Zane: why he is lackluster and how his skills mechanic should be changed

So you want to hear another story, eh? Well take a sit, because this is gonna be a long post. This is a story about Zane, a janitor/ exterminator/ plumber/ lonely guy/ handsome bastard,…you name it. He’s a lot of things.

First off, the pros of being Zane:

  • Irish, cocky and sarcastic. But mostly the first
  • Can use two action skill at once (you’ll feel like you only use one most of the time)
  • Can utilize some item that nobody care about or are considered hard to use
  • Has a more interactive and challenging playstyle than other VHs
  • Can deal a good amount of damage if set up right
    There’re more than that but I just forget at the moment

The cons:

  • Heavily depend on mayhem modifier
  • The most gear-dependent of the 4. While other characters can make almost any guns they’re using good, for Zane, there’re some weapons that he just shouldn’t touch at all.
  • Has a lot of skills for utility that isn’t necessary or just useless (looking at you Binary system)
  • Has a lot of skills have similar effect. Every skill tree has heath/shield restore, action skill duration increase leading to the total of 6 skills to restore health/5 skills to restore shield/4 skills for enhanced AS duration/rate. It’s like they’re trying to have everything in each skill tree to make him look versatile.
  • Has a lot of skills that require a condition: while moving/shooting through barrier/while near the barrier/at full shield/while action skill activated/after swapping weapon/first shot from clip/getting a kill. While other characters also having skill condition, they’re easier to get and maintain such as taking/dealing damage. For the rest of them they’re just passive that always work.
  • Even when doing everything perfectly, his clearing speed still can’t be compared to other VHs without some special interaction/ gimmmick that has more to do with the items rather than his kit (feel free to insert cutpurse - facepuncher here). It was already stated as one of his advantage above.
    There’s more to it but you know how he is if you’ve came here reading this thread

He need to be able to use weapons with more diversity and having easier time to manage his buffs. In the list below I’ll choose the core skills that make the build that can be improved instead of the duplicated skills that might need to replaced completely.

A - UNDER COVER: the idea is let the barrier take damage while you keep yourself in the best condition as much as possible and proc freeze to maintain your action skill. However this is a skill tree that punishes you so hard that you either have everything or nothing at all. If you take even only 1 damage, you can kiss all your Nerves of Steel buffed goodbye and mess up your CCC because you’re not fully shielded. This is specially harder in MH3 due to how anointed enemies warp right into your face or the splash damage somehow by pass your barrier even without area explosion modifier. Mostly because they create a puddle under your feet but sometimes bullets can do that also.

  1. [Action skill barrier] : While the barrier is fine, the augments have condition that require touching or standing near the barrier should be remove because the bonus only applies while it on the ground but not when you carry it. Relatiation might not work if you carry it either but I’m not sure about it yet.
  • You already get decrease bonus when you carry it so why force us to stay in one place instead of using it however we want. You might argue that no one will stay in one place if we can carry it around while still having the bonus but so does Fl4k’s Fade away. I don’t see any way that Zane would be OP with this. It just more convenient to use.
  1. [Best Served Cold] : A cool skill that make the enemies explode in cryo nova that make your screen a bit messy. But that is all it does
  • New effect: Cryo nova slow enemies for 1/2/3/4/5s. Enemies affected by Best Served Cold take 50% increase efficiency from Brain Freeze and Cryo Weapon (30% with Brain Freeze lv5, 150% efficiency with a cryo weapon with 100%)
  1. [Nerves of Steel] : this is a good skill to have but you have to rebuild from the begining with just by a single ratch puke or if you step on a hazard from a puddle
  • New effect: Zane gains 1 stack Nerves of Steel every second if he’s not taking damage. Maximum 15 stacks. On taking damage, he lose 5 stacks Nerves of Steel. Zane can not gain or lose stacks for the next 3s
  1. [Capstone Distributed Denial] :
  • Just make it works like advertised is good enough already. “Gain the effects of current equipped shield mod”. Is it only applied to the red text effect of the shield? Right now, some of them work, some don’t.

B - HITMAN: this is the skill tree that focus on Zane’s power instead of his gadget. SNTNL served as a tool of utility rather than DPS mean. There’re 11 skills in total: 6 are kill skills. 2 are also tied to kill skills. 2 are passive which one add bonus weapon swap speed and cryo damage for ONE shot while the other adding damage only if you move. 1 skill left is for the drone. So what this skill tree offer when Zane standing still and his SNTNL are on cooldown? … Almost nothing.

  • The skill tree make everything conditional and make Seeing Red activate all skill just so it’s looking like an important capstone but in fact you just need to kill ONE enemies to activate them. By locking everything conditional, this make his playstyle become struggle to get one kill then get buffed. This is especially harder when fighting boss without Seeing Red.
    This skill tree also has conflict in playstyle. The conditions the next shot/ 5 shots often lead him to use rocket launchers or shotguns (don’t have benefit from fire rate increase) which often slow you down or make you a no aiming sliding/jumping monkey if you want to get the most of benefit of increasing damage with movement speed. Or fast firing weapon that don’t have much benefit from next shot/5 shots. This skill tree has one passive to increase damage (but not very much compare to other VHs), two kill skills increase DPS and you can only pick one (but also inconsistent and conditional)

  • To sum up, when Zane get a kill, while moving he has 20% damage increase and a 50% ( 62.5% with Death Follows Close) unreliable chance to fire one more projectile within 5 shots without class mod. But don’t use class mod to justify that the skill is good, it need to be good by itself instead of forcing the use of class mod to boost it. Or he has 20% increase damage and shoot faster 25% .That’s two and half a bullet if your weapon has 10 fire rate. So instead of spending 10s to kill an enemy, now he can do it in 8 (this is an example but you know this happen to you at some point)

  • Idea for this skill tree is make sentinel more useful, Zane need to be less dependent on kill skills and also make his kill skills better because even with kill skills activated, they’re not a reliable and consistent source for increasing damage.

** Passive:

5 . [Violent Momentum] : How does this work anyway? Zane get 1% gun damage for each 1% movement speed increase or he get 20% x 2 = 40% damage when moving with 100% movement speed increase? If the latter is the case then it need to change. Unlike Amara’s Mindfulness Zane must do a lots to reach 100% movement speed but also make it a more consistent buff rather than just drop his damage immediately if he suddenly stop moving.

  • New effect: Zane gain increase gun damage when moving. The quicker he moves, the more damage increase. For every second Zane moving, he get a stack up to maximum 5 stacks. Each stack increase gun damage 1.6 /3.2 /4.8 /6.4 /8% to a maximum 8/16/24/32/40%. Decay 1 stack every second Zane is not moving.

6 . [Cold Bore] : While increase swap speed is nice, playstyle that require him to swap weapon to shoot only one shot for 30% bonus cryo damage just clunky and isn’t enjoyable because a lot of enemies that either resist or immune. This also force him to use high damage per shot weapons like launcher to make use of it.

  • New effect: Zane gain increase swap speed and for 13/26/39/52/65% . He gain bonus cryo damage for a short time after switching weapon. Bonus cryo damage: 6/12/18/24/30%. Duration: 0.6/1.2/1.8/2.4/3s. (Edit: to compensate for being able to use with more weapons, change damage to 3/6/9/12/15% bonus cryo damage)

  • The duration won’t make weapons with high damage per shot like launcher that often have low fire rate have too much benefit while also make fast firing weapons have more usability.

** Kill skill:

7 . [Violent Speed ] : This does nothing without a kill. Also why is the “shoot while running” thing only exclusive for soldier class (Wilhelm and Moze)? He’s supposed to have the most experience among the 4 vault hunters, decades of experience in contrast to Moze and Amara (he maybe older than both of them combine). If John Wick can shoot while running then so does Zane Flynt. Also you don’t have to jumping and sliding like a maniac (can’t aim precisely which led him to use AOE weapon)

  • New effect: Zane can shoot while running. Increase movement speed by 3/6/9/12/15. Kill skill: double the effect after getting a kill.

8 . [Violent Violence] : only auto weapons with fire rate > 4 have real benefit from it (25% x 4 = 1 more shot/s) while also doesn’t do anything without a kill.

  • New effect: Increase fire rate for 3/6/9/12/15% and weapon charge speed for 5/10/15/20/25%. Kill skill: double the effects after getting a kill.

9 . [Playing Dirty] : This is the best damage increase skill for Zane. When it works. He has 5 shots while Fl4k’s Two Fang has half the percent but with unlimited duration without any condition. Also force him to use high damage per shot weapon . If this skill can’t not be a duration base due to it will be too powerful with Death Follows Close, then atleast make it guarantee. Right now, the only way to utilize it is putting as much points as possible. Then boost it more with class mod so the “chance to not fire an additional projectile” low enough that it doesn’t happen.

  • New effect: Kill skills: after getting a kill, Zane shoot an additional projectile for the next 2/3/4/5/6 shots.

  • Who doesn’t like Magnificent Six? Making the base level +2 shots will make the ability more impactful at lower level while 6 shots make it an even number that can be boosted by Death Follows Close when using Executor +2. You might think this is OP when boosted with COM and using rocket launchers but no. If your launcher can not get a kill within 5 shots with the base skill as it is right now, you should get another weapon instead. By making this a guarantee chance, Zane can have a consistent source of DPS increase with whatever weapon he’s using.

** Augment: since this skill tree focus more about Zane’s power, SNTNL damage doesn’t need to be top of the line (pets damage are just weak in general because they don’t scale with character’s damage and mostly aim for body shot).

10 . [Winter’s Drone] :

  • New effect: Convert sentinel damage to cryo. Enemies hit by sentinel are slowed and take 15% increase cryo damage.

11 . [Static Field] :

  • New effect: Sends shock beams to nearby enemies, stun them for 1 second, draining their shield and replenishing Zane’s shield at the rate 5% of his shield /s for 2s. Cooldown 4s

12 . [Almighty Ordnance] :

  • New effect: Hold action skill button to paint a target area. SNTNL drop a singularity longbow grenade at the location, pulling enemies around and stun them for 3s. During this time, if an affected enemy is killed, the duration of SNTNL is reset. If more than one affected enemies are killed during this time, Zane’s movement speed and fire rate increase 15% for the rest of SNTNL duration. Can be used once per action skill activated.

13 . [Boomsday] :

  • New effect: Enemies attacked by sentinel are attached with sticky gyrojets. Kill by Zane detonate the gyrojets, dealing 100% of his weapon damage to all target nearby, increase damage by 10% for each gyrojets attached. Manually detonate gyrojets by using attack command on the target. Re-trigger cooldown :3s (manually detonate for dealing with boss type enemies that take too long to kill, cooldown is to prevent dealing damage constantly to enemies by pointing finger at them)

14 . [Capstone Seeing Red] : At the moment, everything in this skill tree are designed around this.

  • New effect: Activate all kill skills when using action skills. Grant 1 stack every time Zane uses an action skill. Maximum 4 stacks. If press action skill button while they’re on cooldown, consume 2 stacks and trigger Zane kill skill.

C - DOUBLE AGENT: this is the most baby sitting skill tree I’ve ever played on a Borderlands game. Not because the skil tree but the action skill itself. The fact that the digi-clone CAN’T MOVE hinder your mobility severly. You always have to take care of it by choosing a place for it to stay and swap place with it when it’s in danger make you more of a decoy than him. I already said about it in this thread so won’t repeat it here.

15 . [ Action skill Digi-clone] :

  • New interaction: Holding action skill button and release (similar to Almighty Ordnance) to point the clone running to the target area. This is all it need

16 . [Binary System] : Nobody care about this thing.

  • New effect: Swapping place with digi-clone trigger a force wave knocking back near by enemies, apply 1 stack on them. If affected enemies being hit by Binary System again, consume this stack and knocking them down.

  • This is a counter for melee enemies constantly attacking you while also use stack mechanic to prevent stun lock exploit.

17 . [Duct Tape Mod] : Another skill that having BOTH the first shot and base chance condition make it even more unreliable.

  • New effect: Whenever Zane fires weapon, he also fires a grenade. Cooldown: 16/15/14/13/12s

18 . [Quick Breather] : One way to hasten shield replenishing , along with 6 others: Ready For Action, Nanites or Some ■■■■■, Calm Cool Collected, Schadenfreude, Static Field and an Anointed gear that let you immediately start to recharge shield when deploy barrier (this is for Zane specifically. There’re also a universal Anointed gear let you start to recharge shield when using action skill, guardian rank and also Transformer and some other shield mods)

  • New effect: Grant 1.5 second immunity whenever you swap place with the clone.

  • This will give more impression that the clone is a decoy, not YOU. It saves your ass, not the other way around.

19 . [Digital Distribution] : The clone doesn’t live long enough for this augment to be useful

  • New effect: If Zane take damages while the clone is activated, 75% of that damages is shared to the clone instead. If the clone die while it is activated due to taking damage, sacrifice 25% of Zane maximum health to revive the clone. Effect cooldown: 15s

20 . [Like a Ghost] : The bonus is low, the required condition is tricky, only last for a few seconds and take a long time before it can achieve the maximum value (25%) one again (aka until both of your action skills are ready to be deploy once again )

  • New effect: grant 4/8/12% chance to ignored bullet. Effect is double for 4s after swapping place with Digi-clone.

21 . [Capstone Double Barrel] :

  • Same as Distributed Denial, just make it works like advertised. Same as above, the digi-clone’s weapon is not the same as listed in weapon card. Or maybe it is, just because it don’t get benefit from Zane skills. Whatever the case, the damage need to be increased. Needless to say his AI need to change too because he tends to burst fire with whatever weapon given to him.

This is just my perspective about how Zane’s skill mechanic should be changed. As right now, the way people played him is finding an item that have special interaction/gimmick with his shield, weapon capstone (face puncher, scourge,…or those that acutally work), or depend on a certain perk of a weapon ( Maggie, Night Hawkin,etc…).

If you feel like I missed something feel free to comment. This is a character that has so much potential. Don’t let him be a missed oppoturnity.


All decent suggestions, I am 100% on board with playing dirty.

Out of all of Zanes skills, Nerves of Steel is the most baffling. how did this skill get out of a brainstorm session, let alone into the final game?

Tier 4 skill that is completely negated by taking ANY damage. I mean…

Besides the name is backwards. This skill is the opposite of Nerves of Steel. If Zane steps in a puddle and takes 1 dot of damage he loses all of his accuracy and handling buffs?

Rename it Nervous Nellie.

1 Like

A lot of solid ideas here, I especially like the one for Violent Momentum being based of stacks instead of direct damage addition, that would fit even better with the idea of the tree IMO, since it would allow the player to move in, aim and hit lots of crits, then run again to the next enemy.

The passives for the blue tree I’m not a big fan though, the idea of Hitman is getting massive bursts of damage, after killing an enemy, getting a decent damage boost and another decent boost when killing is not as fun.

You mean 15% movement speed from Violent Speed, 15% fire rate/25% charge speed from Violent Violence and 30% bonus cryo damage from Cold Bore after switching weapon? I don’t see it as a decent damage boost

15% movement speed when have 5 stacks Violent Momentum = 40 x 15% = 6% damage

15% fire rate and 25% charge speed. How many guns that would benefit from it? It is somewhat similar to Fl4k’s Overclocked with harder condition (kill - reload)

30% cryo damage. You have to invest 5 points in it. It’s a passive with conditional, not a kill skill . A passive provide 30% damage for 3s is not that big (for Zane).
Amara’s Personal Space 54% gun damage and Clarity 25% gun damage/max health regen.
Fl4k’s Furious Attack 20% gun damage/ 48% handling for 4s , Ambush Predator 20% critical damage/ 50% handling
Moze’s Fire in the Skag Den 15% incendiary, Stoke the Embers 30% incendiary, Scorching RPM’s 15% fire rate/ 20% critical damage.

The main burst damage isn’t come from fire rate. It’s from Playing Dirty

The idea is taken from The Traveler’s Pledge in Diablo III that increase damage reduction while moving and damage dealt when standing. They will transfer to each other within 5s. I just took the idea and remove the damage reduction.

30% bonus cryo damage from cold bore is not insignificant. It is multiplcative to all Zane’s damage. It can also be abused with certain weapons. It might not work the way you want, but it can seriously boost your damage.


Same for Moze incendiary damage. But if that cryo damage is too much for a tier 1 skill, just cut it to 3/6/9/12/15%

Cold bore’s cryo damage bonus is for one shot.

It is insignificant. Even if you are swapping weapons like crazy to get 30% bonus damage that is a lot of work for not a big benefit.

In my suggestion, I change it to 3s instead of 1 shot so more weapons could make use of it. It would be more balance if the damage reduced to 15%

As someone who enjoys playing Zane with only two weapons equipped, (both one pump chumps) It is very easy to always get the 30% bonus cryo damage and it does not take much work at all. RT > Y > RT > Y is not very hard or much work. (I’m not on PC so I can’t do PC magic swap cancelling). If you have ever used Cold Bore then you know when it is active your shots will show 2 damage numbers, Damage + Cold Bore Bonus. Now lets do some math…

Base One Pump with only Cold Bore = 4653 + 1396(Cold Bore Bonus)

With Gun damage boosts. [1 + .4(synchronicity) + .1875(donnybrook) + .2(violent momentum) + .2(confident confidence) + .31(shotgun dam on mod)] = 2.2975

One Pump w/ Gun Damage boosts = 10690 + 3270(Cold Bore Bonus)

We are hitting our shots and getting crits. 0.75(mayhem3) x [2 + .1(Jakobs) + .2(Executor) + .18(class mod)] = 1.86

One Pump Crit w/Gun Damage boosts = 19883 + 5965(Cold Bore Bonus)

We have Playing Dirty Up. Projectile damage + projectile damage

One Pump Crit w/ Playing Dirty & Gun Damage Boosts = 39768 + 11930(Cold Bore Bonus)

We are also shooting through our Barrier for that nice 1.25 damage boost.

One Pump w/ above through barrier = 49710 + 14913(Cold Bore Bonus)

And then there is Overkill, which caps out at 5x your gun damage added to your shot.

One Pump w/ above + capped Overkill = 298256 + 89477(Cold Bore Bonus)

Now you might not like the way that it works, but the damage it adds is not insignificant. I completely understand wanting it to work in a different way (ie next 5 shots after swap or next 5 shots after kill) so that it could be more easily used with more weapons. But do not discount the damage it can add.


What you’re saying there is having all of the damage buffed condition work. We’re taking about one passive here. Sure, in the best circumstance, it can do very nice damage. But can it be compared to Fl4k or Amara? You gotta do a lot of things with perfect result for that to happen. 15% damage for 3s, there’s nothing no be mad about. Their crit damage and elemental damage, it’s just work every time. (They are multiplicative too)

Number can be changed easily. When I wrote this post I was more focus on the way the skills work instead of their current value. He’s currently doesn’t have a reliable source of damage outside kill skill and action skill time.

No, what I am doing is showing how the Cold Bore Bonus increases as the damage increases b/c the Cold Bore Bonus is a multiplicative bonus.

Zane has conditionals that must be met to increase his damage, but meeting those conditionals to increase his damage is part of the joy of playing Zane. Having an easy button to where you can cloak and do auto crits is powerful, but its not very challenging. IMO, Fl4k is the most overrated character in the game currently. Not every character needs to be brainless.


He’s fun to play with, but so depend on action skill (synchronicity) and kill skill (playing dirty). Even the capstones that suppose to make him god tier are buggy as hell (DD and DB)

Oh you’re gonna love my Fl4k concept.

But yeah. Zane is the three point shooter of the game. The dunkers and alley oopers get more points consistently, but when you need someone to sweep in under certain conditions. He’s gonna deliver the goods.

Im not sure what your math was suppose to show other than double barrel adds 30% damage. It really doesnt sway my opinion if you give me big numbers with 30% or small numbers with 30%.

A five point skill that gives you one shot with 30% bonus damage is insignificant to me.

Key phrase… “to you”

A 30% multiplicative damage is not insignificant. Because you don’t like it and it doesn’t work how you want it to doesn’t make it insignificant.


Zane is not bad, Mayhem mode is just a meme difficulty. That’s really it.

At least it doesn’t require anything particular. Like BL2 slag.

True that a 30% multi is significant, but it increase your damage per shot, not in overall DPS compared to what you can do with higher fire rate weapon within that time instead of swapping in and out. It’s just tedious like slag element in BL2 (just a lot more less, and one shot instead of duration base) and I don’t think that it should lock you with certain weapons to make use of it.

That’s why 15% for 3s is reasonable. Might be a nerf to high damage per shot weapon now that you have to shoot twice to do the same amount of bonus damage as before, but now it’s viable for any kind of weapons and increase your dps overall if your weapon shoot fast enough and also help you freeze enemies more often with cryo build. More the reason to pick fire rate increase traits. (Violent Violence, SNTNL anointed perk etc…)

Drone just needs rework(or the hitman tree), the anti-synergy is just funny because I run clone+barrier with hitman build, so I can proc my kill skill more often(both of them have storter cooldown and duration). Also those increase skill duration skills are utterly useless for they hinder my play style.

Jack Doppelganger is just Zane but better, I built kill skill build easily with him and dominate end game of pre-sequel (despite he lacks burst against BOSS).