FL4K is Not a Beastmaster (long rant)

I have around 35 hours on FL4K and I’m about to pack it in. While I’ve greatly enjoyed the raw power of his crit builds, it’s a lot less enjoyable once the novelty of instant boss farming wears off. I signed up to play a beastmaster and, even though that’s what he’s called, that’s not what he is.

Once you reach endgame, there’s no point in building around pets. FL4K has an entire tree, the one most iconic to his character, that is pure garbage. Dominate is easily his worst capstone and possibly the worst in the entire game. Melee range, short duration, long CD, can’t shoot your target or even see their health bar. It’s not even worth the damage you take getting in range to use it.

His pets themselves are also underwhelming. Jabber pets have more issues with AI than a Stanley Kubrick fan. The barrel tossing was cute at first, but the fact that they decide when to do it at random and will prioritize it above everything else – to the point that they will stop shooting a target in the middle of a fight to wander away and slow walk back with it – utterly kills their DPS and makes them very hard to manage.

This is before considering their issues with weapon swap and reload animation times. The Gunslinger jabber pet can actually put out some pretty sick DPS when mobbing, but you have to stop everything to coordinate it. You never know when he’ll ignore an Attack Command or waste several seconds running in circles before using it.

On top of this, Gamma Burst completely destroys a jabber pet’s ability to function. They put their weapon away and go bare-fisted melee for the duration, once again dropping their damage output to the floor. They’ll still pull out their weapon for Attack Command, but once it’s over it’s back to melee. The signature pet-buffing ability should not be nerfing my pets, especially when the Gunslinger/Gamma Burst combo would mathematically be the highest pet DPS achievable otherwise.

Skags and spiderants just don’t do enough damage, period. None of the pets do, but at least a jabber with Frenzy and an SMG can put out some semi-respectable DoT. The melee pets are more responsive to commands, which is nice, but their slow attack speeds and mediocre damage per hit wipe out any benefits gained by the simpler AI.

The only thing the Master tree offers above crit builds is a truly ridiculous amount of health regeneration and damage soaking potential. While that’s cool, the idea of bulldozing stuff alongside my pet is why I like beastmaster characters, it basically turns FL4K into a Nurse Maya without any of the damage or control.

Pets can’t be counted on to hold aggro because they get no taunts or aggro management tools, aside from Not My Circus, an action skill augment for Fade Away (why is this here?) and Galactic Shadow, which says “enemies are less likely to attack” FL4K and is 20 points deep into the Hunter tree.

Which brings me to my next complaint: why are FL4K’s pet buffs scattered throughout all the trees? Why is the only pet taunt ability an augment for Fade Away? Why do I need 8 points in Stalker just to give my pet any kind of passive health regen? Why is my pet’s rez ability gated even further down the Stalker tree?

If a new player joins the game and they want to build around their pet, you would think they should invest first in the tree that’s based on buffing pets. And you would be wrong, because the biggest early boost to pet survivability comes from FL4K’s burst damage tree.

On the subject of pet survivability, though: FL4K’s pets need some kind of defense against AoE. They are too easily knocked out by splash damage effects that they have no way of avoiding. Pets quickly become liabilities in boss fights and against mobs that spam explosions and elemental effects. There is literally zero defense against this, as you can’t manually command your pet to relocate and their one defensive ability, Mutated Defenses, doesn’t kick until they’re already at low health. It does nothing for burst damage.

Finally, pets will always be a joke until they move beyond flat scaling. Pet damage and health scales with level and talents, that’s it. Aside from a class mod that furthers boosts those talents, there is no way to increase their performance to keep pace with endgame. While everyone else is getting better guns and gear, FL4K’s pets will stay the same.

That’s my rant, thanks for reading it. While I doubt I’ll quit the game over this, it’s definitely starting to feel like my days on the robo hobo are numbered.

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Its honestly nice to see someone adress this issue. Most arguments I see against it try to say his pets are just for utility and distraction, which really defeats the purpose of a “Beastmaster” class. Why give the option to put points into a tree that will buff the stats and damage of a pet when its still gonna stay mediocre and barely noticeable? An actual beastmaster should have a pet that can hold its own and destroy enemies just as quickly as he himself can so long as your building around the pet. But the way it is now, the scaling is so low that a proper pet build just isnt possible. I even use a legendary class mod that gives the pet an additional 20% damage and its still crud which is really sad.

