I'm concerned about how the dev team views FL4K's pets

Earlier today, in response to a tweet asking him why FL4K didn’t have more pet specific anointments, Grant Kao (one of the combat designers for BL3) posted this

I don’t have the words to describe how distraught I am that one of the lead designers of this game has such little understanding of how their own systems actually work. This may be going far, but I’m willing to push the envelope on this because the assumptions laid out in this post are indicative of a mindset that goes completely counter to the mechanics that exist in the game.

There are 3 points in this post that are completely incorrect.

  1. Buffing pets too much would incentivize AFK gameplay and take away from guns
  2. The Beastmaster concept is new in Borderlands
  3. The gun game is something that needs to be “preserved”, seemingly by not having pets that are too powerful.

Let me break down why each of these are incorrect, and @Noelle_Gbx I apologize if this is a dick move, but I would ask that this be directed to the dev team, and if possible Mr. Kao specifically, to try to engage in some conversation on this. As it stands, it’s like he’s talking about a different game.

1: Buffing pets too much would incentivize AFK gameplay and take away from guns

To address this point, I’ll link the damage formula that Gearbox created, and explain why this concern is completely counter to how they designed the pets to work.

FL4K can currently obtain about 300% pet damage through skills. Of that 300%, 65% is tied to Hunter Kill Skills (Interplanetary Stalker and Psycho Head on a stick) that require FL4K specifically to kill enemies, your pet cannot proc those skills. Another Hunter skill, Furious Attack, provides an additional 30% damage bonus for shooting enemies 10 times. Lastly, the Power Inside gives 50% bonus pet damage if you use an action skill at full health every 15 seconds.

That means that, out of 300% total pet damage FL4K can have, nearly 150% cannot be activated by the pet. Half of all of FL4K’s pet damage comes from skills that only FL4K can activate, and FL4K needs to shoot enemies to give the pets max damage. Therefore, the concern over AFK gameplay is ridiculous.

Unless Mr. Kao wasn’t on the dev team in November, the patch that added pet damage to most of FL4K’s Hunter skills came out with M4, along with the scaling change. It was the closest thing any character has gotten to a rework in this game, and it was to incentivize being active by providing more pet damage.

2: The Beastmaster is a new concept in Borderlands

Maybe this is semantics, but Borderlands has had several characters who called upon beasts or robots to assist them in combat. We’ve had Mordecai, Gaige, Wilhelm, and Timothy. Each of these characters had pets who could provide bonuses and damage in equal or greater amounts to FL4K’s pets. Just as an example:

  • Wolf and Saint gave Willy an 88% multiplicative damage buff in UVHM, 20% damage through Fortify, 40% shield restore, and 2.5% health regen just for being out and 3% increased health regen through Energize.
    • You could spec Wolf for 30% bonus move speed, 15% damage + 88% from Laser Guided + whatever you had from Rolling Thunder, 125% fire rate, 25% shield, and 40% health.
  • Fl4k’s pets give them 65% damage reduction, 2% health regen, 40% damage, a taunt (noted above, Wolf was a flying taunt), revives, and whatever passives your pet provides.
    • You can spec them for 310% damage + IPS and Big Game bonuses (not possible yet, but that is the max amount) on top of Sic Em’, Go for the Eyes, and Gamma Burst; give them all of your regen (WRW, SRS, Turn Tail, FA, spiderant, not sure which other things count) for 12% health regen; 10% move speed; and 15% max health.

Aside from reviving FL4K, the pets do nothing that Wolf and Saint didn’t do. And yet, Wolf and Saint could deal far more damage than FL4K’s pets. Zane’s digi-clone can taunt, heal shields, and damage share. It can do just about everything FL4K’s pet can do (not even counting that it can provide life steal for you along with numerous other utilities with Double Barrel), but has access to a capstone that gives it a copy of your gun. And this is on the class that has an additional summon that can provide debuffs and damage as well.

Pet classes are not a new concept in Borderlands, and having a pet out permanently shouldn’t have led to such a drastic reduction in performance compared to previous pets. We need Gamma Burst to get maximum pet damage anyway, so the argument that “those are action skills while FL4K’s pet isn’t” isn’t even correct. FL4K is undoubtedly, in terms of damage, AI, and mechanics, the worst pet class in the series, and I think you’ll find that opinion is rather wide-spread.

3. The gun game is something that needs to be “preserved”, seemingly by not having pets that are too powerful.

I don’t know what to make of this comment. It seems to me that you are saying you knew people enjoyed the archetype of the Beastmaster, and yet you purposefully wanted to keep it weak so players would engage with the gun system? That is an awfully convoluted thought process. Not only is it unfair to the players to dangle a play style you know we love in front of our faces and purposefully make it weak, but it completely ignores the greatest power you have to prevent that from happening in the first place: the anointment system. The very thing this twitter post asked you about. If you didn’t want pets to take away from the gameplay, why didn’t you just add anointments that incentivized using guns? We have several anointments that only activate on attack command, so it’s not as if you couldn’t do the same for guns if you wanted to.

What all if this tells me, as a player, is that you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how your own game works. Not only that, but that you are so out of touch with your player base that you would design a Beastmaster class yet fear giving its pets actual power even when the player base has been begging since the game released for more support for pet builds. I’ve posted at length about the frustration we feel trying to discern what this team’s intentions were for FL4K’s pet builds, and how it feels like they may not know how to make them work better. Then I saw the Borderlands show proceeding Mayhem 2.0 where a dev mentioned how useful the Friendbot class mod would be once pet damage scaled in Mayhem 2.0, seemingly unaware that the pet damage on that COM has been bugged since Day 1. We got the Trainer class mod, where the team doubled down on a universally reviled skill and gave it to our pets. And now we have this.

I’m going to ask straight up: what is the reasoning behind your opinions? Because the mechanics at play in the game you and your team designed say that this shouldn’t be a concern. There is no reason to fear AFK play or overshadowing the guns, because those elements were baked into FL4K’s skill tree. So why are you concerned about buffing pets? Please, help me understand.


well said.
If Zane and Moze can AFK with investment into iron bear and clone, why couldn’t Fl4k?
also, taunt should’ve been part of an augment or a skill on the blue tree, not on a COM.


It’s not even the other characters being able to AFK that bugs me. It’s that he’s concerned that buffing FL4K’s pet would allow them to AFK as well when the skill trees were basically redesigned to prevent that from happening. It’s a tired argument, and one that has been refuted more times than I care to recount, and seeing a dev echo this when they are the ones who designed the skill tree and should know better just…I don’t even know. They should know better.


A+ again @boombumr, between having to manually issue Attack Commands and having to proc pet buffs by killing enemies ourselves, it is IMPOSSIBLE for pets to completely AFK content.


Do they not understand that both clone and iron bear can solo the takedowns rather easily???


Excellent post as always.

Since day 1 that is a damage loss to invest skill points into pet damage, and still is.

And it’s really sad to read this when the purpose of Gamma Burst is to increase pet damage, the whole Master skill tree has a lot of pet only skills, and the Friend Bot + Tr4iner pet related class mods exists, of course I’m going to expect to get damage if I invest in my pet, yikes.

I don’t want my pet to be only good at drawing aggro, Fl4k should take down enemies alongside their pet, and if I choose to sacrifice my own damage to boost my pet, I should see results.

If Moze and Zane can afk True Guardian Takedown it’s ok, but if Fl4k does it is bad, smh



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To be fair I think comparing FL4K pets to action skills on other vault hunters is the wrong take.

I think FL4K pets should be strong since there are tons and tons of skills that are focused on pet damage, gamma being the skill that irradiates and beefs your pet up, and even the Tr4iner class mod, no matter how laughable it is - this com procs every 4th kill. Implying that your pet can kill many more than 4 enemies.

If all the tools didn’t exist to max out FL4K pets, then I think it’d be fine for them to not do damage and be for utility. But those things do exist.


Haven’t seen you around here in a bit Thicc!

True FL4K’s pets aren’t action skills, and FL4K isn’t really hurting for damage. So in reality their pets don’t need to kill enemies for them, but this was how FL4K was showcased in their Trailer. Which led to a lot of people(myself included) to think that their pets would be a substantial contribution to their killing, why else did FL4K take them in, train them, feed them and possibly even grow attached to them if they didn’t aid them in The Hunt?

FL4K’s pets have came a LONG way in the last couple months. But the possibility for an AFK pet build is utterly impossible without massive character changes. I’m not even sure where this ideology spawned from.


This all pretty neatly sums up why Gearbox ignores the forums. Why go through the difficulty of engaging with lengthy, thoughtful and complex discussions when you can just shoot off unsubstantiated knee-jerk statements in 280 characters and be done with it?


