Why all Classmods need to change in BL3


Hello, today I like to take a few minutes of your time to discuss Class Mods (COMs) in the Borderlands franchise. After playing this game for more hours than I like to admit, I came to the realization that I really don’t like the way class mods are designed in this game. I will try to explain why and hopefully we can find some form of a solution.

Now, I am not saying there aren’t any awesome COMs within the existing format. However, at lot of the COMs are dependent on their grouping of skills. We know that not all skills are created equal; so we have templates that output anything from God Tier to a complete pile of horseshit.

The pre-sequel had less of an issue here because generally all the classes had good skills, but there were still some areas where an otherwise “great” COM on paper really translates into a “good/average” COM in reality.

What we have now:

  • White - No skill bonuses
  • Green - 1 skill bonus
  • Blue - 2 skill bonuses
  • Purple - 3 skill bonuses

“Legendary” and “Slayer of Terramorphous” class mods each grant additional skill bonuses:

  • Legendary - 5 or 6 skill bonuses, depending on class
  • Slayer of Terramorphous - 5 skill bonuses

The level and rarity of a class mod determine the number of bonus skill points granted. The maximum number of bonus skill points at maximum level by rarity is:

  • Green - +5 skill points
  • Blue - +6, +5 skill points
  • Purple - +5, +4, +4 skill points
  • Legendary - +5, +5, +5, +5, +5, (+5) skill points
  • Slayer of Terramorphous - +4, +4, +4, +4, +4 skill points

Each class has a total of 21 class mods

  • 15 from vanilla and UVHM pack
  • 6 from Tiny Tina DLC

Naming Convention:

  • Base name is determined by the affected variable
  • Skill bonus determines the prefix
  • On Tiny Tina DLC the prefix is determined by affected variable (as the skill bonus are always the same).

The Problems

Symptom A: Prefixes for sake of prefixes

The “Affected Variables” is for a lack of better word, boring. They are mostly stats boost and nothing more. We get stats boost from our skills tree, badass rank, relics/oz kits…we really don’t need this repeated again. This feels like these variables exist merely to create more types rather than actually adding something meaningful. The only variable that ties back to the skill tree is the cooldown rate variable.

Consider this, when relics (universal class mods?) are becoming more and more interesting with every game I really don’t see why the class mods should have generic stats boost. Let relics dominate this area, and focus the class mods on something more meaningful.

Furthermore, the little RNG within these variables are next too pointless, they are not noticeable. If you slightly nerfed the roll of let’s say the reload speed on my Zero’s Leg Hunter COM, I probably wouldn’t even notice. It’s all a wash.

Symptom B: Lack of Choice

All the builds play of the 21 available COMs, and even less so when you are leveling a character. If you are trying to do something that a COM doesn’t want you to do, then you are not going to have a good time.

During leveling if you come across a COM for your class, there is a good chance you will vendor it. Because more than likely your build and skill points distribution doesn’t agree with the COM you just got (it would require a re-spec). You either build something around the COM or you pack up and go home.

I will give you an end game example of this. I like Maya, she is unofficially the second sniping class in BL2. She has no dedicated sniping COM, we have to make do with the available COMs and make something work. Say I want a Pimp build with +5 to Mind’s Eye, Sweet Release, Foresight, Chain Reaction and Reaper. I can’t, there is no Leg COM that do this. To get Chain Reaction I have to bring myself down to using a Trickster COM, and I don’t even like the two other skills on it. Why is this a thing?

It’s not just me but everyone who played this game and to all the people on this forum that does theory crafting have to wrestle with this, and we shouldn’t have to.

Symptom C: No consistency with the rest of the loot

Ever wonder why there are no Blue Unique (Mission Rewards) COMs? Me too….

I don’t like the way the name is put together on the Leg COMs, they are not in line with the rest of the gear and they are generic. Now this might sound silly because it will look like I am making a big deal out of a name but bear with me here.

  • Why don’t we change the Bee to “Legendary Amp Shield” or here have a “Legendary Fire Snider” instead of the Volcano. That’s right? See you even feel the discomfort in your gut. Hell, I bet you want to slap me across the face. That’s the problem with Leg COM names…they are bad.
  • Stop calling Orange COMs “Legendary” we can see it is…
  • Stop ending their name with the class reference, we know who it’s for by looking at the card information.
  • Just give them a name, keep it simple. You don’t need to based them off anything purple, just make them break the rules, do something cool. Make me play differently with my class when I have this COM equipped.

Symptom D: 3 Games, 0 Innovation

Class mods are the only constant in this franchise, they have not changed since day one. While the rest of loot moved onto bigger and better things COMs still retain their affected variables and grouping of skill bonuses. Now I would not have created this post if it weren’t for this issue, I am not even sure if GBX wants this to change.


  • [BL1] Each manufacture gave certain bonuses (capacity, recharge rate, element resistance, etc) but nothing special. I believe the only shield that brought something new was the Rose when it gave the vault hunters health regen after it depleted. The other pearl shields just offered better capacity/recharge delay. That’s about it.
  • [BL2] Much in line with the weapons in BL2, each manufacturer got their own gimmick (e.g Roid, Amped, Nova, Spike, Turtle, Absorb, & Boosters). Then we actually have interesting red text effect on top of those types. I won’t go into them, too many interesting shields to list and not the scope of this post.
  • [TPS] Even more crazy red text shenanigans! Cryo shield is a big part of the game, that’s like having slag shields in BL2, so it was a huge deal to have Cryo shields in TPS.

Artifacts / Relics / Oz kIts:

  • [BL1] Artifacts, basically adding elements to your action skill, I don’t mind this idea but it was too simple.
  • [BL2] First time we saw “Support Com/Universal Class Mod”, excellent addition to replace Artifacts with, can have redtext effect.
  • [TPS] Again broadly speaking “Support Coms” in forms on Oz kits to match the game’s theme, works with vault hunter’s jetpack, offer bonuses based on atmosphere, cool red text effects

Now here are the likely (speculative) direction for BL3

  • Shields slot will be redefined as a “Defensive/Offensive Mod” slot. Not all shields are designed to protect (Amp/Roid), and not all “shield” actually gives you shield (RRider). So I do believe we can start seeing “Armor” (Huge protecting with low recharge rate/delay) or maybe even “Speed” (dodge bullets and projectiles) in addition to the classic shields in BL3.
  • Relic Slot will still be the same, perhaps it will bear more stats and responsibility to take some weight of the COMs.


That’s just the problem, I have no idea, Gearbox never build on them. I really hope it’s not the same as we have seen in the last 3 games. I am sure most of us believe the COMs will be redesigned but then again, we do have 3 games with the same design, what makes you think otherwise? Just because they have a new team?



Disclaimer: The following is a proposed solution to address all the issues I mentioned. I am not even sure if this is the right way to go but it is a start, and it might need a lot of testing. My design has 3 components, each serving a specific need. The only thing I am keeping is the skills bonuses from COMs as I think it is an essential recipe that we cannot do without. However, I will do it in a way so it allows a player to control where and how many points are distributed.

  1. Class Skill Bonuses
  2. Class Attributes
  3. Class Augmentations

Class Skill Bonuses

We still want to keep this as it is the core component of a COM, however I will do away with the pre-determined grouping of select skills, and replace it with just a flat +skill points. So it would be like you overleveled and now you have some extra skill points to USE ANYWHERE (granted you unlocked it first).

  • White +5 skill points
  • Green +10 skill points
  • Blue +15 skill points
  • Purple +20 skill points
  • Orange +25 skill points

This will solve the “GBX way or the highway” problem with COMs. Now we can build our character how we want to, based on our needs and our understanding and appreciation of the skills. But now we have nothing to base the name prefix on……yes we will get to that in a minute.

Class Attributes

These are really replacing the variables on the existing coms. Think of them as mini redtext effect on a COM, but they are directly related to skills tree and player action rather than some generic shield recharge, gun damage, reload speed…etc boost. So some examples are:

  • 40% extra kill skill duration
  • Kill skill duration can stack
  • Adds +4 more skill point (I know, how creative of me)
  • Cooldown rate delay
  • Longer skill duration
  • Adds a fire dot to every bullet shot during action skill
  • Movement speed during action skill
  • Passive healing during action skill
  • Headshot recharge your skill cooldown faster

I am sure these sound OP but they can be toned down and we can have 20-30 of these as possible rolls.I want them to scale in two ways.

