Background: I’ve gone through UVHM (at max level) with every other character and never had much of a problem. In earlier threads elsewhere I did relate some fears I had about the way Athena “wants” to be played, and it seems those fears were justified. I’m getting destroyed. Utterly eviscerated. It’s embarrassing.
First thing to note before anyone chimes in is that it’s not a gear problem. I’ve got everything a gladiator could want, including Bullpups. I wish the issue was sub-par gear, but it definitely isn’t.
Which means I have to be doing something very, very wrong. I’ve tried out roughly ten different builds, some more melee focused, others more Ceraunic Storm focused, and nothing I do helps in the slightest.
What tends to happen is this:
I go into a fight, put up my aspis, chuck some shock grenades to get Maelstrom going, and start trying to kill things. But once I start shooting, I immediately notice that my guns all feel like nerf toys. Sometimes it takes me three full clips from a Hellfire to down a Badass. So, exasperated, I just chuck more grenades and try to get more Maelstrom.
Before that can have any salutary effect, however, and despite the fact that I’m trying to protect myself by wearing a Bulwark or a Grounded shield, I go down. I always go down. It’s as certain as an eastern sunrise. I don’t even know how I go down half of the time. I’d estimate I go into FFYL at least once every fight, sometimes up to four or five times. I’ve tried to rectify this with shock leeches, but the healing isn’t enough. The Aspis healing skill definitely isn’t enough.
I strongly suspect that 30-40% of the time I’m getting downed by my own grenades, similar to the way I began by downing my Zero with his own kunai. But that’s a problem I don’t know how to address. A lower level grenade? How low is low enough but not too low? Plus, I don’t see most people on YouTube with Athena builds using low level grenades. How do you avoid downing yourself if Athena isn’t made for ranged combat? I’m not sniping or hitting anyone from afar with a Hellfire or a Torrent or a Bullpup. I’ve got to get in and mix it up. Right? Or Nah?
And that’s what’s brought me to despair with Athena. The combat loop is: do very little damage, waste tons of ammo, go down, get up, do less damage, go down, get up, get my Aspis back up finally, spend two more clips - win?
It’s not one deficit that’s got me scratching my head, it’s a deficit in everything - she doesn’t do enough damage, and she’s made of glass. A glass pea-shooter.
What’s even stranger about this is that I waltzed through NVHM and TVHM with her.
I really don’t know what to do with builds anymore, as I feel like I’ve tried everything. What I suppose I’m asking for here is a recommendation on how to play with Athena. Where is this great survivability everyone keeps talking about? Where is this amazing dps? I don’t notice any serviceable damage from her until I get north of around 300 maelstrom stacks, and that doesn’t happen often, and when it does the stacks decay very fast.
(I said before I used Maelstrom, discussing Athena with others here in another thread, that I hated the skill a priori because it reminded me too much of Critical Ascension, which I also despise, and, whether as self-fulfulling prophecy or not, I am indeed having similar difficulties with it. Frankly, I just don’t like it. With Jack and others I can mindlessly stack; don’t even have to think about it. With Athena, I feel like I’m always micro-managing her. It’s not fun always thinking, “Oh, I need another grenade here to keep my Maelstrom up; oh, wait, I need to swap weapons for Storm Weaving; ah, hold on, need to melee a dude for some bleeding… etc.” It’s stressful and inward looking, so much so that most of the time I can’t even focus on fighting. I’m mainly fighting Athena and her need for constant stacking and weird crap like swapping weapons. And she doesn’t exactly swap fast either, not without one of those other context dependent skills to buff it.)
(That was a long parenthesis. Sorry.)
Essentially, my hands are in the air and I’m ready to listen and learn.
I’m out of ideas. I would tell you what build I’m using if I were using a single build, but I’ve run with, as noted, about ten builds, none of them with success.
What I can tell you is I do not want a melee build and I want nothing to do with anything that relies on Storm Weaving, which is the skill I hate most in all of TPS. One of Bahroo’s builds relies on Storm Weaving synergies - that didn’t go well for me.
Of course, it could be that Athena is simply anathema to my instinctive play-style. This is certainly true to some extent, since I do not like the visual distraction of the Aspis and really do not like not being able to ADS with it up. Every instinct I have tells me to throw the Aspis as soon as I put it up, just to get it off my screen and let me aim with my guns. I don’t actually do that, but I’m fighting the urge constantly. Still, I want to try my best to adapt to the extent that I can.