I don’t think it’s fair to say that GBX “ignores“ the forums, but I definitely think the way that GBX uses its own forums and the way it takes and responds to community feedback is more than a little confusing.

Sometimes news gets posted on here, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I think they pay really close attention to the comments made by the playerbase as voiced on these forums and other social media outlets, sometimes I think they don’t listen at all. Sometimes I think GBX completely understands how their game works, where they want it to go, and are steadily working towards it, and sometimes I think it seems like an entire dev team working with no coordination whatsoever. :man_shrugging:


AFK pet build is just an example, because that’s what was brought up in the tweet.
What I meant, and what i’m sure other people meant is that investing in pets should yield result, yet it is not the case. The only reason to play gamma burst is to use the Red Fang for the taunt. Red Fang should’ve been the capstone for the blue tree instead of Dominance, which is now available on a class mod.


The only time I enjoyed playing a Fl4k pet build was when the Scorcher could create fire pools capable of taking down badasses. Now I have to admit I haven’t played Fl4k in weeks. Fl4k was one of the classes I was most excited about when the game launched (the other being Amara) — a Beastmaster in a Borderlands game! — but sadly it still doesn’t feel like Gearbox has delivered on the core concept of the character. Hopefully one day…


This is honestly disappointing. From the beginning, I felt that Fl4k and their pet’s interaction in gameplay was kind of counterintuitive to the point of a beastmaster since the pet outside few circumstances is actually a hindrance or just there.

A big fix in my opinion would be making the attack command for the pet much stronger and quicker/more reliable, in MMO terms making it a more viable part of a Fl4k player’s “rotation” instead of largely ignored. Make it more like a mini action skill in potency with its own customizations.

Or giving our pets their own skill trees and allowing for us to give our pets special gear to improve and customize their effectiveness.

I can sadly see why they didn’t go that far, but really a well executed pet class is much more than the master alone, the master and pet should be one as far as how they influence the other’s effectiveness and power. It’s not just about seeing your pet master get stronger, because a big part of a pet master is seeing your pet get stronger as well.

Right now though, aside from the outlier instance of the spider ant being super strong, they were just glorified stat sticks you needed to revive.


Exactly, hes not a beastmaster hes zero 2.0 and thats not what i wanted to play, i wanted to play a BEASTMASTER but thats asking for too much acording to grant.


It was probably a bit simplistic of me to say that they ignore the forums entirely. But I definitely get the sense that their idea of player engagement revolves very heavily around social media, with the forums as something of an afterthought.

And I do wonder whether the more superficial, one-way nature of social media might be a big part of the attraction for them. On a stream or a twitter account, they get to control the conversation more, they can drum up excitement by posting sexy trailers and teasers, and most responses from the community will be brief and/or ephemeral, destined to fall off the newsfeed shortly after posting.

Compare that to a forum thread that can acquire more gravitas and presence the older it gets, even many months later, with hundreds of people equally participating and enriching a discussion that can sometimes evolve and morph into something resembling a community consensus.


i forgot attack commands is a thing, its so lack luster i just never use it. i don’t believe i’ve used it once in my 2 playthroughs of Fl4k.


This is exactly the problem with flak and his pets/attack commands.

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I agree 100%. I ONLY play Fl4k since I’m like one of those birds that mate for life or w.e, I commit to just 1 (Ladies hmu).
I chose Fl4k after seeing we’d have 3 pets, 1 of which could be with you at all times, I thought gameplay would be a lot different.
I thought I’d
1.) Be able to direct my pet at all times to focus on an enemy of my choice
2.) Be able to interact with the pet in a lot of ways (actively healing the pet, being healed, use them as a trampoline :D, ) For the most part there are decent ways to interact with them but not enough. I was thinking also like RPG elements where you "cast"buffs/heals etc on your pets, change their elemental attacks (if any) at will, supercharge their attacks, basically the pet would be your orchestra and you the conductor.
3.) I expected, and this was what I was most excited for, Fl4k + Beast combination attack. Thought I’d have an Action Skill where me and my pet do some cool flashy combo attack. But alas…

Point is, I agree with OP. I hope our voices get heard eventually, because again, I have no interest in other VHs.


I think the only part of your post that I don’t agree with is the above. The players who post here represent a very small portion of the community. So this forum community could reach a consensus over time, certainly.

I am not just trying to play semantics with you either. A lot of people think the voices on these forums represent the community as a whole, which I am not sure is always correct. Sometimes correct though. Was that wishy-washy enough for you? LOL

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