Caldarius Beta Augment Review

Well, this is a bit late. I didn’t get to play Caldarius on the beta as much as I’d like, but he seemed pretty similar to how he’s always been with a lovely new ability to turn freely during Gravitic Burst, that feels incredible. The only issue is that he seems to have few viable augments and lacks the power spike per level that a lot of the other characters feel with their augments.

For reference: http://mentalmars.com/battleborn/caldarius

There is a general theme to Cal’s augment picks, he’s not allowed too much power and underestandably so, but a lot of his options feel cumbersome, he doesn’t really need them. That said I’m gonna go over the augments level by level, giving my opinion, and wonder what you all think.

###Level 1:

  • Energy Cascade - Now one of the first problems with this augment is the same that many others share: in order to make use of it, you need to use Gravitic Burst. This one seems a bit offensively minded too, but Gravitic Burst is a cooldown that you need to be really careful with as it’s such a powerful escape tool you don’t really want to burn it on offense. Cal has a little more wiggle room with this as his passive is a pretty good escape tool, but sometimes you just need that crazy speed and range, besides which Cal’s passive also makes a fine way to engage. Another issue is that an instant reload is nice, but the TMP already reloads pretty quickly. This augment has one other huge problem, however, and that is it’s competitor.

  • Blind and Bloodied - A buff to your aggressive ability that adds a big chunk of damage to it. It helps waveclear, it adds to Cal’s kill potential, there’s pretty much no risk in using it. A key point is that it’s a lot better than a normal “15% more damage” augment, though it’s a bit more vulnerable to heals per second. Regardless of that it just feels too good to pass up, it will in the long run allow you to wave clear and rack up the damage.

###Level 2:

  • Exit Strategy - To me this just seems cumbersome. It’s another talent that wants you to burn Gravitic Burst, but that’s a non-issue as both talents in this tier are like that. However, Caldarius’ mobility is already so good, I don’t see much use in putting yourself into melee range of the opponent then moving yourself away and forcing a passive use high in the air. However, while I’d written this talent off, I’ve heard that people used it with good success to aim for the head with the TMP, leading to impressive DPS numbers for Caldarius.

  • Zealous Frenzy - Another Gravitic Burst talent, but this one feels intuitive. Cal’s melee swings do decent damage, there’s just a long delay after the second swing. This helps to buff his DPS by a decent amount after using a skill that’ll put you right on top of the enemy to hack them apart. Compared to Exit Strategy, it feels like a “real” boost to output without a strange jump.

I will say that I haven’t given Exit Strategy enough time to truly write it off, with limited access to Battleborn, and hope to comment on it after the full release. This will probably be true for a few other talents.

###Level 3:

  • Afterburner - I already don’t like this augment too much as it’s not hugely for combat, but it’d be nice for roaming. However, it’s just obsoleted by constantly using your passive, which already speeds you up as it is. I don’t even think it is faster than spamming the dash.

  • Overdrive - Another mobility talent that normally would be overshadowed by the dash, but it actually has it’s uses. Being a movement speed buff, it’s easier to stick to an enemy with while dodging all issues (which is essentially what you do with Cal’s passive, you use it to become sticky and unshootable). The dash can be played against by walking in the opposite direction to Cal’s dash, but with the movement speed you can temporarily just walk anywhere they walk. Besides that, it just makes Caldarius easier to play because for two seconds you don’t need to worry about maxing your uptime on your passive and aiming it.

###Level 4:

  • Flash Barrage - I think everybody sings this augment’s praises. It’s a nice damage boost that helps Cal clear waves, spread his blind and bleed or just refresh them. It’s hard not to pick this up even if it makes the animation a little longer.

  • FlashMIRV - I don’t think I’ve ever seen what this actually does, and only ever picked it to avoid the animation length of Flash Barrage until I noticed the bonuses of Barrage. Don’t want to write it off without properly using it though.

  • Cluster Burst - It’s a mutator that sounds great, but Flash Barrage achieves about the same damage output and reliably blinds two people, Cluster Burst isn’t really worth the radius decrease.

###Level 5:

  • Gravitic Ascent - Doesn’t feel necessary. Jumping straight up doesn’t feel too good as it kills your forward momentum. The important thing to this augment, which is worth checking on release of the game, is if the augment helps you reach any otherwise inaccessible locations.

  • Improved Thrusters - Oh man, is this awesome. The speed increase is crazy because of the extra amount of time you spend at dash speed, as opposed to dropping back down to the floor or jumping. In fact, the only downside I’d say it has is that your opponent might try to juke you when you dash and walk past you, which Overdrive really helps with (or just correcting yourself with the impressive speed Cal has over other characters). It even makes it a lot safer to use Gravitic Burst as a combat tool, the speed and distance of Improved Thrusters cannot be understated.

