[Guide] Forceful Expression, Infusion and Sustainment - Details and Math

If Infusion does not count as weapon damage - does it not benefit from weapon damage buffs then? Or does it apply after the weapon damage buff has applied to the base damage - so it mathematically still benefits?

Based on the chart and FE calculations. It looks like you’d get a lot of mileage off of having a good Cryo weapon with your AS element attuned to shock for FE and no points in Infusion. But since you can’t have both FE and Avatar at the same time, you have to weigh the 2 options based on your playstyle.

Yeah, while mobbing / playing through the story radiation is the most efficient element for the majority of the game. It has fairly average/consistent multipliers across almost all defense types, same as non-elemental. For that reason, almost all the parts about non-elemental guns in the OP also apply to rad. The only exceptions are bosses, rad-immune/resistant enemies and some specialized arenas where most enemies have specific defences.

It applies afterwards. The gun damage variable in my formulas above is responsible for base damage and gun damage bonuses. Therefore both Infusion and FE benefit from them.

Oh ok ! Thanks a lot for this clarification :slight_smile:

I’ve added a section with Mayhem modifier test results. It shows which modifiers apply before and after elemental conversion.


Wow, I’m sure that was a bitch and a half to isolate and get the modifiers by themselves.


Yeah, it took a couple of hours. But in the end it was worth it.


One thing I forgot to mention:
When doing the tests for the Mayhem modifiers I noticed Infusion not working ~90% of the cases when I restarted a session in order to get other modifiers. I had to go to the skills menu and switch the action skill element. Then it did register for the conversion. Otherwise I got 100% non-elemental damage.

Did anyone else experience this bug?

problem with this is. If you use FE then it will make your FE shock too. proportioning more damage then you want towards shock if your using a fire gun for example.

you also lose out on some sustainment heals.

Better to not use any infusion and just let the FE change to shock if going up against allot of shields.

I use scroll wheel to gunswitch and whenever i have more than 2 guns equipped i keep overshooting the gun i want to switch to.(i could use keyboard keys to do this but 15 years of this habit is hard to kick)

I posted this in another thread. After some testing last night (11/16/19) I found that this is not an accurate statement. Below is what I posted (sorry for anything that gets repeated):

I have seen this argument a lot and had to find out for myself because while I do like seeing what others have found, I enjoy finding out first hand as well. So here is the quick notes, as I plan on doing further testing and gathering more data at another time.

I used the Vehicle as it was a constantly available source. I was not aiming for any % of damage to verify modifiers on armor vs flesh, just to see what did and did not heal. I could also stop damage and let it regenerate as needed (or respawn it). To get my health lower, I used a Torgue gun and shot my feet (careful when doing this once you have Infusion or Forceful Expression, as these allow you to DOT yourself).

Weapons used for testing: Pa’s Rifle (Electric), and The Hunt(er).
Test target: Bandit Technical equipped with the Heavy Armor
All points of Guardian Rank in Hunter atm, so no modifiers to factor.

Shockra used until later tests. Game mode was normal, Mayhem 1.

Baseline: No Skills

Hunt(er) Pa's
Damage 2229 832

1st Test: Tempest

Hunt(er) Pa's
Damage 2229 1164

2nd Test: Sustain

Hunt(er) Pa's
Damage 2229 1164
Heal 0 256

3rd Test: Forceful Expression

Shockra Hunt(er) Pa's Soulfire Hunt(er) Pa's
Damage 2229 1374 2229 1164
Bonus 397 0 284 150
Heal 0 256 0 256

4th Test: Infusion (Root to Rise added for access to Blight Tiger)

Shockra Hunt(er) Pa's Soulfire Hunt(er) Pa's Blight Tiger Hunt(er) Pa's
Damage 1338 1374 1338 699 1338 699
Bonus 1279 0 914 482 3197 1688
Heal 0 256 0 256 0 256

Bonus Test: Gernades - Epicenter. Healed on impact only, not DOT or bonus projectiles.

In conclusion, what I have found is this:

Sustain seems to work off base bullet damage from Elemental guns and calculated prior to damage changes due to Forceful Expression or Infusion. It was not healing off any DOT damage that I applied (sad day) from any source I could find. This seems to be match up with the consistent 256 heal across the board no matter what element I have for my active skill and which skills I have. I would like to find a way to see if Tempest does in fact increase the heal.

Just one comment on this fine thread;
One reason why I always have infusion (and I do regularly change the element) is to keep shields down.
The ongoing damage when you might be distracted with another enemy momentarily keeps that enemies shield from regenerating,

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So about this fire+shock being great against health+shield enemies thing… I always was sceptical because I thought, well what you gain against shields you then lose against flesh, right? Probably doesn’t do much compared to just using 100% fire or 100% shock. It just didn’t make much sense to me, I suspected it was probably more of a placebo effect.

To prove my point to myself, I made a spreadsheet today with formulas that calculate how many shots of each combination you need to kill health+shield enemies. To my surprise, the results were much in favour of Infusion, turns out I was very wrong. Actually it’s a good example of the weakest link making the biggest difference (and of me making premature judgements). The more balanced the damage against health and shield, the better overall.

I made a graph of it, x-axis = how much of the enemy’s hit points are shield, y-axis = shots needed (TVHM/Mayhem modifiers):



  • Fire with shock infusion is remarkably consistent because it does 130% damage against shields and 131% against flesh. It always needs ~8 shots. At only 15% shields, it becomes better than pure fire and leaves it in the dust from there.
  • Shock with fire infusion always does more damage than pure radiation, including against armour (not counting aura and explosion).
  • Between 20% and 65% shields, pure shock and pure fire are always worse than either Infusion combination of the two.
  • At roughly 37%, pure fire/pure shock both need ~11 hits, both infusions only ~8. Fun fact: Maliwan Troopers have 37% shield by default.

The most obvious tradeoff is that we’re talking about 5 skill points invested vs. 0 points invested, so it’s up to anyone if that’s worth it. Also, the new anointments that add 50% elemental damage after action skill end really outclass Infusion, especially if you’re a filthy fakegrasper (which I’m totally not) and have these anointments active permanently.

So this probably isn’t a very useful endgame skill, but before that it seems to be much more effective than I thought. I should give it a proper try sometime.


Great analysis. Like you said this was calculating at 5/5 I’m sure you could change a number in your equation to get 1/5 or 2/5 but they effects would be worse I imagine. This also isn’t accounting for Armor/health enemies, Shield/Armor enemies, Shield/Armor/Health enemies, as well as what the ratio of each bar is to total bars.

Shock get’s 75% more on shields than corrosive does on armor. That will lower the ratio increase the effective hits to kill.

To me, it’s still not worth it. Plus I would rather switch guns on a regular basis than go into the menu just to switch element every 15 seconds.

Yeah, I mean I always have to spend 2 filler points somewhere in that tree in order to get to Sustainment, but I avoid Infusion, because other than other skills it also has disadvantages, especially when you use the same element as the weapon as Dankrafft pointed out. That, and I’m fairly sure 2 points won’t cut it (I could insert that in the formula but I think the result is fairly obvious, it would be the same effect, only reduced by more than half). All other points I spend there I really want to have, so I’d have to spend 3 more points that I’d much rather have in the other trees.

It might be nice on a Lyuda/Bekah, but with Forceful Expression and now that I have a +50% fire Bekah, a +50% radiation Storm Front and I’m trying to get my hands on an anointed Transformer (I have anointed shields of all elements, but the Transformer is just so much better at being a shield)… I don’t think the 16% conversion will make a great difference. May try it anyway though. If I should start another Amara, I’ll definitely give going full in a try in normal mode, especially for Maliwan mobbing.

