CORE SKILLS ONLY: UNDER COVER
Five additional skill points must be allocated in this tree.
SKILL BUILDING & OPTIONS
SKILL TREE: DOUBLED AGENT
The Digi-Clone tree probably has the least flexibility in this build, as both Synchronicity and Donnybrook provide some important damage boosts, even though the latter does a relatively lacklustre job of health regen. That said, if you can compensate the missing damage through bonuses in your loadout (eg. class mod weapon/crit damage), you could probably spend the five points from Donnybrook elsewhere without issue.
The single point leftover could even be used in a different tree if you prefer, but there’s at least some utility to be had here too.
A single point in Fractal Frags brings grenades to your Digi-Clone, allowing for grenade mod utility such as additional heals or shield stripping via the shock element. In practice, we find the procs very unreliable, but depending on your grenade mod, it can still do some work. Alternatively, and if you don’t mind forgoing grenades altogether, spending the point in Quick Breather can help keep those shields up every time you clone swap. It’s hardly a ‘game changer’ as such, but it does make a difference.
Praemunitius is a very useful skill on its own, but a single point won’t make a tangible difference to most loadouts here, and it’s probably not worth sacrificing the extra damage output from Synchronicity or Donnybrook to shift things around and add the extra points. Other skills to avoid would include Borrowed Time, because as with Good Misfortune, it will only hinder our Action Skill activation times; and Duct Tape Mod simply doesn’t have a high enough percentage to make it worthwhile with most popular low rate of fire weapons.
AUGMENTS: DOUBLED AGENT
As with the Undercover augment choice, all three options here are at least serviceable. In our suggested build, we opted for Binary System, for a little CC utility and synergy with Brain Freeze; and the shield regen of Schadenfreude. Which One’s Real? can be useful when coupled with the latter, though we’ve found Binary System to be more useful and reliable overall.
CORE SKILLS ONLY: DOUBLED AGENT
One additional skill point remains to be allocated. It can be used in any of the three skill trees.
* 03/10/2019 About to hit post, but expect there will be plenty of typos and edits required XD
* 03/10/2019 Shifted the sections to put the Suggested Build link closer to the top.
* 04/10/2019 Fixed typos, made missing kill tree points clearer.
* 06/10/2019 Added Cooldown notes and gear suggestions.
* 07/10/2019 Fixed some wonky links and typos.
* 14/10/2019 Updated some skill building info.
* 20/10/2019 Added alternate & navigation links, plus page anchors.