Struggling with Sal in TVHM

There must be something I just don’t get about Sal. I see almost everyone else (most recently, @TheRAbbi) facerolling everything with obsolete gear and marveling at how easy and overpowered he is. Yet my Sal has been struggling badly from level 40ish, and currently (44) takes a knee in almost every single encounter in Opportunity, usually dying when faced with a constructor and not infrequently dying to random mobs as well.

As far as I’m aware, Sal’s guns are as good as they can possibly be at this level:image
In order, that’s a level 44 Striker, level 42 slag Rubi, level 42 NE Hyperion pistol, level 44 slag Topneaa.

The shield is highlighted because that’s the one gear slot where I don’t have anything especially good. Grenade is a perfect level 44 longbow slag transfusion, COM is a +4 Leg. Berserker, relic is Deputy’s Badge.

Swap options are level 43 Chinook, 44 Hulk, 43 Gatling Gun, 43 DP Hand Cannon (the Hyperion pistol in the backpack is a 45 corrosive, can’t use yet). Sheriff’s badge is there in case I need to fight at medium range for a while (useful for the second constructor, if he can get there without dying). The other COM is a Berserker, +4 LL +3 YKY. I think 20 points in decent skills plus much better passives outweighs those seven points in great skills. There’s also a green 43 longbow corrosive cloud grenade for constructor fights.

Build: image
No Inconceivable because I rarely use guns where continuous fire is either possible or appropriate, so it just results in annoying delayed manual reloads.

The usual pattern in combat is that Sal kills a guy, starts shooting the next guy, enters FFYL, gets a quick second wind, oh look he’s not gunzerking and even with Get Some will take quite a while to get it back, drops to FFYL again, repeat until either there are no enemies left or no FFYL timer left. I do my best to use the Leg. Berserker’s speed to help dodge, and when possible I use cover, but a shotgun-user generally can’t have cover and be close enough to hit anything. And for the first constructor, there is no cover from which one can fire, either you’re cowering from the nonstop rocket stream and have no LOS to the constructor, or you’re in the open.

Is the problem that shotgun Sal simply doesn’t work unless one has a separate source of continuous damage for the Rubi to regen from? The relatively infrequent (but highly damaging) shots from this setup obviously don’t come close to keeping up with enemy damage, even with 9/5 HtK, 1/5 AGTTB, and the base gunzerking regen on top. The transfusions help - occasionally, and only if the health packets arrive before he drops. So it’s not terribly reliable.

Experimenting with using the pistol as weapon #1, that seemed to work a bit better (aside from the fact that I prefer using a shotgun). He only drops to FFYL once or twice per major combat, which reduces deaths a fair amount. On the other hand, Maya never took a knee so often in TVHM, nor did Krieg except when he fought constructors or UBA loaders which are dangerous to melee. I’d expect Mr. “Easy & Overpowered” to do at least as well… And in particular others report face-tanking BA constructors with Sal at the same level I’m at, without any Brawn skills. :confused:

Reminder: level 44. Advice to go get a Harold, or a Storm Front, Slow Hand, whatever, is wrong because those items do not exist at this level (barring world drops). A Harold would be level 35ish, Storm Front would be 39, anything from a DLC would take many levels to even get to and would screw up Sal’s entry into UVHM (if he ever gets there…). The only thing I can think of for gear at this point would be a detour to the snowman looking for a better shield. And I don’t think that would make a very big difference anyway.


@DeputyChuck to the rescue?

Here’s how’d I’d adjust your build, but keep in mind I’m not a Sal main, though I didn’t have much trouble leveling him… To me, Down not Out is a capstone skill.

You have a Striker so Money shot should proc often… Dunno about your COM, for shields, I usually used Adaptive shields, though Absorb sometimes.

A few notes, Inconceivable and Money Shot work together well with low mag capacity weapons, so if not the case or you just aren’t getting enough out of it, then switch to Filled to the Brim. Same with I’m Your Huckleberry, the key is just to get down to the next row so you can use Quick Draw instead. If you don’t feel Money Shot is doing enough, then use Divergent Likeness, it’s just that you really want Down Not Out.

With the above build you should be Gunzerking longer and stronger and hitting Money Shots off the Striker. I would keep filling up the Gunzerking duration skills.

I now look forward to Chuck pointing out all the errors in this post :sunglasses:

edit: forgot to put a point in Locked and Loaded - fixed


The pistol switch was a good idea. IMO, at least. You need to depend on Rubi for heals, and a larger magazine lets you do that with fewer interruptions over the same period of time.

IIRC, Striker is gonna max out at maybe 4 rounds per reload. Or I may be thinking of something different. But Jakobs shotfuns don’t tend to carry more than 2-4 shots per reload, which is a big turnoff for me. Reloads mean not doing damage, which means NOT healing with that offhand Moxxxi gun. That’s a no-no. Multiple projectiles was a good call, though, so yeah a shotfun works great when DPUH or something similar isn’t available. Kitten is a reasonably easy to farm alternative, but that throws off your UVHM timeline. So maybe not.

I’d go back to the Hyperion pistol on #1, Rubi on #s, the Hulk on #3, and the launcher on #4. For now. You really need to find/keep something with multiple projectiles and high damage per projectile on #1, so even when your shots aren’t perfectly placed you can still get some effect through Rubi. I HIGHLY recommend Hyperion shotfuns (Practicable prefix for pellet saturation, Thinking or Face Time for ammo efficiency). The accuracy comes in as you keep firing, which works pretty well with Salvador’s steamroll style. Maybe try to grab a Fibber from Mal once you’re at the proper level? THAT could be special.

Another note: A great difficulty I’ve had with Salvador has been projectile speed match. That is, Rubi’s bullets travel much faster (it seems to me) than do Harold’s. Not a big deal against stationary targets, nor against those moving toward/away. But side-to-side in my FoV throws my shots all over the place. Rubi’s there FIRST for heals, but slag is a close second place.

One more thing. By that same level, I kept AT MOST one point in the whole Brawn tree. Hard to Kill, with a COM that buffs it, isn’t bad. The health regen is weak, but you can try to stack it up with one of the COMs that does health regen and gun damage at the cost of shield cap. That, plus Rubi, means plenty of healing to keep you in the fight.

Inconceivable works best paired with Money Shot, for obvious reasons. I hit one of those chains earlier today against Goldie in the Mines of Avarice, with at least TEN Harold shots Money Shotting WHILE DRUNK ON Grog Nozzle. Thing folded like a high school love letter. Can’t really do that without inconceivable.

So, you’re using a good COM as is. I got one earlier at level 50-something, and it’s pretty awesome. I’d drop all but two points in Brawn- one each in Hard to Kill and Incite, just to keep the skills up when you have the right COM on. Take those points ouf of [reflexes], leave on in [Brim], 5/5 Inconceivable, and go left tree and put the remainder in Money Shot. This is a DPS boost. And in case we’re wondering why…

Remember that with Rubi in the off hand, more DPS means more HPS (Healing Per Second). With Inconceivable, you’ll reload a little less frequently without sacrificing fire rate, which means more DPS and fewer downtimes for your Moxxxi heals while gunzerking.

One more thing: I’d drop the transfusion grenade. Not sure how transfusions interact with Moxxxi guns while doing their damage, but their damage ain’t much anyhow so it’s gonna be negligible with anything short of Grog Nozzle. Instead, look for a singularity with a 0 fuse time and either shock or slag. Why? So, reloads are when Sal is vulnerable. No outgoing damage while reloading, means no healing happening either. Rubi and Grog aren’t strong enough to heal by their own damage while the primary hand is reloading. You need something to cover the gap. Enter the singularity. Drop one 2-ish shots before you reload (if you’re in a risky target-rich environment), then continue firing. Hope to proc a Money Shot chain, but if that fails, you have the singularity to do a couple things for you:

  • Interrupt enemies’ attacks with the pull
  • Apply some DoT, or at least a decent burst of elemental damage
  • Via the burst, to provide damage to Moxxxi-heal during the reload break

More later. Must step away from the keyboard for a bit. <3

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Well, here’s my advice (for what it’s worth :grinning:):
As @TheRAbbi said, you really want Down Not Out as it allows Sal to keep his AS going even in FFL moments. If you plan to go with shotguns as your primary weapons you can do w/o I’m Your Huckleberry (even though it is a great skill). Also, Steady As She Goes doesn’t work well with Hyperion weapons, so if you plan to make those your primary weapons do without it (but take it if you prefer Jakobs or Torgue shotguns). I’d suggest trying a different grenade for healing with the Rubi- legendary ones would be Fastball or Storm Front but any Tesla or corrosive cloud grenade would work just as well (even if the grenade is under leveled for damage, it’s the healing you want to get from using it)- the continual damage they do will heal you at a faster rate than just shooting something with either of your weapons. In that regard, an absorb or adaptive shield might be a better choice than the Black Hole- IIRC the chance at the 1340 shield from doing Out of Body should be available (unless you already did it) and if doing Clan Wars doesn’t throw off your progress schedule the Aequatis(sp?) shield will be an option.


Sal shield: I keep an absorb shield for bullet-rich environments, and an adaptive one for creature encounters. Typically green & green so far. Somewhere around level 60 I started using Rough Rider (supposedly helps your chances with Inconceivable, otherwise I’d stick with a good adaptive one). :wink:

One more thing: Down Not Out? SUPER skill. Not only will FFYL not interrupt gunzerking, but if gunzerk is or comes off of cooldown when you’re in FFYL you can start it there. I think this may make Salvador the only character who can START an action skill while in FFYL. Not positive about that part.

Here I am talking about Sal like some kind of hero. I’m a scrub. I do not have the amazing skills with any character in any shooter. And I go into FFYL more with Sal than I do with Maya, by a LOT.

Maybe @Worblehat you’re in this boat with me, going into FFYL a lot more than you’re used to. I used to keep two RLs loaded out for FFYL; a Bandit one with high damage, and a Topneaa or PBFG. Biggest thing I did to reduce FFYLs and their duration? Focus on keeping up DPS even while reloading, and bunny hop like it’s BF2 all over again.

ALSO, No Kill Like Overkill. It’s been SO big. Two-shotted a lot of rabid skags with that, because I brought up NKLO on a fodder skag right before it and overkilled that one hard. I’m not entirely clear on how the additional damage is calculated and applied (does it come before or after Money Shot?), but a lot of stuff just blows up with it. Pretty funny.

I did watch a video with Derch and Chuck talking in-depth about Sal’s skills. You want two of the game’s top people talking Salvador in detail? Find that. It’s like 2-ish hours long, but really worth it.


That’s not a supposition, that’s a fact, it will allows Inconceivable to proc more often since your shield is always depleted. Plus it adds a damage resistance that’s not negligeable. On another side, I like using an adaptative shield when fighting Dragons.


For me his shield was a major consideration. As the others said, absorbs in bullet areas , adaptives in elemental areas - but by far the most effective for me were ( and are ) the Neo from Spycho and the Rough Rider. As @TheRAbbi mentions below, the Sham is ridiculously good.

Spikes and novas were good in normal, but he needs protection in the fray, not another source of damage. I recommend ditching that Black Hole immediately.

@SixelA - can you explain the Rough Rider / Inconceivable connection? This is the first I’m hearing of it.

Edit - never mind. I just read the skill properly for the first time. Oops. Should have known that.

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Yeah, I said ‘supposedly’ only because I don’t fully understand the mechanic. At level 63, using a 50 RR, I’m getting it a lot. Had a ridiculously fast Goldie kill in the Mines of Avarice with a big Money Shot chain and the Grog drunk effect (after fire rate went sky high with that middle tree capstone). NUTS.

BUT I gather OP won’t be up for farming RR for a while yet. :confused: Adaptive shield for the health buff, and resistance while it’s up. Otherwise, absorb (absorbed bullets shouldn’t do any damage to you) with a decent absorb chance. Even badly underleveled, a high-chance Sham is incredible.

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I haven’t done any maths and I don’t think it’s tied to any formula. This is just a conclusion after mixing the description of Inconceivable and the Rough Rider.

Inconceivable, at 5/5 grants up to 50% chance to not consume ammo depending on how low your health and shield are ; while the Rough Rider allows you to have a shield, but a shield with a capacity of zero, like it was depleted.

With the Rough Rider you permanently increase your chance to not consume ammo at 50%. It means, the first (the third, the fiveth, the seventh, etc …) shot fired will consume ammo, not the second one (not the fourth, the sixth, etc …). This is only theoretical, in practice it happens that Inconceivable doesn’t proc at all in a whole mag, and then will proc four, five time in a row (more visible, audible when it occurs with Money Shot) to create a chain of free shot.

Sorry if I’m confused, I couldn’t find better words to explain it, maybe people with better knowledge of the game mechanics will be able to clarify how it works.


So what I’m gathering is, if either health or shield falls, Inconceivable’s chance rises, toward 50% at 5/5 for some value of shield or health lower than full. Sound about right?

It’s no wonder that RR is shield of choice for Inconceivable/MoneyShot builds, then. To me it’s still a tossup between RR and a strong Adaptive. RR is always down, has a bigger health buff, and has a 20% across-the-board DR. Adaptive usually has a higher DR against one element at a time (only while level is above 0, right?), a lesser health buff. Total HP should be higher with Adaptive, as should single-element DR while shield is up. Though with Sal, I spend most of every fight with shield depleted.

So overall it’s a tossup, but for Sal it’s advantage to RR. Lacking access to a RR, Adaptive is a solid choice.

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Dont worry @Worblehat , your not alone.
Ive shelved Sal for now because I just couldn’t get to grips with him and it was only making me feel frustrated.
I may get round to him again at some point , or I might just accept that he’s not for me (which I doubt because I’m too stubborn).
Hopefully you’ll get there with him though.


Yes, you’re right but I don’t know if we really need to have 0 health or shield to reach that 50% chance. Is there a “scale” (for example, under 500 000 points of shield we have 30% chance to not consume ammo, under 350 000, it rises to 40% chance, etc …) or is it based on a percentage of our health/shield initial value. Percentage seem to me to be the most logical, wise choice.

That’s why I generally prefer to use the Rough Rider, but Evolution and Neogenator are solid choices when fighting Dragons (Pete too ? I guess it depends how you decide to fight him). Furthermore those two shields aren’t really hard to farm so it’s a good thing to have one in the backpack if things go wrong and you want to try something else. An easy shield to get and that provides good survivability is the Flame of the Firehawk but visual interferences due to the novas can make difficult to aim.

Adding to this, 5 Shots or 6, and you are virtually able to gain ammo when firing.


Well, I’m using a stockpile relic and ammo isn’t a big issue. 5SO6 can, if I understand it correctly, end a MS chain. Haven’t invested in it therefore. Though I may. I keep getting downed by Vora during reloads or breaks in gunzerk. I might rather make those reloads fewer. Hmm…

Thanks folks!

The general consensus that I should be favoring Gunlust over Brawn is back towards what I was planning as of the mid-30s (though I didn’t realize how critical Down Not Out is - was more aiming for Money Shot by itself at the time). Then started dying a lot and thought “I need more healing. Healing is in the Brawn tree. I should go towards Brawn!” (plus a lot of people have been talking about Brawn Sals lately). Gunlust for more dps = more healing and less damage taken from killing enemies faster definitely sounds like the proper Borderlands solution though. :slight_smile: And as you say, having FFYL not interrupt gunzerking is fantastic!

Shields - Aequitas was his previous shield back at 41. But it’s substantially smaller than the BH (12k) and I don’t think the absorb chance is high enough to make up for that. Absorb for bullet maps and adaptive elsewhere is my normal practice with all characters in NVHM/TVHM, I just don’t have any between 41 (Aequitas) and 46 (purple Adaptive). I wish I remembered how Axton got through these levels - he didn’t even have that much… (Maya didn’t care, she’s fine with whatever, and of course the BH fit Krieg perfectly). Neogenator - seems great, should be level 47-48 most likely. Though IIRC it becomes available after Sawtooth Cauldron, not before, which is a bit unfortunate.

Sal as a RR user makes more sense than I thought. I wish Krieg hadn’t sold his first three in UVHM once he was done with them. As for right now … it’s near the start of Hammerlock, but still a couple quests in, including a very substantial amount of mobbing in Scylla’s Grove (have to reach Claptrap before Hammerlock will send you to visit Bulwark, because reasons). Maybe doable.

Looking forward to NKLO someday. As you’ve seen in the other thread, I’ve been Krieging a lot and he’s even more into engineering crazy overkill damage to pass on to the next enemy. :smiley:

Steady As She Goes and Hyperion - I’ve enjoyed both. Until UVHM all I can do is use what I have. For whatever reason I’ve only found two quality Hyperion shotguns across six characters (Heartbreaker at 20, purple Development at 39), the rest have been Torgue or Jakobs. Obviously Hyperion pistols are available at 42, 45, 48, and 50 (the latter two being Lady Fists). UVHM will probably be Ravagers since that’s what Krieg keeps finding. But SASG is a point that’s better spent on YKY or Get Some first, so I’ll definitely do that.

Ironically I’ve found 4-5 good Hyperion shotguns across four characters in TPS. Athena has been very happy about that!

The only one in BL2; Jack can do it in TPS.


I find the best shields for Sal are Neogenator/Evolution.

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You’re right it would break your Money Shot chain since it has a chance to add ammo in your mag after a kill. I haven’t really tested it but that sounds logic. I’m only using this skill when I want to spam rocket laucher. With a War Dog COM this is complete chaos. :smiley:

For a more conventional playstyle (pistol, shotgun), I’m relying mainly if not only on Inconceivable to reduce my ammo consumption and this is generally enough. Main issue as you stated is to reload at the right time when fighting bosses like Vorac.

Both don’t work well together due to the reverse recoil, accuracy of the Hyperion weapons.

Ask Krieg if he would give his axe to Sal. :grinning:


Not this time…

I’m really struggling with real life these days. Sorry :frowning:

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No problem, the community jumped in to help out, that’s part of the definition of that word… Hope things go better for you in the future

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Sorry to hear that bud.
Hope you get things worked out :thumbsup:


A slight derail for purely selfish purposes : is the Evo better than the Neo ( all things being equal )?

I have a rather good Neo and haven’t used an Evo in what seems like years.

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