Beginners guide to Axton
Skills: synergy and specs
Early skills synergy
Axton has skills that synergyze pretty well across his trees so it is wise to get some key skills instead of going straight to the capstones.
The first skills to look for are Impact, Metal Storm and Ready. With them, Axton can make any gun work as they got their basic aspects boosted: damage, fire rate and reload speed. Also, the recoil reduction can make the handle of some manufacturers easy.
The second step is to make your Action Skill, the Sabre Turret 2.0, a trait. The early skills that allow the Turret to shine are Sentry, Scorched Earth and, as an option, Longbow. Sentry and especially Scorched Earth increase your Turret DPS by adding more shots to the burst, more up time to the Turret and the ability to shot rocket pods in every burst. With them, your AS is going to kill enemies by its own, granting you kill skills and occasionally second winds. As an option we got Longbow, which allows you to deploy your Turret further away from you and give more health to it. With Longbow, you can let your Turret clear camps alone while you progress through the map or even place it where you couldn’t before.
Note that going straight to the capstone makes you miss most of Axton skills synergy, so spec into these first basic skills before choosing where you are going to spend your next points. This is going to make the game a lot easier, keep it in mind.
By the end of the main storyline, your spec should look like this:
Note that we usually end the main storyline at level 30 and this spec stops at level 27. The last few points can be spent in Preparation, which is going to help with health regen between engagements - you can even spec one or two points in it before starting to spec the skills listed above. Keep it in mind, as new players can really benefit from it and get an easier play through.
Now it is time to start the True Vault Hunter Mode and build your spec further.
As a tip, do all the sidequests to get extra XP and unique gear that will help you play through the game.
Mid game synergy and specs
Reaching True Vault Hunter Mode is the time to choose our patch between a Turret focused Engineer, an Explosive Master or a Balanced Soldier. Let’ talk about them.
This spec is focused in putting your Turret out faster and keeping it alive longer. Battlefront is an amazing skill and one of Axton best boosts, so having it up as often as possible is the Engineer main point - especially if it get boosted by a COM.
Also, this setup provides good survivability capabilities with Preparation, Pressure and Quick Charge.
Note that Quick Charge is situational, as low capacity shields won’t benefit this much from it. Feel free to swap it for Healthy, if you want to stack health with an Adaptive shield or Forbearance if you want that DoT to wash off fast when wearing Tediore fast shields. Also, Last Ditch Effort is a good tool to get out of Fight for your Life easier.
The next skill to look at in this specific setup is the capstone Gemini, as it doubles your Turret DPS and synergizes with all the others Turret focused skills you already spec’d. Also, Mag-Lock is a good utility tool for your Turret if you can deploy it correctly.
The main drawback in this setup is the lack of damage when Battlefront and your Turret are down.
This spec is focused in one of Axton specialities: explosive damage. Be it with grenades, Torgue weaponry or Tediore reloads, Axton can take splash damage to the next level of power and efficiency.
This is mainly due to his Gunpowder tree, with skills boosting grenade damage - what affects some guns splash damage too. Steady, Battlefront and Do or Die can add together up to 65% grenade damage bonus without being boosted, on top of the gun damage skills that also boost the splash damage. This is especially effective with Torgue guns, that can have up to 85% damage added as splash.
On top of it, Grenadier adds up to 5 grenades to Axton pool, making spam it easier and more effective.
The next skill to look for is Double Up, which is already knocking your door. Allowing your Turret to slag for you is amazing, turning it in a great utility tool - especially in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode, where the slag debuff has a higher multiplier.
The main drawback in this setup is the lack of survivability. Without points in Survival, you won’t be able to hold your ground if being hit hard. You can make up for it specing Able or Willing, but won’t be enough. Do or Die is an amazing skill to help you get second winds, though.
The soldier is Axton well rounded setup. It gives you survivability through Willing, Preparation and Pressure and, at the same time, increases your damage output with Onslaught. Also, Battlefront is a nice boost while the Turret is up.
This is a solid spec with no really drawback but being a little away from his capstones.
Your next step should be getting to Double Up, as it is the nearest capstone and its utility is going to be unvaluable in Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode.
End game specs
There are basically two basic specs when you reach the level cap, one about explosions and the other being solid for every aspect of the game.
The 26/15/26 a.k.a Double Up/Gemini
This is Axton all around spec for the end game. With no real speciality, it can perform well in mobbing or raiding scenarios, solo or co-op play.
This spec is solid with basically every one of the gazillion guns this game has to offer. The shield skills allow you to use any kind of shield too, from nova to turtle.
