My take on rating Zero skills

Hello. There was a topic in BL3 forum by a member asking for skill reviews so I thought it might be fun to write my thoughts on Zero’s skills. Here’s the original thread: Looking for people with extensive experience with any or all playable characters in the Borderlands series

As you can see he asked for reviews on not just usefulness but also the fun factor so I’ve included that in my reviews.

Then this came up in the thread:

I mean, sure. If it ends up being useful on the main Zero board I’ve nothing against the idea. I do however feel like this stuff should be edited, clarified and maybe expanded a little more which my short personal review simply does not do. There’s also some of my failings at English that I’m too lazy to edit when I notice them afterwards. Also if it is used on this forum I feel the “fun” factor is kind of irrelevant and should be edited to be a part of the main description where it’s useful.
EDIT: Failed to phrase in there that I want second opinions if this is going to be used. I’m not egoistic enough to think I’m qualified for doing this alone.

So, if you want to make this into a better version of what it is now for use in this forum, feel free to do so. I’ve finished sniping and bloodshed trees. Probably getting cunning done tomorrow. I’ll admit that I kinda cut corners in bloodshed, or at least I feel like it. It’s a comprehensive tree but I felt like I didn’t have that much to say about it.



Pretty much every build will go for Bore and as the option for this skill is Optics, which is completely useless, this is an automatic pick-up. In that sense it might as well be marked as 5/5.

3/5 fun. It’s just a crit boost.

Terrible for anyone. One of the worst skills in the game. The aim stability is not very noticable because the shake effect is not too bad in BL2 at all. The zoom boost ranges from whatever to outright harmful, if you are trying to fight enemies close-up but would still like to ADS.

X/5 fun. Don’t pick it. If you do the fun is subjective to how much zoom you you want for whatever scopes you are using.

Kill skill for good crit and reload boosts. Another automatic pick-up. The bonuses are large so this is a really good skill while mobbing.

4/5 fun. Mobbing with effective kill skills is always fun and Killer is a very good one.

The way accuracy works in BL2 makes this skill slightly underwhelming, especially since it’s not a huge boost per skill point. It is very good for shotguns (5/5). It can benefit pistols, AR’s and SMG’s to tighten their spread so might consider throwing some points here. Not a priority though.

5/5 fun for shotguns, not so much others. EDIT: This skill as well as Velocity is boosted by Legendary Sniper COM so shotgun users generally gravitate towards that. The COM also boosts OSOK which is generally something shotgun users like.

-One shot, one kill-
Very gun specific. Low mag Jacobs shotguns? 5/5 rating. Vladof pistols? 1/5 rating. Best benefits shotguns and snipers, as they have high base damage to capitalize on it, and builds focused on those do max out this skill. Others usually leave it alone or at best use it as a dump for extra points for a small DPS boost.

5/5 fun for low mag shotguns or sniping gameplay where you intentionally reload a lot. Synergizes really well with Killer and Followthrough for that kind of one shot gameplay. At OP8 you’ll likely need more shots but still very fun.

Very controversial skill. On paper it’s really good but in practice the way bullet speed works is often screwing with a lot of guns red text effects. You most likely want to max it out on builds focused on any guns that don’t get negatively affected by bullet speed effects.

4/5 fun for anything benefitting of it.

Good ol’ Bore. I’m not going to explain how it works. It’s been done so many times by now with even pictures included that there’s no point for me to get into that.

Almost every build wants to pick it up because it can be used to one shot the double Saturns at Digi Peak. Outside of that it can also be used to one shot UBA Constructors, the Bunker and it can one shot a single Saturn but usually just does a ton of damage. Occasionally it can oneshot a couple of regular enemies whose hitboxes are lodged into each other.

In everyday gameplay the skill is 3/5, maybe even a 2/5. It’s nice extra DPS here and there but it’s kind of rare to get anything spectacular out of it while mobbing. It does have synergy with Execute as that causes knockback on the enemy you are hitting so you can occasionally set up a Bore chain with it.

Very fun when it works.