Based on COM level

  • Level 10 adds 10% movement speed during action skill, level 20 can add 20%.
  • Level 10 adds +1 skillpoint where level 50 adds +5 (+1 every 10 level)
  • You get the idea, my numbers are just hypothetical

Based on Rarity

  • White – 1 Attribute
  • Green – 2 Attributes
  • Blue – 3 Attributes
  • Purple – 4 Attributes
  • Orange – 5 Attributes

This aspect of the COMs is for the min/maxers. This is what you will log in every night for, a chance for the right combo of 5 attributes.

Class Augmentations

And finally we have class augmentations, this is what our naming convention will be determined by. As important as the Class Skill Bonuses and Class Attributes are, this is the thing that will have those wacky and crazy gameplay defining elements to your class.

So before we get right into it lets talk about the prefixes and COM names for a moment. Whatever defines a COM need to be based on a finite number of things. These finite number of things also need a way to create variables of itself, so we can potentially create the many prefixes it can have.

All of Zero’s Survival COMs has Max Health and Health Regen, the skill point distribution determines the prefixes. Then you have the Killer COMs that has Crit Hit Dmg…Stalker COMs gives you Pistol Buff and Shield Recharge Delay and so on and so forth.

I already mention why I don’t like these values to be based on generic stats. Because they can overlap something you already have on a skill tree, or badass rank or even on relics. So let me give you a better example.

COMs should have something unique and special on them, something I cannot get elsewhere. So I propose they Augment your Action Skill, Game Changers and Capstones instead. Based on these augmentations we can now started producing a naming convention. These augmentations are side grades to your action skill/game changer/capstones.

So let me give you some examples of Class Augmentations: I am using Maya for this, don’t get too hung up on my examples because they are really OP.

Action Skill (Keep it basic)

  • Adds an elemental splash/dot to your action skill
  • Lift bigger target
  • Phaselock up to two targets at the expense of a slightly longer cooldown
  • Phaselock stays up during FFYL

Game Changer

  • Increase pull radius of Converge by %100
  • Shooting an enemy in the head proc converges again (only once during a phase lock)
  • After using Res on a friendly, phase lock instantly cooldowns
  • The dot from cloud kill will passively heal you and your teammates


  • You can change though lock target during though lock
  • After Scorn travels a certain distance it will explode in a singularity pulling all npcs in and slagging them
  • Target near a Ruin phaselock will take +50% more elemental damage

Now that you have an idea what these augmentations are let’s distribute them in the COMs.

  • White – 1 Action Skill
  • Green – 1 Action Skill, 1 Game Changer
  • Blue – 1 Action Skill, 1 Game Changer[U]
  • Purple – 1 Action Skill, 1 Game Changer[U], 1 Capstone
  • Orange – 1 Action Skill, 1 Game Changer[U], 1 Capstone[U]

The [U] next the Game Change and Capstones means the COM will unlock them for you if you don’t have it, yes it will give you a free Game Changer on Blue or Greater COMs and a free Capstone on Orange. However it will only unlock it, not augment, you will need to invest points into the Game Changer and Capstone in order to take advantage of the augmentation.

Naming Convention:


  • BaseName = The Action Skill Augmentation

Output Name:

  • Clonelock Siren” = Clonelock = Double Phaselock Augmentation

Green and Blue

  • Prefix = Game Changer Augmentation +
  • BaseName = The Action Skill Augmentation

Output Name:

  • Support Clonelock Siren” = Support = “After using Res on a friendly, phase lock instantly cooldowns” Augmentation


  • Prefix 1 = Capstone Augmentation +
  • Prefix = Game Changer Augmentation +
  • BaseName = The Action Skill Augmentation

Output Name:

  • Elemental Support Clonelock Siren” = Elemental = Target near a Ruin phaselock will take +50% more elemental damage

So the Elemental Support Clonelock Siren COM has:

  • Two Phaselock from Action Skill Augmentation (Clonelock)
  • Instant skill cooldown Augmentation after using RES (Support)
  • Ruin Augmentation with bonus elemental damage (Elemental)


  • None, it’s whatever, give them unique names as we do with shields, guns etc.