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10/10 post, would read again. This post literally summarizes every single concern and complaint I have with Fl4k. You also provided constructive solutions which I also agree with.

I know we’ve both posted in a few other threads so I’ll try to avoid redundancy in my responses, but thanks for posting this. Also, “robo hobo” got me.

I’ve packed it in already. Still loving the game, but I’m not sure what to play. I even resorted to Zane as an alternative pet class; that’s desperation right there, because it doesn’t really work. The digi-clone is my turret and the drone is, welp, basically a Fl4k pet with terrible pathing, bad aim, and abandonment issues. Seriously, the thing will not fly more than 5 feet from me before having a panic attack and gravitating backwards.

Dominate sucks for reasons you described, but my biggest issue is the melee component. At least make it some sort of long-range mind control dart that I can use to control the field without being, you know, inside the field.

I’m not a huge fan of the pets themselves either, but to add to what you’ve already said, it seems like the Master tree really wants you to use the Skag. For the stronger/diverse variants of any of the pets you gotta go pretty deep into the other trees. I found myself constantly conflicted “wasting” points trying to dig deep enough for that pet upgrade. Making a powerful Gamma Jabber with points where I really wanted them gave me that uneasy feeling that I was forcing the hell out of an unintended build design. Also on the barrel thing - yeah it’s grating, but also hilarious (is that the right word) when he grabs a barrel and runs in front of the line of fire, blowing up two of my teammates. Dude, leave the barrels alone, you’re just getting us killed.

The health skills are misplaced, for sure. Stalker is literally mandatory to pair with the Master tree, and those 8 points to even keep the pet alive (mine died constantly in the first 20 levels or so) is insane to me. Why isn’t the first tier of the Master tree literally “Damage, Health, Utility” instead of the current “Damage, Fl4k Damage/Duration, Arguably Useless First Attack Damage.”

The lack of aggro was a huge surprise to me. When I think of a pet class, I think of every RPG/MMO in existence where the expectation is that your pet is not just a DoT in the background, but your bro, your good boi (your good bro?). Even in the cinematic intro you have Fl4k busting into the bar, and telling his pet to go rip something in half. Although if that cinematic was accurate to gameplay, the mob would do a backflip over the skag and bull rush your way. I don’t mind any developer reinventing the wheel to an extent, but if the pet provides almost no protection from the player, then it might as well be a fire dot. When I’m distracted/bored, I’ll throw gamma out in the middle of a red-infested field and hide behind a wall to see what the pet can do. Sometimes it works, but most of the time, even the sniper six miles away will ignore my pet and try to take me out. Mobs don’t care about pets, period. If they don’t aggro by default, fine, but somewhere in the master tree you should be able to make your pet a TANK.

Great points on scaling. Especially with some of the legendary weapons. In TVHM on Mayhem 1 I built an experimental pet build where I basically went out of my way to give Fl4k almost zero buffs or passives. I put everything I could into my pet’s performance. I dropped gamma, had the pet charge in, and it couldn’t even compete with the mob’s shield bot hovering around. I slipped around the corner and emptied one full clip into the mob. Dead. What the hell kind of pet class is that, exactly?

Anyways, nice work on the post and hopefully this gets some attention. I’m sure it’s being read and such and I’m trying very hard not to get irritated because this game has an amazing foundation but I’m already bored trying to force something to work that clearly can’t by design.

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Solidarity.

On the topic of aggro, you’re dead on. A case might be made for Fl4k’s pets to have weak damage output if they were badass meatshields, but they’re not. It takes a tremendous talent point investment just to keep their health stabilized under heavy fire and, as you observed, enemies often ignore them with almost comical degrees of impunity.

Regarding replacements… yeah. I tried Zane, too. Not adequate. Fl4k is unique in being the first character in the series with a permanent pet, Zane’s toys just… don’t come close. My next pick will be Amara or Moze, someone with a little beef in their toolkit that lets me recreate the stampeding feel I was hoping to find on Fl4k.

Your anecdotes about pet damage experiments mirror my own. They do nothing. The bit about the jabber blowing up your friends was pretty funny, though. :slight_smile:

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All of the points made make sense. However after playing with another Fl4k in the group I made an observation that makes me think a couple tweaks not mentioned yet are needed.

  1. Only Fl4k is able to revive their pet. My opinion is that as it is always out, that makes it a constant companion/npc for the whole group. So anybody should be able to revive the pet if desired.

  2. The pet doesn’t seem to revive anybody, and only revives Fl4k if you spec into Lick the Wounds. So my suggestion would be to make Lick the Wounds more useful by modifying it. So it gives the pet the ability to revive Fl4k and their allies, with Fl4k’s revival of course being coded to be first priority since it’s their pet companion.

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I absolutely love that idea

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Solid stuff, thanks for sharing.

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Well said

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I’d never expect the pet to be able to do most of the work in a Borderlands game. It’s not like most MMOs where the differences between two weapons is almost strictly in the stats they give, each weapon type, manufacturer, and legendary gimmick is a significant change to how the gameplay is approached. It’s just not really in the design philosophy to make a pet and pet class so good it invalidates guns.

On the other hand I agree with everything said here. There’s a lot of missed opportunity in the pets and questionable design choices. I consider the Rakks more contribution towards the Beastmaster title than the Master tree.

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Well, borderlands is a shooter, not a beast master game. The powers you have are suppose to be in support of your character…not an additional character. Making your pets more powerful takes away from the game being a shooter and takes you in the direction of an mmorpg.

I agree some things can and need to be addressed with Fl4k and his pets, but they serve their purpose.

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Hi there, thanks for responding. I have some friends who would also like to say hi, their names are Mordecai, Gaige, Wilhelm, and Timothy.

While pets have always had limitations, mostly when it comes to endgame healthsponge boss fights, these characters all had pets that could clear entire rooms for them on even the highest difficulties.

It took work, you had to build and gear right, and you had to know how to micromanage (Bloodwing’s max range, getting stuck on environments; exploiting synergies for max pet damage with Gaige; painting and freezing targets for max Wolf damage on Wilhelm; managing Badass Digi-Jack placement and lifespan with Timothy)them, but it could be done.

The complaint in this thread is not that Fl4k’s pets are incapable of effortlessly steamrolling everything, but that they’re not really capable of anything. They underperform compared to every single other pet class in the series, except maybe Axton, but even his turrets are more reliable than Fl4k’s pets.

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I just started as Fl4k with my second character. Granted I’m only lvl 16 but have had a similar experience as I did when I played as mordecai.

Bloodwing was a bit overpowered just like Lilith and her phasewalk. My experience so far is that Fl4k’s pets have been similar to Amara’s action skills in as far as being a support to my playthrough. I don’t expect them to destroy a room full of enemies, but rather assist me in doing that. And to this point, they have.

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I listed three other classes capable of doing real damage with their pets and at least one from each major installment in the series. Literally every game before this has had at least one (two, in the case of TPS)class that summoned a pet which could make a real contribution to the battlefield.

If you’re happy with Fl4k’s pets being little passive helpers, that’s fine. There’s a reason he has three different trees. It’s great that he has a range of playstyles.

One of those three trees is devoted exclusively to buffing his pets, however. One of his three action skills is based entirely around his pet. Fl4k has been designed and advertised as a master of pets. The bare bones of the structure are there, it’s just all a mess that needs to be reworked in order for it to fulfill its purpose.

Keep at it. Try a Master build at endgame. Let me know how you feel it relates in power to the Hunter and Stalker trees. It’s not a bit behind, it’s completely nonfunctional.

