Kitru's Totally Objective Guide to Montana

Historically, I have always found Montana to be one the most annoying characters to play along side of. He’s absolutely massive and had the most disturbing tendency to get in your way and block your shots. Of course, after the developers removed allied collision so that you could walk and shoot through your allies unimpeded, I learned to love him.

Montana is a massive slab of meat that you can use to give cover to your allies (via huge reserves of hp and the largest model in the game) and pain to your foes (via ridiculously high rate of fire and sustained output). He’s can be either the hammer or the anvil, though he needs support to really be effective. Without a friend to prop him up and keep him happy, he’s not nearly as effective as he is capable of being.

I do find it strange that he’s given the “advanced” descriptor since he’s not really that complicated: his skills don’t really interact much or behave in a less-than-obvious way and the only really weird thing about him is his basic attack, which isn’t really that complicated if you’re played other games with minigun type characters (like TF2’s Heavy) and/or overheating mechanics (reminds me a lot of Mass Effect 1). My theory is that it’s because he’s really designed to work when paired together with a support. Not a particularly good reason since, tactically, beyond “get a support friend and wreck face” there’s not much more going on with him than explicitly simple characters like Oscar Mike, but that’s what they decided on.

For his abilities, things people probably don’t realize or should know from the start.

[details=Montana’s Minigun]
Montana’s unimaginatively named basic attack. From a cold start, it takes a couple seconds to spin up to full speed and begin unleashing a storm of tiny, low damage projectiles; you can also use his alt-fire to begin the spin up process or keep the barrels spinning without firing any projectiles. While the barrels are spinning, Montana’s speed is incredibly lethargic, which, combined with his massive model, makes him incredibly easy to hit when he’s in combat (and is the main reason why he needs a supportive friend). Each projectile fired increases his heat by a small amount, so increasing his rate of fire also increases the speed with which he accumulates heat, and, if he hasn’t fired a projectile in a couple of seconds, his heat will begin falling.

The higher his heat, the more damage each of Montana’s projectiles deals, and there are a few other benefits you can get via helices that give him buffs based upon his current heat level. When you hit 100% heat, Montana overheats and can’t fire for a (very) short while (you can continue firing almost immediately after the interruption, but you’ll just overheat again); there’s a helix that lets you get around this, though it comes with a drawback.

On the back end, his heat repurposes recoil and reload mechanics, which means that recoil reduction will reduce the heat generated per projectile fired and reload speed improvements will reduce the time it takes for his heat to begin fading after his last projectile is fired and increase the speed that his heat fades.

The biggest weakness of this attack is that it is woefully inaccurate. Thankfully, Montana uses the Law of Large Numbers to make up for his poor accuracy (he’s got the largest attack reticle in the game) with a ridiculously high rate of fire (the highest in the game, in fact), which means that, against a large target that can’t really avoid attacks very well, Montana’s damage can be crazy high even if each projectile is going to do piddly little plinks of damage. Against highly mobile and/or small enemies (like Mellka), Montana will do little damage, especially since he can’t really move fast enough to keep up with them. Low accuracy also means that you’re generally better served going for body shots rather than crit shots: if you aim for the head, you might get crits, but you’re going to miss completely with many, many more and dramatically reduce your total damage dealt.[/details]

[details=Lumberjack Dash]
Skill 1. Montana dashes forwards, dealing a bit of damage, and pushing enemies back; if they are pushed back into terrain, they’re stunned. It’s pretty plain (and basically a copy of Boldur’s Boldurdash skill, or vice versa), but tactically useful. In PvP, you can use it to get annoying melee enemies off of you, scatter an enemy formation, and/or set up a kill (the stun means they’re not moving, which gives you free reign to put a bunch of bullets into them). In PvE, it’s for largely the same purposes, but you won’t be using it nearly as often.[/details]

[details=Hailstorm]
Skill 2. Montana unleashes a battle cry and gives himself a short duration (8 seconds) buff that reduces heat generation by half, reduces damage taken by 30%, and slows enemies all enemies hit by your bullets for roughly 1 second. You will likely be using this way more often than Lumberjack Dash since it’s just so generally useful. Keep in mind, however, that it only lasts a handful of seconds and you can still overheat while it is active (since you still accumulate heat); if you do overheat, you’re wasting part of that limited duration. There are some Helix choices that dramatically change how this works.[/details]

