"The Zane Problem", regarding Action Skill balance and scaling

Hi Gearbox,
Its me again, this time I want to take a moment to talk with you about the awesome action skills you gave us in this game! How much fun they are to use!
and the fact that they 75% of the time are completly useless at level 50 on mayhem 3. :slight_smile:

so let me elaborate:
I want to go over every Vault Hunters action skill and tell you what is Wrong with them…
FYI: I have basically every item in the game, All characters at level 50 mayham 3 viable, all builds are rather complete, I have all class mods and they are all fun!
but, do any of my builds (that are actually good and powerful) rely on a action skill?.. well kinda… but more so no.
I am not saying the skills are terrible, quite the contrary, they are all extremely fun to use! the problem is, they for the most part DO NOT SCALE AT ALL into late game, or have little to NO use… and believe me when I say this… I REALLY tried to make them work! I really did!

So let me tell you my story and my findings… and offer solutions. This is all related to level 50 mayhem 3

I will add Statistics of each characters on their builds, and focus on what role the action skill in each Build Fullfills. to showcase, How underwheliming they really are.

First I wanted to call it the “Zane Problame”, he was the first character I played, I was full on Zane Main. and I realized, even after all the hype and theory crafting and builds you could pull off, non of it really worked out for him… because zane has a bunch of problems, not only with his actions skills, but with his kit in general, He severely lacks in raw damage increases on his tree, which makes him quite weak in general compared to some of the other classes, this wouldn’t be so bad though, since he is the gadget boi and relies heavily on his clone, wall and sntl to do the work for him and help him… here is the problem though… ALL of his actions skills are ONLY for utility… non of it packs a punch in ANY way… so even if you do all the shenanigans, jump through all the gimmick hoops… he at the end of the day only relies on his weapons to do the damage, which, as I stated before, do significantly less damage then others VH without beeing overwhelmingly strong in the utility department either…

Zane Statistics:

Strongest build: Kill Skill - using clone and drone
Role of the actions skills: use them JUST to trigger actions skills and then you want to get rid of them as fast as you can!
Viability: 3.5/5
Usefullness of actively playing with your skills: 2/5

I give it a 2 star rating, because using them to trigger your skills IS in a way actively playing with them and WOULD BE another fun way to play with them… but as you will see… there is no viable other way…

The Hype build: The gimmicky freeze everything build to have infinte skill uptime - using clone and shield
Role of the action skill: spawn a SUPER POWERFUL ULTIMATE BADASS DIGI CLONE with your weapon that WRECKS any enemy and keep yourself save with a personal undestructable shield!
Viability: 2/5
Usefullness of actively playing with your skills: 2/5

So this was the build everyone was excited for, and at the same time this is the biggest problem that already sparked this threads idea one week ago. Story time again…

so I get to level 28 and I finally unlock my super badass digi clone with my gun in hands! I have this amazing rocket launcher that at the time deals over a THOUSAND damage! (wow) and now my digi clone with 60% increased damage, 90% reload speed and 15% fire rate will WRECK sh’t with this beast! I CHOOSE YOU DIGI CLONE!


silence … insert squshy teddy bear noise

he did what now to the enemy? 500 damage? wait… I thought he’d be doing 60% MORE! damage…

well I guess not…

this was devastating to me… why did I spawn a clone that barely even did half my damage… this already was disapointing… I respect, and the badass digiclone without my gun was doing even more dps…

well, I was 50 then, I did a lot of testing, tested every gun, butcher, monocle, unforgivem (because the clone is at least good at dealing criticals), scourge, lyuda, night hawkin, lucians call, every gun…
I tested elements, non element and of course a lot of cryo, so he can freeze as well

here are my findings on guns that do okay: Butcher, nemesis, queens call
literally ony these three guns do a good job at dealing OKAY damage

Biggest disappointments: Flakker, one pump chump, unforgiven, flood and the biggest of them all, the lasersploder! (that thing is a joke)

but the problem is not only the damage scaling… yes it does reduced damage, which is weird, totally unnecessary given how powerful other stuff in the game is, but the even bigger problem is how stuid the AI of the clone his…
YOU HAVE TO TRY the laser sploder… please do it! it is SUCH a good gun… but the clone for what every reason does not hold down the trigger… he does a quick little “pfft” and stops, “bzzt” and stops… its a freaking automatic… hold the trigger down stupid clone! xD
and so many other guns have weird interactions too…

so a fully stacked ultimate badass clone the hardest you can push it… where you invest ANYTHING into it, does “okay” damage at best… while beeing clunky, hard to position and gimmicky to keep up…

the shield obviously doesn’t help you to clear anything faster, but it does protect you of course and does a good job at it, I think it is heavily underrated… it is mostly here to keep your shield and hp up so you get infite duration…

is this build good though… well no, not for me at least… it does work some times… but most of the time it is super hectic and unreliable… because you WILL get damaged at mayhem 3 when surrounded by annoited guys… (and you get surrounded because you dont kill fast enough)
so it is super hard to keep up, or paly suuuper defensivly… and the payoff for all the hustle is pretty low…

so if the clone sucks at dps… then lets try the drone!