-Kill confirmed-
A somewhat problematic skill. Not completely useless but the requirement for getting benefits out of it just doesn’t happen in practical gameplay as it gains stacks so slowly. It best benefits SMG, AR’s and some pistols so if you are a general gun user it’s ok.
Snipers (and shotgun users using sniper COM) can sneak a point or 3 in it as it occasionally kicks in a stack or even 2 and the sniper COM boosts it. You might get 1-2 stacks when going for shots out of Deception too.

Note: trying to actively play around with this skill is in direct conflict with building CA stacks and is also wasting time out of your kill skill bonuses from Killer and Followthrough.

1/5 fun. It’s just not a skill you want to play around with because of how it works. Lining up a max stack opening shot is the only situation where you should see full stacks and I don’t know anyone that bothers staying still that long :smiley: As a matter of fact you’ll have more fun with the skill if you don’t actively try to benefit from it.

-At one with the gun-
5/5 (for Snipers)
Non-snipers have no reason to pick this. The extra reload is very good. Extra mag size is obviously nice so you don’t have to reload as often. The hip aim bonus can be surprisingly beneficial (sniper ADS is pinpoint accuracy always anyway). It’s pretty much an automatic pick-up if you are going for CA below.

4/5 fun. Good bonuses for snipers. EDIT: I raised the fun from 3 to 4 because having 5 more bullets before forced reload is a big deal that was hard to value before trying without it.

-Critical ascension-
It’s kind of impossible to give a rating for CA. On the other hand with some snipers in some areas you can absolutely demolish everyone with it. On the other hand some snipers get nothing out of it. Area also affects its usefulness as some places in the game simply won’t allow stacking.
Anything between 1/5 and 5/5 depending on area and weapon choises.

The fun factor of this skill is directly tied to how effective it is so use the above for reference.



-Killing Blow-
Automatic pick-up for melee characters. Other builds also tend to pick this up as they want to get to tier 3 skills. Combined with Execute it sometimes benefits non-melee players. One of the core skills of any melee player as the damage is multiplicative.

5/5 for fun. Being able to finish off a big enemy at low health while watching huge chuncks of their health deplete on each strike feels good. For non-melee the occasional killing blow adds some flavor to fighting.

-Iron Hand-
Not really offering competition to Killing Blow but it does get picked by melee players because the choices for getting down to tier 3 aren’t stellar for them. Small additive melee bonus and some extra health. The health can actually be somewhat of a hindrance if you are using Moxxi weapons to get above healthgate.

1/5 for fun. It’s just not very noticable and occasionally screws with Moxxi guns.

Kill skill for shield recharge and cooldown reduction. Very good skill and helps Zero’s survivability. Pretty much every non-melee Zero picks it while melee Zero’s stay away from it because the recharge will mess with their roid shields.

4/5 for fun. More Deception is always good. The survivability boost from shield recharge is pretty good if you are wearing a tanky shield. It just works well with his other kill skills which offer DPS boosts for smooth mobbing.

-Be Like Water-
The other option for Iron Hand for melee builds to reach tier 3 without touching Grim. Small bonuses that occasionally kick in. Trying to actively play around with this skill is not recommended IMO. Just let it happen when it does.

2/5 fun factor. Occasional small additive melee boost that probably affects your first execute. The gun damage portion is not really bad but small enough to not actively pursue, especially since it’s only for one shot and requires you to set it up with a melee. It’s a nice idea that doesn’t quite hold up in practice. Doesn’t mess with healing. Has some synergy with Execute because it sets up an easy crit on most enemies for you to make use of your BLW extra damage.

A kill skill most Zero builds aim to get at least some points into. The move speed bonus benefits everyone. The melee bonus is small as it’s additive but melee want it for mobility purposes. The gun damage is very nice and when combined with Killer makes for some pretty powerful extra damage for 7 seconds after every kill.

5/5 fun. It benefits everyone and the movespeed bonus is very noticable.

