Zane Weapon Choices, And How Players View Zane's Kit Incorrectly

This isn’t going to be a post filled with accurate calculations, but I do think it is a great way to look at Zane, and will help people with gear and skill choices.

It is no surprise to anyone here that Zane is objectively the weakest Vault Hunter in regards to DPS. This makes various guns on him seem less desirable because he just doesn’t do as much with them as other characters. What I’m going to propose has been delved into by other members of the community, even if it hasn’t been said much directly, but Zane isn’t meant to take solid weapons and push their damage through the roof. Zane’s kit is better suited for taking the weaknesses of certain guns and turning them into strengths.

For starters, let’s take a look at rocket launchers, specifically the Scourge and the Hive. They have incredibly high damage output, but are weakened by a heavily limited ammo pool, and constant reloading. Zane can easily circumvent both of these by swap cancelling with Cold Bore (and getting a nice multiplicative 30% cryo boost) and either using Digital Distribution and a Big Boom Blaster, or giving your Digi-Clone a Face-Puncher and wearing a cut purse artifact. What’s better is these are single projectile, so Playing Dirty doubles their DPS when triggered, AND if you get the terror annointment that adds more projectiles to them, then you’ll see great damage numbers AND face far fewer drawbacks on these guns.

Praemunitus is a solid mag size boost for a tier 1 skill, Confident Competence and Nerves of Steel are great accuracy boosters, which help guns like the Maggie and Hellwalker, and ensuring you land more projectiles on crit for Brainfreeze procs. Zane gets reload speed buffs, and solid movement speed for positioning, survivability, and damage output, both directly from Violent Momentum, and consequentially from better positioning and survivability.

I hate when people use the argument that Zane isn’t viable because most of the time, people are succeeding by using strong gear, such as the Lyuda, but that’s kind of the point of Zane. He makes high damaging guns more fun to play and more reliable in ways outside of raw damage. Just because Zane can’t make a weak gun strong doesn’t mean he’s unviable.

Finally, this mini-rant isn’t meant to argue that Zane is OP and does not need any buffs, because he’s still the weakest Vault Hunter, it’s just that I think people look at Zane in the wrong way, and should look more at the other utility he provides, and how it can affect overall damage output with various guns and gear. There’s plenty of players on this forum that know a lot about this already, and have done a great job at explaining how to apply these synergies in skills and gear, and I highly recommend reading further into these guides for those who haven’t already and are struggling to make Zane work.


You make a good point, but still admit the fundamental issue:

DPS is the only thing that matters.

Sure, tightening a 6 pellet spread so that all 6 pellets hit is nice, but hitting only 3 pellets with a 250% damage boost is better.

Sure, surviving a volley of rockets with a barrier is nice, but killing them before they shoot one is better.

Sure, having a slightly larger magazine and slightly faster reload speeds are nice, but having an infinite magazine like Moze or instant reloads like Amara are better.

There is no doubt Zane has improvements to his abilities and the effects of the weapons he wields, but it’s simply not as good as his fellow Vault Hunters.


You make some points I can agree with. I think the utility he does have could be buffed more so that becomes more of a focus for him, but one of the things he has going for him is the fact that he can do it all. He’s a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none. He may not infinite ammo as well as Moze, but he can still infinite ammo with just about any gun, and have infinite grenades as well. He may not have as good of reload speed as Amara, but second best isn’t bad either. He has the best accuracy buffs, projectile modifier, and great survivability. Damage is the only area he really lacks in, which can be circumvented with proper gear and skill choices. Being second best at a good handful of admirable traits is still pretty good, but I agree that they could be a bit stronger if they are all that Zane really has going for him.

Nerves of Steel has good accuracy buffs if you could actually keep the stacks alive. As it stands now it is by far the worst tier 3 skill in the game. Closely edging out the second worst skill in the game, DTM.

Zanes skills are mediocre and require conditions in order for them to work.

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Zane seems to be more about defence. Which works fine with my slow strategic style. I can’t jump into a mob and use reflexes. I have to be very deliberate and defensive. I find Zane good for that. Get in trouble, drop the barrier, need a bit of help, SNTL, need to stay away from minions, Digi-Clone(sp?)

The usual skill points are there for shields. I usually spend my points on shields and health first, then look at the other skills. I also usually spend my Badass Tokens, oh wait :slight_smile:

And quite frankly I don’t like to think about it too much. I keep very few weapons around. As I level up I sell older ones and keep the most powerful. Except Maliwan, they just annoy me. I have a class mod that gives my Jakob gear a buff. Life is good.


But this is the only time Zane works: when he’s leveling up. There isn’t too much challenge and you don’t really care that bosses take you 10 minutes to kill instead of 1 or 2 minutes like the other characters. Especially if you don’t have a reference point.

At max level, Zane falls apart against Mayhem Mode level challenges where his gameplay loop has meticulous setup requiring perfect play to achieve sub-standard results.

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I wish bosses only took me ten minutes to kill :slight_smile: My reference point is usually how many times I die. When I can routinely beat a boss on the first try, I feel like I’m making good progress with my character build.

At max level, Zane falls apart against Mayhem Mode level challenges where his gameplay loop has meticulous setup requiring perfect play to achieve sub-standard results.

Yeah, that’s not good. I’m not there yet.

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Zane is a strange one, his main strengh comes from things that are not as straightfowards at first, like being able to freeze and disable most regular enemies in the game or his reposition capabilities. The problem is that a lot of it is also conditional, you can freeze enemies but Anointed or bosses, which is where they are needed the most, he’s a god when both skills are deployed, but a sitting duck when they run out. No to mention, considering how tricky it is to keep him in full power, he should get a massive boost in damage and survivability, it’s just not fun to do everything just to be on par with the others, while they have everything on passive.

Also he has some weird lack of synnergy between skills, like having a divided skills between shield boosting and HP boosting, while having both is nice in theory, endgame sort of encourages to save points and focus in only one. Or having both a damage boosts for moving as fast as he can and also a skill that activates on criticals.

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It’s a bit of an esoteric argument. Obviously if you enjoy the gameplay presented to you, then great the video game is delivering its entertainment value.

Zane was the second character I played, though first to 50, and I definitely enjoyed the leveling experience and exploration of his potential. Mayhem Mode was a complete slap in the face, however, especially against Anointed enemies who were immune to cryo damage. That’s fixed as of today, however, so great.

I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed Zane with a reference point of another character, though, because after his ascension to baddassitude I brought my Moze to 50 and beyond and have moved on to a FL4K. Moze was slapping Mayhem 3 from the time she completed the story, and I just completed FL4K’s story last night with incredible speed and ease due to his Stalker tree. My goodness, boss health bars melted.

If Zane were the only character available, and I had no idea other characters could be as powerful as they are, maybe I’d approach the difficulty and slowness of the game’s challenges differently. Be more patient slowly, incrementally collecting a perfect set of gear that just lets me get by the extreme difficulty. But seeing how awesome and badly the other Vault Hunters wreck, I take the more awesome boom boom fast explosion and death and Borderlands-y path.

It does make me question whether it’s a fluke that the other vault hunters have certain builds that are so much better than Zane, and Gearbox intended a slower progression into the challenging content as they updated, or if it’s Zane who is the fluke who can’t perform.


Maybe they focused too much on early game when balancing the characters, as you saw yourself, he is very fun to play and perfectly adequate until the endgame.

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Unless completely screwed by Mayhem 3 modifiers, I can consistently kill enemies faster with my Zane than I can with my Moze. That’s my Zane one shot build vs my Moze’s Bottomless Mag build.

The biggest difference between the two characters… Zane takes some thought. Moze is brainless.

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I like this post.

“Making bad guns good” has been a rallying cry of mine since week 1.

I would argue that he’s not weak, still. He could do more damage with regular bullet guns, but I’ve found at least 10 ways to reliably hit high 5s-mid 6 digit numbers (highest I’ve ever seen in a single shot was 605k. It was incidental and I wasn’t paying attention to the modifiers) as Zane using multiple weapons/abilities.

Also tediore chuck is the most absurdly b.s. broken build in the game currently as tediore throw damage basically scales off of everything.


I think “Making bad guns good,” doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s more like Zane negates the negative drawbacks of various guns, and makes them even better through means outside of just boosting the gun’s damage. If a gun has great damage, but is balanced out with things like low magazine size, heavy ammo consumption, poor reload speed, poor accuracy, a sweet spot for optimal damage, etc., Zane alleviates those balancing drawbacks and just makes the gun even better. The gun has to have something already, and that something is usually damage.

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Before I say what I’m going to say about the above quote I want to make it clear that this is not an attack or an attempt to put anyone down. I’m just stating facts based on experience. Here goes …

There is nothing factual in the above quote. I take that quote as an opinion, not a statement of fact, because as a Zane main I am not having any trouble at all with Mayhem 3 or its modifiers. That said, at this point in BL3 I have enough weapon variety that I can deal with whatever modifiers Mayhem throws at me and that is important for Zane more so than any other character. This game IS a looter shooter and I think some ppl on this forum forgets this when they say things like, “Zane is gear dependent”. Well no sh*t! ALL characters in this game are gear dependent because the whole point of the game is to collect the loot (i.e., looting) and then to use it (i.e, shooting)!

In the following sections I’ll describe some of the other vault hunters in a way to help you better understand why gear variety matters more to Zane than to them.

Amara has skills that give massive base damage buffs (see Derch’s Sheriff Amara build and play through on YouTube for one of MANY examples of Amara’s raw damage potential due to her kit). But let’s take her skill tree out of the equation for a moment and look at one of her anointments as an example. When you have an anointment that increases weapon damage by 300% it really doesn’t matter that there is 50% nerf to gun damage Mayhem modifier! Now add back her skill tree to the equation and none of the negative modifiers really makes a difference to Amara, in the general case. Now there are specific cases where you may be trying a 1 gun build and you don’t have any anointments. But those are the edge cases for her instead of the norm.

Fl4k has crit bonuses out the wazoo and crit bonuses are the highest damage buffs in the game. And the fact that some of them don’t actually require you to land head shots is a nuff said moment. So … nuff said! :grin:

I’m going to leave Moze out because there are a lot of unhappy Moze players who are pissed about her infinite grenade build being broken right now. I personally could care less because I find having only a single style of play incredibly boring. But because I’m such a sensitive vault hunter I won’t add salt to their wounds. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:
But let’s be honest, Moze is still God tier despite the build-I-have-already-named-not-being-named-again-so-as-not-to-incite-the-Moze-mob :wink:

So now we finally get back to Zane. To summarize, because Zane doesn’t have the raw damage skills like the other vault hunters, gear variety matters more. Again, for example, unlike Amara with 300% damage anointments, Zane sometimes can’t just ignore Mayhem modifiers. Note my use of the word sometimes because sometimes he can (see @Gentlemann’s YouTube video for an example).

Finally, as you make your way with Zane to end game don’t be discouraged by the naysayers. There are many on the forums that main Zane and do it with the style, flair, and personality that ONLY Zane has and we are more than happy to help you on your journey. And I’m not just saying that. If you need gear for Zane post on the PC trading subsection and you can @ mention me by name and I’m happy to share with you, no strings attached.



What they really need to do is tweak the percentages on his kill skills and how some of them interact with his action skill damage numbers. They buffed the Clone and Drone a bit, which helps, but his base damage numbers need to have more viability to them.

Amara has skill based elemental damage increases, Fl4k has skill based crit damage increases and Moze doubles down with skill based ammo and grenade regen AND splash damage and gun damage increases, plus multiple boosts just to Incendiary damage when the vast majority of enemies in the game currently have red health bars. All of them have boosts to fundamental elements of damage dealing in the game. Zane on the other hand has a ton of boosts to utility, but very few to outright damage. Even his Cryo focus is utility based, he has no real increase to Cryo damage itself other than Cold Bore.

Synchronicity, Violent Momentum, Confident Competence, Double Barrel and Donnybrook are his only skill based sources of gun damage, and all of them are subject to conditional activation effects that make them need to be juggled to maintain, unlike the other Vault Hunters whose skills are just flat increases for most of their bonuses to damage. One could call it an effort towards playstyle differences, but the percentage numbers would have to be drastically bumped up to put him on par with the other Vault Hunters even then.

Having him rely on his shields, movement speed and keeping two action skills active to maximize his damage output are cool ideas, don’t get me wrong, but the skills that support all that need the higher numbers to make it work at endgame. And frankly all the talk about avoiding new Vault Hunters for future DLC in lieu of adding new skills trees to the current ones makes me concerned, cause them rushing to make new skills means its more likely the stuff we have will keep getting pushed back in terms of tweaking and adjusting it properly.

Playing Dirty is an amazing damage boost too, but to be as effective as other VH’s you need 8 points in it with seein red and appropriate weapons.

All his damage is conditional and not very straightforward conditions either (amara tier one damage condition “be close to the enemy” in contrast)

I love his versatility and varying playstyles, but having to manage so much to be 2nd rate is unrewarding.

I love managing my skills while swapping weapons for cold bore, making sure to use Playing Dirty with the right weapon, jumping around to max out Violent Momentum, but when the other vh’s still perform better by just pressing 1 button and shooting, kinda depressing.

Thus far, I think the Nova Berner build is one of the few unique builds that only Zane can utilize to it’s fullest.

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Zane is a burst god. Pump up his speed and speed damage skills in Clone and Drone trees, stay active, switch a lot, be aware of the battlefield (like an Assassin), pop on a snowdrift, and slide fire into enemies.

Give the clone something ridiculous like a cryo bear cat and the enemies are busy being pelted by that. Trick of the Light makes every weapon break shields if you’re switching with the clone enough.

I didnt realize how bad Zanes kill skills were until I started browsing other trees.

For example, Moze, on top of having insane gun damage skills has one fire rate skill -

Tier 3 skill, Scourching Rpms - it passively gives 15% fire rate and +20% crit damage

Zanes only fire rate skill and literally one of his core dps skills,

Tier 4 skill, Violent Violence - 20% fire rate for 8 seconds and being a Kill Skill.

I mean, really? I know not everything can be looked in a vacuum, but Moze’s skill is better than Zanes by far and its not even a KS.

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Doesn’t it become 40% for 17 seconds with Death Follows?

It makes it 25%, but you are now bringing in another skill.

Even adding Zanes midtier capstone skill, I would still take Moze’s passive 15% fire and 20% crit skill over Zanes.