Why so many nerfs to Fl4k?

To preface, this post is not coming from a place of anger or hate towards anybody or anything, instead it is coming from my curiosity at how balancing decisions are being made.

So Borderlands is a game franchise that I’ve been playing for around 6 years now, when my friend gave me Borderlands 2 GOTY on steam. We originally did multiplayer/ coop, but stopped because it was easier to play the game in singleplayer (don’t have to dupe/ re-farm legendaries, shorter loading screens between maps, no internet problems, etc.). For me, this franchise seems more like a singleplayer PvE than multiplayer PvE. Most, if not all, of the content you find on YouTube about any of the games in this franchise is in singleplayer, with the rare video or series of two people playing together.

That being said, I really don’t see the point in nerfing a character over and over in a primarily singleplayer PvE game. The argument could be made that the character is “too good,” and maybe they are. But that isn’t due to any bugs, rather a powerful kit. There have been plenty of characters in past Borderlands games with powerful kits, like Nisha and Jack in the Pre-Sequel and Salvador in BL2. These kits were never deemed to be an issue that needed to be resolved, so why is Fl4k not receiving that treatment?

I know there is a heavy emphasis on multiplayer in this installment of the franchise, but what about the people that play in singleplayer? I dont think it is fair to them, since they are having fun killing bosses and obtaining legendaries at no harm or expense to other players. The other thing is that this isn’t a PvP game, so why is it getting patched like one?

There are still plenty of optimization issues that should be addressed, as well as plenty of bugs and exploits (like abusing artifacts to gain immortality, not THAT’S OP). Yes, plenty of bugs are being fixed with each patch and optimization is starting to roll in, but the pace at which these could be resolved could be greatly increased if more time was dedicated to solving those issues instead of trying to balance a primarily singleplayer PvE experience, where previous installments of the franchise never saw this amount of balancing.

I am asking these questions and presenting my side of things in order to address an issue I have not experienced in previous games. I do not specifically know why the balance team is taking semi-extreme measures in comparison to previous installments. Yes, I am frustrated that the character I have found enjoyment in this game on is getting nerfed every week. I would like to see something from the balance team to help clarify this shift in balance philosophy to help people in a similar situation to myself better understand their decision making process and why they suddenly feel the need to heavily and actively balance the game.

The data says he needed it.

Look, not going to lie. I didn’t read your post. It’s too long for a very simple question.

He got so many nerfs because the data they have shows he needed it.

It’s a result of how popular the character is.

He is the most played character. As a result they have more data. A large group of them have very similar builds and have a tendency to use very specific gear layouts.

The “Conference Call” + “Bee” combo didn’t get a nerf until it became apparent that it was the only build being used, by everybody. Something like 80% of active players were using it. It didn’t matter their build. It needed to be nerfed. This is likely more of the same.

Note that after his first nerf, we started getting these nutty Amara & Moze builds. As more people gravitate and abuse it they will be balanced also.

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Multitasking. The team working on optimization is different from the people working on balance patches. It’s not like the people working on one are also trying to cram in the other.

Is that a good thing? Don’t get me wrong, I mained Jack in TPS, I understand what it’s like to have a kit that works so well its OP. I’d hate to have Jack nerfed.

BUT, you also have BL2 where Sal could one shot a bunch of raids. Could all the other characters do so? For the most part yes, they had some way to do something similar. But the perception that Sal was so ridiculously ahead of the other Vault Hunters that he was necessary to get past certain content was probably not something Gearbox was happy with.


Absofuckinglutely, it’s impossible to have characters as varied as all the vault hunters and also have them all be relatively equal power wise

As long as every X can kill every Y balance should not matter hardly any. Of course some might require more skill than others, but that’s fine

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I could imagine that it’s actually a matter of pride for the devs. From what I have heard, Fl4k was the most difficult character to make, specifically because the pet AI was hard to get working properly and now, despite him being the most played character, barely anyone is actually using the pet related perks because the Guerillas in the Mist crit monster is just so brutally dominant.
They just want to tone the crits down to the point where they aren’t just objectively better than his other playstyle options. I can basically promise you that you are not going to see any nerf any time soon to anything that isn’t or wasn’t essential to his crit builds.

These threads are never going to go anywhere. He was the most popular VH in pulls before they even showed his skill tree. The crit build was popular when it was shown off because it buffs a lot of gun dmg instead of a pet or rakk.

There are a lot of reasons that will get thrown out. True or not… this wont change it and the conversations more likely to turn into insults than change peoples minds.

People who never played him or dont know what a fade away “crit” does compared to a natural or megavore crit are saying he was/is OP/broken all over forums, videos, and even Facebook.

Even if GBX responded, which they will not do here, it would probably be a disingenuous or vague response like “not as intended.” Regardless…

Honestly, its probably just because he was popular (even if it isnt because of his performance prenef.) That and people freaking over his boss burn ability on YouTube, streams, etc. Crit build was the most common and it excelled there.

I dont buy it being because he was overpowered in general. He still burns bosses at ridiculous speeds. All the VHs do with builds posted here and in videos. He was never the best at other gameplay (m3 circles or mobbing) and that just got worse for GiTM builds.

Im just curious how far this trend will continue. If strong builds that are too popular is their concern Amara’s Ties that Bind and Moze grenade spam should have nerfs/more coming soon.

I don’t blame you for not reading it, it is pretty long.

I think nerfing the build because it is popular and OP is somewhat valid, but I don’t think it had to be nerfed as hard as it was. I also think they shouldn’t nerf every OP build people manage to make, because half the fun of Borderlands in my experience is being able to absolutely eviscerate bosses.

They could also, instead of nerfing the crit build directly for 2-3 patches, buff the other potential builds for the character to raise them up to the level of the crit build, Moze’s grenade and Tediore chucking builds, and Amara’s build. That would be less destructive to the crit build and would still alleviate the popularity of it by presenting options that are just as viable.

I do think the comparison between the Conference Call + Bee combo and Fl4k’s crit build in terms of popularity and how problematic they might be is relevant, but I feel sometimes a better solution than nerfing something over and over to remove it is to instead buff everything around it while throwing a nerf at the original thing.


Previous versions 100% got nerfs. You said it yourself you got BL2 GOTY addition, not the release addition. Tons of stuff was nerf, buffed, or debugged in the first few months after release. Nothing that is happening now is new. People either just weren’t around when it happened or have selective memory.

The problem with not nerfing stuff is we end up with things like the Grog and DPUH being practically mandatory for high OP levels. Balancing around a broken mechanic is never healthy for a game.

But I’m pretty sure Fl4k is much closer in the balance of power to Jack then Salvador. Jack was the best mobbing class in TPS, Fl4k the best bossing class. Jack was pretty much behind Athena and Nisha for bossing unless you could roll perfect glitches. Fl4k was obviously inferior to Amara and Moze for mobbing. Sal was the best at everything in BL2, and could naturally exploit every glitch in the game (though admittedly Krieg can contest him given the right circumstance) Fl4k isn’t even remotely in the same universe as him.

What Gearbox did was the equivalent of seeing how much superior Digi-Death was to Digi-Life and going - okay, to encourage people to diversify, we are gonna nerf Leadership so it only procs once throughout an action skill duration and give Absolute Advantage a 2s timer! It would utterly ruin Jack’s appeal as a class - sure there would still be all the viable builds, and Digi-Death would still be totally viable at endgame (moreso than a nerfed crit Fl4k I would add), but what made Jack so awesome and unique would be diminished.

That’s what people defending the nerfs just don’t seem to understand. No one is saying Rakk Fl4k and GB aren’t viable alternatives, or that Crit Fl4k is now totally unviable. Its just that these nerfs have completely removed the flavor of what made Fl4k, Fl4k.


1- Because people don’t know how to use the other chars, the seldom chances I got to see people actually finding someone on the horrible matchmaking most of them are all built wrong, with wrong choice of weapons, wrong skills… Same psycho and mechro problem… Amara is much more ridiculous powerfull and Zane with the right skills is at least as strong as Fl4k with no nerfs. Also, most people are not using Fl4k correctly so I don’t understand the nerf, not even mention the stupidity of nerfing a PVE game… IT’S PVE, mayhem 3 you already nerfed corrosive, WHY?! It wasn’t supposed to be FUN?!
2-Fl4k looks cooler so people tend to use him more. People will continue to use Fl4k just because he looks cooler…Until you bring the obvious 2 or 3 hidden chars that you will sell to us…

I want to specify that I’m not suggesting to not nerf Fl4k; the crit build without nerfs was extremely good. Im trying to say they overnerfed them, and made them significantly less fun to play when doing the crit build. Yes, the GB build is now a thing because of these nerfs and the buffs to their blue tree, but they have made the crit build not nearly as fun. I think the optimal balance state is where all builds on the character are equally viable. Taking away the options for other build paths because one build was WAY better than the other by over nerfing the build still makes it so there is a large majority playing one build on the character, only now its not the crit build. I also wouldn’t consider the crit build to revolve around broken mechanics, except for LnT. Then again, Fl4k can still run GitM with something like the Lucian’s, Rowan’s, King’s/ Queen’s Call, and the Amazing Grace which all do the same thing as LnT but with a guaranteed chance to proc.

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That’s not the only way to do it though.
Instead of nerfing a build that is working, they should have just buffed the builds that were not working.
The absolute worst way to tweak a game is to force players to use builds they don’t enjoy because the one they used to enjoy is not as viable anymore because it got desired by nerfs.
Did it deserve a Nerf. Yes. But they over did it.

Variety is good when every build is viable.
Variety is not good when you are forced to play something because something else got nerfed to the ground.


Firstly, Grog and DPUH is not practically necessary for OP Levels. The only characters I used the Grog on are Sal and Melee Zer0, and I only use a DPUH on Krieg - not because it was necessary or optimal, but because it is a fun change of pace from the Omen/Blockhead/Carnage.

In fact I dare say, for all the criticism of artificial difficulty in BL2 (which I can definitely understand) - the build diversity ended up being so much greater in UVHM OP10 than even BL3 in its current state. Zer0 could use melee, snipers, or guns without feeling like he was excessively neutering himself either way. Maya ran great regardless whether you went full Nurse, Subsequence or Scorn. Axton was best with a grenade build, but a gun build worked too, whether you wanted to go for splash weapons with Gunpowder or CC with Gemini. Krieg had several viable builds, you could mix and match any of his 2 skill trees and still produce an amazing build. Melee was great (till OP9-10), Hellborn was great, as was grenade. Only Sal and Gaige suffered from a one build limitation - but for Gaige, LBT was actually amazing till OP damage reductions screwed EB over.

In BL3 we are already seeing a lack of build diversification - Iron Bear works like hot trash, pets are terrible, Zane’s drone does jack all for damage or CC, Amara has one class mod that is basically God mode and makes the rest look like ■■■■ - which naturally pigeonholes people to gun builds or very specific builds. So obviously, the solution is not to nerf gun builds like Crit Fl4k, but to buff these subpar builds up so they are at least viable at TVHM M3 - and that’s the bare minimum given UVHM is a given at this point.

And there were literally no signs Fl4k was gonna be the next Sal - sure he killed bosses the fastest - until people found out everyone could do it too. None of his mechanics were broken, and the game was not being balanced around LnT or F4de Away. Mathematically, his peak dps wasn’t much higher than Moze, or higher than Amara’s at all - so there was no way a Sal situation would develop even in higher difficulties. yet we have are a bunch of uninformed people running about fear-mongering about Fl4k’s supposed power and brokenness.


Needed a nerf? Why nerf anything? I don’t really see an issue with finding gear and a skill layout that makes you one shot the game. Its a looter shooter. The entire point of a looter shooter is to loot crazy gear and get op. And there’s no pvp so why is this character getting another popular playstyle bricked by gearbox a -SECOND- time? I don’t think there’s any good reason to make players less strong. Especially with how mayhem throws the viability of many weapons/skills right out the window.



You keep stating that Gearbox are repeatedly nerfing the character, and you’d prefer if other builds where buffed instead. Other builds have been buffed. The hits to FL4K’s arguably more broken skills were accompanied (in the last hotfix) with several buffs to his pets and how they interact with the player.

