FL4K is Not a Beastmaster (long rant)

I haven’t played this game since October 2019, last time I played FL4K’s Pets still boring/weak (Even after skill tree buff). So, right now after all these months, we can play with FL4K’s Pets like 50/50, I kill 50%, my pet kill another 50%, or still 80/20?

If not, why there’s no mod to change that? Actually, I can see no mod at all.

Mayhem 4 made it worse actually. You would be hard pressed to do 80/20 without some serious patience.

As for why it hasn’t been changed, who knows? I just get my fix somewhere else. Hopefully they get something with Mayhem 2.0 but I’m not holding my breath for it anymore .

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My guess would be that GBX is reticent to change Fl4k’s pet design because Fl4k is pretty powerful to begin with. You could argue that he outputs the most damage of any character in the game.

Unless the skill trees were drastically changed, you could make both FL4k AND his pets super powerful, and then that would be kind of unbalanced.

Not defending the bad design of failing to have the pets do enough damage to make them viable on their own at M4, just stating why I believe that GBX will not be able to address this without major, major redesigns of the Fl4k skill trees and/or pets.

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Not that I don’t understand your reasoning, but I find that thought process strange. After all, how many skills did it really take to make DT a murderbot capable of soloing lvl 80 OP10 bosses, maybe 1 or two skills? It only took 3 skills to make Jack’s pets a powerhouse with him. Yet FL4K, who has 13 skills devoted to pet damage, would need major redesigns to not be OP?

Until this game, Gearbox has never had a problem balancing pet classes with their base class. Heck, Jack was extremely powerful going full pet or full gun and everything in between, and is celebrated as one of the best characters in the franchise. There is no reason Gearbox needs to be worried about balancing both FL4K and the pets. Dare I say, their seeming obsession with balance is the very thing that is ruining FL4K’s pets, since they are designed from the outset to be terrible. You can only polish a turd so much.

Considering how terrible the passives are without BY, how little damage damage they can take outside of Gamma Burst, and how little damage they do ever, I don’t see why they would be concerned about these pets making FL4K too good. Both of them being good are what would make FL4K balanced. As of right now their is no choice in building for pets.

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Let me clarify what I meant: as a player, you should have to make some sacrifices when spec’ing your character. You don’t get to have Fl4k do all the damage AND have his pets do all the damage too. As the skill tree presently is designed, you could spec Fl4k in that manner.

You used Jack from TPS as an example, and I think that is a good one. Maybe everyone didn’t play Jack this way, but I found myself having to choose whether I wanted Jack doing the damage, and the clones basically being little more than a facilitator of kill skills, or whether I wanted the clones to do the damage, and reducing Jack’s damage. That was the way the skill tree worked - or at least that was my assessment of it. Maybe that was not the way some people did it, I don’t know.

But at this point, ALL 3 of Fl4k’s skill trees have some significant pet damage or survivability boostIng skills in them. The balance is delicate - if they boost pet damage skills too much, Fl4k (and his pets) likely would be too powerful if the skill tree stays as is, because players wouldn’t even need to change their current skill point allocations to take advantage of the additional pet damage. Players would just get it, essentially. Fl4k already is pretty OP generally, I think.

And maybe that is the way you would prefer it to be done, which is fine. I just believe that with a pet class character you should be able to min/max spec for either pet damage or character damage, but not be able to max both. Without a major skill tree change, I don’t think players would be forced into “minning” (as in “minning” and “maxing”) any of Fl4k’s own damage skills to take advantage of the additional pet damage.

Does that make more sense?

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Exactly, because FL4K is designed as a Beastmaster, someone whose pack grows in power with them. To have them be searate and need to choose between building up one or the other defeats the purpose of being a pack leader.

I never saw that at all. You only need 3 skills for the Jacks to do obscene damage (Bolster, TTF, and PtR), and even at lvl 50 cap you could get those 3 skills and still get Leadership. All of the pet classes worked that way: there were 1 or 2 skills that basically made the entire build, and then you just filled in the rest with goodies for you.