wait… you think the drone does any damage?! hahahahahahahaha YOINK! sorry bruh, it does not.
but… you might asked, if the drone does no damage, surely I can increased it with the skill tree right…?

me: ohhhhhh you want to scale it through your skill tree? the amzingly designed featrure that makes borderlands so great that let you scale you skill to do a better job? that increases its damage so much that you are completly carryed by it? like salv did? like krieg? or maybe doppelganger from tps?

you: YES!

me: well gooood for you! here you go! he can now throw a grenade LITERALLY one time in its live time!

you: …

me: …

both of us: “cry in a corner”

so yeah… why can’t I even scale the drone in any way? the clone has these 2 HUGE buffs to him (supposedly) the shield can have your shield! but the drone gets nothing?! its suppose to be the DPS action skill right? it does NO notable damage at level 50, and I have no way of even increasing its effectivness… and the calss mod for it is a joke! 5% chance on kil to reset it… 5%! you need to kill an avarge of 20 enemys in this duration of like 30-40 seconds… yes you CAN do that, but more often then not there are not even enough enemys OR you just dont kill enough because your damage is “bad” OR you play in a group and dont even get the last hit…

Most fun build : Grenade Zane - using only clone
Role of the actions skills: Keep up you clone for free grenades.
Viability: 3/5
Usefullness of actively playing with your skills: 3/5

This build was the reason I wanted to paly Zane. Throw greandes over and over, regenrating them when I kill stuff or spawn my clone, while my clone is up, throws a free grenade, then evebn more after kills sometime and then again after he dies. is it fun? hell yes! is it good? well you might think that if its your first character… but then you play moze… and you figure out that she does it way, way, WAY better then you do… in this build you keep up your clone for utility, just because it spams some free grenades, or to recharge your shields, is it good in this situation yes, but is it actively doing anything… no.
and you literally dont use a second skill here, because even though the drone CAN theoratically throw grenade(s) it does it SO poorly that you are better of just doing it yourself not using it… and therefore dont use the “first shot fired, also fires a grenade” either… because the chance really is so low for no reason… why not just make it 100% chance every 8 seconds? is it really THAT op to throw a grenade every 8 seconds? I think not… especially looking at Moze… (please dont nerf moze… yes Im scared for nerfs in a borderlandsgame… the first time for 7 years… buts thats another story…)

Sooooo yeah… TL;DR:
the clone does terribly damage for no reason… even if you scale it, it can’t NEARLY keep up with any thing else in the game, it is dramatically weak for a whole tree you invest in it… and its AI and mechanics are weird to a point where you need to test for hours to even figure out if a weapon is good on him or not.
The SNTL is okay for utility, debuffing enemys a tiny bit, but you really wouldn’t notice if it is there or not if you dont pay attention… it is a fire and forget uninteractable little thing that increases you damage by like 5%.
The shield is literally the best skill, providing huge defensive bonuses… but defense is not the problem of zane, it is damge, and the shield and its tree both dont help with it either…

My solution: not only make the clone scale with your weapon damage, but make it a legit copy, with even your shield equipped maybe, give it the exact same base damage that you have, make it affected by all you skills and scale with all the damage% that you might have… so when I spaw a Badass clone with my weapon it really does 60% more damage that I would do with the same gun. this is what IT should be! at it wouldnt even be overpowered in ANY stretch of the imagination when compared to anything FL4K and Moze are doing…

Give us a REAL option to scale the drone, give it WAY more base damage per level, make it scale with mayhem, so it does more damage the higher mayhem level you are. or make it scale with your own damage too (not sure how to implement this… but make it have 80% of the damage increases you have to affect the drone.)


And I am too Lazy for now to go into class mods… but where every other character gets really nice benefits to their kits and builds, zane gets weird stuff that wants you to try even more new stuff that totally goes against everything you are doing and try to combines things that just dont work together as the skills are right now…

anyway… these are my 2 cents on Zane atm… I will do a thread about Moze and her mech next, and then fl4k and his pets especially.
maybe not amara, as phasegrasp is as amazing as it ever was, and the other skills really just need some number tweaks for mayhem mode to do proper damage.

What do you think? have you found an amazing build on Zane? did I miss something completly? are you fine with his skills not doing damage? are you enjoying zane none the less?

rember that everthing I talk about is related to level 50 mayhem 3, while leveling, zane was a blast!


I’m only at level 20 but when I first started playing Zane I tried to use the sentinel and clone for a speed kill build. It was okay then I realized that there wasn’t many situations where it was not dangerous to run around and I got killed for it. So I respected a couple times and built around my shield with health regeneration and damage resistance. The shield plus the clone with syncornicty is pretty good. I use jakobs rifle and hide behind cover shooting everyone’s heads. I’m don’t know about level 50 though. Is it a completely different game? Hide behind cover and kill everyone maybe?