Also, the Turret is fully upgraded with both capstones, supporting you with both utility and damage output, being Phalanx Shield and Mag-Lock both optional utility tools.
Note that, if you feel going down often, Crisis Management and Last Ditch Effort can be good options instead of Quick Charge and Grenadier.
Also, Grenadier isn’t really necessary if your grenade slot is used for utility, like as a slag tool or singularity/transfusions grenades. That being said, Able is an excellent option to go down the tree, granting you even more survivability and chance to proc Grit.
The Generic Torguemando
This spec focus in dealing damage with explosives and, different from the mid game spec, doesn’t suffer for the lack of survivability.
Preparation, Willing and Pressure help with keeping your shield fully charged while you wreck the battlefield with explosions.
Also, Resourceful helps with keeping Battlefront up more often, increasing your damage output.
The only drawback, in my opinion, is the lack of Grit. But, again, Do or Die is an amazing get out of Fight for your Life tool.
Gear: gimmicks and how they work.
Borderlands 2 guns are built around gimmicks - different effects each manufacturer have. Let’s talk about how they synergize with Axton skillset and when they are best used.
Dahl weapons are stable, accurate, fast and effective. Their burst fire gimmick is useful to hit crit spots quickly, saving some ammo. Even without any specific synergy with Axton skillset they can be effectively used from normal to Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode. Just remember that their sniper rifles are best used as long range assault rifles, what is good as Axton has no one shot potential.
Dahl is also responsible for Booster type shields and Bouncing Betty grenades. Both of them are solid picks before you get top tier gear: Booster shields can spawn with elemental immunities and Bouncing Betties are good AoE grenades, especially against slow moving targets like bots. Also, the boosts provide great utility for teamplay.
I GOT ONE QUESTION, AND ONE QUESTION ONLY: EXPLOSIONS?
Torgue guns fire slow moving Explosive gyrojets with up to 85% extra damage added as splash. They hit hard and are effective against all types of health bars - not counting shields, but you won’t notice the difference.
The downside of Torgue guns is their sluggish reload speed and fire rate, both covered by Axton skillset due to Ready and Metal Storm. But what make they shine brighter in Axton hands is the splash, boosted by grenade damage. With Battlefront, Do or Die and Steady we get 65% extra damage added in the splash. Also, the splash is based in the gun damage so skills like Impact and Onslaught boosts your damage twice - up to 80% gun damage that also boosts the splash.
On top of it, Torgue MIRV grenades are among the best in the game. They can cover a large area with high damaging child grenades, cleaning groups easily.
Torgue also makes explosive nova and spike shields, good choices while leveling. Axton shield skills allow him to recharge fast the nova shield or keep the spike shield recharging even through damage, optimizing their special effect.
One more thing: DID YOU KNOW OVER 97% OF ALL CREATURES ON PANDORA AREN’T EXPLODING RIGHT NOW? THAT’S BULLSH*T! BUY TORGUE!
Vladof guns pack the highest fire rate of all Manufacturers, alongside a higher than normal mag size and recoil. Metal Storm is the skill you need to optimize the use of Vladof guns, as it helps you handle the recoil and boosts the fire rate even further - reaching the caps in some cases. Also, Axton gun damage boosting skills can cover the lower damage that Vladof guns have. While Vladof assault rifles are kinda lackluster when compared to the other manufacturers their pistols and sniper rifles are among the best in the game. Look for Droogs and Anarchists!
Vladof AoE grenades are the best of their type in the game, alongside Torgue MIRVs. They can come in all elements, last
Hyperion guns have the reverse recoil effect, which means they get more accurate the longer you hold down the fire button. This is a great way to score critical hits, which are made even better by Axton’s damage boosts. Skills like metal storm and ready can help improve there fire rate and reload speed. Their single barrel shotguns, called thinkings and vladof barrel pistols called synergys have the best balance of damage, ammo usage, and fire rate.
Jakobs guns sport an increased critical hit bonus, so Axton’s gun damage boosts amplify that even more. Their shotguns reload a lot, so ready is a mus have skill. Their pistols and assault rifles can be hard to handle recoil wise, so metal storm is good for them. Gatling guns and coach guns are their best offers without red text.
Axton can fix pretty much everything wrong with bandit guns. Ready for the slow reloads. Metal storm and other skills for fire rate and recoil reduction. Impact and other skills for base damage. Bandit smgs are good standard weapons boasting high magazine size, decent damage, and ok accuracy