Let’s start off with the newcomer, Fl4k the Beastmaster, with his many pets:
Fla4k Ways to Play (source)
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FL4K the Beastmaster is on a never-ending hunt in Borderlands 3, accompanied by loyal beasts who are eager to please them. This robotic leader of the pack has access to both an Action Skill and an autonomous Pet that fights by their side and obeys commands to pounce on specific targets. Here’s a look at FL4K’s Hunter, Master, and Stalker skill trees, which give them and their Pet the killer instincts they need to overcome whatever the galaxy throws at them.
Action Skill: Rakk Attack!
Pet: Spiderant Centurion
Hit your enemies precisely where it hurts with the Hunter skill tree. When FL4K deploys the Rakk Attack! Action Skill, which has multiple charges, Rakk will soar into the air and swoop down to divebomb nearby enemies. While your Rakk are doing work, FL4K can sic the Spiderant Pet onto their prey, which attacks with globs of acidic goo, spinning charge attacks, and strikes from their pincer and prosthetic drill arm. As an added bonus, FL4K constantly regenerates health while the Spiderant is out.
Critical hits are crucial to the Hunter skill tree, with plenty of passive skills that reward you for hitting your quarry’s weak points. You may get a chance to restore ammo to your magazine after a critical hit, or potentially reduce your Action Skill cooldown. Other options provide boosts to your Hunter Skills – a special type of skill found in all of FL4K’s skill trees. Here are some other helpful picks from the Hunter skill tree:
Ambush Predator is perfect for snipers who prefer to fight from afar: while there are no enemies nearby, FL4K’s weapon handling and critical hit damage are increased.
The Most Dangerous Game is a Hunter Kill Skill that literally pays dividends if you go after tougher targets. Whenever FL4K kills a Badass or stronger enemy, they gain increased critical hit damage, gun damage, and handling for an extended period. Additionally, they receive a cash reward from the Intergalactic Bureau of Bounty Hunting, which clearly recognizes that FL4K deserves a tip for their hard work.
Megavore is a game-changer, giving FL4K a chance to score a critical hit with weapons against any part of enemies. Even if you miss a headshot here and there, Megavore can make a bullet to the *filtered* just as lethal as one to the brain.
Action Skill Augments in the Hunter skill tree give you more ways to wreak Rakk havoc, like adding extra Rakk to the pack or making them deal cryo damage. Meanwhile, you can evolve your Spiderant Pet to deal incendiary or corrosive damage and provide buffs on top of the baseline health regeneration. If you love to carefully line up your shots from a safe distance and execute your target with a few critical hits, the Hunter skill tree plays to your sniping prowess.
Action Skill: Gamma Burst
Pet: Guard Skag
Establish your dominance over the battlefield with the Master skill tree. Bend reality in your favor using the Gamma Burst Action Skill, which creates a rift that instantly teleports your Pet to a target location with a burst of radiation damage. In a pinch, you can also use Gamma Burst as a quick revive when FL4K’s Pet is downed or dead at the cost of increasing your Action Skill cooldown timer. Your Skag Pet buffs your damage and will ravage enemies with vicious bites and projectile vomit. Good boy!
The Master skill tree offers plenty of ways to increase your Pet’s damage output, like a passive skill that causes their first melee attack against an enemy to be an automatic critical hit. Beyond providing cover fire, FL4K can directly aid their Pet through skills like:
Who Rescued Who? strengthens the symbiotic bond between FL4K and their Pet. Whenever their Pet deals damage, FL4K regenerates some health, and whenever FL4K deals damage, their Pet will be healed for a portion of the damage dealt.
Psycho Head on a Stick, which sounds like a fantastic chew toy, is a Hunter Kill Skill that buffs FL4K’s Pet with increased movement speed and damage for a few seconds whenever FL4K kills an enemy.
Dominance emphasizes the ‘master’ in Beastmaster. This new melee attack lets FL4K convert an enemy to their side for a short time, with doubled duration if your dominated target is a beast. Dominance is also a means for dealing damage to your temporary ally: your target loses health until the effect ends or they die fighting for your cause.
FL4K can improve the utility of their Gamma Burst by giving their Pet a radiation aura on activation or providing health regeneration whenever FL4K and their allies are near the rift. The Skag Pet evolutions can give FL4K increased gun damage or fire rate, along with teaching the Skag some destructive new tricks you won’t see at any dog show. Power up your Pet to the fullest with the Master skill tree, then fight alongside your beast as they dutifully do your bidding.
Action Skill: Fade Away
Pet: Jabber Sidekick
Evasion and resilience are the hallmarks of the Stalker skill tree. If FL4K is ever in a bind, using the Fade Away Action Skill will facilitate a quick getaway by instantly cloaking them and affording them increased movement speed and health regeneration. Once FL4K maneuvers into a better position, they can fire off three shots that are guaranteed critical hits, completely turning the tide in a tough fight. Your furry Jabber Pet provides bonus movement speed, and even has its own adorable little gun to fill your enemies with lead.
You’ll find plenty of ways to up your survivability in the Stalker skill tree; maybe you’ll opt to simply increase FL4K’s maximum health, or choose a passive skill that shares FL4K’s health regeneration with allies and doubles the bonus for their Pet. Staying healthy is a major part of maximizing your effectiveness with the Stalker skill tree, which includes such life-saving skill as:
Lick the Wounds lets your Pet attempt to revive you whenever you’re downed in the Fight For Your Life state. You’ll appreciate your Pet that much more after they pull off a clutch revive during a heated firefight, and it’s a great option for staying alive in solo play.
The Fast and the Furryous gives FL4K increased gun damage and movement speed whenever they’re above half health. It sounds simple, but trying to preserve your health and maintain your buffs becomes a metagame in and of itself.
The Power Inside makes FL4K and their Pet gain increased damage after FL4K activates an Action Skill—but if FL4K is at full health, that damage increase is doubled. Triggering that doubled bonus is easy to do before a fight, but good luck pulling it off once you’re in the thick of all the ensuing chaos.
Increase your odds of survival even further with Action Skill Augments, like gaining damage reduction after Fade Away ends, or giving your Pet the ability to taunt enemies to grab their attention. Your choice of delightfully coiffed Jabber evolutions will change their gun of choice, along with adding maximum health or critical hit damage buffs on top of the increased movement speed. You’ll be damn difficult to take down when specializing in the Stalker skill tree, giving FL4K and their Pet plenty of ways to outlive their prey.
Check out the FL4K character page if you’d like to tinker with their skill trees, then share your favorite build for the robotic Beastmaster.
Remember, just because you choose a particular Action Skill it doesn’t mean that you’re locked into that skill tree; you’re free to mix and match to see what powerful combinations you can come up with. Be sure to check out the other Vault Hunters you can play as in Borderlands 3: Zane the Operative, Moze the Gunner, and Amara the Siren.
Next up is Moze the Gunner, with her impressive Iron bear mech action skill:
Moze Ways to Play (source)
Moze the Gunner always has backup in Borderlands 3 thanks to Iron Bear, her 15-ton bipedal mech that packs some heavy-duty firepower. This former Vladof soldier turned Vault Hunter offers a unique take on character builds: the multiple Action Skills that are part of Moze’s Shield of Retribution, Demolition Woman, and Bottomless Mags skill trees are actually weapons mounted onto each of Iron Bear’s arms, so you can mix and match Iron Bear’s loadout across multiple skill trees or even equip two of the same weapon if you’re all about symmetry. Here’s a breakdown of what Moze and Iron Bear are capable of when these inseparable BFFs spend their precious skill points.
Shield of Retribution
Action Skill: Railgun
Action Skill (Tier 2): Bear Fist
Make Moze and Iron Bear all but unbreakable with the Shield of Retribution skill tree. The Railgun is a great Action Skill weapon for sharpshooters, as Iron Bear fires off electrified, high-velocity projectiles that can easily vaporize your target if your aim is true. By investing a few skill points in Shield of Retribution, you can also access the Bear Fist Action Skill that lets Iron Bear pummel enemies into a pulp at close range.
