Yesterday Zane’s 4th Skilltree that will be added as part of the “Designer’s Cut” DLC was revealed. The tree is named “The Professional” and focuses of scoring critical hits and quickly regaining your action skill. It is probably not overstatement to say that this will shake up the Zane meta more than basically any other addition to the game so far, probably even including the Seein’ Dead class mod. However, as they say, not all skills are created equal and there’s some that don’t seem to fit in or just feel undertuned. I wanna quickly go over all of them, share my thoughts on them and if I think there’s issues that need adressing.
MNTIS SHOULDER CANON
Describtion: “Zane equips a Shoulder Mounted Canon. Pressing F or G causes Zane to fire his canon at his crosshairs and consume one charge. Max Charges: 3, Cooldown: 12 Seconds”
Now, this action skill for Zane is quite remarkable, not as much because of what it does on its own, but because of the type of action skill this gives Zane access to. Not unlike Fl4ks Rakk Attack, this is very spammable, allowing Zane to easily benefit from ASE and ASS anointments for the first time. This means that various bonus elements might end up replacing the near omnipresent SNTL 100% Cryo anoint, at least in certain builds. What’s more, this action skill also diminishes the need for a Seein’ Dead class mod because it makes it possible for Zane to get almost permanent kill skill uptime from Seein’ Red. Granted, Seein’ Dead will still be the best in slot because it provides additional kill skill efficiency, but it won’t be quite as obligatory and likely help open up a slot for COMs like the Executor and possibly even the Hustler (don’t get me wrong, the Hustler is still hot garbage, but Zane gets a lot of crit effects in this tree). I won’t really go over the augments in detail, but I will say that the fact that the one augment that changes his action skill element to cryo (from shock) might actually be ruined by the fact it has a damage penalty.
The canon damage itself is nothing to write home about however, it doesn’t get splash damage and the shot damage seemed pretty average, but you can fire it when aiming down sights, shooting your main gun or reloading and it can hit crits and benefits from most crit boosts, which is nice (unless that gets changed before release, the best way to increase MNTIS damage appears to be to hold an Unforgiven and aim for crits).
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the skills themselves.
Man of Focus
Skill describtion: “Activating an Action Skill grants Zane increased Accuracy and Handling for a short time. This effect stacks.”
Per Rank: +7.0 % Accuracy and +7.4% Handling. Max Stacks: 10. Skill duration: 12 seconds. 5 Ranks.
Well… To be honest, this skill is a bit whatever. It’s one of the better Accuracy and Handling boosts in the game, but it’s still just accuracy and handling. It’s probably gonna have some use in certain builds, but not in that many of them. I think it’s quite alright.
Skill describtion: “After scoring a Critical Hit, Zane regenerates Health for a short period of time”
Per Rank: Up to 0.5% of Max Health/Second. Duration: 12 Seconds. 3 Ranks.
It’s meh. I’d say this is a skill you might mostly spec into when leveling up your character because it’s a very easy source of healing. It’s nice that unlike Donnybrook the healing value is based on max health instead of missing health, but the percentage really isn’t that great and ultimately you won’t be using it in a late game build either way because Salvation is all the healing you’ll ever need.
DÉJÁ VU (I have been in this place before…)
Skill describtion: “Whenever Zane kills an enemy with a Critical Hit, there’s a Chance for 1 ammo to be added to his magazine.”
Per Rank: Chance to add ammo: 9%. 5 Ranks.
This seems kind of nice at first, but is honestly quite undertuned. Like Seein’ Dirty it’s a skill that starts having diminishing returns the more points you put into it because the effect itself doesn’t get stronger. The issue I have with this skill is that the amount of ammo you get back just doesn’t seem worth it. It honestly feels like a skill sink more than anything else. I mean, compared to to Fl4k’s Leave no Trace, another Tier 1 skill that also refunds ammo, Leave No Tracer has a higher chance to proc per rank and very importantly it doesn’t require you to get a kill, making the amount of ammo you can get back from a single enemy considerably higher. I could see this skill have some use with specific Guns like the Hellwalker or the Skullmasher, but the only reason why I would pick it up is because the others stuff in tier 1 is equally useless and ammo regen is at least something Zane doesn’t normally have in his kit.
I feel like the way this skill should have been balanced would have been to make it a 3 Rank skill and increase not only the chance, but also the amount of ammo by 1 for each rank, but I guess that might not work out in terms of points to put into this tree (maybe if they were to buff Renegade to a 5 Rank skill? It could use slightly better healing anyways).
If Déjá Vu is to stay a 5 Rank skill at all cost, I’d make one of two possible changes. 1: Lower the activation chance but allow it to fully refill the Magazine if it triggers. 2: Add a kill skill that grants Zane slow ammo regeneration (and I’d say don’t make it based on his mag size. Just make it that after a kill, Zane regens 0.2 ammo per second and rank for the next 5 seconds, meaning he gets 1-5 extra ammo from a kill depending on how many points you spend).
Whilst the Professional tree is one of the stronger ones in the game, it also has one of the worst first tiers, rivalling only Zane’s own Under Cover Tree. And before you say that Tier 1 skills are supposed to be weak: That’s just not the case. Some of the best skills in the game are tier 1 (like Zane’s Violent Momentum, Moze’s Fire in the Skag Den or Fl4k’s Interplanetary Stalker).
On to the next tier:
Skill describtion: “Kill Skill. Zane gets increased Critical Hit damage. This effect stacks twice”
Per Rank: 4% Critical Hit damage. Duration: 8 Seconds. 5 Ranks.
This is where it starts to get really good. Zane previously didn’t have any personal crit boosts and he benefits from them a lot because he gets tons of gun damage from his blue tree. Picking up all 5 ranks of this skill is pretty much a must if you are going down the purple tree.
Skill describtion: “While moving, Zane gains increased Accuracy and Handling. The quicker Zane moves, the greater the bonus.”
Per Rank: Accuracy up to 10% and Handling up to 11% at Default walking speed. Ranks: 3.
This honestly seems like a bit of a meme skill. I could see it having some use when running around at high speeds with a multi-projectile gun like the Lightshow but you will probably want to skip this skill, just because, again, it’s just accuracy and handling.
Skill Describtion: Kill Skill. Zane gets increased Gun Damage and Action Skill Cooldown Rate.
Per Rank: Gun Damage +4%, Cooldown Rate +4%.
This skill is kind of odd in that the describtion really doesn’t tell you how this skill works properly. To sum it up: This skill stacks, with each stack decaying after a short period of time. There doesn’t seem to be a hard cap for stacks, but just like with other stacking skills in the past (i.e. Zer0’s Critical Ascensi0n), you eventually reach a point where you can’t build your stacks faster than they decay. This skill is honestly quite solid. It’s only Gun damage which isn’t great on Zane, but you can get up to a pretty insane amount of stacks very quickly (the max I have seen on a Stream Yesterday was over 50) using a Seein’ Dead, so the Gun Damage starts to become somewhat meaningful again, just because of the shere amount you get. Action Skill Cooldown Rate generally doesn’t scale well, but again, the raw numbers are high enough to make it worth your while. This allows Zane to be really spammy with his shoulder canon which is kinda neat.
We’re in tier 3 now:
Skill describtion: “Zane can sprint and shoot at the same time.”
Not much to say about it. Great skill and something Zane should have had right from the start. The Run&Gun character now gets to gun whilst running. Might allow you to sacrifice a point or two in Violent Speed or Supersonic Man and still get the full Violent Momentum boost you are used to, or could be used to bring Zane’s gun damage to the absolute max.
Skill describtion: “Whenever Zane scores a Critical Hit he gains increased Fire Rate and Reload Speed for a short time. If he scores a Critical Hit with his Action Skill, this effect is doubled.”
Per Rank: +4% Reload Speed, +3% Fire Rate. Duration 8 Seconds. Ranks: 5.
Seems like a really solid skill. The boosts themselves are substantial enough to be worth it and out of Zane’s 4 action skills, 3 are able to crit, meaning it shouldn’t be too difficult to get the max effect.
The Art of War
Skill Describtion: “After Activating an Action Skill or an Action Skill Ability, Zane’s next shot fired from his weapon deals Increased Damage. This effect stacks.”
Per Rank: Gun damage +3%. Max Stacks: 10. Ranks: 5.
Honestly, this skill is garbage. Don’t take it. It looks neat on paper, but even in an ideal situation you could only get 150% bonus Gun damage for a single shot which is not all that much on Zane, because again, Violent Momentum (and also Commitment) has it outclassed. You don’t need this skill to get down to the Capstone and if you have leftover points, you will effectively get more damage from putting them into Cold Bore. Kind of a shame, honestly. This would have been a great skill for Fl4k’s Hunter Tree because Fl4k benefits a lot more from Gun damage and is much better at optimizing the damage of an individual shot. Also, in case you are wondering, Action Skill Ability is referring to things like swapping your Clone, having your SNTL target someone or even just picking up your barrier.
Onto Tier 5
Skill Describtion: “Zane gains increased Action Skill Cooldown Rate. Scoring a Critical Hit increases this effect. This effect stacks.”
Per Rank: Cooldown Rate: +5%. Additional Bonus Cooldown after crit: +2.5%. Duration 8 Seconds. Max Stacks: 15. Ranks 3.
This skill sounds impressive but isn’t as big of a deal as you might think. Action Skill Cooldown Rate doesn’t scale too well and starts having diminishing returns. Plus, basically all cooldown rate skills are outclassed by the Guardian Rank Topped Off which grants a whopping 200% Cooldown Rate when your shields are full (for the sake of comparison, Sheer Will gets you up to a Max of 127.5%, though it might be able to surpass Topped Off if it can be boosted to 5 points using class mods). Not the best skill but certainly not horrible. Probably a decent skill to invest into if you need to put another point somewhere to get to the capstone.
Skill describtion: “Zane’s Critical Hits pierce through enemies with all weapons, dealing increased Damage for every enemy pierced.”
Per Rank: +40% Bonus damage per enemy pierced. Ranks: 3.
WILL. IT. B0RE? The answer is yes, kind of. It has some significant differences to Zer0’s B0re, even though it works in a simular manner.
1: Zane’s Eraser only triggers on critical hits, thus being a lot more limited. This also means that you are probably not going to get the upside of not having to worry about Bullet Deflection because chances are you’re not gonna crit something that deflects.
2: Zane gets slightly higher bonus damage at the price of having to spend more points.
3: Zane gets this effect on all weapons (at least according to the describtion), which should include rocket launchers where Zer0 only got it on actual bullets. Might have some fun interactions with the ION canon.
4: Sadly, Zane doesn’t seem to have the extremely satisfying b0re sound effect that made getting a perfect b0re on a boss so ear-rapey.
5: Eraser obviously doesn’t have the additional effect of highlighting enemy crit spots, but that’s really not a big deal.
Overall, I don’t think Eraser is gonna be quite as impactful as B0re was, among other things since bosses don’t seem to have those broken overlapping hitboxes (otherwise Amara would be using Indiscriminate to one-shot stuff instead of TTB), but it still appears to be a perfectly useful skill that I would recommend you pick up over Sheer Will if you want the Capstone.
Our Man Flynt
Skill Describtion: “When aiming down sights, Zane’s weapons deal Bonus Damage and automatically apply their status effect when scoring a Critical Hit.”
Bonus damage: 25% of damage dealt.
This is good. Like, really good. 25% damage might not seem like a big deal, particularily after dismissing all those big gun damage boosts previously, but the important part here is: 25% of damage dealt. This is a multiplicative boost. This doesn’t just increase a small part of the damage calculation, it actually boosts all of it. The secondary effect is also interesting and I’ve heard that it might allow Cryo weapons to insta-freeze, though I haven’t seen it myself in the streams I watched yesterday. It’s probably neat to have on weapons like the Kratakoa or the Breath of the Dying that normally have a 0% status effect chance.