1 Like

@johnk1 it IS a completly diffrent game, yes. for better or worse. ^^
I love both the leveling and finding new gear to improve, and I also love the endgame.
but as the leveling process comes to a beautiful end, the endgame does not… so the endgame is what I care for most!
and that is what this thread is about.
while leveling the skill feel and play amazing, as they should! but sadly gearbox can’t quite get the scaling right to make them equaly as fun in lategame, even though you might think that. and of course it does work, but only to a degree


Do you have a link to your grenade mod talent tree?

@Mastemine sadly no, sorry, is there a good site to share builds?
but it is pretty simple honestly, just go down the Hitman tree until you can get seein red, pick up death follows close and all the kill skills you like the best, defintily get lifesteal, DO NOT get drone delivery, go for good misfortune if you want your clone to stay out longer, or avoid it if you want to use it more frequently instead of longer, both are good. I personally dont get it to have more points to spare.
then go down the doubled agent until you reach boom. enhance as your final point. pick up fractal frags and pocket full of grenades for obvious reasond, and DO NOT pick up duct tape mod - because it is a waste of skillpoints. of you get the duration in the hitman tree pick up burrowed time, if not, then dont and go magazine size or damage instead (both are good for tediore throwing)


Just wanted to say that I like Zane’s character the most over the others. He’s a funny guy :grin:


Yeah, you can show off your talent build on the official website here, along with what active abilities and augments you would use! Just copy and paste the URL at the top once you finish editing your character.

grenade build

this is what i am using and was kinda just ok until i picked up a shock mirv hex grenade mod and now mobbing is insane.

also have a class mod that gives an extra 3 points to duct tape mod making it 38% if memory serves right.

Well you missed one thing completely: the clone already has your shield equipped. Sad face

@johnk1 I do too! :stuck_out_tongue:


well here you go then :slight_smile: but this does not even explain the build… ^^ as the items are much more important… becuase the only really relevant skills are the grenade regen, and the kill skill activation on clone spawn ^^

remeber that we DONT go for duct tape mod nor a second action skill, because the drone does nothing for you, and so shootinga grenade when you can just throw them is unnecessary. (also the skill kinda sucks)

EDIT: or you know… just skip all that, and just play moze, where you do more damage, throw more grenades faster, have more lifesteal, are more survivable with at least 40k shield that is always full.

This is a joke right?
My zane destroys mayhem 3, maybe thats because i put effort into him unlike you people that expect fl4k levels of damage with a single click. I have almost perfect gear for my build, and i’m sitting on 85% weapon damage passively with room for more.


well then, show us, tell us, enlighten us… because most people are agreeing on the fact right now that he is the weakest of the 4. tell us how he can be good.

EDIT: can you do mayhem 3 any trial in 5 minutes? because I certainly can’t with any of my zane builds, and believe me, I really tried…


Hehe, I lol’d

1 Like

Would you mind sharing your build or gear then, because otherwise you just come off as elitist rather than being constructive. I doubt that people are expecting FL4K levels of damage with no effort, rather a lot of people are clearly having issues making Zane work near as effectively as the other characters despite doing all they can, but if you’ve managed to crack the code then by all means share what you’ve found.



Very unhappy to hear that Zane sucks because Im about to reach level 50 and I dont have the time to level another character to 50, specially not when getting used to one character already.
Im thinking about copying your skill tree @Gentlemann
Is there a reason why you havent picked double barrell? seems pretty good to have 20% extra gun damage?

also most likely this Vaultologist is just fking around since he cant prove his own build or material to it.

1 Like

@mikaelthuritz1984 I dont pick up doubled barreled 1. because the scaling on it sucks, and 2. because you can only pick one keystone at the bottom right now, and seein red is basically how this build functions.

it is by no means the best build though. its just A grenade build

if you want to do damage go for a kill skill build focusing more on you then on grenades. I can put something together for you later, will edit this post :slight_smile:

After such a big post (original post) and today we got a patch, would really appreciate you make an update on what you think of the change they did. Is zane more viable? Do we have more choices for build than before?
I started with Zane and it felt really underpowered when playing with friends (they were playing Fl4k and Amara). I started Moze for fun even though I thought i wouldn’t like it and ended up playing with her because just he Action skill felt so much better at beginning (til i have a decent skill tree at higher level). Now the action skill is not very good anymore at high level but at least i have so much nades and explosions and fire damage and all that it’s just ok… Zane didn’t had anything good for him, do you think the change they made are worth it? or they did it the wrong way?

hey, I just got home from a long day… so I am very pleased to see that there are changes made. I will jump right into the game and to all the testing again to see some changes… I will comeback later to report myx findings

1 Like

I’ll be damn glad to read your thoughts as you seem to have lot of experience with the game already :smiley: keep us updated :smiley: