Rath Comprehensive PvP Guide

Hi All. I just wanted to create a comprehensive PVP guide for Rath to hopefully help some players understand his character better and push his metagame further. Keep in mind this is the very first guide I have ever written so please excuse the formatting. Also forewarning that this is a very long guide. I created this guide for the beta and copied and edited it over for the main game. I will be updating this with regards to balance patches and such. Comments and critiques are welcome.

—Introduction—

  • Rath is an assassin type character who is very mobile and specializes in killing enemies using burst damage with his linear skills and his melee strikes.

  • However he is very squishy with comparatively low maximum health and though his passive allows him to siphon health from the damage he deals from his melee attacks and skills, the health healed is actually quite low so you should not rely on it to survive fights. His legendary gear mitigates this somewhat but again I stress to not rely on life steal to survive.

  • Rath’s primary melee combo consists of three initial strikes in a small arc in front of him and a spin attack as a finisher to enemies around him. Possible modifications include an additional a second spin finisher, slowing enemies with the spin attack, and increased damage. This should be your primary damage dealer. Be sure to practice keeping track of enemy movements and maneuvers in order to keep up pressure and dps since melee can get VERY disorienting in Battleborn. And remember to always keep moving even while attacking. It makes you an even harder target to hit. This is a key skill to master.

  • Rath’s secondary attack has him throw his sword a short distance in front of him for some range and a little extra damage over an area of effect. Not a primary damage dealer but useful for finishing off enemies that are just out of reach. Also useful for hitting a group of minions without jumping in the middle of the frenzy. Use this for utility. Not damage.

  • Crossblade is Rath’s ranged skill that pierces through enemies and does damage. Possible modifications include a slowing effect, spawning a second crossblade, increased range, increased damage, decreased cooldown, absorb shields and penetrate shields for extra damage. This will be your primary skill for harassing enemies at a range or finishing off enemies on the run. Keep in mind that it does not travel very fast so prediction and compensation is key to learn when using this skill.

  • Catalytic smash is linear shockwave move that damages enemies and knocks them into the air, interrupting them and potentially cancelling their skill use. Possible modifications include splitting it into a cone, increased range, silencing enemies, and adding a leap at the start as a gap closer. This should be used a starting attack against enemies so you can get in close and start dealing damage. This move can also be used to interrupt other enemy moves and even ultimates.

  • Dreadwind is Rath’s ultimate move. For 4 seconds Rath spins in a circle with his swords dealing damage to enemies around him per hit. In total the move can hit up to 16 times against an enemy with at max level potentially dealing over 2K damage. Possible modifications include a temporary overshield, increased movement speed or increased damage. This is Rath’s true assassination move. Best used as an ambush move, use this as a follow up to catalytic smash on unaware enemies to secure the kill. It does insane burst damage and will shred most characters if they do not have an answer for it. Only the tankiest can survive this. Note that it can be interrupted with a stun or a knock up however so make sure to maneuver around them in order to make it harder for the opponent to counter.

—Helix—

  • Level 1

  • Left - Enemies hit by crossblade are slowed for 3 seconds. This is a great move to help finish off a retreating enemy. If the crossblade damage doesn’t finish them off, then the slowing effect should give you time to pursue and continue the assault.

  • Right - Shortens Catalytic smash range but it splits into three in a cone. More useful in pve. In pvp you should start practicing to aim catalytic smash for maximum effectiveness. The range loss from this helix choice makes pursuing fleeing opponents that much harder.

  • Mutagen - Instead of launching enemies into the air, Catalytic smash now stuns enemies for 2 seconds who have been recently hit by crossblade. In general stun is a much better CC than knock up but the requirement for crossblade to hit beforehand makes this a very tricky choice. Only use this if you’re confident in hitting with the crossblade beforehand. This is much easier to do on minions than players though especially if you don’t ambush them.

  • Level 2

  • Left - When Crossblade damages an enemy’s shield, Rath’s shield recharges the amount of damage dealt. This is a decent helix choice for pve for survival purposes but I believe a poor choice for pvp. Most situations would have you already destroyed their shield before this becomes useful. Since Rath will be ambushing enemies anyways, you should have full shield which makes the absorption property negligible. Additionally not all characters have shields so this choice is only 80% useful assuming all characters are used equally. The only instance i see this becoming really useful is during escape. If you play Rath as a frontliner and get double teamed, you can use crossblade to steal some shield and this can help you escape.

  • Right - When a Crossblade is destroyed, a new Crossblade dealing 50% of its damage will spawn, moving towards Rath. I run this in both pvp and pve. If done right it is basically an extra 50% damage done to an enemy. This synergizes well with the slowing effect since they are more likely to get hit by the second crossblade. The potential increase in damage is too good since that second crossblade may be the kill damage you need.

  • Mutagen - Rath’s crossblade does 60% shield penetration. Shield penetration is nice but like before you generally have destroyed the enemies shield already to fully take advantage of this and not all characters have shields. An example of when this is useful though is when the opponent has full shields or strong shield support but they are already at low health. The shield penetration could help you get the kill you need without needing to destroy their shield first.

  • Level 3

  • Left - Allows Rath to double jump.
    I honestly think the double jump is very janky and feels sluggish and awkward because of the momentum loss upon execution. If it was more versatile or felt better I would recommend this but as it stands it isn’t very good. It can help you traverse maps ny leaping up small ledges but it feels too sluggish and awkward to be that useful.

  • Right - Rath’s primary melee combo spins twice at the end of the combo. The trickiest thing about a melee character in a first person perspective is keeping track of enemy positioning in such a small field of view. If they are strafing and maneuvering evasively properly this can be even harder to do. Rath’s primary attack attacks in a small arc in front of him except for the spin finisher. This attack covers around him so having it go off twice makes it easier to keep pressure on an enemy, deal with being surrounded by minions, and increase his dps.

  • Level 4

  • Left - When Rath attacks with Catalytic Smash, he will leap forward, damaging any enemies in his path. I don’t personally run this but this has its merits. It is intended to be a gap closer so this is good if you are trying to chase fleeing enemies to finish them off. It is also good if you need to get in melee distance of a ranged character and start an assault. It can also be useful as a potential escape maneuver. However it also has some significant drawbacks. By choosing this you are committed to the forward leap. There is no way to adjust the distance or even trigger Catalytic smash without the leap. With this you have to use catalytic smash with the leap in mind which means you have to space yourself properly before using the move. It also makes it more difficult to target enemies that are already in close range since chances are you would fly past them and miss entirely. I would say this choice should be based on the enemy team composition and your playstyle. If they have an abundance of ranged characters and your focus will be on harassment or hit and run strategies then this move could prove to be very useful. But if they have some melee characters of their own and your focus is on assassination then its best to stick with the other option.

  • Right - Catalytic smash silences enemies for 3 seconds. This one is fantastic for pvp. Landing a catalytic smash will cause players to be unable to use their skills for 3 seconds and anyone can tell you how amazing/frustrating that is. Enemies on the offense will not be able to retaliate with their offensive skills, letting you pile on the damage and make it harder for the opponent to fight back. And enemies on the retreat will be unable to use defensive or evasive skills letting you chase them down. The biggest downside to this is unless you get the stun perk from the helix 1 mutagen, the knock up effect of catalytic smash generally doesn’t let you maximize the amount of damage you can do to an enemy since it is harder to hit an enemy that is airborne. So all in all it really is more like 1-1.5 seconds of silence. Still a very good choice though.

  • Level 5

  • This is a tough one. All 3 options improve your life steal ability but personal choice will have to come from personal playstyles.

  • Left - Genetic Siphon heals 20% more health when dealing damage to an enemy (Total 30%). This is what I usually run in pve because in general fighting bosses becomes more survivable if you use his skills to heal yourself rather that his melee attacks. In pvp it comes to personal preference. If the majority of the damage your Rath is going to deal is from his skills then by all means take this one. If you plan to play a harassment role where you hit as many opponents as possible with your skills then this buff can work very impressively. It also makes using dreadwind much more overpowered since a full hit of dreadwing can bring you all the way back up to full health.

  • Right - Genetic Siphon heals 11% more health for primary attacks (Total 19%). I initially ran with this for pvp. The way I thought about it is that a majority of my damage will come from my melee attacks as opposed to my skills. Therefore if I wanted to maximize my healing, I would go with the buff to melee attack life steal. This is also the most balanced option for this helix level as it guarantees that whatever damage you deal will always generate you health.

  • Mutagen - Genetic siphon greatly increases life steal from melee attacks but removes the life steal from skills (Total 30%). I started using this one once I unlocked it and it has worked well for me so far. The life steal increase is really noticeable and if you can keep constant damage on enemy then you will notice a drastic improvement to your survivability in fights. With this equipped, when I need to heal health I can go attack minions and I generally come out with more health than I came in with. This choice also benefits someone who begins a fight with the CS + CB combo since you can tear through the rest of their health with melee attacks and the life steal will help you survive until your skills cool down and you can finish them off. Again since a majority of my damage is from my primary attack I use this option but personal playstyles may differ.

  • Level 6

  • Left - Crossblade deals 15% increased damage. Awesome buff. Synergizes well with the double crossblade from level 2. Improves both your burst damage and your killing capability.

  • Right - Doubles the length of Catalytic smash. Catalytic smash already has decent range in my opinion and the range is adequate for mid range fights and enough that if you hit an enemy with the tip of it you can close the gap in the time they are airborne. I can see this coming into play in 2 scenarios though. 1 is if you opted for the mod that reduces catalytic smash range but it fans out to the left and right. This should negate the range decrease and catch more enemies in your catalytic smash. The other is if you were pursuing an enemy and trying to get the kill but crossblade is on cooldown and catalytic smash is too short to hit. In general though the increased crossblade damage is overall better.

  • Level 7

  • Left - When Rath’s shield is broken, movement speed is increased by 30% for 4 seconds. This is a versatile modifier in that it can be used defensively to flee from what you think will be a bad situation or offensively by using the speed boost to outmaneuver opponents or possibly chase them down. It also synergizes well with dreadwind since the movement speed will let you stick with opponents better.

  • Right - Increases base damage of all melee strikes by 18%. Synergizes well with the life steal from melee attacks perk from level 5. If like me most of your damage comes from your primary attack then this is the way to go. Additionally, the damage buff is definitely helpful in killing enemies faster for an assassin character. It gives them less time to realize how far of a disadvantage they are at before they start to retreat.

  • Mutagen - Rath’s primary melee combo finishing spin slows enemies for 1 second. Another versatile modifier that can be used offensively to slow down enemies trying to escape or to apply a temporary slow that can help you escape from an opponent who has you on the ropes. Generally I see this being more useful offensively. Personally I prefer the increased damage over this one since I am already practiced at ambushing enemies but if you still have trouble securing that kill against fleeing enemies then the 1 second slow is pretty good at making it harder for them to get away.

  • Level 8

  • Left - Doubles the effective range of Crossblade. Not very useful in my opinion since crossblade sniping is already difficult as it is because of the compensation factor. Not to mention this decreases the effectiveness of the double crossblade perk from tier 2. Only useful if there are a lot of enemies in a line but the regular crossblade range already takes care of that.

  • Right - Reduces Crossblade’s cooldown by 20%. Incredibly useful since it allows you to throw more crossblades out. With this perk you could conceivably use crossblade at the start an engagement with an enemy and by the time the enemy starts to flee, the crossblade would have cooled down enough for you to use it again to finish off the enemy.

  • Level 9

  • Left - Enemies hit by Catalytic Smash will take 25% more damage from Crossblade for 4 seconds. This is really good for the CS + CB combo. Really increases the burst damage if you land these successfully and if taken along with the double crossblade and increased crossblade damage perks, can easily do upwards of 600 damage.

  • Right - Killing an enemy with Catalytic Smash reduces Dreadwind’s cooldown by 3 seconds. I personally think that you are not that likely to kill enemies with catalytic smash so I think this option isn’t as good as the other one. Catalytic smash is rarely used intentionally as a killing move but rather used as an interrupt or combo starter.

  • Level 10

  • These three are a matter of personal preference as well. Read the team composition and how effective your use of dreadwind is so far and choose the perk that best compensates for you weakness or helps your strengths.

  • Left - Rath’s movement speed is increased by 30% while dreadwind is active. A great option for Rath if you are having trouble chasing down fleeing enemies with dreadwind. This greatly improves your sticking power. Best used against evasive characters, ranged characters, snipers, and supports since they do not have a large health pool. Also useful if you need to use dreadwind to flee a dangerous area while maintaining pressure.

  • Right - Dreadwind’s damage is increased by 45% if Rath’s shields are down. Another great option available to Rath. This is probably best used against beefier targets like tanks or if you’re in the middle of an engagement where you need to kill an enemy quickly who has a health advantage over you as the 45% damage increase is enough to truly shred anything to ribbons.

  • Mutagen - Rath gains 225 overshield for 4 seconds when activating dreadwind. If you are concerned about Rath’s survivability during dreadwind then the best way to address that is by either going with the life steal buff from skills or if you are like me who took away the life steal from skills in exchange for huge life steal from melee, choosing this option. Though the overshield is comparatively small, it may be enough of a buffer to let you kill an enemy before they kill you. This is generally a good choice but keep in mind it helps survivability rather killing power. This is an overall balanced choice.