Moze and Iron Bear already make a great pair, but you can be even more of a team player with some Shield of Retribution skills, like sacrificing some health to give you and your allies incendiary damage whenever you reload. You can also buff your shield’s capabilities by improving maximum capacity, recharge rate, and more. Here are some other helpful skills:
Full Can of Whoop-*filtered* causes Moze and her allies to immediately begin recharging their shields at an increased rate whenever Moze jumps into Iron Bear.
Force Feedback adds serious staying power to your shield: Moze’s shields will immediately begin recharging any time she scores a critical kill. If you’re an ace at nailing headshots, you’ll be that much tougher to take down.
Phalanx Doctrine is a passive ability that grants multiple stacks of a buff by the same name every time you kill an enemy. For every stack, Moze’s maximum shield and gun damage are increased—and the kicker is that there’s no stack limit, though each stack only lasts a limited time. Killing large groups of weak enemies simultaneously will make you ridiculously powerful if you can set it up properly.
Action Skill Augments along the Shield of Retribution skill tree include improvements like making your Railgun shots chain out extra shock damage to nearby enemies and causing the Bear Fist to launch forward and yank enemies over to you. As if Moze and Iron Bear weren’t tough enough already, the Shield of Retribution skill tree will turn you into a true walking tank.
Action Skill: V-35 Grenade Launcher
Action Skill (Tier 2): Vanquisher Rocket Pod
You’ll have a blast again and again with the Demolition Woman skill tree. Your starting Action Skill attachment for Iron Bear is the V-35 Grenade Launcher, which fires off a steady stream of grenades that aren’t affected by Moze’s equipped grenade mod. Your enemies will have a hell of a time trying to stay clear of all the splash damage; more likely, they’ll be blown up into a chunky mixture of blood and guts.
Whether you’re firing off grenades with Iron Bear or throwing them by hand, the Demolition Woman skill tree helps you get the most destructive force possible packed into every explosion. You’ll find helpful passive skills that do things like give Moze’s grenades a chance to score a critical hit, or increase her grenade carrying capacity. Other Demolition Woman skills include:
Torgue Cross-Promotion gives all splash damage that Moze deals a chance to double in size. It’s a known fact that explosions are better when they’re bigger.
Auto Bear lets Iron Bear fight on your behalf; once Moze jump outs, it will remain deployed in place for a short time. While it’s active, Iron Bear will attack nearby enemies, then charge at an enemy and self-destruct when its duration ends. That’s a true friend right there.
Short Fuse lets your guns join the explosion party: whenever Moze deals gun damage, there’s a chance to trigger a secondary explosion centered on your target. Pair this ability with a high-rate-of-fire weapon to create some serious fireworks.
Alternate Demolition Woman Action Skill weapons for the Iron Bear include the Vanquisher Rocket Pod that can rapid-fire rocket volleys, along with Action Skill Augments that make those rockets lock-on and more. If your idea of a good time involves copious explosions and scads of shrapnel, the Demolition Woman skill tree should satisfy your appetite for fiery destruction.
Action Skill: Minigun
Action Skill (Tier 2): Salamander
Guns don’t do much without ammo, but yours will rarely run dry with the Bottomless Mags skill tree. Give Iron Bear that classic mech aesthetic with the Minigun Action Skill weapon that spews out a steady stream of hot lead. The Bottomless Mags skill tree is also where you’ll find the Salamander Action Skill weapon, a humongous flamethrower that can fry nearby enemies to a crisp.
You’ll find a good number of straightforward passive skills in the Bottomless Mags skill tree, like increases to Moze’s magazine size and more incendiary damage for both Moze and Iron Bear. But there are also some nifty skills that you can plan your entire build around, focusing on the boosts provided by skills like:
Matched Set is an awesome reward for brand loyalty, giving Moze’s currently equipped weapon a stacking bonus to magazine size and decreased heat per shot for every piece of equipped gear that has a matching manufacturer.
Specialist Bear encourages you to equip two of the same Action Skill weapon on Iron Bear, increasing their damage by a flat amount. Nothing wrong with a little uniformity, right?
Forge is every gunner’s dream, and it’s beautiful in its simplicity: Moze constantly regenerates ammo for her currently equipped weapon. When paired with the unlimited magazine of a COV gun and a bit of prudent shooting, Moze can theoretically fire off rounds until the end of time.
You can improve your Minigun with Action Skill Augments that let you do things like deal increased damage as your gun heats up or fire explosive rounds. The Salamander has some equally fun Action Skill Augments, like dealing corrosive damage by dousing enemies in acid instead of flames. Anyone who loves hoarding ammo and firing off rounds in equal measure will appreciate the bullet bounty inherent to the Bottomless Mags skill tree.
Check out the Moze character page if you’d like to experiment with her skill tree for yourself; you can also share your build for the dynamic duo of Moze and Iron Bear.
Remember, just because you choose a particular Action Skill it doesn’t mean that you’re locked into that skill tree; you’re free to mix and match to see what powerful combinations you can come up with. Be sure to check out the other Vault Hunters you can play as in Borderlands 3: Zane the Operative, Amara the Siren, and FL4K the Beastmaster.
Then we’re on to Amara the Siren, with several varieties of action skill, from old favorite phaselock to some more punchy melee options:
Amara Ways to Play (source)
Amara the Siren is a well-renowned hero to the people, but Borderlands 3 is her chance to shine as a badass Vault Hunter. Using her supernatural Siren abilities, Amara pulverizes her enemies with astral projections, pounding them into a bloody pulp with fists formed from pure energy. We’re taking a top-level look at Amara’s three distinct skill trees—Fist of the Elements, Mystical Assault, and Brawl—to help you decide which build best suits your preferred playstyle. But no matter which way you go, Amara will absolutely bring the beatdowns.
Fist of the Elements
Action Skill: Phasegrasp
Make Amara a maven of elemental damage with the Fist of the Elements skill tree. Using the Phasegrasp Action Skill you can lock an unfortunate enemy in place, crushing them in the grip of a giant astral fist. While they’re helplessly squirming to break free, you have the perfect opportunity to fill them full of lead, lasers, electricity, or whatever method you favor for ending their miserable life.
You’ll find plenty of ways to amplify your elemental damage output as you progress through the Fist of the Elements skill tree, from flat bonuses like increased magazine size with elemental weapons, to impressive passive abilities like ricocheting bullets. Here are some other elements-focused skills:
Wildfire adds a percentage chance that Status Effects applied to an enemy can spread to other enemies. With a little luck, you’ll cause a chain reaction that sets entire groups of baddies ablaze.
Catharsis makes it so that any time you trigger an elemental effect on an enemy, they’ll explode on death, dealing Amara’s element damage and any other element currently inflicted upon them to enemies in the blast radius.
Conflux gives you a chance to randomly electrocute, ignite, or melt an enemy any time you apply a status effect to them. Whatever the outcome, they’re going to die a very painful death.
Within the Fist of the Elements skill tree, you can access souped-up Action Skills that amplify Phasegrasp, like summoning an additional arm that smashes anything near a grasped enemy. If regular ammo isn’t lethal enough for you, harness the destructive forces of nature with the Fist of the Elements skill tree.
Action Skill: Phasecast
Relentless, sustained attacks are a hallmark of the Mystical Assault skill tree. Kick off your skirmishes with a Phasecast, an astral projection that bombards everything in its path with a flurry of fists. Then tear your way through the softened-up enemies to score stacks of Rush, a bonus provided by starter skills in the Mystical Assault skill tree that activate buffs whenever you consume stacks by using an Action Skill.
As you invest more points into Mystical Assault, you’ll unlock even more bonuses that trigger every time you use your Action Skill. Check out these other powerful Mystical Assault skills that reward you for using your Action Skill early and often:
Transcend grants increased accuracy and critical hit bonus after activating an Action Skill.
Laid Bare makes enemies take increased damage from all sources after they get hit by your Action Skill—perfect for melting a boss’ health bar.
