Firstly, a few thank yous are in order. @Blutfatal for doing the original guide, @Derch for the format that I’m appropriating for this, and @Khimerakiller, @Johnrr6, @Hoyle4, and everyone else who contributes to this forum for being awesome and contributing to the knowledge of the Wilhelm player base.
Now, onto the goodies.
If you disagree with anything I have in here or have anything to add, links, math, opinion, anything let me know and I will gladly update and change it.
Here is the scale
Sub-par: These are the skills that don’t do much, and shouldn’t be specced into unless you just really want to use them.
Below Average: These are skills that can be useful but requires you to build around them a bit, just throwing them in to move down a tree is a usually bad idea because there are better options.
Average: These are the skills that are solid choices to move to the skills you really want.
Great: These skills will make the game much easier and should be taken always if you are at that point in the tree they are located in
Outstanding: Skills of this rating will be game changers that you base your build and play style around, they should be taken with almost every set up if you are in that tree.
The scores are on a 5/5 rating. If a skill performs great at 11/5 but not 5/5, then it won’t get a better rating.
This tree focuses on DPS and synergistic game play between Wilhelm and Wolf.
Wolf’s Air Speed is increased by 6% per rank.
Additionally, your Reload Speed and Projectile Speed is increased by 5% per rank.
The movement speed for Wolf adds to his survivability, and the reload speed is a really good DPS boost for a tier one skill. The increased projectile speed can mess with certain weapons, but overall it’s a nice boost and worth having in any build that doesn’t utilize the Flakker.
Increases your Damage with all gun types by 3% per rank, and increases the Damage dealt by Wolf by 5% per rank.
This skill adds some nice additive damage for you and the Wolf damage is multiplied by all of its other damage bonuses. The damage it provides to Wilhelm isn’t the most impressive, but the Wolf damage increase is very substantial, as it doesn’t require stacking or painting targets.
Wolf’s shots have a 10% initial chance, and an additional 5% per rank chance for to be Venom Bolts, which deal Corrosive Damage.
Additionally, you gain 2% per rank Corrode Chance and 4% per rank Corrode Damage with guns and grenades.
The DPS increase this gives to Wolf is not significant, and the skill effects corrosive DoTs, which also aren’t very impressive. There are far better places to spend skill points.
Killing an enemy gives you a 6% per rank and Wolf a 15% per rank increased fire rate for a short time.
30% fire rate on a kill is OK, but 75% wolf fire rate is a massive boost to Wolf’s DPS.
When you activate Wolf and Saint, or press the AS button while they are active, Saint will Paint the target under your reticle. Wolf will focus attacks on the currently Painted target, and the target will receive increased Damage by 25% from all sources.
If a target is killed while Painted, 5 seconds will be added to Wolf and Saint’s Duration.
Note that this is multiplicative, and increases to 87.5% in UVHM.
This skill is Deathmark that can be activated as long as your Action Skill is up. It nearly doubles the damage for everyone in your group and allows you to control which targets Wolf attacks. This multiplier applies to EVERYTHING: gun damage, Wolf damage, grenade damage, DoTs, etc… No matter what build you’re going for, you need to have this skill.
While Wolf is alive, you will gain a stack of Rolling Thunder every 5 seconds, each stack increases Wolf’s Damage by 2% per stack, and increases by 2% per each rank.
This skill increases Wolf’s damage significantly over time. However, it can take a while to stack this enough to make the damage really crazy. This is additive with Laser Guided and Fire Support, so all that damage adds up. However, you can certainly play Wilhelm without this skill, especially if you prefer to utilize Overcharge more often.
Whenever Wolf is recalled, runs out of Health, or expires, it will dive bomb enemies with an explosive effect.
If you are chaining Overcharge often, this skill can merit a single point. It can kill closely lumped trash mobs or set off barrels close to enemies. In general though, this skill is in no way a must have, and if there are any other 1 point wonders you want to get, you should prioritize them over this skill.
When Wolf is destroyed, it is replaced once for free, and 30% time will be added to Wolf and Saint’s Duration, the time bonus increases by 5% per rank.
A 1 point wonder at best. The first point is a 30% increase, while the next four are a 20% increase. This can be extremely useful for raids however, increasing the up time on your Laser Guided buff in the event Wolf gets destroyed.
When you apply a Shock, Incendiary, or Corrosive status effect to an enemy, there is a 5% per rank chance for the target to freeze.
Additionally, you gain 2% per rank increase status effect chance when using Cryo weapons.
This can be a nice DPS boost if you build with it in mind, but to get anything decent out of it you need to utilize shock weaponry. Since the effect procs on DoT activation, you need to get as many DoTs as possible in rapid succession. Shock damage has the shortest DoT with 2 seconds, and since you need to wait until the previous DoT ends to get another chance at activating the proc, shock damage has the highest chance of activating it. Weapons with elemental splash damage will also increase the chance of the effect happening. However, the chance is still fairly low, and the increased cryo chance is pretty small. It’s difficult to justify spending 5 skill points versus one weapon or grenade slot.
Increase your Critical Hit Damage by 5% per rank.
Additionally, Critical hits on enemies reduce the remaining Cooldown of Wolf and Saint by 0.6 seconds per rank.
This effect has a 6 second cooldown at all ranks.
This skill gives you a permanent crit damage increase and a massive amount of cooldown reduction. No negotiations, this skill is a must have.
Wolf periodically launches a deadly missile strike against its targets.
This doesn’t do enough damage for a capstone. It can be increased by freezing an enemy, but it doesn’t scale with Rolling Thunder, and Wolf can miss with it.
This tree focuses on Wilhelm’s DPS capabilities and shield based skills.
Increases Gun Damage and Magazine Size with all Laser Weapons.
Laser Damage : +4% per rank
Laser Magazine Size : +4 initially, then +2 per rank
For builds that focus on lasers as a primary dealing weapon, this skill is alright. The damage isn’t too high and it’s additive, but the mag size buff is noticeable, and mkes a tremendous difference with some of Wilhelm’s best lasers.
#Man and machine
Increases Shield Capacity and Maximum Health for you and Wolf.
Maximum Health and Shield Capacity : +3% per rank
Wolf Maximum Health and Shield Capacity : +5% per rank
If you aren’t focusing on lasers, this is the only choice to go down the tree. It’s not necessarily bad, but the bonuses are pretty small, and if you have a COM that boosts this, more than 1 point isn’t really necessary.
#First to fight
Increases your Gun Damage. This bonus is lost 5 seconds after you deal damage, and is regained after 5 seconds of you not dealing or taking damage.
Gun Damage : +8% per rank
The conditions to actually get this to work are so irritating that the extra damage isn’t even worth it. This skill relies on not taking damage for at least 5 seconds before dealing damage, so If you managed to play perfectly to utilize this buff, it could theoretically net you similar or slightly higher DPS than conventional play (I have no idea, I’m not going to try it either. Anyone who’s curious can feel free to post their results). However the damage you could’ve dealt in those 5 seconds of not dealing damage surpasses the extra damage you would get from FtF in any realistic scenario I can conceive of. It has niche uses for sniping and adding more burst DPS to OC, but considering Wilhelm has so many 1 point wonders, it’s difficult to justify spending points here for a skill that will only be useful for the first 5 seconds of Overcharge.
Kill Skill. Killing an enemy gives you increased Accuracy and Critical Damage for a few seconds.
Critical Damage : +10% per rank
Accuracy : +5% per rank
Remember how Escalation was a must have for giving 25% passive crit damage? This is similar. It isn’t passive, but it has twice the skill damage of Escalation, along with an accuracy bonus to boot. For splitters and shotguns, this skill is pretty insane, although it certainly has it’s perks for other weapon types as well. It also helps that many COMs boost this skill, allowing you to double your crit damage with full investment. TConsidering how early in the tree it is, and the skill that sits next to it, there is no reason to not have this skill.
Melee Override. Press (melee) to perform an explosive punch with extended range. This ability has a 12 second cooldown.
The damage isn’t too great without cryo and laser guided, but for one point, the amount of awesome and utility you get is unreal. The knockback is nice, and you don’t have to worry about hurting yourself against close range enemies due to tediore reloads or other explosive. Not a priority, but a nice way to progress down the tree if you don’t have anywhere else to put the points.
Emergency Response is activated whenever your Shield becomes depleted, increasing your Fire Rate and Reload Speed, and Wolf’s Fire Rate, for a short duration. Your shield must fully recharge between activations.