  • Energy Transfusion - An interesting augment, Cal doesn’t really have the DPS to make it shine but he can avoid fire enough to patch up his wounds between hits, but I eventually stopped using it missing the speed of Improved Thrusters.

###Level 6:

  • Kinetic Burst - Gravitic Burst is for putting you right next to the enemy, it just seems really pointless and counterintuitive to improve it’s ability to push enemies away. You want them in melee range if you’re going aggressive with this skill.

  • Rapid Dominance - Flashbang is a crux in Cal’s kit and many of his strong augments are based around it, but the cooldown is pretty long. He can religiously unleash this ability on cooldown without worrying about his safety, so lowering the cooldown by 20% is pretty huge.

  • Gravitic Anomaly - I was willing to give this augment a try because slows helps you stick to opponents, besides just being a pretty potent cc in general in Battleborn thanks to the ats reduction. However, it has the downside of being an aggressive augment for a skill you probably want to use defensively and it just didn’t really feel high impact (though to be fair I think I hit a lot of Mikos with it, which could explain things). Thinking on it, Cal’s mobility really covers both the chasing and survivability concerns that you might take Gravitic Anomaly for in the first place.

###Level 7:

  • Adaptive Harmonics - Like I said before, damage boosts are precious to Caldarius. This one happens to play nicely with Zealous Frenzy at level 2 and feels like a must have to reduce Caldarius’ Time To Kill as much as possible.

  • Microfusion Cell - Not a fan of this ability as Cal’s TMP reload speed is already so fast. Adding more bullets doesn’t really improve Cal’s DPS until he needs to reload, but he spends his entire magazine quickly so that isn’t much of an issue. I’d still rather have an ability that improves Cal’s upfront payoff.

###Level 8:

  • Gravitic Amplifiers - I don’t really like these 15% damage boosts, they’re usually small boosts that share a tier with a really great utility augment. This one has the added issue of Gravitic Burst (like Cal’s other skills) having a relatively low amount of damage.

  • Gravitic Stabilizers - The range on Gravitic Burst is already huge, but this augment capitalizes on that even further. It might be a bit over the top, but compared to 15% more damage it’s great, it also serves to improve Gravitic Burst both as an engagement and as an escape tool.

###Level 9:

  • Phasebang - Getting back to the talents that just seem completely unecessary. Caldarius is a natural flanker, his allies shouldn’t be in his way. If they are, he is the number one character for repositioning himself and the AoE of Flashbang means it’s likely hitting it’s target if somebody on your team is in the way anyway. If they’re in the way of you as Cal, they’re probably also a melee character (or a Montana trying to lay down some CC).

  • Brightblaster - Easily the best choice at this level, Flashbang is a great damage tool but it is also a utility skill. By improving the radius, blinding 3 members of the enemy team does not seem so unrealistic by any means and it even serves to increase the maximum range of Flashbang for what little it matters, the base range is already more than good enough for Cal’s effective range and mobility.

  • Rangefinder - Having said that, it’s probably easy to tell that I think that this talent serves absolutely no purpose. Cal doesn’t need it and Flashbang is already quite generous with it’s reach.

###Level 10:

  • Tuned Actuation - Pretty handy augment. It really throws away the telegraphing of Aerial Assault and makes it easier to escape with, as well as reduces the cooldown. It’s just an all around handy boost to the ult that I couldn’t do without.

  • Aerial Barrage - The damage boost is actually pretty significant when you compare the bonus flat damage to the ult’s normal flat damage, but this skill just doesn’t work out at the boost is very minor when it’s over 2 seconds and it delays the descent of your Assault. It makes an ult which is practically unavoidable, unavoidable.

  • Ground Zeroed - I’m not even sure what do think of this one. Caldarius doesn’t need conditional cc, why would he want to knock people away from him? The small delay on landing tends to lead me to using Aerial Assault to snipe anyway and if I didn’t I wouldn’t want opponents to have a decent gap from me as I wait to regain control of my character.

##Closing Thoughts, Augments I’d Like To See

Caldarius has a lot of weird stuff sitting in his kit and he doesn’t really get a huge amount of oomph every level. I’m not entirely sure how to fix them, but here are a couple of augments I’d really appreciate on him:

  • In most cinematics, you see Cal flying about no problem, rivalling Benedict even, but in gameplay he feels pretty grounded. I think a mobility augment that would both be appreciated as an option and would capture the feel of what it is to be a shock trooper would be one that improves the control of Gravitic Burst so that you can fly in any direction rather than just turn left and right. This would give Cal some verticality to climb up places other characters can go without a jetpack or blowing their ults, without giving him sustained flight that would step on Ben’s toes.

  • Cal is somewhat about his versatility with his TMP and Energy Blade, so I think a nice damage talent to play around with would be like Zer0’s Be Like Water from Borderlands 2, improving gun damage after melee attacks and melee damage after shooting. It’s tricky to picture how it would work, but I imagined making it grant a 2 second damage boost with a short internal cooldown.