A huge multiplicative melee damage boost. One of the skills that makes melee functional. Hybrid builds also want to invest into it but it’s a 1/5 for anyone not going for any melee.

5/5 fun. Setting up Backstabs is part of the challenge and fun of melee Zero.

Double melee damage out of Deception with a dash. First thought is obviously that melee players want it and that’s right. It is something most builds should at least consider however. It enables non-melee to use their Killing Blow more efficiently, the knockback from the hit can be used to set up a Bore instakill, the knockback also turns the enemy around setting you up for an easy crit to their head and in some areas you can use it to knock enemies off of cliffs. The initial dash is also useful for moving towards enemies during Deception and can even be used to fly for a limited time by continuously executing towards flying enemies.

5/5 fun. Just read the above :smiley:

3/5 for melee
Non melee don’t come to tier 4 so 1/5 for them. When boosted by a Ninja COM even 1 point is enough to usually get you above health gate in 2 kills in an MMF chain. You can invest more if you want as there tends to be some floating points trying to reach MMF at the end and if you have Iron Hand getting it up to 4/5 is probably not a bad idea. Allows you to gain health back while mobbing without using Moxxi makes it worth the investing a point or a few into it as a melee.

Fun factor 2/5. Hard to really value a healing skill like this. It’s fun when you get use out of it.

-Like The Wind-
Small additive melee boost and gun damage boost at tier 5? Talk about underwhelming… The reason this skill gets a rating of 2 is as there is a point in melee building where you’ll have 3 points you need to invest into either Iron hand, Be like water, Like the wind or Resurgence if you want more than 1 point in it. If you are a melee player who still shoots a lot this is likely your best choice for those points as it gives you some extra gun damage.

1/5 fun. It’s not really that not a fun idea that keeping moving increases damage but when it’s a small amount like it is it’s just easier to not care and just let it happen when it does.
EDIT: Other players seem to like using this skill to the awerage of 3/5 or maybe even 4/5.

-Many Must Fall-
Take all the fun of setting up a hilariously powerful melee strike out of your action skill and imagine doing that multiple times in a row. This skill has your back. The thing that makes melee Zero tick in mobbing. The extra clones also explode if you have Unforeseen specced (be careful with barrels). Fun factor is an obvious 5/5. Just imagine springing all over the battlefield while invisible and leaving a pile of bodies in your wake.


I realize you’ve got another post to make for Cunning - so I will delete and repost this when you do.

I agree with all your points for the most part and have little to contribute.

  • Like the Wind is a skill that I enjoy despite the tiny boost. I like seeing the icon up as much as possible in Deception - so I personally would give it 3/5 for fun.
  • Iron Hand : how does it interfere with Moxxi?
  • Precision : it might be worth noting that it becomes worthwhile when using the (Leg) Sniper COM. Throwing 2 or 3 points at Precision unboosted is a waste imo, but with the COM it can make a huge difference to shotguns. Obviously this can be said about many skills (OSOK for example) but Precision seems particularly dependent on a COM.
  • Optics. I don’t know why I like it. I did a run through using it for giggles and kind of bonded with it. But yes, still 1/5.
1 Like

I will also delete this if needed, but i should have specified when i offered to help. I meant formatting everything, since idk much about zer0


I will give LTW a fun factor of 3-4/5 or maybe higher, one thing that pulled me in to melee zero is seeing bore, striker glide through the air KB-ing raid bosses. They are the only ones i see doing it, then I came across that they are fully utilizing LTW since if you execute while you are standing still, LTW will not proc, however if you jump backwards and time your execute at the last milli second LTW procs.

Damage is not that great but awesomeness factor is off the charts

due to more health, but i agree it is not a hindrance to using moxxi weapons.

1 Like

First off, busy day. Cunning will have to wait a day or two more.
Second, some responses.

I guess like the wind fun factor is kind of subjective. Another reason I don’t think it should be a part of a review if it’s used here.