Reload Speed, Fire Rate and Wolf’s Fire Rate : +10% per rank
Duration : 15 seconds
This skill can be a pretty consistent source of DPS depending on your shield. Considering all the tools in Wilhelm’s kit for regenerating his shields, you can get fully capacity fairly quickly for frequent activation. This skill scales excellently for Wolf, granting him the full 10% bonus per level. However, the bonus to Wilhelm’s fire rate drops to 5% per level after the initial point. It’s still a really good boost for most weapons, and one of the best skills in this tree.
You can shoot while Sprinting. While doing so, you gain bonus Gun Damage, and suffer no accuracy penalties.
Gun damage +20%
There isn’t really much of a reason to take this. If you can remember that you can shoot while sprinting, this will give you a small damage boost. However, hitting crits on the run is difficult, and hitting a crit will grant you far more damage than 20% additive damage.There are some “hidden” mechanics to this skill that make it a bit wonky as well. Take it if you like the cosmetic, otherwise don’t bother.
When your Shields are depleted and your Health is low, taking Damage causes you to gain massive Shield Regeneration and Damage Resistance for a few seconds. This ability has a cooldown.
Health Threshold: 30%
Cooldown: 25 seconds
Duration: 3 seconds
Damage Resistance: +50.0% initially,+66.7% at rank 2, +75% at rank 3, +80% at rank 4, +83.3% at rank 5
Recharges 20% of your shield per rank
This skill is a bit complicated to rate. Divert Power is similar to Scramble, in the sense that it’s preferable to limit the points you get into this skill. It won’t be active a majority of the time, and if you’re going down often enough to need this off cooldown, you may have a problem with your build or gear. However, this skills also provides an awesome safety net for those times when you do get swarmed. 3 seconds doesn’t sound like much, but it can be the difference between getting transfusion trails and dying. 5 points aren’t necessary, but 1 point is more than worth it.
#Welcome to the gun show
Increases Gun Damage, Reload Speed, Magazine Size, Accuracy, and reduces Recoil.
Weapon Damage, Reload Speed, Magazine Size, Accuracy, Recoil Reduction : +3% per rank
This is just OK. It gives a little bit of everything, but not enough to do anything major. If you’re going to be down this far you may as well pick it up, but don’t actually go down this tree just for the sake of getting this skill. You’re not missing too much.
Increases the Damage Radius of your Slam ability.
There is literally no reason for this to exist. The only decent use for this is AOE freezing, but Wilhelm has Cold War, and many of his best weapons are cryo, and cryo grenades exist. Don’t bother with this. Ever.
Whenever your Shield becomes depleted, you activate your shoulder-mounted Vengeance Cannon. The Vengeance Cannon fires Incendiary Laser Blasts in tandem with your equipped weapon for a short period of time. Your Shield must fully recharge between activations.
Active Duration: 12 seconds
This skill is tricky, as you don’t want to take it for the actual laser effect. Sure, with glitch weapons, it can be nice, but outside of that the damage is not great, especially to non-painted enemies. The reason to take this skill is because it massively reduces recoil and reticle bloom during its duration. Without any accuracy bonuses, one could keep a Rosie perfectly on target for the duration of the skill. On any spray and pray weapon (like the shredifier, Rosie, bone shredder, etc…), this skill is a godsend. As @Chuck80 loves to say, accuracy=damage. Also, it can proc cold war if you specced into it, so that’s nice too.
This tree focuses on survival with and without saint, as well as DPS increases.
Increases Wolf and Saint’s Duration by 2 seconds per rank, and Cooldown Rate by 3% per rank.
Flat duration increases are amazing buffs when you can get them, especially for a character like Wilhelm who gains so much from his action skill. This skills synergizes with both OC and LG play styles, so it is a must no matter which build you do.
Increases Max Health for you and Wolf by 3% per rank.
Additionally, while Saint is active you deal increased Damage with all gun types by 4% per rank.
It’s basically battlefront with a health boost. The max health isn’t much and the damage isn’t much, but it’s still a solid offering for a tier 1 skill.
Saint will occasionally boost the Shields of you and your friends by 8% of your shield capacity per rank.
Additionally, Saint gains an +0.6% of your Max Health / sec. bonus to the rate at which he regenerates your health per rank.
Wilhelm’s bread and butter survival skill. Basically gives permanent 3% health regen and buck up for you party members. Considering the amount of health stacking skills Willy has, that 3% can get very big very quickly. Very few people use roid shields, so it isn’t the pain in the arse that buck up was for melee classes in BL2. It also helps Willy tank through DoTs.
