This is the Zane build for all players who love to feel the reward for precisely aimed consecutive headshots. I don’t know if it reaches FL4K levels of damage per shot, but it’s still well-on enough to one-shot badasses with proper setup, and even two-shot anointeds. If you wanted to play Zane like a sniper, this is the build for you.
So, this is a one-shot kill weapon swapping build centering around Zane’s Cold Bore skill. Cold Bore at 5/5 gives 43% weapon swap speed, and 30% bonus cryo damage. Bonus damage takes the damage you did normally, and adds more on top of that, but it’s only the first bullet fired after a weapon swap. Well, this still works if you just do a swap cancel, where you start a swap, but swap back to the original gun again. This swap-cancelling helps keep your rate of fire high enough that it’s not much worse than most fast bolt-actions, and with the swap speed bonus, it’s actually better on average than waiting for the re-chamber on the slower bolt-actions.
The next cornerstone of the build is Playing Dirty at 5/5 that reads as on kill giving a 50% chance for the next five shots to fire an additional projectile. The way it actually works is that it’s a 50% chance to proc on kill. This skill does not work well with multiple projectile weapons unless the weapon starts with a single projectile and spawns more. While they will receive an extra projectile, it’s much more impactful on single projectile weapons as this second projectile is effectively doubling the damage of such weapons as opposed to a weapon with 10 projectiles now having 11 instead
Overkill in the Enforcer tree gives tons of bonus damage. I’ve seen nearly 200k crits because of it snowballing and exponentially increasing damage, and on average 40-60k consistent crits. ** Update ** With Re-Router, have seen 80-120k consistent crits (before cryo bonus), and Overkill damage bonus snowballing all the way to 350k+. With cryo bonus a 350k hit eclipses 450k overall damage in a single shot to the head. It’s enough damage that with very precise aim you can just chain one-shot kills through an entire area on Mayhem 3 all the while Overkill exponentially increases damage with each kill!
Ok, so we’ve got the two most important skills set, these two together limit us to high damage single-projectile low rof weapons (Doesn’t have to be low rof, but the low rof ones will have higher damage to compensate so they’ll likely be better regardless). What guns in the game do this best? I believe a strong Jakobs Sniper is good, but by far the best currently for me is a One Pump Chump. With its very high damage per shot, single projectile, and its unique 50% chance not to consume ammo perk, it synergizes perfectly with the build and absolutely should be sought out. To avoid spoilers I won’t say where to find it, but if you want to find it just google about it. Another great weapon is the Monocle. These weapons have extremely high accuracy, which is both a good thing, and bad. You really need very precise aim to get the most out of these weapons, constantly getting crits are necessary, which can be difficult to do, but makes this a very rewarding build for precise headshots. Because we fire two projectiles instead of one, we get to double up on these weapons’ damage potential, as well as doubling up on their Jakobs-specific perk in bullet ricochet. Now when we fire just one shot at the head, we hit three enemies at once all with bonus cryo damage!
To help us with getting precise crits out, we take 5/5 in Brain-freeze. While the One Pump Chump is a normal damage weapon, having 30% bonus cryo damage and 5/5 in Brain Freeze allows it to consistently freeze even the toughest of enemies in Mayhem 3 with well-placed critical shots. With them frozen this allows follow-up critical shots to easily finish off the completely CC-locked enemy. With the double bullet ricochet, practically every nearby enemy will be frozen or nearly frozen after just a few shots. This gives Zane extremely easy crits as well as huge survivability since most enemies will be CCed before you even aim at them. This is furthered with the Drone and his cryo bullets and rockets, so literally stuff is frozen before Zane does damage.
Now a big problem for Zane and his cryo builds have always been the Anointed enemies. How do we get around this to at the very least be able to kill them relatively fast? Well, with the one pump chump, you just don’t do the swapping (Because the bonus cryo is worthless), and instead just fire it normally. The rate of fire increase with the high damage per shot will take them down very efficiently. No, this build will not necessarily make it extremely easy with killing anointeds, and they can still be annoyingly tanky and spammy, but with all your damage per shot, you will still kill them fast enough that you won’t be smashing your head against the wall when you see the third anointed militant in a row, especially if the Mayhem modifiers are in your favor.
Survivability: the best survivability you can ever have is with an impenetrable barrier. I don’t care about moving while shooting, and neither should you. With this build, it’s more important to set up your shield and become a human sniper turret. The shield providing a 25% multiplicative damage amp is far and away better than a 20% additive damage bonus from Violent Momentum, so I don’t even take it. Better to stand in the middle and take time to make sure your shot hits than running around hipfiring stuff. It’s just not this build. Re-Router’s massive burst healing and the lifesteal from Salvation are more than enough survivability so long as you’re not running headlong into enemies hint hint you really shouldn’t be.
Now on to class mods, artifacts, and shields. The best overall setup that synergizes with the rest of Zane’s skills is the Executor legendary class mod with the Re-Router. The Ice Breaker artifact is something to look for as well. Mine’s only a purple and idk if there is a legendary version with these effects, but it increases the damage you do to frozen enemies by 35%, as well as cryo efficiency by 50% to them as well. I don’t know if those are additive or multiplicative bonuses, but they’re good to give you extra damage regardless and make it so you are ruthlessly efficient at finishing an enemy that managed to take more than one shot from you.
When I first made this build I didn’t have a Re-Router and didn’t actually know about it, so I used a Nova Back-Berner to get novas, as well as experimenting with a 50% amp shield. I liked the amp damage, but still bounced between the two since Nova Back-Berner gave me a lot of utility vs meleeing mobs. But then a friend gave me a Re-Router, and I realized that it absolutely is the best thing for this build.
As Hexxusz0r mentioned, being a one-shot build the Re-router is a no-brainer. Taking 50% of your shields to turn into a 120% damage multiplier whenever your shields are charged, and also transferring all that shield into health? The synergy is sky-high.
Grenade mod, well you can use whatever you like since it’s only going to be going off once every 15 seconds, but a good cryo nade is very nice. I have yet to find a Hex but that would likely work well, but the unique purple Whispering Ice has done me a very good job, giving SNTNL the capability to freeze everything it targets and making you do even more damage with the Ice Breaker artifact’s effects.
Weapons: As said before, One Pump Chump is the primary weapon, but this is a build designed for Mayhem 3 play, and in Mayhem 3, your primary weapon could potentially be nerfed into the ground. This build is hyper-sensitive to weapon damage nerfs because of it trying to get bonus damage with Overkill, as well as using multiple damage multiplication skills. So, tldr: mayhem modifiers hit this build HARD. So, alternate weapons are highly recommended. Here are some suggestions for alternatives
Recursion- This is a Maliwan charging shotgun with a slow-moving single elemental projectile with high damage per shot, and very high elemental dot, and also ricochets to other enemies on successful hit. Very strong for elemental Mayhem modifiers.
Hosts Hosts are elemental Hyperion e-tech shotguns that fire a slow-moving large splash damage projectile that bounces three times upon impact. These weapons have high damage per shot and high elemental damage, and are fairly easy to find as they are blue rarity.
Hellwalker Hellwalker is a fire, single-shot high projectile-count shotgun. I consider this the lowest ranked for elemental shotguns however, as it does not benefit much from Playing Dirty, but the strength of this legendary tends to carry itself on its own, so it is still recommended when you don’t have something else that works.
Normal Damage Snipers:
Headsplosion This is a Jakobs bolt-action that fires an explosive round with a ricochet up to three enemies. With Playing Dirty this is doubled meaning one shot hits seven enemies at once, and is very easy to benefit from Cold Bore with. This sniper is very good at crowd-control/clear since with Cold Bore it’ll cryo the entire area and/or kill many enemies out-right.
Jakobs Bolt-actions To be honest, any Jakobs Bolt-action sniper with a high base damage can work well with this build. Jakobs snipers are in an excellent place post-patch, and synergize well with this build’s strengths.
Elemental Snipers: (Note: I am still looking for an elemental sniper that is as effective as the other weapons posted, but these are decent ones when the mayhem modifiers have made the other weapons useless)
Storm This is a Maliwan charge-up sniper that fires a shock bullet that has a huge shock radius, and then spawns multiple orbs that shock any enemies in their radius. Excellent for shield-break, and aoe clear. Only the initial splash benefits from Cold Bore, but still an excellent weapon for clearing many enemies at once, as well as getting easy Brainfreeze due to the orbs’ tendencies to crit.
Soleki Protocol This is a Maliwan charge-up sniper rifle which fires a single projectile that splits into multiple projectiles upon collision. It’s best to fire this at the ground just before the enemy, so that the split “shotguns” into them.
Yeah unfortunately I have currently not found exceptionally strong elemental snipers that work for this build, but wouldn’t be surprised if they are out there.
You need only have a strong Sniper and a strong shotgun for both normal and elemental, as the mayhem modifiers will nerf either sniper or shotgun, and elemental or normal (Or both, but that’s just unlucky, and you’ll still usually have one type or the other that’s a little stronger).
As noted by Hexxusz0r, Seein’ Red is amazing. Having your kill skills up at the press of a button, gives you tons of free damage and survivability bonuses before you even hit an enemy. This also lets you get the maximum damage output on your first shot, which will let you chain that damage to multiple enemies, especially if you have Overkill in the Guardian Rank Enforcer tree. 3/3 in Good Misfortune imo is more useful than any of the other skills to advance in Hitman for this build, but an argument could be made that extra fire rate or movement speed may be useful still or if you are wanting significantly better uptime on kill skills that potentially could reduce synergy. It’s certainly a flexible spot.
Skill distribution here: Zane Glass Cannon with Good Misfortune
But why do we want Good Misfortune? Isn’t that counter-productive for kill skill uptime? Well, yes, it is, if you’re not killing things! See, this is a one-shot kill build. If you’re having trouble with uptime on your kill skills, you’re simply not hitting heads enough. You know what Good Misfortune does give us? Much longer action skill uptime, which lets us keep Synchronicity, and Barrier damage bonuses up, which give a much better chance of getting another kill, which resets the kill skills again.
Alright fine, you still don’t want Good Misfortune? Ok, then here’s another version that uses Violent Violence to achieve the points necessary for Seein’ Red, but personally I don’t see the synergy in this as the entire point is to be taking the time to aim and make sure you’re hitting on the head. Extra rate of fire will not be very useful here.
Skill distribution here: Zane Glass Cannon with maxed Violent Violence
Even with all this damage, this still is likely not going to out-distance the other characters for a boss-killing build, but for normal mobbing it completely wrecks everything Mayhem 3 has to offer that isn’t immune to cryo, and still does a good enough job killing anointeds, and I have been loving it ever since I set it up.
Alternative Nova shield spam (deprecated from old build, left here if you want to try it)
Why that shield? Because free novas whenever you put your barrier down, and when it leaves! Getting those fire novas like that are very helpful for the times when enemies are too close. Melee rushers closed in on you? Let em break your shield, it’s their doom. Lots of enemies where you want to set up? Throw that barrier, there, now you have room. You could further this if you want with deterrence field as well, basically making it so enemies getting inside your barrier are practically an after-thought. I like having the health regen and reload speed of the Nanites augment more, but either one will work great.
Now you can use whatever shield you like, but I think that one works really well so that’s why I recommend it. It shores up the weakness of low mobility, gives a huge aoe nova on an action skill, and gives some much needed damage variety to help with resistant mobs.
Full skill distribution here: BL3 Zane Build
So to review gear suggested/required:
One Pump Chump is the best, and most synergistic weapon which is also pretty easy to get (again google for it)
Single-projectile snipers work very well without the One Pump Chump, and pretty much any Jakobs bolt-action will go far with the build
Re-router The strongest shield possible for this build, and also gives a lot of survivability in addition to damage.
Otherwise, pretty much any Amp shield works as an alternate until you get a re-router.
Legendary Executor Class Mod The kill skill given by this class mod giving critical damage bonus, and status effect damage and chance gives a huge damage boost, and is triggered by Seein’ Red. Gives great synergy across the board.
Ice-Breaker artifacts With their bonus 35% damage vs frozen targets and also giving a much higher cryo efficiency vs already frozen targets, you’ll be doing more damage when you freeze enemies, and will also be freezing them more often. Well worth, and have not found a better artifact to place in this slot for this build yet.
This is a video of my build in action with… well let’s just say very strong modifiers lol. This isn’t necessarily a proper example of the build’s strength, but I figured it was kinda fun to see.
Zane with strong Mayhem mode buffs
10/6/2019: Defeated Slaughterstar 3000 on Mayhem 3 with +45% enemy health/shield/armor modifier (Albeit with at least seven deaths).
Weapons used were 4653 base damage One Pump Chump and 2612x2 Kill-o-the-Wisp for shield clear.