I never really thought about it in that way but you’re right, there were a few more like ammo regen on Aurelia or Krieg’s kill skill duration. But yeah more of that stuff would be better.

I get where you are coming from on this one but if you open it up to choosing how you spend them then you don’t have any different com’s just rarity.

Maybe if you could on a purple for example choose your 3 our of 5, I don’t know the best answer here.

Also look how grenades evolved from bl1 to bl2

I don’t know if I have any great ideas on this either. They did get a lot better in TPS not only because I think skill trees were better designed but also because the com’s seemed to be thought out better, a theme for each one really and I like that part of it. I like the group of skills around a playstyle, but I get that its limiting.

Maybe if instead of needing one point to activate your skill, coms gave you them any way. Of course this could also create issues early game I guess.


There are nice ideas, I have to put more thought into it for a better responce

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No problem, in fact I didn’t expect a reply this quickly. You can respond in a video if you like (hint hint nudge nudge). This post is long overdue as I think I briefly spoke to you about it before.

True, I try to tackle this issue on my Solutions post, I am not sure how to do this well either, maybe needs more thinking.

Yeah I was writing my response before you had that edited.

I might just do that video idea :slight_smile: I do have a running bl3 wishlist series

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What about brand effects? One of my favorite things in TPS was Jack’s Hyperion skills and celestial com that added reverse recoil to all guns.

What about if that was also part of them

Jakobs = crit bonus or knockback
Hyperion = accuracy bonus or reverse recoil
Torgue = base damage or adds explosive splash to all guns
Vladof = fire rate or reduced ammo cost (like vladof launchers)
Maliwan = elemental effect chance or adds elemental splash to all shots
Dahl = reduced recoil or makes all guns have burst fire (dahl adds to burst)
Tediore = faster reload or all guns get toss reload
Bandit/Scav = larger mag size or something…

First effect would be for normal second could be rare and maybe even red text

All other gear seems to have a brand effect


Not bad, one thing I hated about Borderlands 2 mods currently were the wasted bonuses for skills you really didn’t use for your given play style.

I know a lot of Maya users hated the Blight Phoenix skills on the Fire com. Or so many other combinations they would have loved to try.

I personally would have loved to try a melee mod for her with +Fleet, +Minds Eye, + Life Tap, +Back Draft, and +Blight Phoenix, (And +Restoration if I could get a 6th skill) with the other bonuses being +Melee Damage and +Health.

Would love to see them implement this next Borderlands for more customization for the classes that don’t lock out play styles.


Totally, I think it would be incredible if every class gets a Legendary COM for each manufacturer. They can all have the same redtext effect where for each gear you equip of that manufacturer, you get a +boost on a base stat.

Imagine a Jakobs COM with +15% Crti Damage and +10% Weapon Damage and +20% Reload speed for every Jakobs equipment. This will be IN ADDITION to a Jakobs relic.


I actually think the current style of class mods is ok, relics were invented to solve the problem you are trying to solve with class mods. Class mods were supposed to be something you invested in, respecs are pretty cheap (don’t be afraid to respec if you wanna take full advantage of a good com you just found), and entire idea with class mods is that they were supposed to define a particular flavor of a given character. E.g. Sal has coms meant for tanking, but also for DPS (i.e. juggernauting rather than just straight up being hard to kill). This is reflected by what skills those coms have and in where and in what tree those skills can be found. Where I think they’ve failed so far is most in picking good skills for the given com and in relative balancing of skills. A lot of the existing coms are rarely if ever used (thinking purples and some of the legendaries here) because they don’t offer as effect skill selection (or innate buff for that matter). Fix that problem, and make relics more impactful (they feel like they don’t do all that much overall; hence people tend to use certain relics a lot and the rest only rarely if ever) would probably make the majority of players happy.