  1. Gaige - SiC and Upshot robot. Since almost all of Gaige’s gun damage was tied to Anarchy, you only needed to get that and go down to Discord, and you would have a powerful duo with no sacrifice at all.
  2. Mordecai - Bird of Prey, most of the other skills were just cooldown IIRC. Otherwise you could pick up any of the other damage buffs and still have a decent Bloodwing that dazed and debuffed.
  3. Wilhelm - Laser Guided. You didn’t even really need Rolling Thunder. And since it was Wilhelm’s biggest damage boost too, you would always get it anyway so you didn’t sacrifice anything.

It sounds good on paper, but for the most part since BL2 (I can’t remember 50 cap BL1) even without lvl cap increases, you didn’t need to choose between you or your pet. You could build a high damage pet class and still invest into the damage of your own character.

That’s what happened with the November 21st patch. Crit builds were the biggest benefactors of the pet damage buffs since they got an extra 130% damage when they previously had 0. No one noticed, no one cared. It was way too low to matter.

Gearbox could boost all of the damage skills of the pet by 3 or 4, it still wouldn’t be OP. They just do that little.

But there are different archetypes of pet class. If FL4K was a necromancer or an engineer I’d see your point on this, but FL4K is a Beastermaster. FL4K is the first character in the series to have a permanent companion by their side. They have a lifelong bond. They live together, sleep together, and hunt together. They help each other out. It doesn’t make sense to prioritize one over the other when their power is in their connection to each other.

Besides that, in Borderlands it’s never been an issue maximizing both, because the amount of skills and gear you needed to max out the pet was fairly low. The most you had to do most of the time was equip a roid shield. In this game, where the means to have to invest in our pet are limited to skill points alone, and we have over a dozen skills to do so, it’s already more of a challenge to maximize their damage. I’d suggest taking a look at this post Fl4k Critter Lab to see what you have to do to get max damage. Everything is either on the Hunter skill timers or conditional on having full health AND timers.

Maximizing FL4K’s pets is far more about skilled game play than spec, and as of right now and even with substantial buffs the amount of juggling required it is still too little for what you have to do. The numbers say one thing, but it doesn’t translate into the game. Gearbox would need to give the pets a Lob level buff just for them to be on par with previous pets.

Right, but imagine if they DID boost pet damage enough to matter with the existing design of the Fl4k skill tree? What if they boosted/buffed pet damage and/or survivability enough within the existing skill tree?

My point was that Fl4k is already super powerful, just by theirself (not sure of the correct pronoun there), with the existing skill tree design. Buffing pet damage enough to make the pets powerful enough to kill things by themselves, and also having Fl4k be able to do a crapton of damage, seems like it might be too much of a boost to an already really powerful character. As it presently stands, most of the same skills that boost Fl4k’s damage, also have pet damage boosts in them. Maybe that is the way it should be though? I don’t know.

I understand 100% the thematic things you are saying. Honestly though - and this probably is my own personal bias coming in - I never had any interest in Fl4k as a pet class “beastmaster.” I started drooling from moment one that I saw all the crit damage and gun damage buffs in Fl4k’s red and green trees. So maybe the pet damage issue does not bother me as much as it does some players.

Some of this feels like the same arguments that were being had about Axton and his turret when UVHM came out (i.e., the turret is useless, etc.). I view Fl4k’s pets more for their utility and as an accessory to Fl4k’s damage more than anything else. My personal way I like to play, I guess.

Don’t get me wrong - I agree that pet class lovers should be able to play Fl4k that way too, even though I don’t personally like to play that way. For example, I would 100% be on board with them adding another skill tree that dealt exclusively with enabling the pets to do most of the damage. I just feel like if you want the pets to do a bunch of damage, Fl4k shouldn’t be able to do as much.

But 100% yes, I do understand your point that the pets doing a lot of damage isn’t even theoretically possible at this point. But what if they buff pet damage to scale for Lvl 53, and then add 20 more skill points, and that makes the pets totally ridiculous in combination with Fl4k’s own damage skills? Maybe you are correct and that is the way it could/should be.

Except Axton’s turret had 0 direct damage increases (no Turret deals X% more damage), while the buffs for M4 were more than 8 new damage skills for the pet, and no changes to survivability, or the passive buffs. Gearbox must have some intention of FL4K’s pets doing damage, or else they would have added more utility instead of solely damage.

It wouldn’t, and it hasn’t with any of the other pet classes.

