You are playing zane wrong! comprehensive guide/rant he is great but needs buff

First of all background check, about 3000+ hours in borderlands games sucesfull #1lifetolive challenge player. notably i have completed a run with axton on OP8 with only blue non red text guns and gear (biggest challenge was posed by blue/saturn/badass constructors rest was easy). Axton definitely does not suck and neither does zane.

i want to thank gearbox for creating without the shadow of a doubt the most engaging and immersive character of their whole career! zer0 was the most engaging before, but zane definitely tops that.

i do not even know where to begin and how long a topic is allowed to be so lets start with misconceptions:

  1. undercover is garbage?!!! a lot of idiots are advocating for this on youtube, and reddit meanwhile it is zanes best tree by far! (will be explained down below)
  2. double agent is his best option!!! again wrong zane is all about keeping up his kill skills and having derpy a.i assist you is hardly your best option (it is not a bad tree but very situational usefull for bossing but worst for mobbing) zane is no granede specialist and this tree while does provide survival and synergy for using two action skills definitely loses out to hitman and undercover for mobbing and arenas but beats undercover for bossing.
  3. zane does not do damage? well maybe because all these idiots are ignoring his biggest gun damage buff which is playing dirty. incredibely easy to keep it going and it doubles your dmg for hard hitting low projectile count weapons. zane can literally solo run the whole tvhm content of story just using regular green jacobs pistol (non masher)
  4. zane is hard to build??? what is this about people are abandoning the character because somehow they can not even mob with zane? he has useful skill scattered in every tree. stop going for damage buffs you do not need and invest in fluidity of character early game. pick up cool down and shield skills from barrier tree. then invest into mag size in the double agent. it is so easy guys…
  5. barrier is worst action skill? wtf it is the best and by far the most spammable action skill which gives you both dps and survival and synergises amazingly with the very skills that you go down in the undercover tree. ready for action and confident competence are the only damn buffs u even need to effectively mob and kill small bosses.
  6. ignoring salvation and playing dirty mid game (level 25-30 onwards) this is so funny same people who skip Preamunitus also skip these in favor of running speed and 20% gun damage rofl.
    salvation literally makes you night unkillable and playing dirty literally double the damage out put of some of the strongest guns.
    7.shitting on seein red … are you kidding me? yes you skip this for mobbing but for bosses!!! this skill is invaluable first of all it gives you playing dirty stacks on command. secondly it makes you undead as you have salvation active at all time between barrier and digi clone (yes you pick clone for bossing not nades, unless you are pipe bombing, by bosses i mean big one that resist nade dmg not regular one like chupacabrach or traunt or any hunt or story bosses) what more can you ask for from a capstone? gives you immortality and dps on demand bollocks! people say it is not worth picking up? it is the only capstone u should pick up for raiding at level 50 cap. since you can max only one skill tree.

i am so mad that i keep forgetting all the stupid ■■■■■■■■ i heard about zane so i am ready to debunk it in the comments. also if your idea of fun and good character is pressing a button to instantly win (aka fade away and crit body shots) do not even comment flak is not too op btw…

why you are playing zane wrong

the biggest mistake i see people do with zane due to complete misunderstanding of his skills is going for DPS instead of DPS. one being damage per second and another one being damage per shot. zane does not excel in vladof/dahl playstyle (aside from unique guns we will talk about later) zane is big friends with low pallet count strong hitting weapons primarily anything jacobs and torgue make, also alien barreled snipers and shotguns ;rocket launchers that do not have high pallet counts etc. i can state that a green jacobs pistol can easily carry zane in solo tvhm mobbing (we will talk mayhem 3 later)

another big mistake that all the noobs always make is thinking they have to max the tree out or pick the action skill in the tree they are investing in!! FFS guys respec all the time according to your gear and class mods! for example you can take skills in hitman tree (because they are awesome) but sentinel is by far the worst action skill zane has firstly because of the longass cooldown (auguments are great on it though all the debuffs are good just do not pick boomsday or allmighty orderence these need buffs) so make sure to use most effective action skill.