This does actually cover the ratio of the bars to each other, that’s the x-axis (0% = pure flesh enemy, 100% = pure shield enemy, 50% = half/half), but maybe I’m not understanding you correctly. It does cover armour+shield with shock and corrosive because the multipliers are the same. Flesh/armour should work well too because the efficiency increase comes mainly from reducing the penalties, rather than from increasing the boosts. You need so many shots because your element is weak against one of the bars, not because the boost isn’t high enough for the other, that’s the main thing I learned from this. Thus, theoretically it should work well with 3-bar enemies too since reducing penalties is the main point (e.g. radiation+corrosive or cryo+shock). But yeah, that’s what my anointments are doing now anyway.

I didn’t really do this to make an exhaustive, all-encompassing analysis, just because of that particular argument that shock+fire Infusion is great against flesh+shield enemies. I kinda wanted to prove scientifically that I’m right, and here I am, successfully proving that I was wrong.

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I was basically saying if you have two scenarios, a 1000 shield and 1000 health enemy and a 1000 armor and 1000 health enemy. If you use a fire weapon for both and change the action skill element for each respective type, it would make sense that 40% of the gun damage multiplied by 2.5 for shock, would be better than 40% of gun damage multiplied by 1.75 for corrosive. In a scenario with shock damage Infusion seems slightly better, especially with Tempest. If your numbers show that a scenario with shock isn’t worth it, then a scenario without shock really isn’t worth it.

If that clears it up.

Yeah I guess that makes sense. I just gave it a try by replacing the values so they match flesh/armour vs. fire/corrosive:


So in the middle the difference is still there, if slightly less pronounced (9 shots vs. 11-12). However this enemy type usually has much more armour than health, so you can’t really go wrong with just using corrosive. More importantly: just use cryo if you can, I’d argue that’s the best line on this graph, and that’s with 0 points in Infusion. Yeah it doesn’t have DOT but it slows down and freezes enemies.

That highlights another problem of Infusion: if you’ve got this skill and want to use only cryo (or only radiation), well tough luck you can’t.

But still, if you’ve got a good cryo weapon, that makes Infusion useless in this scenario.

edit: oops, forgot to adjust kinetic damage to 80% against armour. Fixed.

From everything I’ve seen, Infusion really seems more of a niche skill to use either early on when you’re getting a lot of non-elemental weapons at the start of the game, or pushing a Jakobs/Atlas or non-elemental Vladof/Tediore build like Sheriff Amara. Even in Normal Mode the damage percentages for matching elements are just way too effective for 100% elemental matched weapons.

Forced Expression meanwhile works with everything because it adds on additional damage that takes boosts from Tempest and Anima, plus any other elemental modifiers or bases its damage off boosted gun damage modifiers.

Interesting to see pure corrosive is only better than Cryo on Armor/health enemies when they have 87% armor or more.

The main problem with infusion as it stands now seems to be that:

  1. this game has pretty extreme penalties for using the wrong element.
  2. They gave no easy method for Amara to switch her action skill element.
  3. That means you basically have to choose the right mix of infusion points and stick to a single element and mitigating the negatives that come with it.

Infusion would be so much better if Gearbox added something like “hold action skill button to cycle action skill elements.” Then you could choose the right element for the job all the time. Fl4k attack command uses that same “hold action button” on console so it could be done and not be a complex issue with number of possible buttons on a controller which always factors into developer decisions on what control options to provide.


In my Overkill testing today I found that Infusion also badly affects that, because with multiple instances of damage, only as many are applied as needed for the kill. So if the main damage one (60%) is enough to kill the enemy, the ASE one (40%) doesn’t connect. In this case, excess damage is much lower than without Infusion.

More reason to avoid this skill like hell. It still does that balanced damage vs. mixed HP types thing, but as soon as you have bonus elemental damage anointments, that becomes irrelevant. I only spend one point there to exploit the ricochet glitch. Once this glitch is fixed, I think I’ll never even look at this skill again, you’re wasting precious skill points on something that does more harm than good.

In more uplifting news, Overkill does increase Sustainment life steal.

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