[details=Mansformation]
Ultimate. You deal a bit of damage to enemies near you, throw them in the air, and reduce your damage taken by ~50% for 10 seconds afterwards. As an attack, it’s underwhelming due to a limited range (it’s effectively melee range), and, as a buff, it’s underwhelming due to the longer-than-could-be-desired activation time (if you try to use it in an emergency situation, prepare to be at lower health than you’d like by the time you’re packing huge DR). Underwhelming when you need a specific effect, but it can be pretty devastating in combination when you need them both. To use it effectively, you need to predict when you’ll need it: activate it right when you’re about to get swarmed by a bunch of enemies rather than when you’re already surrounded and have taken a bunch of damage.[/details]

Helices:

[details=Level 1: Go the Distance v. Weather Man]

Recommendation: Weather Man

This might just be me, but I’ve never really seen much of a need to increase the distance of Lumberjack Dash whereas reducing the size of your massive reticle while you’ve got Hailstorm active is an incredible boon: with Weather Man, you can actually reliably get crits (at least while you’ve got Hailstorm up).[/details]

[details=Level 2: The Ol’ One Two v. Lumberjack Blast v. Push It Push It Push It]

Recommendation: Any

This decision largely comes down to personal preference. The Ol One Two knocks enemies into the air, rather than away from you, preventing you from stunning them but keeping them where they were (it also takes them out of the fight for about as long as the KB + stun would and interrupts any skills they might have been using). The problem, of course, is that they’re knocked high into the air, making it impossible for melee characters to hit them for most of their aerial tumble and difficult to hit/crit them otherwise (because they’re not only moving around but they’re also having their models turned about). LjB and PIPIPI both just make the skill more effective at what it already does: LjB is gonna make you more likely to hit and hit more targets while PIPIPI makes it easier to get the stun (since they’re pushed back further) and, even if they’re not stunned, they’re still pushed further away.

Personally, I never have that much problem with getting enemies in stunned and don’t like the knock up effect because it prevents me from killing stuff as quickly, so I take LjB, but it’s less because it’s outright better than because it syncs better with how I play Montana.[/details]

[details=Level 3: Pumped Up v. Gatling Grease]

Recommendation: Pumped Up

Neither of these is particularly potent so my recommendation largely comes down to how useful it’s going to be. In a vast majority of situations, I’m not waiting on the minigun to spin up; even when I’m letting it cool down, I can just right click to keep it spinning. About the only time it’s useful is if you absolutely need to start firing immediately after sprinting/moving quickly (since that’s the only time you couldn’t have the barrels spinning) and would find the additional second or so that it takes to start firing a major disadvantage. Of course, even though it does fire immediately, the rate of fire is still low and has to build up to max, so it’s not like you’re doing full damage from the start (it also means you’re generating heat faster). As such, I’d rather just take the additional hp.[/details]

[details=Level 4: The Cooler v. Firestorm]

Recommendation: Any

This comes down to a question of risk and what you intend on doing with Montana. The Cooler causes your projectiles to actually generate negative heat while Hailstorm is active, which is absolutely amazing, since it allows you to just keep firing. Even with later builds that allow for continual fire, this is useful because it takes you off of Overheat (which will mean not taking any additional damage) when you use it. Firestorm, on the other hand, increases heat generation while it’s active and adds a DoT (the DoT doesn’t stack, so it’s basically 24 additional DPS while you have Hailstorm active). Firestorm roughly doubles the heat generation while Hailstorm is active, which can make it extremely easy to overheat.

The Cooler is definitely safer than Firestorm, but if you’ve got a solid pocket healer and are willing to wait a couple levels so that you’ll never have to stop firing from overheating, Firestorm can provide a lot of extra damage.[/details]

[details=Level 5: Cold-Blooded v. Focused Fire v. Hot-Blooded]

Recommendation: Any

This is just like the previous level’s helix: it all depends upon risk, intention, and who you’ve got backing you up. In practice, Cold-Blooded amounts to out of combat regen while Hot-Blooded amounts to combat regen. CB syncs up with The Cooler and FF and HB sync up with Firestorm (as well as Feeling the Burn next level).

Personally, I never take CB, mainly because, even when I’m not in combat, I can still maintain a high level of heat (and therefore regeneration) even when I’m not actually shooting at anything. The decision between FF and HB then comes down to whether I’ve got a powerful healer in my pocket following me around. If I don’t, HB is pretty much required in order to offset the damage I’ll be doing to myself via Feeling the Burn next level while, if I do have a good healer, FF is going to act as a signficant DPS increase due to fewer missed shots and way more crits (especially when combined with Weather Man from level 1).[/details]

[details=Level 6: Swole Shield v. Icicles v. Feeling the Burn]

Recommendation: Any

This is the level that can completely change how you play Montana. Feeling the Burn turns overheat into a secondary concern. It’s risky, but it lets you control when you stop firing rather than letting a statistic dictate when an enemy gets a reprieve from your weapon. The damage isn’t just based on the projectile either; it’s actually based on the additional heat generated, so you’ll take even more damage from FtB if you’ve got Firestorm active (and you might need FtB to compensate for Firestorm’s increased heat generation, so, if you don’t have a lot of healing, it’s kind of a catch-22). Only take FtB if you’ve got a lot of natural regeneration or a healer in your pocket; without either (or, preferably, both) of those, FtB ends up being more of a risk than a boon.

If you’re not taking FtB, Swole Shield and Icicles are both good and come down to preference: Swole Shield is awesome if you want to be an even tankier Montana, though shield isn’t stellar since you have to avoid getting hit (which is difficult, as big as Montana is) in order for it to recharge. Icicles is awesome for mowing down (and debuffing) hordes of enemies; it works quite well with Firestorm too.

Random side note, one of Montana’s lore challenges requires him to have 5 enemies slowed by Hailstorm at the same time on 20 occasions; this is remarkably difficult normally since the slow doesn’t last long and enemies get in the way of each other, but Icicles makes it way easier since a single bullet can penetrate enemies in the front and slow multiple foes. It’s something to consider until such time as you complete the lore.[/details]

[details=Level 7: Icebreaker v. Barrel Cooling v. Ice Age]

Recommendation: Barrel Cooling or Ice Age

Icebreaker is largely worthless, in my opinion, mainly because Lumberjack Dash isn’t really a damage ability. The obvious intent of it is to prevent the “waste” of Hailstorm’s buff if you use Lumberjack Dash while it’s active, but the increase to damage on the conditional use of a skill that isn’t used for damage purposes just doesn’t justify taking the helix in my opinion.

Barrel Cooling and Ice Age are both excellent options, however. Barrel Cooling will allow you to shoot for longer periods before you overheat (and, if you took FtB, it reduces the damage you take since the damage is determined by turning excess heat into damage; this reduces heat generated, so it reduces that damage) while Ice Age keeps up a very useful buff for a couple seconds more (~25% increase in duration). Counterintuitively, if you’ve taken The Cooler, Barrel Cooling will actually reduce the amount of heat lost per projectile fired, since it’s a multiplier rather than subtractive, which is something to factor in.
Since Hailstorm can be modified so heavily, there are too many situational specifics that can affect whether Barrel Cooling or Ice Age is best here. If you need a simple way of determining the likely better choice, I would look to your heat: if you’re having problems managing your heat (whether taking too much damage from FtB or overheating too often), go with Barrel Cooling (unless you took The Cooler; if you took The Cooler, take Ice Age).[/details]

[details=Level 8: Too Big to Fail v. KRACKADOWWW!]

Recommendation: Too Big to Fail

As I said before with Icebreaker, Lumberjack Dash isn’t a skill you use for the damage it deals and, even if you’re focusing on skill damage with it (such as trying to get the kills with it for the lore challenge), you’re better off just using it more often since you get the additional control that comes with using it more often.[/details]

[details=Level 9: Bullet Buff v. Icy Resolve v. Perfect Storm]

Recommendation: (PvP) Any; (PvE) Icy Resolve or Perfect Storm

Bullet Buff is only awesome if you didn’t take Firestorm. Increasing the strengh of the slow can be quite the boon in PvP, where the ability to slow down a fast moving agile opponent (like a Mellka) can turn someone that’s normally extremely annoying/dangerous into someone that you can basically laugh at. Since the DoT doesn’t stack, doubling the duration of Firestorm’s DoT from 2 to 4 seconds basically gives you an additional 48 damage to a target after you stop shooting them, which isn’t really going to do much.