third biggest mistake is instantly giving up on granades. holly cow, guys relax that is a content for later game. do not ditch granedes for action skills, that come back in 20 seconds (early game) giving up granedes only gives it’s fruits when you can mix undercover and double agent for synchronisity and good stuff. (btw barrier is just the best option not the one you have to take you can do just about anything and still make it work in normal mode)

how to level up (guide for teapots)
if you somehow manage to find trouble going through the game with zane here is a guide to spec step by step.
1.take barrier-as your action skill
2.preamunitus -it sits in double-agent tree. mag size is the best bonus together with reload speed in early game! (yooutubers who ignore this are same people who could not handle UVHM in bl2 and bee hawked and shamfleeted like bafoons)
3.invest into adrenaline
4.invest into ready for action (now you have reached the relative fluidity of character, your action skill is fairly spammable, you still have nades, you reload less and your shield survival is much better)
5. now you can choose confident competence which is a great skill for 1 point you get 20% gun dmg on full shield (zane loves amp shields btw that drain 30% shield for 20% dmg) together with barrier now you have 20+25%(from barrier’s property) dmg for just standing safe… OR you can start investing into violent speed cold bore or violent momentum they are all good and people have no idea how cold bore helps (all these build “masterminds” skip it allbeit for decent reason but it is a good skill especially early game!)
6. if you chose to stick with barrier and chose Confident competence now you can start specing into brainfreeze this skills is great! free debuff as you should always be criting and running jacobs on zane.
6.1.IF you chose to go down the hitman work towards 1. salvation 2. seein red 3.playing dirty.(game changer skill) then go back to whatever violent skill you spared either gun dmg/or movement speed

rant time skills in this tree need buffs: reload speed or fire rate boosts are very small for full skill point investment so it is really iffy to inspect in violent violence and cool hand but the capstone is definitely must pick for bosses.

  1. IF you are in undercover tree, now is the time to pick up hearty stock and follow it up by really expansive jacket and then futility belt. then the road is clear to calm cool collected and distributed denial. between either amp shields or life support shields now you are almost immortal. this way of specing is not a must (in fact i stop at brainfreeze and move on to double agent, but at this point whatever you do shall work for you).
    7.1.IF you chose to go down hitman tree pick salvation and playing dirty and convert to jacobs/torgue or hyperion tediore alien barrel monster. if you want to spam dps(vladof/dahl/tediore) then leave hitman tree alone and go into double agent, however it will not be efficient without giving up your grenades so be mindful of the change, once you go synchronisity and either borrowed time/ donny brook it is time to now use two action skills (clone acts as survival and boost to duration of barrier rather than dps helper)

i do not see how you can struggle with this but if you do find me on discord: Райдэн8973

now lets talk about how zane gains insane damage (no it is not fla4k or moze tier or amara speed kill tier) but nothing to cry home to mom about. as i already said zane does need buffs but people suck with zane because they use the most unoptimized options.

  1. Playing dirty - if you find a class mod that boosts it and gives you either cool down or some other decent effect like mag size or reload speed or shield stuff grab it by the dick!!! i have one that has whooping +5 in playing dirty which means 100% of the time i get a kill( which happens all the time) i get extra projectile to my shot for next 5 shots. so how do i take advantage of this? easily, i do not run guns that have 15 rate of fire and 300 dmg(damager per second machines) now i run guns that have rate of fire of 2 and one 1000-2000 dmg projectile (damager per shot powerhouse guns) with a twist. so what is the gear you are looking for as zane? damage per shot guy? (yes his dps build is also viable but people labeling some of those “the best” make me laugh for how unoptimized they spec. uhh gotta run quick… heck off) the gear you are looking for is for example: king’s call and quin’s call pistols almost any jacobs pistol in fact (flood not so much) that is not a masher. torgue pistols occulist and devestator etc. single shot alien barrelt shotguns or snipers torgue assault rifles (sticky) torgue shotties with low pallet count and flakker as cherry on top, jacobs assault rifles with high dmg (bekah and lyuda while being high Damager per second guns they are also high damage per shot guns so they love Playing dirty stacks, imagine redundant lyuda and now you fire 3 shots that split into 9 for fire rate of 4-5… melting dmg) now when it comes to other manufacturers there are options: for example look for guns that have multipliers or unlisted projectiles like dahl’s AAA pistol, butcher shotgun loves extra projectile! night hawking SMG also adores it (stupid powerful gun btw) you get the drift… i can personally kill tyreen without her even being past phase1 (take off and fly mayhem 2 not 3 though it depends on modifers as well) and i can hardly be killed, since i always have salvation active. now this does not mean you shall not use damage per second oriented guns good guns are good regardless for example: lucians call? go for it long musket? perfect! torch everything while you are healed eternally… close quarters carnage shall commence. now as we already mentioned zane is master of making underwhelming sniper or rocket launchers work. like tunguska rocket launcher? shoot it twice for the price of one.

and then there is… ONE PUMP CHUMP guys you literally have double the damage on 5 straight shots on this shotgun and that disregarding zane’s other buffs which we will get into now.

other dmg and survival for zane

Aside from Playing dirty’s potential we do have insane survivability! lets talk shields and HP:

1.Barrier people will tell you to pick it up (as in grab it after you deploy it) but really? can you not position the way to use it’s full buffing potential? only pick it up if u have to run and gun.

