[Guide] Sustainment Analysis

EDIT 24 Apr 2020: yesterday’s update has changed Sustainment radically. This guide is no longer valid.

Early tests suggest the following changes:

  • Infusion works with Sustainment now, so you can get life steal even with kinetic weapons
  • Life steal amount is based on actual damage dealt now, not the weapon’s base damage
  • Forceful Expression, bonus element anointments, DOT still don’t give life steal

Original post (now obsolete):

Questions about this pop up a lot, and I’m curious too because it’s my only healing source and I want to understand better how it works so I can make the most of it and avoid anything that doesn’t work. So… testing time. May be updated, corrections are welcome.

First things first: yes, it actually is 4% per rank for up to 20%. It’s just not calculated in a way one would expect (and not how the description suggests). For my examples, I’ll assume we have 5/5 = 20%.

What qualifies for life steal

Sustainment is triggered by elemental attacks, including:

  • elemental guns
  • elemental grenades
  • action skills
  • orbs from Do Unto Others or Remnant
  • melee with Illuminated Fist and/or Blitz
  • enemies hit by an elemental explosion from radiation or Catharsis
  • elemental spike/nova shields
  • even though it’s called “life steal”, it doesn’t matter if you hurt their health, shields, or armour. The only thing that counts is that you hit something with an elemental attack (even your vehicle).

Sustainment is not triggered by:

  • status effects (damage over time)
  • non-elemental attacks, even with Infusion or Forceful Expression. These skills have no effect on Sustainment at all.

What it does

When you hit an enemy with an elemental attack, Sustainment takes the base damage stated on the card, and heals you for 20% of that.

Healing output is affected by:

  • +100%, +250%, +300% gun damage anointments
  • Dahl’s semi-auto mode damage bonus
  • some weapons can be charged to increase damage (Proton Rifle/Melter: up to 2x, Ion Cannon: up to x2.25). The Antimatter Rifle always deals 2x the damage stated on the card. Healing output is scaled with all of these.

It’s not affected by:

  • +125% splash damage anointment
  • +125% against badasses anointment
  • elemental multipliers – what element you use against what enemy type is irrelevant. If you want some quick healing, don’t bother switching to a weapon with matching element – it makes no difference if you hit flesh with fire or shock.
  • any other elemental bonuses (Infusion, Forceful Expression, bonus elemental damage anointments…)
  • Guardian Ranks
  • most skills
  • critical hits


Say you’ve got a 1000 dmg Maliwan pistol with fire and shock. Say you’ve got a ton of skills and bonuses and elemental multipliers and whatnot, and you crit a Psycho with fire for 7540 damage or whatever. Amount healed is 1000 × 20% = 200. This is why Sustainment may seem “broken” because it heals far less than expected (and truth be told, judging by the description’s wording it is broken).

Now switch to shock and you don’t crit and damage dealt is maybe 1360. Amount healed is 1000 × 20% = 200. So for healing, use any element against anything, crit or don’t, it doesn’t matter.

For action skills, calculation is based on base damage as stated in the description. For melee, base damage is 1338 at level 50, so Illuminated Fist will heal 1338 × 20% = 268.

However if you hit several enemies at the same time, e.g. with splash damage or Phasecast, every hit counts.

Ties That Bind

Sustainment’s natural ally. When hitting one of the linked targets, all others receive an elemental attack with base damage = 35% of damage dealt to the first target. The element is Amara’s action skill element, however again, it doesn’t matter for healing which one you use.

Since it’s based on actual damage dealt to the first target, now all damage bonuses count, including Guardian ranks, elemental bonuses, critical hits, etc. – greatly increasing healing potential. It also means that you can use a non-elemental weapon like a Jakobs gun; you won’t be healed from the target you hit, but you will be healed from all linked targets.

Skills affecting Sustainment

There are a few exceptions to the rule:

  • Wrath: Increases gun damage, healing is increased accordingly.
  • Dread: same.
  • Jab Cross: Gun damage bonus also increases healing.
  • Blitz: the 100% bonus doesn’t increase healing, however when procced it has a hidden multiplicative bonus on top of that (×1.5 to all melee damage at level 50), which also increases healing.
  • Reverberation increases damage to every enemy hit in one attack, healing is scaled accordingly.
  • A Remnant orb can carry a sh!tload of excess damage regardless of points invested, which is also used for healing. even 1 point here can be pretty substantial.
  • Overkill damage from the Guardian reward also increases healing.

I don’t know if Samsara’s gun damage bonus increases healing too. I find it impossible to test because it constantly regenerates health at the same time.

Other skills I’ve tested with no effect on Sustainment:

  • Anima
  • Infusion
  • Tempest
  • Forceful Expression
  • Personal Space
  • Arms Deal
  • Find Your Center
  • Do Harm
  • Laid Bare
  • Awakening

edit 20 Jan 2020: moved Dread to skills affecting Sustainment. It definitely works now but I’m fairly sure it didn’t 2 months ago (hotfixes often change how skills work). Anyway, Dread does affect Sustainment.


I also compared the Nimbus and Elementalist class mods. Nimbus’ cloud does heal, and linked targets increase the effect. It’s not a lot though. Elementalist’s DOT does not heal, not even with enemies linked by Ties That Bind.

edit: just did another test with an Elemental Projector artifact that increases elemental damage with the element you’re currently suffering from. No effect on Sustainment.


It would be painful to test but you could do a comparison. Using something to deal a large but consistent amount of self damage to lower your health. Then shoot an enemy and note the final health you end up with. Then repeat the whole process with Sustainment and note the difference in final health.

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Heh yeah I guess there are ways to test that. But tbh I’m not going to do that. Especially since this is only about testing if some mediocre gun damage bonus affects Sustainment, which hardly anyone is going to really care about.

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Great thread! How do the calculations work for multi-pellet weapons like shotguns work? say a gun is 100x10. Would it heal for 200 or would it be based on each pellet that hits?

I assume every pellet that hits will heal you for 100 × 20% = 20. May test that in the future.

So does that mean for Amara, it’s best for pretty much all her guns to be Maliwan, vs other types that just have the elemental status effects, unless the gun, like the Faisor, etc, specifically IS all elemental?

Nova shields including Red Suit’s special aura and nova anointment get the life steal from Sustainment as well. They seem to be considered grenade damage. Also, the Tsunami is the only exception for non-elemental guns (at least when it comes to the item card) that triggers Sustainment.

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Any weapon that has status effects is elemental and so will do life steal with Sustainment.

edit: Well, with the exception of Vladof taser pistols that are only elemental in their alternative fire mode. They heal only in secondary fire mode.

Thanks for the tip, will have a look at that.

Small update: added radiation explosion and spike/nova shields, all of them heal.

Tested that too, each pellet heals for 100 × 20% = 20.

I actually tried testing this after all for completion’s sake, doesn’t seem that complicated actually (thanks for the idea). Just write down the amount Samsara heals over the entire span, then look how big the difference is if you hit an enemy with a weapon during that time.

Sadly, Samsara heals a different amount every time I try, always under the same conditions (and yes, I considered stacks). One time it heals 1750, next time 2412, next time 1596, next time 1342… I have no idea what’s going on or how Samsara is calculated, so currently it actually is pretty impossible to test.


This made me curious so I went and looked at Samsara. My testing has shown that the healing is based on missing health and not max health.

For instance with a max health of 2118 and 3 points in Samsara.

  • Starting health 888
    stacks of Samsara: 4
    final health: 2095
  • Starting health 866
    stacks of Samsara: 5
    final health: 2109.
  • Starting health 2109
    stacks of Samsara: 5
    final health: 2118
    • This appears to be equal to max health however I was able to pick up a health vial so it appears my health was actually not maxed but instead a rounding error made it appear so.

I’ve spent a bit of time trying to work out the formula for final health when only Samsara is active. My best effort currently works on the assumption that Samsara is healing once every 10th of a second. This has produced results that I’m confident are off only because of rounding. If I up the number of times Samsara heals per second the results stay accurate. The formula is as such:

Final Health = Max Health - Missing Health x { 1 / [ 1 + (0.05 x stacks/10) ]^10 }^20

Where missing health is the health missing when samsara is initially triggered. The 0.05 is the value for samsara healing per stack, I didn’t test with 1 or 2 points in Samsara so I can’t be sure how it scales. The 10 included in the formula is how many times Samsara triggers per second. I can’t be sure 10 is accurate as there are so many rounded numbers. Values of 8 and up all produce results within 1 of the actual result.


That’s interesting, I’ll keep that in mind when I’ll test Samsara again. I’m really curious how it works too. What’s obvious is that it doesn’t work like the description suggests at all (except that it does last 20 seconds, I stopwatched that).

Yeah I stopwatched it too when my initial formula underperformed.

My current understanding of the healing is that it would do as the description says if you merely swap max health for missing health. The rate was definitely scaling in proportion to both my samsara stacks and currently missing health.

I’ll probably add more depth to the testing once my Amara reaches level 50.

Did some more testing and it was instantly clear that Samsara’s healing slows down with time, supporting the idea that it’s based on missing health, not max health.

Based on this assumption, I created a spreadsheet to calculate health for each frame, for 30 frames per second. The results are very close to the results in different scenarios I tested (with 2/5 or 5/5 in Root to Rise, with 1 or 2 stacks).

The takeaway (which I’m pretty confident about now) is that Samsara heals by XY% of current missing health at any moment, not max health.

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Was this using the formula I provided or did you tweak it?

I did it differently actually, I put StartHealth + (1/30 × HealingRatio × MissingHealth) in the first field, then CurrentHealth + (1/30 × HealingRatio × CurrentMissingHealth) in the next row and then pulled the formula down for 600 rows (30fps × 20s).

I first got a “wrong” result with your formula, I realised just now you were assuming 3/3 in Samsara while I was using only 1/3. After dividing 0.05 by 3 in your formula, now I get the correct result. I honestly don’t understand your formula, but it works :grinning:

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If I’m reading your formula right then our formulas are equivalent except you’ve updated the formula 30 times a second whereas the one I listed updated 10 times. The power of 20 at the end of my formula just accounts for the 20 second Samsara duration, you could change that number to see health after x seconds.

I’m now curious if Samsara is frame rate tied, however it would be so painful to test and I’m not even sure we could get conclusive results on it.

Just to explain what my formula is doing in better depth. The formula I originally provided had all values plugged in for the full length of 3/3 Samsara.

Final Health = Max Health - Missing Health x { 1 / [ 1 + (Samsara x stacks/UPS) ]^UPS }^Seconds

UPS is the number of times Samsara is calculated per second. So in DocStrangelove’s test of every frame at 30fps then UPS=30.

Seconds is how many seconds Samsara has been active for. So Plugging in 20 gives the final health value after samsara is finished. If you plugged in 5 it would give the value after Samsara has been active for 5 seconds.

I updated my spreadsheet before actually for 60 frames, but that made almost no difference in the end result, in fact the result was even a little more off.

Actually I now suspect it’s updated every half second, if I replace the 10’s with 2’s in your formula I get pretty much the exact value I observed in-game.

Awesome to know.

PS I updated my previous post to explain how to manipulate my formula.

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