Icy Resolve obviously makes you much harder to kill, and Perfect Storm gives you a potent DPS increase. Choose based upon what you need more of: control (Bullet Buff), survivability (Icy Resolve), or damage (Perfect Storm).[/details]

[details=Level 10: Big Payback v. Instant Payback]

Recommendation: Any

Big Payback can easily kill people stupid enough to stay near you when your ult ends. The problem is that you need to be alive when it ends in order to destroy them (and they need to be near you). As such, this is the question you need to ask yourself: can you guarantee that you will you be alive for 3 seconds after your ult ends?

Since Big Payback returns all of the damage in a small PbAoE after it ends, you have some choice over who takes all of this damage and, if you’re taking damage from a bunch of sources, all of them end up contributing damage to the others. It can be truly devastating, but if things don’t go correctly, it’ll be wasted.

As such, Big Payback is high risk, high reward whereas Instant Payback is good for consistent returns. The risk is a bit much for me, in general, so I almost always go for Instant Payback unless I’m feeling particularly frisky.[/details]

Gear Stats:

Montana is a great big tanky character that uses some stats in strange and unusual ways and, when built and played properly, can be a DPS powerhouse. I’ll go over all stats here, based on how I personally categorize them, and provide a priority list for each category.

[details=Offensive]
(Attack Speed=Attack Damage>Critical Damage>Recoil>Reload=Cooldown>Skill Damage>Shield Pen)

Attack Speed increases your damage as well as your heat generation, which can either be a very good or a very bad thing, which is why it’s tied with Attack Damage. If you don’t want to generate a lot of heat, Attack Speed is going to be significantly lower but, if you do want to generate a lot of heat, it’s outright better.

If you can fill your target reticle with an opponent’s crit spot, Critical Damage can provide ridiculously massive amounts of damage, more than Attack Speed or Attack Damage thanks to the larger values the stat gets. The difficulty of this, however, makes it less valuable than either of them.

Recoil reduces your heat generation per shot, which can offset the risk of an extremely high Attack Speed build. It also means that you’ll be attacking for longer. If you want to generate heat faster, a recoil penalty on gear can actually be a good thing rather than a bad one, since you’re reducing the cost of gear at the “cost” of improving your functionality.

Reload allows you to recover faster when you’re not firing, which shouldn’t be often, in my opinion, because Montana is character designed to place constant pressure on his enemies. If you want to prevent heat decay, a reload penalty on gear can actually be a good thing rather than a bad one, just like with recoil.

Because Hailstorm varies so heavily based on helix choice, Cooldown can be a mediocre damage stat (if you build Hailstorm for survivability/control) or excellent (if you build it for heat management/damage). It will never get up to the same level as Attack Speed, Attack Damage, or Critical Damage, but it improves your control and survivability while the others don’t.

Montana is not a character built around dealing damage with his skills. He has a control skill that does a bit of damage, he has a buff that makes your basic attack better (the only way Skill Damage is the DoT from Firestorm, which is pathetic compared to the normal projectile damage), and a buff that deals moderate damage on activation. Skill Damage is an extremely low priority.

Shield pen is utterly rubbish. It’s only useful in PvP because most enemies in PvE don’t have shields (and no bosses have them; Rendain’s shield doesn’t care about shield pen). Still, it actually does something unlike recoil and reload.[/details]

[details=Defensive]
(Damage Reduction<Max Health<Max Shield=Health Regen=Healing Received<Shield Recharge=Shield Regen<CC Duration)

Montana has a lot of hp and some pretty good recovery mechanisms (and, if in a group, should have a healer accompanying him at all times). His hp+shield is just shy of the break even point where DR overcomes max hp for TTK purposes, but, when you factor in the recovery tools he should have (whether natural or coming from friends), it pushes him over the top.

