So how do guns work.. no really

New player here, just finished first campaign and into first dlc. Level 63. Never played the borderlands series before so please excuse me if this is a stupid question, but I’m trying to wrap my head around gun power.

I have a full set of legendaries from various things like trials and maliwan takedown and bosses from campaign, obviously for fun I tried mayhem mode of like 1-2 and while enemies are tough, it’s pretty doable .

For a laugh I went into a trial (the one with the dinosaur last boss) on mayhem 10, and of course my guns couldn’t touch their hp or even make a dent, but for some reason iron bear EASILY destroyed then. I made an iron bear build with 2 rail guns and auto bear and sat him on the last boss on mayhem 10 and he crushed it easily.

Now I loot some legendary guns from here and they are mayhem 10 legendaries and I think “sweet, mayhem 10 guns will allow me to kill mayhem 10 mobs” but nope. The guns are just as bad as my current ones, almost no difference.

How am I seeing people with mayhem 10 guns that have 10 times the damage of my mayhem 10 guns on YouTube ? Is it really because they are only 2 levels higher than me?

Any explanation to help me figure out how this system works would be appreciated and sorry for the long post!

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To make it short and simple:

  • Some skills (like Iron Bear) have their damage scaled with mayhem, on high mayhem they do high damage.

  • Concerning legendary guns, all of them are not equal, some guns are considerably more powerful than others.


So forgive another possibly stupid question, but if I was to get a legendary on mayhem 1, and then the same legendary on mayhem 10, would there be : no difference between them, a slight difference between them, or a big difference between them?

big difference, the same legendary will do higher damage if it is a higher mayhem version

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This is the understatement of the year, and if you’re new to Borderlands, understanding this can be key to enjoying the game. Specifically, rarity is only on par with damage up to maybe purple-rarity weapons.

If a piece of gear has some red text on it, it’s considered Unique (regardless of rarity), and will have some gimmick on top of the regular gear behavior. Sometimes this amounts to nothing more than a cool skin, sometimes it’s a little padding in crit damage or maybe fire rate, but sometimes it’s the inclusion of some game-breaking meta behavior.

All orange-rarity gear has red text, where only some purples do, fewer blues, and only a couple greens and whites that I know of. This means that orange-rarity gear is going to have the highest population of game-breaking mechanics that let one steamroll raid bosses and the like, so it appears that they’re inherently stronger, especially since there is an inherent expectation that higher rarity = higher damage, but don’t let that fool you. Legions of players are perpetually vexed when they get some rare thing that doesn’t do a ton of damage, and it largely stems from this expectation. A great number of orange-rarity gear is fantastic, but not every single specimen.

Yeah, legendary gear can have a wide range of power. Compare these two Maliwan pistols, the lackluster Superball which is difficult to aim;

to the newly released Free Radical which does more upfront damage than a lot of rocket launchers (can spawn with up to 68k in damage) and produces extra projectiles;

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I feel this in my bones. With the nerfs and buffs, if you don’t read the patch notes, one build you’ve been using can just go away the next day.
Combine that with all the variables between shield, artifact, weapon annointments with skills that don’t always work the way they’re worded in-
In my experience, taking a break and then coming back to my lvl 65 zane is a nightmare. I don’t know how to make a build, I’ll spend points in things I think should work and then they don’t and then I get de-motivated and go back to Outriders. Or some other game. Hunt Showdown. League.
It’s an effort that I can’t be arsed to make.

I think GBX isn’t even sure how gun damage works :sweat_smile:

You have non legendary wich work during leveling and instantly lose value when you find any legendary at max level (during leveling legendary can actually hold in for many levels)

When at max level anything not legendary you can just ignore (the billions of guns GBX promised you? Yeah… Billions of pieces of trash) some legendaries are insanely OP, others are fun and some are just vendor trash.

Classmods aren’t really level or mayhem bound (the extra modifiers won’t increase much with levels and do not increase with mayhem so you can farm classmods in low mayhem and will work just as good in higher mayhem)

Artifacts are pretty much the same as classmods (serious min/maxing wich isn’t really needed so again, farm lower mayhem and you’ll be fine)

Shields… Again, almost none of the non legendary are worth using compared to any legendary shield.

Grenades… I played Zane most of the time so i didn’t really care for grenades (used a piss for extra damage or a hex because… It’s a hex)

If i where you i wouldn’t bother with mayhem progression… (kinda cheesy but, farm some easy M10 legendaries in M11 by farming vendors or gun gun/fabricator or even trading) progression is not worth it rather non existing.

Things don’t tend to get nerfed all that much, at the very least. I’ve been using my Cold Bore / Hellwalker / Executor build since they buffed Cold Bore sometime late last year.

I’m not saying I don’t understand feeling overwhelmed, but Gearbox do a fair job of surfacing this information (it’s even linked ingame). The alternative is to not rebalance the game as it continues to exist and, uh, that would probably prove unpopular too.

True that… Haven’t seen much in terms of nerfs :sweat_smile:

Unnecessary buffs on the other hand… Plenty :rofl:

The “Gearbox nerfs stuff” meme died almost a year ago. They’ve been doing more buffs than nerfs

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A massive difference. An M10 lv. 65 legendary is essentially a lv. 75 legendary that just happens to be usable on lv. 65 which is a big deal considering the agressive level scaling in this game.

Thanks everyone for your replies and help. The overall takeaway I got from this was “wait til level 65 and all dlc before worrying about build or guns” so that is what I will do. I will agree it is rather confusing tho!

Thanks again for all the help! :relaxed:

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Moze in particular doesn’t even need great loot since a lot of her damage comes from Short Fuse, Fire in the Skag Den, and Big Surplus. All these skills gain huge bonuses in Mayhem 10/11 (5.5 times the damage for Short Fuse, x31 for Skag Den and Big Surplus.) And then there’s Iron Bear that just mauls most content with minimal investment and bulldozes everything when built for.


GBX buffing guns is not something I’m that proud of.
Because it’s doing all the extra work for itself.

They kept nerfing OP weapons and then implementing OP weapons that are much stronger than the ones before the nerf, which is why there are so many weapons that need to be buffed now.

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Don’t forget the Girth Blaster - an actual nerf gun, and it’s orange rarity. :laughing:

Don’t forget they buffed the clairvoyance wich i found odd seeing it was one of the best weapons before they even buffed it :joy: