Borderlands 3: What class should you play?

Borderlands 3 is out and that means that you have a whole new batch of Vault Hunters to play as. This time around, skill trees don’t really inform your gun choice as much as they did in the past. While it was clear that Zer0 in Borderlands 2 was a sniper, for example, gun choice matters less than ever before allowing any character to fit any role in Borderlands 3. That might make it a little hard to choose which character to play.

Not to worry. We created this handy guide for you to give you an idea of how each character plays and what their skills are.

FL4K the Beastmaster

Let’s start with the most popular character at time of writing, FL4K. FL4K’s main gimmick is that he comes with a variety of pets. You might think that this would make him a “summoner” type class, similar to the Mechromancer from Borderlands 2.

You’d be wrong.

While, yes, FL4K does come with a summoned unit that does attack the opponent constantly, none of his pets do anywhere near as much damage as Deathtrap did in Borderlands 2. Instead they take a supporting role, aiding FL4K with increased damage output and a few extra buffs. There’s also another advantage to having a pet, they will always sniff out the final remaining enemies in an area. So if you don’t know where that last bandit is hiding, just follow your pet.

FL4K can choose between three pets and three different action commands and he can mix and match as he likes. FL4K’s Skag pet is his highest damage pet. It can only attack at melee range, but it has the highest damage output and it even buffs FL4K’s damage just by being out. It eventually gets upgrades that allow it to suck enemies toward it, making its melee skills more useful.

His Spiderant pet is a more defensive option. It causes him to regenerate health just by being by his side and gives him a variety of buffs to damage reduction as it gets more powerful. It has the lowest damage output of any of his pets.

Finally, his Jabber pet is his only long-range option. It carries two weapons which upgrade as FL4K levels up. It starts with a Pistol and an explosive barrel, upgrades to a shotgun and a melee weapon, and upgrades again to an SMG and rocket launcher. This pet is the only one that can reliably hit flying enemies and some bosses.

FL4K’s three action skills are Gamma Burst, Rakk Attack, and Fade Away. Gamma Burst makes him cause a small explosion which teleports his pet to a location while upgrading it for a small amount of time. Rakk Attack fires out homing Rakks that attack the enemy and has multiple charges. Finally, Fade Away cloaks FL4K letting him get critical hits while shrugging off enemy pursuers.

FL4K has three skill trees, Hunter, Master, and Stalker, but neither of these describe what they do all that well. Hunter, for the most part, buffs FL4K’s critical hits. You’d think this would be good for a sniper style build, but in actuality guns that fire rapidly can score more crits over a shorter period of time, increasing these bonuses quite significantly. There’s even a skill that gives him a random chance to crit for no good reason so headshots don’t even matter. If you want to invest in pure damage output, this is your tree.

Master focuses on buffs to your pet. Once again this seems like you would go down this tree if you are trying for a summoner route, but in practice this tree mostly gives FL4K buffs to damage resistance, healing, and whatever buffs his pet is giving him anyway. Investing in this tree will make you somewhat a tank.

While stalker is set up as his “stealth” tree, it’s really more of a support tree. It has a grab bag of different skills that benefit just about any of his builds. It also has skills that primarily affect his allies in combat, allow his pet to revive him when he is downed, and more. The only real bonuses FL4K gets from this tree are bonuses to his Fade Away skill.

In general, FL4K requires a lot of jumping across trees to make his builds work. If you want to go for a tanky build with the master route, you’ll probably also want some of the health regeneration abilities in stalker. If you want to build a crit monster build using the hunter tree, there are skills in both master and stalker that increase gun damage and crit damage.

The best builds so far seem to include the tank, which makes FL4K focus on health regeneration skills, the crit build, which takes every crit skill from hunter and stalker, the pet build, which buffs your pet as much as possible in the hopes of eventually allowing it to deal as much or more damage as Deathtrap did, and the infinite Rakk’s build, which focuses on reducing action skill cooldown so you can fire off Rakks with reckless abandon and hit things without aiming. If any of these playstyles sound fun to you, then FL4K is your man… robot… thing.