Moxxi is damage % based instead of max health % based so sometimes you might end up in FFYL where as without Iron hand you would’ve been above health gate. It’s rare but it’s there and I’ve definitely seen my fair share of it. Grog has such ridiculous healing percentage that it’s not much of an issue but any other Moxxi weapon you’ll likely run into that phenomenon. That said it’s not too important for Zero as outside of the occasional Hail or Kitten user or someone using Rubi instead of Grog, most of the time the Moxxi in use of Zero is going to be Grog. It’s more of a raid boss thing with their unavoidable novas. you won’t have a problem with it while mobbing unless you run into a RL using enemy. Same deal with BAR max health raises BTW.

As for precicion, I tried to write this with as little concern for coms as possible (if you have a skill greatly benefitting your build you’ll boost it anyway) but I did mention it’s great for shotguns. I’d 5/5 or even 10/50 it on a shotgun build. I’ll edit it further once I’m done with the whole thing.
EDIT: I rated it 5/5 for shotguns so I’d assume that gives the idea that maxing this skill is good for shotguns. Sniper COM being a common pick for shotgun users is something I guess I could touch but I’m not so sure it has a place in a skill review and if it does where should I stick it? I feel like if I take a look at one COM specifically I should review all COMs. Having said that it’s not a bad idea at all and I don’t think it’s been done on this forum ever. Maybe a separate post for COMs is in order.
EDIT2: I made a small note about sniper COM and shotguns in Precision.

Feel free to correct any mistakes I’ve made or make it a more pleasant read. If you PM me the corrections I’ll just paste them into my posts. Much appreciated BTW.

I guess, we’ll just have to agree to disagree here :smiley:
To be honest I don’t remember what it is about jumping and LTW. The skill requires you to hold a direction button and I think I remember something about it not working on execute while grounded. Can you confirm this?

EDIT: Oh, don’t delete anything guys. Feedback is very welcome and if this ends up being actually used it’s going to be in a separate thread anyway.


Whew. I’ve had some pretty interesting things happening so this kind of slipped my mind. I wrote this a bit hurried so I hope there’s no glaring errors.


Again, agreed on all fronts except perhaps Innervate. It’s a no-brainer skill but I think it might be generous to give it 5/5. It’s one of the weaker healing skills in the game - if not the weakest. Great to have, sure, but I’m always a bit irked by the mediocre health return. I’d rate it 4/5 personally.

Well done on this by the way.


I considered it. It’s one that was between 4/5 and 5/5. The combined effects just kinda make it hard for me to evaluate.

Move speed is good for everyone, and some bonus importance for melee to maneuver around.
Healing can kick in if your shield breaks while you can use Deception and can take you above health gate on a sniper build who might not totally tank their health once their shield drops. I guess general gun builds too.
It also allows for semi-passive healing by using it on the move between fights if you know you’ll have it up by the next one (or just waiting it to get back up and get to full).
Gun damage bonus is small but ok as a bonus for heavy hitting guns. Kinda crap for guns with weaker base damage.

hm hm hm, yeah. 4/5 it is. It is great but none of the perks really do stand out that much. Comparing it to the likes of Fast Hands and Followthrough it definitely is not 5/5 on second consideration.

EDIT: I also changed Headshot to 3/5 and Killer to 4/5.


Nice guide. I do agree with your general sentiment, but here are some thoughts:

One Shot One Kill: I would give it 4/5. Zer0 really doesn’t have alot of gun damage, making this pretty much multiplicative. And if you aren’t capitalizing on CA, its pretty much gonna be the main bite of any sniper build. Sure its not so good for the high FR stuff, but neither is Rising Sh0t for Jakobs shotties or snipers.

Velocity: Doesn’t tighten the spread of shotguns. Demonite disproved this in one of his videos.

Killing Bl0w: I think 5/5 is kinda a little generous. It’s only really a gamechanger for Raids, where CA is generally more important anwyay. Sure it’s a huge multiplicative, just one that is rarely relevant because mobs and regular bosses die in one Execute anyway.