I honestly would be happy if they gave us the ability to break down and rebuild relics the way we want and then make sure to give us access to enough of them to make sure we get access to buffs to all possible skills, then we would still be required to do the grind for gear(This way even more so for the specific sets of skills we were looking for at a given level) and we get to choose exactly which buffs we wanted.

I just hope that this time they make sure to either make all bonuses additive or all of them multiplicative, shouldn’t need google or the forums to find out if with 35% buff is equal to another 35% buff.

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I think the bonus skill points distribution needs constraints like all skills are capped at 11-12 and players can only distribute these points to the skills listed on a class mod. Otherwise players would put all of the bonus skill points on popular skills like Bloodbath and Money Shot.

  • [color=white]White COMs: 5 skill points distributed to 2-3 listed skills[/color]
  • [color=greenyellow]Green COMs: 10 skill points distributed to 3-4 listed skills[/color]
  • [color=steelblue]Blue COMs: 15 skill points distributed to 4-5 listed skills[/color]
  • [color=mediumorchid]Purple COMs: 20 skill points distributed to 5-6 listed skills[/color]
  • [color=orange]Legendary COMs: 25 skill points distributed to 6-7 listed skills[/color]

I wish the Raid Boss COMs are comparable to the other Legendary COMs and aren’t uniform in BL3, meaning each character class gain different stat bonuses from these class mods instead of sharing the same 3 stat bonuses. Plus these stat bonuses should be based on the raid bosses’ traits and attributes.

It’ll be awesome if all of the Legendary COMs have a red-text effect, i.e., Krieg gain movement speed bonus from Legendary Sickle COM, Axton’s Sabre Turret gains health boost/ damage reduction/ damage boost from Legendary Engineer COM, and Deathtrap able regenerate X% of max health from each kill with Legendary Roboteer COM. It’s kinda disappointing that only 6 Legendary COMs have a red-text effect and others don’t.

Speaking of Derch’s brand effects idea, I have some ideas to add in:

Hyperion: accuracy bonus, faster bullet speed, reverse recoil
Torgue: base damage, grenade damage, increased splash radius, adds explosive splash to all shots
Vladof: fire rate, reduced ammo cost, increased recoil recovery
Maliwan: elemental effect chance, elemental effect duration, elemental effect damage, adds elemental splash to all shots
Tediore: faster reload speed, faster swap speed, able to chuck non-Tediore guns
Bandit/ Scav: increased mag. size, increased projectile count

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This is a very good topic and discussion…

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I’ll try to reply to @Frightning and @SentySent together.

I have considered keeping the skill bonuses as they are but there still would be an issue in a perfect scenario.

Let’s say BL3 keeps the set skill bonuses and lets say they are all amazing, and each class have really well rounded trees and everything is awesome (by the way this would be very difficult to do so I am not counting on it).

Even then you have to content with new DLC loot (shields, guns and whatnot) and how they can change a class. Most of the top gear listed on the top gear threads are DLC loot, and sometimes you will have situations where a COM cannot anticipate new ways and new builds people will come up with. There is no way any Dev can have this level of foresight. We will still be back to the same problem.

I will however mention my previous version of my solution, which I think might reach some compromise here. So it would be a little similar to what @SentySent suggested. Except I would do it in Tiers vs. select skills. So for example.

  • White COM = 5 pts towards any Tier 1 skill only
  • Green COM = only up to 5 points in T2 (so you can still place 10 pts in T1 but only 5 max on a T2 skill)
  • Blue COM = 15 pts anywhere within T1 and T2, but up to only 5 on T3
  • Purple COM = 20 pts anywhere with T1, T2, T3 but max 5 pts for T4
  • Legendary COM = 25 pts anywhere but only max 5 pts on T5.

This way you still have to make some compromises and choices and cannot have anything you want, at the same time its not very painfully limiting.

I didn’t mention this on my original post as it might be very complicated to handled easily on the UI. Casual players might have a hard time grasping this concept.

I’ll add a philosophical point to the discussion, and one that has been addressed in very few games or even technical products. And that solution is community input, as in public domain software.

The very fact that a group of people design the game, then groups of people design and create different parts of game, then depending on the type of game is how many people test it, and what feedback and creative solutions can be given in such short time before release. Once released, it’s final…in virtually every case.