Moze the Gunner

As you might expect from a class called a “gunner” Moze’s skills are all about guns. As I said before, no class in Borderlands 3 really has favored guns, so Moze’s skills are less about what guns you use and more about how you use them.

Moze’s action skill puts her in a mech called the Iron Bear. Yes, you are essentially playing a Titanfall character. She can equip two weapons on the Iron Bear, one bound to each side of your mouse, and each of these weapons can equip one upgrade. She earns these upgrades and new weapons by progressing through her skill trees.

Moze’s trees include Bottomless Mags, Shield of Retribution, and Demolition woman. The Bottomless Mags tree is explicitly for the gunner who likes to hold down the fire button and never let it up. She gets multiple skills that increase her magazine size, regenerate her ammo, and even give her infinite ammo for a short period of time. The rest of her skills increase her gun damage and give her bonuses for shooting and never letting up. By progressing through this tree her mech will gain access to a mini-gun and a flamethrower.

Shield of Retribution is the tree meant for the type of gunner that likes to run right at the enemy while firing. It not only gives you buffs to your shields including capacity and recharge rate, but it also gives you bonuses to your damage when your shield and health are depleted. Going down this tree gives you access to a railgun and melee attack for your Iron Bear.

Finally there is Demolition Woman, which is one of the only trees that actually does inform your gun choice. This tree gives you bonuses to anything that does splash damage. That means grenades, grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and any Torgue weapon. Its final ability gives any bullet Moze fires a chance to cause an explosion, applying these bonuses to any build she wants. As you might expect, this tree gives Moze access to a grenade launcher and rocket launcher for her Iron Bear.

It’s also worth noting that Moze gains abilities that cause her attacks to do extra incendiary damage in nearly every tree.

Once again there are four major builds that have popped up for Moze so far. The first is the infinite ammo build. This is simple, just put nearly everything into Endless Mags and then have… well... endless mags. The second is the reckless build which does much of the same but for the Shield of Retribution tree. It also takes a variety of bonuses to gun damage, critical hit, and the unique ability to fire while running from other class trees. The goal with this build is to just run at the enemy head on, firing at point blank range and dealing a ton of damage as you take damage.

The third is the Splash Damage build. This might be Moze’s highest damage build but it practically requires Torgue or any other explosive gun to work. As you might think, this maxes out the Demolition Woman tree while taking a few first level gun damage buffs in other trees. Finally, there is the incendiary build. This build takes every skill that buffs Iron Bear and every skill that buffs incendiary damage, and then just runs two flamethrowers on the mech and goes to town.

Moze is a very pure character. All she does is focus on guns. If you play Borderlands for the shooting and only the shooting, Moze is probably your character.

Zane the Operative

Zane the Operative is a jack of all trades sort of character. He has three different action skills and unlike other characters, he can equip two of them at once (though equipping a second removes his ability to throw grenades) and can equip two upgrades to each of them. Unlike other characters, Zane’s trees are kind of all over the place, providing a variety of buffs to most of his playstyles. However, his tress do govern what upgrades his action skills get, and so Zane’s builds seem to revolve around what action skills you pick.

Zane’s first action skill is his digi-clone. This puts a holographic decoy on the field the fires at enemies for a short duration. He can also switch places with the clone at any time in order to quickly teleport out of harm’s way. By progressing down the Doubled Agent skill tree, Zane’s clone will eventually be able to explode and even carry a copy of his currently equipped gun. The tree also has a variety of buffs to action skills in general.

Zane’s second action skill is a SNTNL drone, which honestly feels more “summoner” like than any of FL4K’s pets. The drone flies around the battlefield attacking enemies with a high powered machine gun. Progressing down Zane’s Hitman skill tree will allow you to add extra weapons to the drone including cryo bullets, a radiation beam, a guided missile launcher, a shock beam, and a rocket launcher. It will also grant you a variety of kill skills to further buff the damage of Zane and his drone.

Zane’s last action skill creates a barrier that blocks enemy projectiles and buffs any friendly projectiles that fly through it. By progressing through the Under Cover skill tree, Zane will give this barrier many more functions including shocking enemies that go through it, healing himself and allies, and even encasing himself in a protective dome. This tree also has a variety of defensive skills and cryo damage based skills.

As I said before, Zane’s builds are largely based around his action skills, and thus his three main builds are all based on combinations of action skills. If you go clone+drone, you will focus on kill skills as much as possible. This will allow you to have a decent degree of momentum as you tear through enemies. Your clone and drone will both be used as sources of damage in this build and you will practically max the Hitman tree.

If you go clone+barrier, your clone will be used primarily as a distraction rather than a source of damage. You’ll end up going far down the Double Agent tree, but also heavily into the Under Cover tree for health and survivability buffs. Your goal here is to always have both a clone and a barrier out, preventing enemies from hitting you while allowing you to hit them from safely under cover.

If you go drone+barrier, Zane will take on more of a support role. In this build you’ll want to take as many skills that focus on keeping your action skills active as possible. Zane won’t be dealing a whole lot of damage, nor will he be incredibly survivable, but for parties this is amazing as he will always have a source of damage and a source of healing on the field.

Zane is definitely the most open ended character in the game. All of his builds invest in all three trees, can use any gun, shield, and grenade mod, and are generally useful in all scenarios. He is kind of just a “do cool stuff” character. He’s more complex than Moze, in that he does more than just focus on shooting, but it’s actually very hard to screw up a Zane build. As long as you are using his skills and shooting guys, you are doing fine.

Amara the Siren

Amara feels the most like a character from Borderlands 2 or 1. She only gets one action skill and she can augment it with one upgrade and one elemental effect. She won’t be controlling pets, summoning robots, or putting up barriers. She will just be using her Siren abilities, many of which have analogues in Borderlands games of the past.

Her first ability is Phasegrasp. She summons a gigantic energy fist that holds enemies in place. For all intents and purposes, this operates like Maya’s phaselock from Borderlands 2. She can eventually upgrade this ability to deal AOE damage in multiple different ways, pull enemies toward the fist, or to automatically lock nearby enemies if the locked enemy dies.

Her second ability is Phaseslam. This causes Amara to slam the ground hard, damaging enemies in an AOE and throwing them into the air where they float for a while, leaving them helpless. She can upgrade this ability to fire in a line or to come with an additional laser blast as well as unlock some universal upgrades that give her extra explosive novas and confusion effects.

Her final ability is Phasecast which shoots an astral projection of herself forward to deal damage to enemies. She can upgrade this with homing projectiles, explosive damage, and a damage bonus for every enemy caught in the AOE. She also gains universal upgrades that allow her action skill to restore health and which create additional phaselocks when she uses an action skill.

Amara’s three trees are Fist of the Elements, Brawl, and Mythical Assault. Fist of the Elements focuses primarily on elemental damage. She gets a lot of bonuses when she uses elemental weapons including lifesteal, increased magazine size, increased damage, and more.

Brawl gives Amara bonuses to melee damage as well as bonuses that trigger from taking damage. This is the one melee focused tree in the entire game, so if you want to play a melee character, play Amara.

Finally, Mythical Assault empowers Amara’s action skills through a mechanic called Rush, where killing enemies makes the next action skill more powerful. This tree makes her play like something more of a caster.

Also according to Borderlands tradition, Amara’s builds pretty neatly fall in line with her trees. She has a melee build which maxes out the brawl tree, an elemental build which maxes out the elemental tree, and an action skill build which maxes out the mystic tree. Pretty self-explanatory. It’s worth noting that the only build that focuses on gunplay is the elemental build, so if you want to be shooting most of the time you might want to play another class.

There you have it, all four Borderlands 3 classes in a nutshell. Which one will you be playing? Let us know in the comments.