Pets are a stupid AI, not another player. It doesn’t matter how good they look on paper, what matters is their performance in the field. FL4K’s pet are

  1. Super slow
  2. Most are melee only
  3. Have no homing attacks
  4. Can’t fly or go through walls
  5. Have little to no AOE
  6. Have different ranges for different attacks, meaning they need to make decisions, which takes time
  7. You have very little control over where they go or what they attack
  8. They don’t listen to you

Think about it this way. Badass Jacks did 350K damage out the gate w/out Bolster, one-shotting most trash enemies with no further effort required. Sounds OP until you realize they were completely stationary, had slower aim than a player, much lower rate of fire, less range, and just overall had far lower DPS than a player. Wolf and the Digi-Jacks did everything FL4K’s pets can do, but still brought the hurt, and with those, Wilhelm was still thought to be the weakest of the TPS cast and Jack was still thought to be the first or second strongest for the digi-death build. What that tells me is that even though people are concerned about it, no one in game actually cares about how strong pets are. If they did, people would put far more stock in the fact that DT could solo the highest difficulty in BL2.

Unless we can summon several pets at once, the numbers we have no are way too small for a fully invested pet. In previous titles with full investment pets could one-shot trash easily, even on the highest difficulty. That is the bar FL4K’s pets need to reach. Anything less is an objective downgrade to what we had previously.

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FL4K is considerably far behind both Amara and Zane currently. I don’t think there is any argument that he outputs more damage than either of those two.

How about an Augment (tier 5 in the master tree, just right besides Burst Aid) that grants Fl4ks Pets all damage bonuses Fl4k gets while Gamma Burst is active? That way they would profit from over 200% additional damage. Alternatively that could also easily be an ability of a class mod. Or majorly buff “Endurance” instead so that it grants 25% additional pet damage (multiplicatively) per stack and there should be no stack limit, just a limit of additional Gamma Burst duration (say +30 seconds).

Additionally I would just straight up double the base damage of the pets and let their base damage scale with the difficulty (lets say the pets get half the bonus in damage that the enemies get in HP). That way they should end up with over 8 times their current base damage on Mayhem 4, before additional bonuses are even taken into account. That way no skills that increase pet damage become useless as they would just increase the higher base damage instead.

And last but not least: “Go for the eyes” needs a massive buff. Just let pets have a basic 100% critical damage multiplier like many guns have it. That 100% then gets increased by that 75% from GftE (or rather it should get multiplied by 1.75). An initial critical hit is cool, if it would do anything.

Edit: My guess is that Gearbox didn’t want to have the pets water down the loot aspects of the game, which is why I think that pets shouldn’t be absolute killer machines either, but with the 8 times base damage I suggested they would be at least useful, especially the Jabber, which already has the highest damage output by far. So yes, unless we get way better pet-related anointments or a general overhaul of how action skill entities (Zane’s clone and drone and Amara’s damaging action skills) and companions like Fl4ks pets scale, I don’t really see the situation of the pets getting much better as just general buffs to the pets could make the first playthrough of the game a snoozefest.

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That was an epic rant and everything you said is right on the money. The same can be said for Moze in respects to Iron Bear.

Then you and I will have to agree to disagree. I play Zane, Fl4k and Amara (I don’t know anything about Moze) and definitely would put Amara and Fl4k on the same level as far as burst damage output. The only reason Zane is even in the conversation is because he has more survivability, the Seein’ Dead COM, and sustained DPS. If Zane didn’t have Seein’ Dead, he is not even close to Fl4k or Amara.

All my opinions, of course.

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Which would make sense, if they didn’t do that exact thing in the previous 3 games. And if pets in this game weren’t seriously reliant on M4 exclusive debuff gear and limited time anointments to do damage.

If they’re going to rehash previous VH concepts, they can’t make them worse. No siree, that will not stand.

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Well said in rant, I have had that rant and many more like it in my head. Fl4k’s pets were CLEARLY not tested in endgame prior to release.

I would love to see Dominance completely reworked. Why would they use a melee augment on a character that is clearly meant to fight from a distance.

My version, When Fl4k kills an enemy, his pet gains 20% damage. When Fl4k’s pet kills an enemy, Fl4k gains 1% health regeneration. This effect can stack 10 times, stacks are quickly lost while downed.