Improves Shield Recharge rate by 6% per rank and an initial -4% to Shield Recharge Delay, then a -3% per rank.
This bonus is doubled while Wolf and Saint are on cooldown.
Due to the awkward way this skills scales (at 10/5, it only gives 28% recharge delay, basically diminishing returns if I understand the term correctly) it really isn’t worth that much unless you have the double value bonus during wolf and saint’s cooldown. It’s ok as filler to move down the tree, but it isn’t a skill that should be the focal point of anything unless you OC chain.
Fight for your life is replaced by Termination Protocols. During Termination Protocols you can walk at a reduced speed, fire your weapons, and you constantly shock nearby enemies. If the timer runs out, your power core goes critical, releasing a Nuclear Explosion.
It’s a nice QOL skill if nothing else. Allows you to walk in FFYL, the explosion can kill enemies if you run out of time, and the tethers can proc Cold war if you have it, making for easier revives.
Killing an enemy increases your cooldown rate for Wolf and Saint by 4% per rank, increases your movement speed by 3% per rank, and your Reload Speed by 8% per rank for a short time.
Wolf and Saint= damage and survivability. Therefore, less cooldown time= damage and survivability. The reload is also a great DPS boost at 40%.
When Saint is recalled or expires, he explodes, deploying a Healing Zone underneath you that lasts 12 seconds. You and your friends Regenerate 8% of your max health Health / sec. while standing in the zone.
This does regenerate a fair amount of health, and can top you off between enemy encounters. However, this skills requires Saint to be destroyed, which ends you energize buff. Trading energize for this and Heatsinks is certainly not recommended unless you OC chain. But for 1 point, it’s not too bad.
#Hazmat Containment System
If you have an Incendiary, Shock, or Corrosive Status Effect on you, you and your friends gain an initial 17%, plus 12% per rank Resistance to that element.
Additionally, you will occasionally spread that Status Effect to nearby enemies while it’s active.
It’s an always on adaptive shield for you and your friends. It’s good team buff, if a bit niche. DoTs hurt, and any skill that lessens their effect is good. Nice side-note, this does play nicely with Cold War for unintentional CC for those who like that kind of thing
Increases your Maximum Health by 5% per rank.
Additionally, close range attackers have a 5% per rank chance to be struck by Explosive Feedback. The closer the enemy is to you the more likely he is to be struck.
Considering all the other options Willy has for health stacking, it isn’t worth going down to tier 5 to get what 2 tier ones can give at only 10% less. The explosive feedback does pitiful damage, and you would probably be better off just powerfisting enemies (no pun intended) when they are that close anyway. 0/10.
#Hard to Kill
Whenever you are shot or struck by an enemy, you gain a stack of Hard To Kill (Maximum stack count is 100 at any/all ranks) reducing all Damage by 0.1% per stack, and an additional 0.1% per rank received.
All stacks are removed after a few seconds of taking no damage.
This skill has its uses, but only against enemies who live long enough to damage you consistently enough to keep the stacks up. For the most part, these enemies don’t exist in TPS. Most of the enemies in ths game will die to a single quasar grenade, and those who don’t will die in 1 tediore throw. If you’re fighting bandits who blow over like tissue paper, your stacks will dry up like nothing in 5 seconds and this skill will be worthless. If you’re dedicated to farming Eclipse or you’re going into the mutator arena this may be a skill you’ll want to look at, but outside of those instances I wouldn’t recommend it.
Immediately after being summoned, Saint will release an Energy Wave that will Overcharge you and any nearby friends for 10 seconds.
Overcharged players gain increased Movement speed by 15%, Fire rate by 75%, Reload Speed by 75%, and Ammo Regeneration by +10
This skill is one of those build defining skills. Admittedly, this skill conflicts massively with laser guided, and the fire rate and reload speed increases don’t really outweigh the 90% multiplier laser guided gives in UVHM (before that it’s more of toss up). However, just because OC doesn’t provide the raw damage that LG does doesn’t mean it’s bad. For ammo hogs like the machine, Company Man, tediore chucks, or ravagers, the ammo regen, reload speed, and fire rate can either speed them up or keep the ammo reserves up to par. It’s also really helpful for laying down massive burst damage at the start of a boss fight (a favorite strat of @johnrr6). Whether you choose to cancel Wolf and Saint to chain this skill, or you just use it at the start of your Action skill, it is indispensable part of your kit and should never be skipped for any reason.