1.1 barrier the dps now barrier gives us 25% gun dmg while shooting through it and hence we are protected we add another 20% fro confident competence. what’s even better? since we have either violent momentum or synchronisity that is another 20% or 40% depending if u are running clone at the same time as barrier… or you might have both of those which gives us 60%. now there is no reason to stand still so even if you are ADS sniping you can still strafe left and right and gain damage from violent momentum. let us not forget! magazine size and reload speed are dps buffs so when it comes to barrier pick up following augments nanites or some ■■■■■ and all rounder if you have a clone take up schadenfreude and digital distribution or swap schadenfreude for whatever the ■■■■ you like. if not, you have your grenades which add insane crowd control or healing through salvation(this does not work as of 17.10.2019 hotfix salvation will no longer heal for genade damage dealt by zane0

1.2. Barrier the shield now not only it does not break (oh boohoo some projectiles pass through it… what u want literally immortality?!) it blocks boss attacks for gods sake!!! it blocks troy’s and tyreens endless spam let alone bullets from enemies. if you take the capstone distributed denial you will get bonus amp or survival from your shield it will reflect bullets or launch spikes in accordance to what your shield mod does… a great skill and people salivate for double barrel which is the most niche and broken skill zane has (never trust friendly a.i to do your job)

now i personally advocate for death follows close and either running only barrier (for mobbing) and adding digi clone for bosess ( best thing is you can swap it out on the fly, met nade resistent enemy/ies? bust out your clone instead)

when it comes to raiding check this out, all those gravevard or whatever giant tree boss name is speed kills, zane can do it pretty quick too. got fire lyuda? got amp shield? drop down summon your clone after bosses corrosive balls go away,drop your barrier over (you and clone stand inside barrier). now your lyuda fires double or tiple projectiles per trigger hold or pull, plus your clone shooting; plus you are amping from your shield; plus barrier amp; plus 40% from synchronisity.; plus 75% always on from annointed if you are lucky enough! holly god you think that thing will stand more than few seconds? all the mayhem 3 kills you see are done on favorable RNG roll of modifiers. what good does mayhem 3 do that boss, if it gives you bonus fire dmg and negative shield cryo radiation and whatever the fux else? if anything this makes the kill easier…


BUFFS and FIXES zane needs:

  1. his bonuses are too small for investment on a lot of skills stiff upper lip violent violence cool hand (this one needs massive buff) like a ghost is absolutely miserable his cryo nova stuff is also underwhelming for damage. maybe some of his skills need rework he barely gets any passives going bad reload speed mag size limited to 3 skillpoints if it was 5 would be ok tho. zane has nothing to do with critical hit shenanigans . rise to occasion while not bad is hardly worth specing into since salvation takes such good care of you. trick of the light is meh for the tier it is. boomsday and allmighty orderance need massive changes.

this has been said a lot and i will say it again. i can not see ■■■■! gearbx please first of all remove enemy names that appear inside the sights instead of over! secondly tone down damn particles everywhere i can barely see troy’s head as he bounces and spams me all the time. how am i supposed to crit that ■■■■ ( i can ofc i am oldschool arena fps semi pro level player so aiming is not a problem but it is a little too violent) i can not see a damn thing through my barrier! yes i get it i need to see those purple effects to register that barrier amp is working but actually no! do i really need to see that? and dome could do with more opacity make it faint ffs let us see what we shoot.

change clone’s one of the augments to target a chosen enemy instead of shooting what ever the ■■■■ it wants if sentinel can be target guided so can clone eh?

fix clones firing pattern.

that is all from the top of my head.

1.zane need buff/rework of many of the skills but he is not weak! just not OP
2.Barrier is the king as an action skill
3. skills to focus on are : playing dirty, seein red, death follows close, synchronisity, brainfreeze is insane (yes it can full freeze bosses/ mini bosses)
4. futility belt and expansive jacket are very underrated, while you can take your survival from salvation you can also ditch hitman and be tanky like that from barrier and clone synergies.
5.SNTNL i love him his debuffs are great but he is miless of the pace cool down is too long and augments are too weak . useful nomal mode but do not try hard to make it work.
6. stop listening to dumbass streamers and youtubers ,me included and figure your characters out it really is not that hard just respec respec and respec again.

guys i am a workin man and i do not have time/will to write this in more comprehensive and good looking way or post links and screenshots. but i am more than glad to help zane strugglers. if you somehow do not understand what i said just contact me.

UGH had to get this out of my system zane is literally axton 2.0 at this point because reddit yt and twitch is full of blubbering bufoons. use your own brains.

P.S. keep in mind this guide is for non unique gear and is strictly for leveling and feeling powerful without specific gear in regular game.


Can you post the complete skills? I use rough rider but I’m glad if I can use a shield with actually shield… sorry my bad English. Thank you.

I’ve been saying playing dirty is Zane’s best skill for a couple days now. He actually has a lot of potential for launcher builds with it.

Ive been using a vladof AR with shotty underbarrel pretty well with him. The shotty is great for burst with playing dirty, while the AR can help me proc it again if i run out of stacks.

Isn’t +3 playing dirty enough with death follows close? It’s weird that the game isn’t calculating it in, or if it doesn’t work with death follows close, why? I like the legendary class mod that has the kill skill and points for playing dirty. I’d imagine with cold bore, amp shield, playing dirty and this class mod your could use weapons like the hive, very efficient since cold bore should be multiplicative like playing dirty aso.

+3 is enough. as to cold bore i do not know if it is multiplicative also it is just bonus cryo dmg and have not seen gun like hive either

yes and no. i change my build depending on bossing or mobbing. so if you give me something like skill calculator of bl2 and what purpose you want for the build i can post it sure.

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Hive has a dedicated drop source: the gigantic spiderant queen. It’s cool! It’s single projectile and homing.
Cold Bore as well as Trick Of The Light should be multiplicative. At least things like that worked multiplicative in BL2

well unless tested we can not claim. perhaps u shall test it i am more into testing distributed denials effects and how it reacts to shields. for example barrier does not break therefore can it replicate any effects that happen on shield break like black hole for example. also if u have transformer does barrier eat up shock dmg? how often does it drop fortification packs. eh only if i had more free time but 9 hours at work every day… but u have a good point if i were you i’d test myself is that drop from the red spider aunt rare enemy?

for mobbing, keep in mind this build is better with jacobs

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Thank you very much mate!

Sadly I can’t really play this week. I’m really curious with distributed denial and re-router even though I read somewhere that it just doesn’t work. I wonder if brawler ward is working in some way.

The ant is called princess tarantula II

yes i encountered that enemy. sadly us working people can not do much testing or farming done. but there are smart people out there with time on their hands and sooner or later we will know. perhaps this weekend i will test some stuff myself.

you are welcome but try building yourself, playing other people’s builds without understanding will not do anyone any good :slight_smile: have fun

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Yeah, I’m building a lot by myself. Actually have Artic (game changer for an Ice Build!) and have a LOT of fun with Zane, my main and my only character at this moment. I do no want OP character, I like the challenge and polishing the “math” with other players like you :slight_smile:

Looking past the obnoxious and arrogant way all of this is written, there are some good Points so kudos for that


I feel as if Jacobs guns outclass every other manufacturer when I’m playing Zane. Is it the same for the other vault hunters.

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First things first, great analysis.

As a Zer0 main, I can surely relate to what you say about this kind of character being versatile and I can also see why it can be considered an Axton 2.0. It needs some tweeks here and there to be able to catch other class on damage, but he isn’t abysmal or barely unplayable by any means.

I’ve testing with some builds and I’ve reached some conclusions. First, Undercover and high-speed builds are not compatible. You can try, of course, but I think it’s better if you go for the Damage+Survavility instead of the Damage+Survavility+Speed, which results in a loss of traits you’ll want for Zane.

Secondly. I firmly believe that Doubled Agent skill tree is overrated. While Digi-Clone may outclass SNTNL due to its greater synergy with Synchronicity (alongside other skills that preffer the lower CD of Digi-Clone to shine), the Digi-Clone, by itself, isn’t any better. Synchronicity is one of Zane best skills and I think almost every build should want to attain it. It’s a flat 40% increase in damage that it’s also easy to maintain. Donnybrook is great too. 15% Gun Damage affected by DFC. Grenades are overrated as ■■■■. Not only do they lack in damage or even support (in the form of crowd control, etc.); they should be (at least with Zane) a nice add, but the build shouldn’t make itself around this. At this point, with DB glitched, I think Quick Breather (depending on your build, obviously not if you’re wearing RR) and Supersonic Man are the only two skills that shine in that tree.

I’ve been working on a build able to reach Confident Competence and Dome augment, while achieving all of Hitman fundamentals and DMG based Double Agent skills, and I’ve come up with this:“cb__3497412252___p__2886514866-5_2585585538-4_1105028631-1_4076945791-1_855159471-5_630140661-5_882593851-5_4221916440-1_4007997923-4_957917588-5_123113358-1_2942539557-5_3886810084-3_570334902-2_342715552-1___e__3441733518-1251885132_1590166781-4219377344_1434065960-2776360292_1831362103-3548678278_2424622424-1868013622_2477539908-97512464”

Now, here’s the thing. With a Class Mod like this

You’ll be getting +6 in Violent Violence and +8 in Playing Dirty (80% chance to add a secondary proyectile), which is fundamental to abuse low pellet count/high damage weapons, like Queen’s/King’s Call or the obscene Chump. While also being formidable with quick fire burst weapons (due to the points we’ve put into Cool Hand, a kill skill that should not be overlooked because we all know how lethal it was with pjs like Roland in the past) like The Butcher (in this game excels at close range, ripping shields in no time if you have a Shock version), Lucian’s Call, Artics, Crossroads, Lyudas, or whatever you’ll want to equip at a certain moment.

Even if it’s not an ice build, 2 points in Brain Freeze + the passive effects of the COM should be enough to instantly frozen a Badass. The point is, you don’t want to freeze everything unless you are playing the main Undercover version of the build, which focuses in double agent and undercover and infinite action skill time. You just want to kill things as fast as posible dealing tons of damage with your actions skills, + your dmg skills alocated in Double Agent, + the damage you are getting from the shield, AND be able to freeze Badasses in no time thanks to high fire rate weapons like the Artic Hawkin we’ve talked about before.

I’ve a version of the Otto Idol that gives me 18% health everytime I kill an enemy, and anso provides 105% slidding speed (in my opinion, NOT MANDATORY, but noticeable in a Zane build, for it allows you to evade non-hitscan bullets with ease, take cover if necessary (sometimes ppl forget Borderlands is a rare case of shooter with free movement and almost everything around you can act as cover) and relocate the Digi-Clon. 1.666 Max. Shield and 21% Action Skill recharge time.

Transformer > Stop-Gap. Stop-Gap makes you invulnerable when your life is below 50% and that’s nice. It also has a little bit more of capacity. But! 40% chance to absorb (aka ignore) bullets, will make the Transformer much more difficult to break through. I’ve not done the mat, but if one has, let’s say, 15.000 shield while the other “only” has 12.000, but this one ignores 40% of the proyectiles, his theoretical capacity is much higher. Anyways, Stop-Gap is another option you’d look to, I’m just sharing my impressions.

I haven’t dedicated much attention to Grenade Mods. Hex should be fine in Cryo or Rad version, the one that heals your shield is also nice, altho you’ve plenty of shield regen. Storm Front is another option. There are lots of them, but I sincerely believe they are the lowest point of Zane arsenal and, while considered, should not be your main preocupation.

I’ll share impressions as I play more with the build.



nope other classes are doing great with high dps high rof guns and then there is fla4k he does fine with whatever, he is this games nisha or gagie just shoot the ground and crits pop up. jacobs is really so far viable when you are in solo in team setings it is hard to single out and aim for heads.

fine content friend, i am currently running stop gap as i don’t have access to transformer, to chime in further higher capacity and invulnerability come in handy vs melee opponents and bosses while transformer excels against maliwan/cov. one thing i can say that shock hex mirv for mobbing is easily as good as having clone out (without it being decked out) withing 55 level skillpoint range zane will be much better than what it is now. so we have to await uvhm and level 60 cap to truly flow between 3 skill trees. i am also a big fan of using class mods to boost one set of skills and specing into completely different skils therefore maximizing the areas you touch and i shall use this for my high dps zane but that is requiring more witch craft, compared to playing dirty zane which is available early and will make people competitive with their co op partners easily (since so many people were abandoning playing zane because he is “garbage” and “does not do enough dmg” lol)

class mods are incredibly diverse and limited to 5 skill points right now so the options are not exactly great. perhaps what i am looking for is the one that will give me salvation and synchronicity this way i could spec freely for dps. because god damn there are some great guns out there but zane can not beat moze at that.