Avatar lets you activate your Action Skill while it’s still cooling down once per cooldown, effectively doubling your Action Skill output. It also increases your max Rush stacks, so you can trigger even bigger payoffs every time you cash in your accrued Rush with an Action Skill.
Additional Action Skills available further down the Mystical Assault skill tree improve the astral projection of Phasecast, like increasing its damage for every enemy it hits or exploding on contact. Building up Rush stacks then reaping the benefits by using your Action Skill is the name of the game with the Mystical Assault skill tree.
Action Skill: Phaseslam
Take the title of Pandora’s prize pugilist with the Brawl skill tree. It’s a great option for melee specialists who love wading into the middle of a fight and punching everything in sight, which is the perfect opportunity to drop a well-timed Phaseslam that knocks nearby enemies into the air with an earthshaking ground slam. If anyone’s somehow still standing after you came in like a wrecking ball, you can put them out of their misery with a few bullets.
Early on in the Brawl skill tree, you’ll find passive abilities that up your survivability, so you can tank a few hits as you close the distance for some hand-to-face melee. Beyond skills that increase your maximum health and give you some damage resistance, you’ll find skills like:
Find Your Center ups your melee damage, with the added bonus of granting increased melee range after you use an Action Skill.
Guardian Angel makes you even tougher to take down: when you enter the Fight For Your Life downed state, you’ll immediately gain a Second Wind that restores health and creates an elemental nova that knocks back nearby enemies. It’s incredibly powerful but balanced by a lengthy cooldown.
Blitz puts the force of Amara’s Siren abilities into a powerful strike, delivering an amped-up melee attack that dashes a short distance and deals elemental melee damage. Best of all, Blitz’s cooldown instantly resets if you kill an enemy with it, so you can combo them together when slugging your way through large groups.
You’ll find some alternate Action Skills along the Brawl skill tree, like the ability to fire an elemental beam from the air before slamming down on your laser-fried foes. If you fancy yourself a melee fanatic, the Brawl skill tree will help you barrel your way into scuffles and punch your way to victory.
Check out the Amara character page if you’d like to experiment with her skill tree for yourself; you can also share your take on the latest Siren joining the Vault Hunter lineage.
Remember, just because you choose a particular Action Skill it doesn’t mean that you’re locked into that skill tree; you’re free to mix and match to see what powerful combinations you can come up with. Be sure to check out the other Vault Hunters you can play as in Borderlands 3: Zane the Operative, Moze the Gunner, and FL4K the Beastmaster.
And finally it’s Zane the Operative, with his unique ability to actually have two action skills equipped at the cost of his grenade, with several options from his drone to a personal barrier and more:
Zane Ways to Play (source)
Zane the Operative is Borderlands 3’s resident tech expert, with an ingenious gadget at the ready for any life-or-death situation. Zane can equip two Action Skills at once, though choosing to do so will replace his ability to toss grenades. To help you decide if Zane is the right Vault Hunter for you, here’s a brief overview of his three skill trees: Doubled Agent, Hitman, and Under Cover. Will your Zane build be worthy of the Flynt family name?
Action Skill: Digi-Clone
Become a master of misdirection with the Doubled Agent skill tree. Whenever Zane’s Digi-Clone is active and drawing enemies’ fire, he can trade places with it on a short cooldown. By learning skills in the Doubled Agent skill tree, you can amplify your Digi-Clone for some truly tricky setups that’ll leave your target’s head spinning before you blast it into a bloody explosion.
As you progress further into the Doubled Agent skill tree, you’ll find plenty of clever ways to improve your Digi-Clone, along with some bonuses that reward Zane for having two Action Skills active at the same time. Here are just a few of the helpful skills you can unlock:
Quick Breather lets Zane immediately start recharging his shield whenever he swaps places with his Digi-Clone, which provides a huge boost to survivability.
Enhance causes your Digi-Clone to consume up to 3 grenades when you summon it, giving the Digi-Clone amped-up stats for every grenade consumed.
Double Barrel ups your DPS by giving your Digi-Clone a copy of Zane’s current weapon – and swapping places triggers increased gun damage for you and your Digi-Clone.