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They didn’t. The pets and companions in other games all started doing decent damage, but in the end, from UVHM onwards, they became either aggro relief or utility tool at best. Axtons Turrets became Slagging Machines and barely did anything besides being distraction. Deathtrap and Timothy’s Holograms were the closest to being actual damage dealers, but both needed you to heavily decrease your own DPS and/or mobility to do so and they profited from your shields (they fit into the loot system). To counteract your own loss in damage, you had to get the best gear. Here Fl4k is already that much of a damage dealing monster that Gearbox wouldn’t need to counteract the pets being good, except for non-Gamma-Burst builds, which is why they probably should have made the Augments for Gamma Burst stronger.

They also could have given Fl4ks pets the option to wear their own shields. That way you could have given them roid shields to increase their damage output. Iron Bear is in a good spot by now, except the non-corrosive Railguns due to healing. In general, Moze needs another solid healing skill, but that’s a debate for another thread. Zane’s drone is a solid debuffer at least, but it’s damage is still lacking. His clone? I haven’t played that for at least 3 months, so I cannot really evaluate that. And Amara’s action skill damage should scale with the difficulty as well. As it is now there is no point in using her Action Skills for damage alone.

Nani??

Axton’s turret wasn’t really a “pet”, it didn’t have any direct damage increases so of course it fell off in UVHM. Roland’s turret was the same. I know I didn’t expect anything different there, the turret never felt like it was doing great damage even in TVHM.

DT didn’t require you to sacrifice Gaige’s damage. She only had 2 or 3 skills that really buffed up her damage, and if you weren’t doing a shock build you only needed one. Even at level 50 you could get SiC and get down to Discord with points to spare, so I don’t really see an issue there. Same with Jack, you would be investing in HotS for BFF, TTF, and the grenade skills anyway, and if you were doing nova spam the badasses did double nova damage so you would get them anyway. The only thing you missed was AA and Sponsored by, and at level 70 cap that wasn’t even an issue anymore, so you only missed the extra 40% chance for free shots and the COM bonuses. It lowered your potential DPS yes, but I’d hardly call it a “heavy decrease”. DT did need roid shields to perform at his best, but the digi-Jacks only needed roid to deal with bosses. For mobs and badasses, just Bolster was more than enough.

I just don’t see why it’s an issue for FL4K to have the damage they do now and have good damage pets. To make the most out of FL4K’s pets, you need:

  1. Gamma Burst to make them immortal and give them damage. You can use GB anoints only. No ASE shenanigans.
  2. Need to spec to BY to make the passives worthwhile. At base, even scorcher is eh, and Horned Skag is pretty insignificant too.

Half of any pet build’s damage, and pretty all of FL4K’s pet’s utility comes from the first 3 tiers of master. They are completely useless outside of investment in that tree. It’s not as if builds other than Gamma can benefit from better pets. Take away either part of that equation and the pets suck horribly. They can be OK without Gamma if you keep them alive with Friendbot, but otherwise their bonuses are wasted cuz’ they spend so much time eating dirt.

I’d love for them to just scale them with Mayhem, since it would solve the issue of them bulldozing the early game. However, since we can’t get any info on plans for character balance, I’m just keeping low expectations so I’m not disappointed if/when they don’t do it.

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i can confirm that fl4k is a beast and also the master of borderlands

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See, here is where my experience differs. I run straight green/red tree, and while my pet doesn’t really do any damage, it is also almost always alive with 5 points in SRS, 1 point in BFFs, and 3 points in TTAR. I have almost no issues with my pet staying alive with that point allocation, even on M4 (except with Wotan or when the pet falls a long way behind me, which is kind of dumb design to begin with, because the stupid pet should stay with Fl4k all the time - one of the reasons why attack command does not work that well, but that is a different topic).

So, reading all the posts, the answer is no, FL4K’s pets still weak.

Oh, the regret…

Spiderant is the only one you can do that with. Even 1 point in All My BFF’s can keep it alive in a mob of enemies in M4 without BY. But that’s 3 pets out of 9. Jabbers and skags absolutely get ganked, and of course you have to spec green, which isn’t always possible.