Unforeseen: I think 3/5 sounds more fair. It’s unfortunately competing with RS, Innervate and Two Fang in gun builds, and there’s no real reason to use it over these skills. If you are building around it it can definitely be quite strong, but its not gonna kill badasses or bosses at OP8.

Two Fang: Should be 4/5. Probably the strongest DPS buff in the Cunning Tree besides Death Blossom and its passive. 1/5 for Snipers of course (unless you are raiding).


That’s fair. It can be kinda hard pulling numbers out of my arse when weighting skills against each other sometimes.

Wow. Here I’ve been parroting this age old mantra forever. I didn’t find the video so I started the game and that seems to be true.

That seems to be an error. I must’ve put the fun factor there twice. I was thinking 3/5.

I’ll admit it usually isn’t quite that effective and I’ll drop it a notch.

Yeah, sure. I guess I’m a bit biased towards that skill because I don’t like it :smiley:


I missed that with Velocity : it affects split (Harold, Lyuda) but not spread (normal multi-pellet guns).

And it kills me to see Unforseen downgraded to 3/5 but I won’t press the point other than to say it’s a worthy skill.

1 Like

It hurts my soul too.

1 Like

Now that Killing Blow got brought up I started thinking it might as well be 2/5. 3/5 is stuff like Headshot and Unforeseen that still still do work regularly and while KB comes to play occasionally outside of melee it is in no way a constantly useful skill. The problem is that I’m then dropping it into the same category as most of the “trash skills” with optics being the only 1/5 as nothing can be as bad. Should I change it or keep it like that?

The only way to justify it is to split gun-Zer0 and melee-Zer0 ratings.

  • 2/5 for gun : it works well enough to justify it in all modes but isn’t going to do a ton more than the gun in your hand (unless you’re stuck needing to reload). I still use it - but mostly because I can.
  • 4/5 or 5/5 for melee : but there again, are we talking mobs or bosses? It’s critical for bosses obviously but mostly irrelevant for mobs.

There’s no way this needs to be less than 3/5 for considering all usages with gun, hybrid or melee.


This. I believe kreigs version of this has gun and melee builds separated


Hmm, yeah. For the kind of review this is created (the OP in the linked thread has posted some skill reviews if you want to check them out) I don’t think the end product is going to consider that.

For the forums I could extend it to take into account different builds and different ratings for them I guess.

1 Like

Just a quick note I’ll add here rising shot is multiplicative damage for the gun, haven’t tested melee yet. But there’s a caviat there, because of how it’s setup it unfortunately ignores all additive bonuses, so B.A.R is completely ignored in its calculation making it much less useful.

The way it works you need to fire 6 shots to get the full 5 stack bonus, and whatever percentage you have in the skill is multiplied not by base gun damage, or damage done like most multiplicative skills but instead the item card damage.

To go a little further you can figure out what your marginal benefit is with this.
1/1+GUN bonuses =what percentage item card is of actual damage, which here will also show your marginal benefit of this skill, multiply your percentage by the skills percentage and you can see what percentage of your actual damage is being returned by the skill.

I kept my gun damage in my Badass Rank low so I only have a 1/3rd increase

Taking gun damage as 1 in this formula I use

1/1.33 =75% so for me rising shot is returning 75% of my actual damage for each percentage in the skill. That just means I have to multiply whatever percentage I have in the skill by 75% to see my effective total damage increase. Here’s where it gets sad. :sweat_smile:

with 5 points in the skill I should get a max benefit of x50% damage or 1.5 but if you take 75% of that you’re left with 1.125 for those don’t make a habit of recognizing the decimal representation of fractions, that decimal represents 1/8th.

To say this another way 50% is 1/2 this is 1/8. Just by this skill not being truly multiplicative and having a 33% additive bonus to gun damage via B.A.R. you’re losing 400% of the damage!!

pretty much I’m only getting a 4th of what I should Hot Damn.

So for anyone that actually has a good amount of bar gun bonuses, rising shot could actually be effectively useless turning it from a 4 star skill to a 0 star skill just because of bad coding choices and the skill lasting far too short/not having a skill like krieg to make the decay time longer.