Max Health is just powerful and useful for not dying. It’s the gold standard against which all other stats are compared.

Max Shield is of lower value to Montana than for most other characters because he will very rarely actually recover his shield since he’s so easy to hit. Since he’s liable to be fighting and taking damage for extended periods, Health Regen gear is easily going to overcome Max Shield (primary max shield is 140; primary health regen is 14/sec, which means that, if an exchange lasts longer than 10 secs, Health Regen adds more).

Healing Received is contingent upon having a pocket healer; if you’ve got one, this is probably tied with DR for usefulness. If you don’t, it’s worse than CC Duration.

Shield Recharge and Shield Regen are bad for the same reason that Max Shield is bad: Montana doesn’t take breaks. You can’t stack enough Shield Recharge to make his shield begin recharging in combat before he’s liable to just get shot again and you can’t stack enough Shield Regen to have his shields recover enough to actually make a difference if/when they do start recharging.

CC duration is functionally worthless. CCs don’t last that long so the minute values of CC duration on gear basically mean nothing.[/details]

[details=Control]
(Cooldown)

If you want to make Montana a better controller, the only option is to grab Cooldown. With a properly helixed Hailstorm and Lumberjack Dash, he can do a pretty good job at pushing around opponents and interfering with their movements, so I recommend this more for him than I do for other characters, especially if you’ve got good healers, good attackers, but not much in the way of control on your team.[/details]

[details=Mobility]
(Move speed>Cooldown>Sprint speed>CC duration)

Move speed is useful in combat and out of combat and is increased by sprint speed. Cooldown means more Lumberjack Dash availability but that’s all it provides. Sprint speed is only really useful outside of combat, less so than normal because Montana can’t sprint while his gun is spinning. CC duration reduces the duration of slows and stuns but is still absolutely terrible.[/details]

[details=Economy]
(Shards>Buildable)

Getting shards helps you buy gear as well as construct buildables. Buildable reduction makes them way cheaper, however. Something to consider is that I only find these stats remotely useful in PvP. PvE gives you shards like candy; unless you’ve got someone who bogarts all of the shards, every mission should provide a surplus of shards even if you have a triple legendary loadout (like I do for pretty much everyone). In PvP, however, these are absolutely amazing and can actually be the foundation of an effective strategy.[/details]

Legendaries of Note:

[details=Gloves (attack damage)]
Pacifier (algorithm), Symbiotic Gauntlet (sentinel)

Attack damage beefs up the minigun, which is good. SG gives one of his best survivability stats and is better offensively, but you probably won’t see full value very often, even with a pocket healer, because Montana soaks up bullets like no one else. Pacifier gives a nice little attack damage debuff to everything he hits with anything, which he should be doing all the time to as many enemies as possible.
Vow of Vengeance should probably be mentioned because it’s one of the most popular legendaries out there. Do not use it on Montana, even though it has really good stats. The stacks only apply with his quick melee and the stacks fall off very quickly (a matter of seconds) so it’s basically an expensive epic. VoV is for melee, which Montana is not.[/details]

[details=Swords (attack speed)]
Vow of Zealous Fury (heliophage), Stolen Edge of Arcvynorr (sentinel), Orbital Tracking Spike (llc)

VoZF is the gold standard of attack speed legendaries: the stacks last an extremely long time and are easy to acquire, and it provides an excellent stat in addition to the attack speed. It’s kind of a :heart::heart::heart::heart::heart: to get, though, because Rendain drops it. And Rendain sucks (longest mission in the game and he’s the very last boss). SEoA is much easier to get and is almost as good: the stacks can be gained incredibly easily with Montana’s rate of fire; move speed is, in my book, worse than crit damage, though, but that’s personal preference. Orbital Tracking Spike gets special referencing here because Montana is not a mobile individual while he is attacking or spinning up; as such, having to stand still for a doubling of the attack speed bonus isn’t that big of a deal. Also, it gives him a bit of shield to help him survive everything being thrown at him, which can help a bit (even if it isn’t liable to actually recharge).[/details]

[details=Goggles (critical damage)]
Vigilant Power Scouter (sentinel), Hostile_Takeover.exe (algorithm)

VPS gives you hp in addition to crit damage and increases the damage of your next attack following a crit. It isn’t consumed on a miss so Montana’s tendency to miss isn’t going to hurt you much and his tendency to accidentally crit when you’re anywhere near your opponent’s crit location will help. It’s not going to be as awesome on him as it is on true crit driven characters, but it’s not a bad choice. Hostile_Takeover is only of interest in PvP and only because Montana unleashes a boatload of bullets that might just crit. If you luck out and get a crit, your target isn’t getting any shield back for 8 seconds, which can be long enough to ruin someone’s day if they’re trying to get away.[/details]

[details=Pauldrons (damage reduction)]
Blissbeast Skull Plate (void’s edge), Burning Sunset (rogue), Porta-bUnkr Phalanx Rig (upr), “Alamo-7” Armor (algorithm)

Blissbeast Skull Plate provides damage reduction and a nice chunk of regeneration. Gotta love it. You’re not liable to get the legendary effect often due to Montana’s impressive amount of hp, so it’s worse than on many other characters, but it’s still useful. Burning Sunset makes it a lot harder to screw with you when you’re on a rampage because it allows you to ignore the damage from one skill every 30 seconds (only useful in PvP; this does nothing in PvE). The CC duration fits with the theme of ignoring opponent’s trying to screw with you. Porta-bUnkr Phalanx Rig and “Alamo-7” Armor should probably also be mentioned here because they’re somewhat popular options to consider. PbPR could be viable in a full UPR group (especially if your group spends a lot of time hiding behind you) but that’s not going to happen often, especially since the UPR doesn’t have any healers (and Montana really wants a healer); A7A provides a low value secondary stat and, while 2 seconds of immunity is nice, Montana doesn’t really have anything he can do with 2 seconds to avoid dying (other than killing his opponent).[/details]

[details=Amulets (healing received)]
Vidania Root Poultice (experiment), All-4-One Morale Booster (upr)

Normally, I don’t recommend amulets because they only really contribute if you’ve got a healer watching your back; since you can pretty much always guarantee that, if someone picks Montana, someone else is gonna pick a healer to keep him company, this isn’t really a problem. Both of these provide a lot of healing received and a nice secondary stat to keep you alive. The legendary effect of VRP means that you’re gonna be able to push a bit faster, which is nice, and the Morale Booster is gonna help your healing friend keep themselves alive.

A quick note on the Leechsteel Brooch: it brings healing received, some skill damage (meh), and life steal (ooh!), but the life steal only applies to damage dealt by skills. While this includes damage dealt while Hailstorm is active (when Hailstorm is active, it’s considered “skill damage” even if it’s not improved by Skill Damage gear), Montana is an attack damage character, so I really don’t recommend this. If you want to heal yourself, use an injector or other source of health regen.[/details]

[details=Injectors (health regen)]
Song of Vigor (sentinel), Oath of the Sustained (renegade)

Song of Vigor is normally pretty bad, but I like it on Montana: he can generally plan on having a healer nearby to take advantage of the healing received and some healers have issues healing themselves when healing someone else, so the health regen to nearby allies can help. OotS is the more offensive minded variant: Montana is liable to be dealing out a bunch of damage with his sustained fire, so the attack damage and healing to allies will be useful. Of course, the primary reason to use an injector in the first place is that you won’t have a healer around so having injectors on a character that will almost always have a healer around is a bit redundant (and not the good kind of redundant).[/details]

[details=Armor (max hp)]
Vigilance Link (sentinel), Vampiric Vestments (jennerit), Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter (upr), Custom-Fit Flak Vest (lore)

Vigilance Link gives you 2 excellent survivability stats and makes your team more durable as well. Excellent for team players and more support minded people. Vampiric vestments will give you hp, more hp when you kill things, and more attack damage so that it’s easier to kill things. However, because you lose them when you die, I wouldn’t recommend VV for PvP since dying is relatively common (and melee characters tend to be easy to kill in PvP). Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter is probably the max hp gear for Montana because he’s such a large target that he’s going to get hit often enough to double the +hp but it also comes with his best defensive stat: DR. His lore legendary is also an excellent option: attack speed is a great attack stat and the effect is absolutely incredible for FtB builds, since it dramatically reduces the damage you take from overheat (by reducing the heat generated when you’re above 85% by 50%. It’s like having an even better version of Barrel Cooling (since high heat is good, as long as you’re not overheating).[/details]

[details=Batteries (max shield)]
One-4-All Shield Array (experiment), Modernista (saboteur)

Modernista is a good anti-ranged shield with a decent secondary stat. A good way to discourage snipers in PvP since you can avoid the first crit and hurt them in the process. One-4-All Shield Array gives you more shield, your allies more shield, and, while Shield Pen is an incredibly sub-par stat, that’s not why you’re using the legendary.[/details]

[details=Boots (move speed)]
RDC Ground Pounders (upr)

The only boots I would recommend for Montana, not because he likes movement speed a lot but because of the other 2 effects: recoil reduces his heat accumulation and there’s a nice bit of conditional DR if he takes damage from the side (which can happen with players a lot since most people don’t want to be in front of a spinning cannon that spits doom; it also helps that your healer will almost always be to the side or rear of you so stray shots/attacks from assassins trying to kill your healer will trigger this).[/details]

[details=Stocks (recoil)]
Mini-Singularity Launcher (saboteur), Stable Executioner (renegade)

MSL reduces your heat generation, gives you regen, and one target every 10 seconds hit by your attacks will be slowed for 3 seconds. It’s a useful bit of additional control if you want to push that, but it’s not that special since it’s so limited and Montana isn’t really about “precision”. You’ll probably waste the slow as often as you get it on someone useful. SE’s main value comes from Montana throwing out so many body shots. A 7% chance to get 50% additional damage (which is mechanically treated as a crit, for other purposes) on hits or crits can provide a nice little bonus over the long term. It’s only 3.5% increase in damage, but it applies to all of your damage, both skill and attack. Still, not stellar, but worth considering if you’re focusing on heat management.

Special mention to Starkweather’s Oscillator: doubling the recoil reduction while your shield is charging might seem good, but that only applies while your shield value is actually in the process of increasing, which never really happens while Montana is actually attacking (and most definitely won’t happen if you have FtB since overheat damage goes to your shield first). You might consider this, but it’s a trap.[/details]

[details=Magazines (reload)]
Keeper-Seeker Reaper Rounds (upr)

First off, all other magazines are terrible for Montana. Vyn’s Quiver, Mag Daemon, and Hidden Charger all provide nice stats and effects but those effects are contingent on the actual act of reloading, which Montana never does. He simply benefits from the stat in a non-traditional way.

Keeper-Seeker Reaper Rounds, however, double up on heat management stats for Montana and, due to his insanely high rate of fire, he’s gonna stack up those hits to get the full bonus damage very easily. Of course, it only applies to UPR opponents so… I doubt you’re gonna get a lot of mileage on that unless you’re fighting another Montana.[/details]

[details=Spikes (shield pen)]
Bunker Buster (algorithm)

While shield pen is terrible, the Bunker Buster can form the basis of a powerful anti-shield loadout/build. Stack up some shield pen secondary gear and Montana can melt through shields extremely effectively (and can do wonders against Sentries in Incursion).[/details]

[details=Pins (skill damage)]
Bola’s Target Finder (experiment)

While there are some other good skill damage items, it’s important to remember that Montana is not a skill damage character and the primary stat on them is basically a waste. Bola’s Target Finder gives him an excellent secondary stat and allows his skills to make everything else he does more effective. This can make a FtB/Firestorm build all the more doom-y.[/details]

Loadouts:

[details=General PvE]
Vow of Zealous Fury, Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter, Blissbeast Skull Plate

One legendary devoted to damage and 2 devoted to survivability, stacking attack speed, dr, and max health with a little bit of crit damage and regen.[/details]

[details=Pure Damage PvE]
Vow of Zealous Fury, Symbiotic Gauntlet, Vigilant Power Scouter

Only do this if you are sure that you have a good pocket healer because you’ll have very little regen with this. Lots of attack speed, attack damage, and crit damage. You’ll be getting a good chunk of +hp from the Eldrid legendaries, but that’s unavoidable. If you’re in a group that can coordinate and/or have problems scoring crits, you might consider replacing VPS with Bola’s Target Finder, for a truly pure DPS allotment, though you’ll end up with low personal DPS.[/details]

[details=Pure Survivability PvE]
Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter, Blissbeast Skull Plate, All-4-One Morale Booster

As much DR as you can possibly squeeze into a single character coupled with plenteous max hp and a healthy portion of regen and healing received. If you’re solo, replace the Morale Booster with Oath of the Sustained or another good injector for regen.[/details]

[details=PvP Tank]
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter, Blissbeast Skull Plate

In PvP, since you’ve always got a team of 5 (at least to start with), Montana works best as a meat shield for his allies to hide behind. The free shard gen is there to allow you to afford the other 2 legs.[/details]

[details=PvP Damage]
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), Vow of Zealous Fury, Symbiotic Gauntlet

Attack Speed and Attack Damage will make this Montana dangerous, especially for wave clearing on minions or other NPCs. VPS is out largely because players are annoying to crit. The free shard gen is there to allow you to afford the other 2 legs.[/details]

[details=PvP Control]
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), Mini-Singularity Launcher, Modernista

Mini-Singularity Launcher gives you some non-skill slowing capability as well as heat management. Modernista makes range people less willing to take pot shots (especially Marquis, who can be very annoying) and reduces CD. The free shard gen is there to allow you to afford the other 2 legs.[/details]

[details=Fast Leveling PvP]
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), Crude Handyman Multi-Tool (-skill damage), any 1 legendary

Build as much as possible to get easy xp and level up as quickly as possible. Make sure you stick around the fights as well so that you’re not sacrificing minion xp for build xp. The legendary is there for when you hit level 10 and no longer need to spend shards on build xp. I don’t mention any specific legendaries because there are a crapton that can fit in depending upon what you want and how you want to do it.[/details]

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Oh, i like THIS.

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A few important things missing from this guide:

-Firestorm removes the slow from Hailstorm. This alone makes it a terrible helix, not to mention what it does to your heat.
-Mansformation is 75% DR
-Icy Resolve increases Hailstorm’s DR to 75%
-Big Payback can still fire after you die (at least in PvE)
-Activating at least one piece of DR gear will increase Hailstorm’s DR to 50% (does not effect Icy Resolve)

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I’ve read this quite a bit, but I haven’t noticed any difference in my testing. Are there any videos and/or posts about how this works where someone went in depth on it? I ask because I don’t currently believe it. Thanks.

Ice breaker is actually a really good helix, especially when mixed with KRACCKADOWW, I once thought it was wasting hailstorm, but it really isn’t and the damage is great

hi there! sorry to sorta necro this post, but you seem to be the most likely to have the answer I need

You say that manformation gives him about 50% damage reduction, but from my use, it seems a LOT higher than that, especially when his normal DR from icestorm is 30%/50% with helix.

I would test this if my second PS4 controller worked, so I have to bug you in the mean time >.> so is the 50% a vague guess or did you test to confirm this number? thanks!

i can almost definitely guess that kitru tested this, and it was probably something like 49.75% or something silly like that for him not to have said exactly 50%.

but, no; if theres one thing kitru doesnt do on these guides, its guess. he spent the time to test every single char/helix so unless its changed since he made this (it was actually just updated on steam yesterday, if you havent checked it out on there!) its as accurate as you’ll find, numerically speaking. :slight_smile:

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and to actually get kitrus response to you:
DR values are annoyingly hard to test if you don’t have someone else to pocket test with you (NPCs don’t tend to make it easy to repeatedly track the performance of a single attack), but the ult is actually 75% DR
50% was my best guess (hence the ~50% rather than 50%) from the solo runs I did while writing the guide, but I did test it later with dojo to get the 75% value

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It’s annoying GBX doesn’t include that amount in the skill description- even sal’s gunzerking listed the 300% DR

I was going to test this myself but I discovered my second PS4 controller broke :disappointed_relieved:

I just wanted to get solid(ish) numbers on his DR because I love messing around with max health and DR and seeing just how tanky I could make him (especially with the max health and DR ops gear)

Thanks for making these guides and helping the community kitru :heart: