This will be a short guide to Roland’s Skill Tree.
I’ve built 3 Rolands with emphasis and neglect in each branch, and played them thoroughly, so I should share what I learned (even if it was some time ago).
If you’re looking for the numbers of everything, that’s what the wiki is for.
Synergy: Heavy Gunner
Impact is almost always the best way to start, giving a boost to all bullets Roland fires. Rockets (including Carnage) and Eridian blasts receive no bonus, so if making a build focusing on any of these alternative ammo types you can only take Sentry.
Sentry raises turret damage slightly. The turret’s damage is disappointing, so maxing this will only change it to do more acceptable damage. As stated earlier, you should only take this when Impact will give no benefit.
Scattershot is a must for any Commando build, buffing your shotguns and tightening the spread on those extremely powerful Matadors, changing them from point-blank-only to deadly general-purpose deathsticks. If shotguns are not being used then this should naturally be ignored, with only a single point spent if you desire the option to switch to Commando temporarily (eg: Moxxi’s Underdome Shotgun Challenge).
Metal Storm is one of Roland’s most powerful skills, and should be maxed on every build possible. It undersells the boost, which is actually +11%/pt and +15%/pt Recoil Reduction. The most basic strategy is to kill an easy target, then use the extreme DPS gained to mow everything else down. If there is a particularly tanky Badass it’s wise to leave a mook around to keep this active.
The added recoil reduction will counter any extra recoil from the increase in fire rate, and with my experience it seems to overcompensate making drilling critical hits no problem at all.
Refire is a must on just about every Roland. Despite being low damage, the turret is extremely tanky as a diversion while providing good utility, so there is almost no choice. Rockets and eridian blasts do not trigger this, however.
Assault is… underwhelming. If you want more ammo then take Overload (it works for everything, and gives more!). On a Rifleman this gains use, but still you need to max Overload as well. The high recoil reduction from 8/5 Assault can improve machine gun performance enough to hip fire, shining the most when trying to get a second wind. So when you’re running rifles it’s actually all right. On all other builds, avoid it.
This is 1 or 5; never spec any value between.
Guided Missile has more utility than damage. The explosion will stun enemies that have flinch animations, interrupting their gunfire and giving you more time to line up your own gunfire.
Adding more than 1 point in this only reduces the wait between rockets a tiny bit - you do not gain more rockets until the 4th and 5th points.
To get all the flinch stuns, if you can spare the points, take 5 in this, but in most builds it’s more beneficial to just put 1 point in and leave it be.
Defense boosts Recharge Rate - nothing to do with the delay - just the rate. Not spectacular but more useful than the alternative thanks to reducing the amount of patience required when taking cover.
Stockpile in co-op is golden and should be set to 5 in those cases, because usually at least one of you will be in that ring at any point in time while the turret is out. But in solo, especially for the better more aggressive Roland players, this won’t do anything because you won’t stay near the turret, and if you’re a good shot you don’t care about ammo. Even if you do have ammo concerns, then that’s what Supply Drop is for and it’s much better at it!
Quick Charge is awesome. 5 it every time. If you don’t 5 this there’s something wrong with you or you’re using an intentionally masochistic build. Roland’s ability to constantly have his shield buffering against incoming damage while on a kill streak is one of the reasons people love him so much. It’s even better combined with Stat.
Barrage. Yes… well… put one point in it if you’re in co-op as a Support Gunner or keep a Support Gunner in your inventory just in case you ever use that particular Roland in a party, but don’t ever go further than that. The returns diminish so hard on this that at 9/5 the turret does less damage than at 8/5. LESS damage!!!
I cannot stress enough that this is a 1 or 0 skill.
Grenadier is nice to have at least 1 point for the grenade regen, so I generally put one of my last points in there. Set to 5 with Shock Trooper and 5/5 Supply Drop you pretty much become a walking grenade launcher, and that’s pretty fun. This buffs rocket damage so maxed out will improve their effectiveness also.
Deploy is 5 or 5. More turrets? More turrets! Always double that cooldown speed.
I see a lot of mention of 3/5, but personally 1/5 is all I need. Maybe because I am such a good shot run ammo efficient gear a lot but hey… you honestly get a lot out of just one point here.
Supply Drop is the reason why Solo Support Gunner is officially stupid in 99% of cases.
You get ammo for everything - grenades included! Why the hell are you nerfing yourself wearing a Support Gunner all the time?!
For anyone who doesn’t get enough ammo from 1/5, or is in a team and wants to be able to switch to Tactician or Leader occasionally, upgrading to 5/5 offers a lot of bullets, rockets, and grenades for all your ammo-hungry needs.
Synergy: Shock Trooper
Fitness gives you more HP, and this HP is taken in to account by Aid Station and Stat, increasing the health regen a tiny bit. Fitness is a solid choice.
Aid Station is a must in co-op so everyone has a heal zone they can run to, but in solo play relying on it means limiting yourself to fighting near the turret. If you’re going for Stat after going through the Infantry and Support trees, you’ll be begging for some regen so it’s a good pick, but in an early- or mid-game spec you’re best off taking Fitness and waiting on the much more effective Stat. Of course you could always take both Fitness and Aid Station; problem solved.
Overload turns 2-shots in to 3, and 100 rounds in to 160. A must on almost every build because the less you need to reload, the more aggressively you can afford to play.
Cauterize is the go-to in a co-op game. Healing your buddies with bullets during and after rough engagements is great. Dr. Roland players who constantly try to keep everyone healed may see fit to max this out, but in some cases only 1 point is taken to top friends off after battles. Note that this heals the turret, and applies to rockets/grenades (splash heal is a thing).
Revive is a mysterious skill that I’ve been able to see the workings of recently in a 4 player game. It does seem true that once deployed, it can and will start picking people up nearby. You won’t see any ‘is reviving’, it just happens. In a 3 or 4 player game this is one of the best things to take. Apparently it will not revive anyone who was downed before deployment, and of course it will not revive you because the turret disappears when you take a knee. It’s obvious to avoid this in solo play.
Grit gives a small but still helpful buff against bullet damage. Unlike all of the other Medic boosts to defense this will be noticed while you still have your shields, which is most of the time thanks to Quick Charge, so it’s a much more valuable investment than it looks. Being able to play more aggressively, running through more gunfire than before in Moxxi’s Underdome or the Circle of Duty, is always welcome. No good against Crawmerax of course.
5 or 5 - NO EXCEPTIONS
The one time I played this 1/5… never again.
I had to supplement regen using Aid Station, but that caused more problems than it solved because I couldn’t move! Gah it was horrible - Roland is no fun like that.
Stat is amazingly powerful, giving you heals, anyone near you heals, and combines with Quick Charge to turn you practically invincible. If that’s not quite enough then I found Grit the last little kick to create Roland the Invincible. Just as long as you keep killing things you can power through everything. Often once you reach 0 shields your bars just freeze since both regens are buffering so much damage together. It allows for very exciting high risk playstyles.