—General Rath pvp strategy tips in no particular order—

  • Remember that PLAYING RATH SMART IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN PLAYING HIM WELL. This is the key difference between a good Rath and a bad Rath. Know how to choose your battles and always retreat once things get dicey. Rath is quite squishy early game so things can go from good to dead faster than you expect.
  • Always focus on flanking and ambushing opponents. If they see you coming you are already at a disadvantage. Getting behind an enemy makes it harder for them to escape if they didn’t see you sneaking up on them in the first place. Keep map awareness at all times in order to plan your ambush and escape routes. If they do see you coming, then CS + CD is a great opener to start the battle in your favor.
  • Keep moving at all times. It is always to your benefit to keep an opponent on edge by having them constantly worry if a Rath will suddenly be behind them. The pressure will make them less bold in going for objectives and encourage them to play more defensively which in turn allows your team to push to win.
  • Mind your cooldowns. Plan your routes and attacks strategically so that your skills are ready about when you are ready to use them. Skills that are not being used is burst damage that is being wasted. For example you can help allies with pushing a lane by using your skills to do burst damage to enemies and then retreating to the other lane to help repel an enemy assault by ambushing out of nowhere and hitting them with skills that have just cooled down.
  • You’re an assassin. Always target the squishier enemy characters like snipers, support and gunners. Only take down enemy tanks with help.
  • Even if you’re an assassin, remember that you don’t have to kill everything. Sometimes a timely interrupt with catalytic smash or a flank ambush can send a team that’s on the offensive back and reverse the momentum of battle.
  • Rath’s power curve only really starts to ramp up at level 5. Before that your Rath will need to resort to hit and run strategies since securing kills will be trickier. After level 5 though, once you get the improved life steal and dreadwind, you not only have improved his survivability but also massive killing power in engagements. This is the point during the game when Rath becomes really dangerous.
  • When choosing gear I suggest going for some combination of the following attributes: attack damage/attack speed/skill damage to increase his killing power and his life steal capability, movement/sprint speed in order to improve his maneuverability and chasing ability to secure kills, and damage reduction/increased shield/increased health/health regen to improve his survivability. A piece of gear with 2 attributes will really help too.
  • Rath’s legendary gear increases his sprint speed which is useful for sticking to enemies but it also increases his attack speed which benefits melee oriented Raths. It’s special ability is that it also buffs your genetic siphon ability and with every trigger of it, increasing the life steal 1% for each trigger up to a maximum of 10%. I HIGHLY recommend using this gear despite the cost since it improves both your offensive power but also your survivability with the life steal boost. This synergizes best with the right option in the level 5 helix since this means that both your skills and melee attacks will best benefit from the life steal boost. This piece of gear is essential for placing Rath in a higher class of killers and as such I recommend being the first piece of gear you activate.
  • It’s immensely greedy I know, but I play Rath with 2 legendary items. This already brings up his gear cost to a staggering 3600 crystals at least. But this also means that once I have all my gear activated I become an absolute monster by end game. This brings me to one of the few metagame aspects that people still don’t realize: Farming.
  • Farming experience to level up is trickier for a melee character but the general rule is this: get a hit on anything as much as you can. This counts as contributing damage to killing an enemy, a minion, or an enemy buildable and as such you get assist exp. This is crucial in order to get Rath’s level as high as possible as soon as possible since it not increases your damage but your survivability as well and helps Rath ramp up in power and levels sooner.
  • Farming crystals is something else that is very important but most players don’t realize this yet. When crystals spawn it is important to alert the rest of your team to secure them quickly. Remember when capturing a crystal that some of those crystals are also awarded to the rest of your team when you pick some up. More crystals mean that your team will access their gear sooner and have more money to spend on buildables such as turrets and accelerators that can tip the balance of a game early on.
  • If you have pushed all the way to enemy territory then make sure to steal their crystals if you have the chance. This cripples their ability to mount a defense as the game progresses.
  • If you have money, build stuff. Turrets and accelerators not only help tip the balance of battle but those built specifically by you will contribute to your exp gain by means of assists or minion kills. Also building stuff grants exp.
  • Destroy enemy buildables when you can. This forces the enemy to waste crystals buying turrets and stuff instead of buying gear. If your team has been keeping the crystal advantage then the enemy should be low on crystals to keep up their defense.
  • Use Catalytic Smash to help get an easier crossblade hit. This is an absolutely critical combo to master. This combo is very effective on enemies who have at least lost their shield due to the high burst damage and debuffs letting you finish them off with your melee strikes. It is also effective at the beginning of the fight and will give you an early lead in a one on one. Defensively, the sudden high burst damage is also effective at scaring some players off. Sometimes you don’t need to kill. Sometimes you just need to scare them away.
  • To maximize crossblade damage on a single target, aim slightly into the ground just behind them. This ensures that the second crossblade will spawn immediately behind them and immediately hit them just right after the first one does.
  • In general, if an enemy is unaware of you, run to them and start hitting them with melee hits first. Once they start to flee then you can use Catalytic smash to silence them and crossblade to slow their escape so you can finish them off.
  • However if an enemy is aware of you, do not run toward them but use Catalytic Smash from a range which should allow you to run up to melee range and start dishing out damage. If the fight is going well and they start to run away, use crossblade for some surprise damage and slowing them enough to kill them. If it isn’t going well, use crossblade to slow them and escape.
  • You can alternatively start of with the catalytic smash and hit them with crossblade where you anticipate them to land. This combination of silence and slow will give you a massive advantage while you pile up damage. The only downside to this is once the effects disappear they are likely to start retreating and makes it difficult for you to finish them off if they have a bit of life left. Starting with the CB + CS combo is much more effective when you ambush or flank them since their escape route is right through you.
  • When fighting an opponent it is very important to maneuver yourself into advantageous positions. Use your body to block their escape route or force them to retreat into disadvantageous options such as corners or tight hallways where their mobility is limited and you can keep the assault.
  • Know how to bait overeager enemies into bad situations for them. A greedy enemy will pursue a low health player to secure the kill even in dangerous situations. Kite them while your shield recharges and your skills cool down and lure them into tight hallways, allies, minions or turrets where you can ambush them with a quick Catalytic smash + crossblade for burst damage while the additional support can tip things in your advantage.
  • Always remember to aim for the head generally. Even melee attacks can cause critical hits.
  • Remember to use your secondary sword throw when chasing enemies down. This can help you secure the last few hits needed to finish someone off who is just out of range for your primary attack.
  • Your sword throw is also really useful for attacking grouped up minions since it actually deals damage in an area of effect. Using the sword throw keeps you at a safe distance from their attacks and life steals from all of them.
  • Know when to bail. It is more important to stay alive than to overextend and get killed just because you want to finish someone off. They will be off trying to recover. Use this opportunity to push objectives and destroy enemy buildables.
  • Swerve when escaping and be unpredicatable. Make it hard for enemy ranged characters to secure that final hit. Utilize the environment and cover to negate their range advantage.
  • Despite the fact that Rath is an assassin type character he is also really useful as a hit and run character, especially early on. With strategic use of both his Catalytic smash and crossblade, Rath apply pressure from range, interrupt an enemy assault, create distractions for opponents or turn the tide for allies in trouble. The knock up from Catalytic smash is especially effective in halting enemy momentum. Most players will try to address the new threat rather than keep up the assault which will give your allies time to recover.
  • Remember that even though Rath is an assassin type character, Battleborn has objective based gameplay so ultimately teamwork and coordination are far more important. Wins are from objectives, not player kills. I have been in matches before where despite a significant commander level advantage on our team, the fact we couldn’t communicate and coordinate with each other led to a loss. I have also been in a match where despite the fact that we were completely outplayed in team fights, the fact that we were able to push our objectives and destoy the opponents’ resulted in our victory.
  • Communication is very important for Rath players since it is easier for them to kill an enemy or push an objective if there is another working with them, especially a support. This also makes it easy for Rath players to act as a scout and alert the team of enemy movements. Additionally a retreating Rath can coordinate with an ally to bait a chasing enemy into a 2v1 situation or at least have an ally intercept a pursuing enemy to help secure your escape.
  • Catalytic smash can also be used as an excellent tool in aiding your retreat. Run into cover or tight spaces while it cools down, bait an enemy to get hit by it and the knockup and silence should buy you more time to run away to safety. Or mount a counterattack It is important to consider all your options when retreating.
  • Catalytic smash can also be used as a great aid in helping allies. If you see an ally getting double teamed then you can jump in there with a Catalytic smash to interrupt the enemy assault. This will hopefully buy your ally time to escape as well as distracting your opponents from killing your ally.
  • Do not pursue fleeing enemies too far. Stay out of enemy territory where you can get destroyed in seconds by thumper turrets and a lucky enemy who stumbles on you. Remember that thumper turrets not only slow your movement speed, it also slows your attack speed which is critical to Rath.
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Nice guide, dude.