Hope this review is helpful. Will be interested in hearing what everybody else thinks.

2 Likes

This is damn good… unfortunately I didn’t get to play Caldarius as much in the Beta, I was too busy trying other characters =<

Whenever I played Cal, I actually tended to go for pretty much every aggressive upgrade for Burst, especially Anomaly at level 6. Maybe it wasn’t an accurate representation because of the somewhat flawed matchmaking system, but I found that I could typically secure a kill on someone squishy at level 2 with Zealous Frenzy’s dps boost most of the time, and then just run around the map getting kills, shards, and xp, and to keep the gravy train rolling would take more aggressive Grav Burst upgrades. Plus, his jetpack with the lateral upgrade lets you juke and kite so well that I found it to be pretty safe to dash in with Burst.

In terms of Cal’s flight, even though he feels grounded he’s definitely one of the most mobile characters, but it’s not made pretty by a bunch of light airy jumps. I feel what you’re saying in terms of gameplay sometimes, but jumping around and getting that kinda rough feel with his jumps makes him feel like the giant heavy suit of armor that he is, and I thought it was actually pretty cool (especially compared to the CTT’s version of his passive).

Caldarius was immensely fun for me I played as him the most out of any character and I even completed all of the lore challenges. Unfortunately I did not get to raise him to rank 15 due to the fact that I had so much work.

I will say this here but caldarius is a skil dmg based character most the dmg will come in the form of burst using his skill his tmp and energy blade are to be weaved in. Any way there two ways you can play caldarius you can play him like a melee burst assasssin sence he can use his ultimate more frequently then others. or you can use him as a mid range skirmisher with emphasis on high mobility and using his TMP to hit weakpoints. Also on Microfusion Cell yes cals reload is fast but if you unload more critical head shots on a target its more dmg 8 more rounds allows you to get more dmg in before reloading 24 crit shots is better then say 19 crit shots before a reload just saying Microfusion Cell is a direct dmg boost for the TMP.

Thanks man, was wondering what you’d think with all of the tier assessments you’ve made. I was glad you put Cal in B tier by the way, most people just seem to want him lower but as much as I’d like him to have useful augments with a bit of a spike every level like other characters, Cal’s the kind of character that the more you play him, the higher up the list you place him. His mobility can’t be ignored. I actually wonder if Gearbox could put a short cooldown on his passive with an augment to allow you to spam it, then add a fair bit of power to him elsewhere, particularly in damage talents (one of the easier ones to pick would share a tier with the passive spam augment). I’d really miss being able to spam dashes all game, though. Hard to imagine him without it.

I’m just a little cautious with them because of it being his main escape skill, but you’re definitely right in that his passive gives him some breathing room to go aggressive with Burst. Anomaly I was excited to try because slows are potent, but for one reason or another it just didn’t feel like it did much. People tend to run from me as Cal and, well, it just never works for them. :smile:

It feels awesome, right? It’s like a mini Burst, so good for escaping and chasing.

I’m actually happy jumping all the time and spamming his passive, he’s constantly floating which is cool, I’m just talking about his ability to reach high places really. In cinematics, Cal is flying around all the time, height is no matter, but in game there are characters that can just propel themselves up to places (even Mellka, ISIC, Thorn can) that Cal would have to burn his ult to reach. That, and I want to use Burst while fighting in a lane on Meltdown and escape by flying up onto the bridge :stuck_out_tongue:

See, the more I think about it the more I wonder if Microfusion Cell is a good pick up. It doesn’t actually improve Cal’s DPS until you hit the point where you’d reload without the augment, you can still crit either way, but he does use up his magazine so quickly that it might be a substantial boost. It’s just how fast he reloads that lowers the boost.

I am just really interested in how much time the Dev team have to analyze Beta Users helix choices for all of the characters and look to making adjustments before they release the game. They only have a couple of days.

We know they can look at which helix choices people are making and from there they can probably see where tweaks could be made in order to make more compelling choices for each tier. The thing is, there are 25 characters who need to be looked at, so that’s a lot of time delving into these helix options.

Sure, they can obviously make adjustments once the game is released…but I’m curious about what sort of tweaks we might see in a couple of days.

I also just want to say that they did a great job on making the characters ‘feel’ different when it comes to movement. I mained Orendi till I unlocked Caldarius…then spent the rest of the Beta trying to figure out how to be successful with him. I was surprised when I first played him at how…clunky…he felt in his movements as opposed to Orendi. And I think that clunkiness was due to the Devs trying to make his movements feel as if he was in a power-suit with a jetpack.
Fantastic mobility, but a completely different feel to it when compared to another fast mobile character in Orendi.

I spent most of the Beta working to make Burst my engage, DPS with melee, then dis-engage. I had mixed results with this method. I think in a few days I’ll look to see about using Burst as the disengage more often to see if that gels with me a bit more.