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“Hi im Fl4k the beastmaster. I offer something new to this game, a pet based class! I have a nice array of pets to choose from, each does something different, sounds fun huh? I even have an entire skill tree based around improving your little companion to make them stronger, offering the illusion that you can make a pet based build. But unfortunately the scaling of my pets is so bad that all the points you spend buffing the damage of your little critter are a waste and once that late game hits it becomes nothing more than a glorified bullet sponge with that can barely hold aggro and struggles to kill something as meager as a pup skag, forcing you to change your build to be like all the rest!” Nailed it

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Pet builds will always be underwhelming or broken when it comes to DPS, rarely you can find anything in between just because of the way they work. Which is why I will always maintain pet builds need to excel greatly in some sort of other utility, so I can agree with most of what you say. If they are useless then they need to be fixed. I have only been running his crit build from the get go so I haven’t dabbled with anything else. I believe that Gearbox will make the proper buff and nerfs once they have had enough time to gauge balance issues.

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BL2 had no pet classes. You can’t count Axton’s turrets as pets… That’s ridiculous. Might as well count Maya’s phaselock as a pet then. That, and 2k Australia was behind TPS, not Gearbox. I have only played a few hours of that game and quit because it never felt like a true bl game.

???
That is not true at all. Gaige was most certainly a pet class. She had several buffs for DT, entire builds based around DT even.

Also, I strongly suggest you play TPS for the sake of your own argument. Wilhelm and Timothy were tremendous steps forward in terms of pet design for the series. Wolf introduced priority enemy targeting mechanics and had far simpler ways to scale damage than DT. The digi-jacks were GB’s first attempt at pet evolutions, which they nailed since the Badasses did 2X the damage of normal Jacks. They also had numerous ways to scale damage with time, elemental modifications, and various conditional bonuses. Most importantly, the Jacks could scale some of their melee damage of your shield, making it so they had ways to scale with your gear as well.

There is an existing blueprint for ways to improve the general performance of FL4K’s pets. Have a secondary modifier that scales pets off of average item score, let their radiation DOTs from Gammaburst stack with yours, add an annointed effect that provides pets with bonus elemental damage after action skill activation so that pets other than the spiderants can access elemental multipliers.

I haven’t gotten very far in the game yet (level 21) but I’ve put hundreds of hours into TPS, mostly on Tim and Wilhelm. I know what good design for pet classes is, and I know GB can design those classes. For some reason, even where I’m at in the game right now, it doesn’t feel like the pets are where they are supposed to be. They aren’t tanky without a lot of investment even this early on (I have self repairing system and BFFs, since I’m finding that WRW isn’t as effective at keeping the pet healthy for some reason), and they don’t do a ton of damage without Gammaburst (which is fair, if they’re out 24/7 they shouldn’t be super tanky and do damage without an action skill).

Can someone actually post video of a pet build at endgame? Wherever you’re at (TVHM, Mayhem 1-3, level 40 or 50, whatever), just some way to have a frame of reference. I don’t expect everything to be as powerful as crit FL4K, and I know I need to invest more points into the pets to get them up to par, but I also can see how pet builds fall of since most pets can’t even take elements.

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Well, if we’re getting down to what a beast master class is, then Fl4k is the first, since he has multiple pets. However, the argument still stands that any action skill is an asset to your playthrough, not a substitute for a co-op player. I do agree that some tweaking needs to be done, and some who have posted here have great ideas… However, you can’t let the focus of action skills take away from the fact that this is a fps and not a role playing game. If you can beat the game in TVHM, and in mayhem, then what really is the issue? There will be things that need to be ironed out, but that’s to be expected with a new game. I just get the feeling that many players want a really powerful pet to act like a second player. Just my opinion so far… And it could very well change once I level up my Fl4k.

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I planned on making a video at some point just to show that its really underpowered, but haven’t really gotten down to it just yet. If I do ill let you know though

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Ill say this, im an avid lover of pet based classes, ive played them like crazy through many different games. When I see something dubbed as a beastmaster, I expect a class with a pet that can kill enemies as fast as its master, both of them being able to be a strong force when built around the pet, rather than just having a pet to do all the work. An actual beastmaster’s pet should be able to not only hold its own, but kill things decently quick too when you have your build based around it, but that just isn’t the case in this. I took and timed how long it takes for him to kill something as weak as pup skags, one of the weakest enemies in the game. It literally took him almost two minutes to take out three of them, and honestly that really is an issue. All that needs to be done is changing the scaling of Fl4k’s pet to scale up better so that a pet build is actually viable and so you are not forced to have to go the way of crits to be of any use to your team

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