The answer is simple. Once the game is released, literally every game stays in the same as when it released. Because that company created it, and too much is designed without the proper means to radical change, which is the natural due to the massive amount of code and implications changes may have.

Therefore, the HUGE majority of people who play it, and therefore test it in real terms and over a long period of time, have little input to the change of the game. Because they aren’t employed to do so.

And that’s why we have such threads.

IF, however, the game was public domain, such issues may be presented and implemented.

This is why I choose this time to post this thread. Class mods don’t get talked about a lot in this context and since they are still relatively early in the development, perhaps some community input can make some impact in their decision making.

I think you make a lot of good points, about the unnoticeable bonuses difference for instance, you are spot on. reading your stuff made me thing of how I woud approach the problem and maybe go in the same direction as you.

I think something like the TTAoDK COMs is the way to go, but not just for abilities but for skills too. While of course streamlining the process to make more COMs interesting

White: no skill
Green: +5 to one skill
Blue: +6 to 2 skills
Purple: +5 to 3 skills
Orange: +5 to 4 skills and something special

Slightly different than what it is now, but also simpler, this adresses your first point (no prefixes for the sake of prefixes and no unnoticeable difference of 1 skill point just to create false diversity)

Then, instead of having COMs with 3 linked skills (that you either have or don’t have depending on the rarity) and a fixed bonus, each COM should have about 6 linked skills and get a boost to 1 to 3 of those, as well as one or about 4-6 stat boost based on a prefix (with a selection based on skill tree focus). This creates very wide variations and combinations within a single COM.

Characters could have about 5-6 COMs in total and still have a LOT more options than they have now, with each having its own set of prefix and set of available skills (let’s say one COM for each tree, then one for each combination of 2 trees (so Green, blue, Red, Green-blue, Green-red and Blue-Red)

Lemme give you examples using Zero’s COMs (because they are the easiest to classify in my mind)

Sniper COM (Green tree-focused)
Boosted skills: (pick 1 to 3 depending on rarity)
Kill confirmed,

Prefixes: (pick one)
True shot (+Team accuracy)
Tranquile (+sniper rifle damage)
Deadly (+ crit damage)
Resourceful (Ammo regen)
Deceitful (Decoy is thrown much farther)

Spy COM (Blue tree focused)
Two Fangs
Fast hands
Rising shot

Disturbed (+ pistol fire rate + pistol Mag size)
Tricky (+ deception duration)
Deceptive (+ cooldown rate)
Unequaled (+ Deception restores health)
Swift (+ reload speed)

Ninja COM (Red tree-focused)
Killing blow
Iron hand

Shadow (+movement speed during deception)
Rugged (+ max Health + health regen)
Lethal (+melee damage)
Corrupted (Melee attacks apply held weapon elemental effect)

Professional COM (Green-Blue focused)
Two fangs
Rising shot

Deadly (+ crit damage)
Resourceful (Ammo regen)
Deceptive (+ cooldown rate)
Disturbed (+ pistol fire rate + pistol Mag size)
Quick (+fire rate)

(from there, add one more for Blue-Red and Green-red …well, maybe not green red as it makes no sense)

So a purple Green-Blue COM would look like this:

Deceptive Professional
+XX% cooldown rate
+5 Killer
+5 rising shot
+5 ambush


Resourceful professional
+Ammo regen
+5 Two fang
+5 velocity
+5 Rising shot

There are literally hundreds of different COMs you can make with these building blocks and they would be all different, much more than any 2 purple COMs with the same name can be now. They can easily be tailored for specific playstyles and farming COMs with the right parts would actually be interesting and contribute to the “shoot and loot” ethos.

Legendary COMs should be very specific instead: picking their skills from a shorter and with fixed unique prefixes bonus, as they usually are the epitome of a specific playstyle

The Hunter
+Deception restores 10% of max health

  • Cooldown rate
  • (one other prefix from all 3 lists)
    +5 to 4 fixed skills

Of course, those bonuses are a bit tame, and they could be much wilder like you suggested, I only meant those as an example of the structure.