Learning to Play Kelvin - The Mindset of a Monster

When I first approached Battleborn, I already knew the characters I intended on playing: Miko, Benedict, and especially Kleese! I was content with my decisions and hadn’t really considered anyone else since I tend to focus on mastering a select few; A jack of all trades is a king at none!

… Then I saw Kelvin.

I’m not the type to play melee characters, nor do I enjoy playing tanks, so Kelvin’s playstyle didn’t appeal to me at all… But I couldn’t think of a game where I had the opportunity to play as a big ice monster and I looove me some creatures! So my journey to mastering this unexpected character began…


Kelvin drew me because he looked like a giant Pokemon/Digimon/Katamari. He’s literally a massive clump of ice roughly sculpted into the shape of a skull with a lower jaw that would make a hippopotamus wet(wetter?) with envy. So, it’s pretty clear we’re going to run around and bite people a lot, but in a world where people can fly and shoot every flavor of death at you, how do we manage that? It took me a while to really understand Kelvin’s moveset.

  • Primary Attack: ICE FISTS Kelvin’s claws actually do a bit more damage than Rath’s swords, but only barely. I originally had a hard time finding reasons to use the Primary attack when his secondary uses his massive club-like claw to smash the ground in a small AoE for similar damage. There’s two reasons to use the primary: You can use it in the air, and it nets more damage if all the hits connect. This means that if you get the jump on someone, leading with a bite and then clawing them will net you the most damage you can pull off before you’re forced to start pounding away on the floor. Also, when an enemy is running from you, your ground pounds could actually accidentally push them away from you, helping their escape!

  • Secondary (AOE) Attack: GROUND POUND Yeah… I kind of just made that name up (Now I’m looking at it all insecurely, wondering if I could’ve come up with something more creative) but it does get to the point. Kelvin smashes his hammerfist into the ground twice to do AoE damage and a bit of knockback. This is your main waveclear right here and is very disruptive to the enemy team (especially when upgraded!) when used properly and combined with the pushback of your Quick Melee.

  • Crowd Control / Escape: SUBLIMATE Sublimate can be used in three ways: To attack, to retreat, or to save a scrambling teammate. Mastering Sublimate is possibly more important to playing Kelvin successfully than mastering your bite! The most common use for Sublimate is as an escape, stunning an enemy you beat up on as you make your misty breakaway. If you’re using it to attack, you’d best be sure you can ensure the kill and have a way out planned rather than going in with the YOLO! (You only live once!) -state of mind. Using sublimate properly means having map awareness, as it is very easy to fall to the temptation of misting towards some potential victim because you didn’t see their friends around the corner.

Note: Sublimate lasts for 3s and hits with a 1.5s stun. To ensure a Sublimate -> Chomp combo, try to catch the opponent closer to when the skill is about to expire, or press the skill again to cancel it early.

  • Main Damage: CHOMP Ever wanted to play as one of those vicious chain-chomps from Super Mario? Well suck it up, buttercup; this is the closest you’re going to get! Chomp deals damage PLUS an instant 15% of the enemy’s HP (The ability caps at 500 damage). While this move seems pretty straightforward, it has one major caveat: Killing an enemy with Chomp PERMANENTLY increases your max HP

Basic Minion - 25 HP

Elite Minion - 25HP

Humanoid Minion - 75HP (What!?)

Thrall - 75HP

To put this into perspective, consider that many +HP items grant around 200 extra HP. (Kelvin’s own Helix trait grants an extra 360 HP) Killing and eating 2 minions and 2 thralls would give you as much HP as an equipment item!


My first matches with Kel were, predictably, brutal. Not in the “Ohhh man I’m such a BEAST! Crushing fools left and right!” kind of brutal, but more of the holding yourself tightly, rocking & shivering while wondering wondering “Jeez… I’m not that bad. Am I really that bad? … No. Its the character. Is it me? It’s me, isn’t it?” -kind of bad. But every loss, every beating is a lesson on what not to do, and I made sure to keep mental notes on all my mistakes. I learned…

  • Kelvin is NOT a true tank! Yes, he can soak up a lot of damage, but nothing compared to the likes of Boldur and ISIC. Ontop of this, he has a hard time escaping combat due to his escape also doubling as his initiation AND the fact that he easily gets stuck on random terrain. Kel is more like Montana and Galilea; highly disruptive and able to draw enemy fire away from your allies and onto him.

  • Kelvin plays like an assassin I was most successful when I was able to sneak up on enemies from their flanks. I’d leap in, Chomp away 15% of their HP instantly, claw and slash while I smashed the ground around me, and used my Sublimate to leave them stunned while I escaped. When an enemy was already weakened, I’d creep up and wait in their backline for someone to retreat. This time I’d start my attack with Sublimate so that I could finish them with Chomp.

When I first started, I figured my passive shielding, massive health pool, and regeneration would allow me to soak up damage and tank hits like a … Um. Tank. It took several bullets, lasers, and blades for me to learn the painful truth: Kelvin plays like a horror movie monster. I did my best when I lurked and waited patiently, was more successful when I picked out specific targets rather than rampaging like Boldur, and was much harder to kill when I had an escape route planned!

The best feeling was knowing that my enemies had learned to fear me.

Kelvin is a threat in a 1v1, able to defeat almost anyone with proper play, but he has a hard time in outnumbered fights or when CC’d. I forced the enemy teams to stick together to avoid being destroyed, I had them looking over their shoulders for the next ambush, and often was able to “tank” by drawing the fire away from my team and onto myself.


Being scarey and smash-y is good fun, but it wouldn’t have meant much if I couldn’t put it to use in a way that truly benefits your team. Since I couldn’t traditionally face tank, I had a hard time initially finding a reason to play Kelvin over someone like Boldur, who has loads of defense, and still does very respectable damage. Or Galilea who shares a very similar role yet seems to do it better.

… But they can’t stun the entire enemy team.

Kelvin’s shining trait isn’t the damage he does, but in his ability to coordinate with his team to secure kills. He is very much a team player - fitting since Kel is actually a billion micro-organisms working together to form one unit - and has several abilities that work better to set up kills rather than secure them on his own. When I play Kel, I play him not as a traditional tank, but a guardian. I watch my allies, I attack any melee character attacking them and I try not to stray too far from the team. With my powerful AoE basic attack, I clear waves and when I’m not doing either of those, I’m watching who my allies are fighting. The weakest or most vulnerable (via bad positioning) enemy will get stunned. If the enemy team is pushing as a group? I stun them all!

Kelvin is a force of nature, but also a very strong team player. Communication is more important for him rather than someone like Rath or Orendi because with teamwork, he can easily help wipe an unsuspecting enemy team with good use of his Sublimate and ground pound. While it may take a bit of a beating to master him (and character rank 5 to boost his bite) he is a very unique and not often used character that can devastate the battlefield.

Stay hungry, my friends.


Well Done!

Thanks for writing this. I floundered with Kelvin.

Found this guide on google a couple days ago. Kelvin is now my favorite character, and will most likely main him in the future. Great job.

1 Like

I haven’t yet played Kelvin in PvP upon reading this, but I have played pve and I think this is very well said and very well written. right after I get miko’s Kelvin lore challenge done, Im going to work on kelvin’s miko lore challenge and try to play him in PvP some. He reminds me of shayne and aurox, only more health, but no shields, and a little less stealthy but with more lethal value