Now, this might not be enough to make the character enjoyable with every build at Mayhem 3, but I don’t think any character (apart from perhaps Amara? Going on what I’ve read, as I haven’t tried her yet) can really claim that.

Do you honestly think a crit build is now unuseable? Fun is a very difficult thing to measure, because making everyone blow up all the time is of course “fun” in some way, but maybe not in others. Fun is incredibly subjective (more than most other metrics developers have to determining engagement with content). The problem would be if crit builds weren’t viable.

Also, notably, I don’t think they’re at all finished buffing various aspects of various characters (or even nerfing them). Gearbox have already stated they have no plans to introduce new Vault Hunters - perhaps optimistically, I’m expecting a lot more investment in these four we’ve been given. Only time will tell there, though.

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What is the big deal with a certain build being really really strong? Its PvE. Buff what’s weak, don’t cut down what’s on top.


Because Gearbox want a variety of skills to be used for each character. If there’s a build that’s head-and-shoulders above the rest, it’ll dominate in terms of player uptake (via the forums, YouTube, co-op / word of mouth, etc).

Balance still matters in a PvE game. Calling it a PvE game doesn’t automatically make balance not matter, because otherwise there’d be no point in buffs either. If something is underpowered and therefore not used, or something is so overpowered nothing else is used, the effect is the same: things not being used.

So basically you didn’t read the last sentence. Also there’s a very real difference between balancing a skill and making it hardly worth speccing into. There is no point of taking leave no trace anymore. None. Because of the 2 second delay they put on it, it makes more than one point spent in it worthless, cuz it cant proc more than every 2 seconds. Even taking it at all is a waste of time. They messed this up hard.


Other builds have been buffed. The hits to FL4K’s arguably more broken skills were accompanied (in the last hotfix) with several buffs to his pets and how they interact with the player.

So the Rakks now apply a dot? And the pets weren’t buffed in the slightest unless you consider them not getting in your way a ‘buff’.

Now, this might not be enough to make the character enjoyable with every build at Mayhem 3, but I don’t think any character (apart from perhaps Amara? Going on what I’ve read, as I haven’t tried her yet) can really claim that.

Yeah, its not enjoyable because the build many signed up to play Fl4k for got run to the ground. Saying the option is ‘play the other builds instead’ is just stupid. It’s like if you don’t like melee builds, but you love gunplay, but they nerfed gun/Sniper Zer0 to ■■■■ and people tell you to play melee zer0 instead.

Do you honestly think a crit build is now unuseable ? Fun is a very difficult thing to measure, because making everyone blow up all the time is of course “fun” in some way, but maybe not in others

I mean its not unuseable. It can still kill stuff just fine. But its not special anymore, and feels really clunky. A good analogy would be to remove Leadership and Absolute Advantage from Jack - Kill skill Jack would still be runnable, and probably beat the whole game, but so what? He’s not what made Jack so awesome and unique.

And compared to what Amara and Moze are capable of in mobbing, the unnerfed Crit Fl4k pales in comparison. He was hardly ‘blowing up everyone all the time’ unless that everyone refers to Graveward ie. giant target dummy. If Fl4k needed a nerf, then Elemental Amara and Grenade Moze need it even more - but I don’t think that’s the case. Continuous nerfing, especially when its wholly unecessary, destroys class’s defining traits.

Because Gearbox want a variety of skills to be used for each character. If there’s a build that’s head-and-shoulders above the rest,

If every skill on every skill tree is viable, surely you will see that. Hell, people tried building around Light the Fuse at OP8 for crying out loud. And obviously every class is gonna ultimately have 1 (or 2 if there is an equivalent melee/grenade build) thats gonna be powerful and meta - and those are never ever the pet/turret builds.

omething is underpowered and therefore not used, or something is so overpowered nothing else is used, the effect is the same: things not being used.

I guarantee you, the moment pet builds are buffed to viable level, lots of people will play it, regardless of whether the Crit build is stronger or not. That’s because that’s what they signed up for when they chose Fl4k.