The Action Skill Augments on the Doubled Agent skill tree give your Digi-Clone even more utility, like giving you the ability to detonate it for an explosion of fire damage or having it soak up some of your damage. With enough points invested into Doubled Agent, your Digi-Clone gets an upgrade from ‘handsome distraction’ to ‘meaningful source of damage’ that’s always got your back.
Action Skill: SNTNL
Embrace the ‘kill or be killed’ mentality with the Hitman skill tree. You get substantial bonuses whenever you kill an enemy, and that includes any enemies who run afoul of your SNTNL—a hovering drone that peppers targets with machine gun fire. Specializing in Hitman skills is a means for stoking your bloodlust: scoring kills makes you stronger, which makes killing easier, and the cycle repeats until nothing but bodies and loot lie in your wake.
Throughout the Hitman skill tree, you’ll find plenty of perks called Kill Skills that activate every time you end an enemy’s life, like faster firing rates or the chance to shoot additional projectiles. You’ll also find some crucial skills such as:
Salvation gives your damage a bit of life steal after you score a kill, so you can shoot your way back to health if your life bar starts dwindling during battle.
Death Follows Close improves the effectiveness and duration of your Kill Skills, letting you tear through large groups of enemies with ease.
Seein’ Red sets off all of Zane’s Kill Skills any time he activates an Action Skill. If you stagger your Action Skills properly, your overall damage output will be through the roof.
The Action Skill Augments on the Hitman skill tree focus on enhancing the SNTNL’s arsenal, including cryo damage upgrades to its weaponry, a radiation beam that weakens enemies while buffing Zane, and the ability to paint targets for a missile barrage. If you live for the thrill of the kill, the Hitman skill tree gives you all the help you need to rack up a ridiculous body count.
Action Skill: Barrier
Keep your entire team safe and buff their damage output with the Under Cover skill tree. The Barrier Action Skill deploys a shield that blocks all enemy fire and gives you and your allies increased gun damage whenever you shoot through it. You can even pick up an active Barrier to turn Zane into a mobile bulwark, though this decreases its size and damage bonuses.
Investing points in the Under Cover skill tree can give your Barrier some clear improvements, like increased maximum shield capacity and decreased recharge rate. Go deeper still, and elemental damage becomes a dominant theme, whether you’re dishing it out more effectively or improving how much you can take. Here’s a sampling of some key Under Cover skills:
Confident Competence buffs Zane’s gun damage and accuracy whenever his shields are active, with better bonuses for stronger shield percentages.
Calm, Cool, Collected rewards Zane for using cryo weapons; any time you freeze an enemy you’ll regenerate shields, health, or Action Skills in that order, depending on what’s currently full.
Distributed Denial is a big one, giving your Barrier the effects of your currently equipped Shield Mod, which also applies to any allies near the Barrier (with reduced bonuses for Zane himself). It’ll feel like everyone’s getting together for a big buff party any time you drop a Barrier.
The Action Skill Augments along the Under Cover skill tree make the Barrier even more effective at saving (or ending) lives, giving it properties like increased movement speed and fire rates for any Vault Hunter who touches it, a dome shape that protects you on all sides, and a Deterrence Field that shocks and staggers any enemy who gets too close. You and your allies will feel unbreakable with the combined powers of the Barrier and the Under Cover skill tree, while your enemies will be frozen from fear and cryo damage before you shatter them into a million pieces.
Check out the Zane character page if you’d like to experiment with his skill tree for yourself; you can even share your build once you’ve crafted your vision of a perfect Zane.
Remember, just because you choose a particular Action Skill it doesn’t mean that you’re locked into that skill tree; you’re free to mix and match to see what powerful combinations you can come up with. Be sure to check out the other Vault Hunters you can play as in Borderlands 3: Moze the Gunner, Amara the Siren, and FL4K the Beastmaster.
And so we now know pretty much everything there is to know about the Vault Hunters, aside from the way they really play, but we don’t have long to wait for that either, as there’s only 25 more days until Borderlands 3 launches!
Which Hunter will you be starting off as?