Deciding which of the many possible Borderlands 3 builds is for you can take as much time as actually unleashing them on sinister streamers, Troy and Tyreen Calypso. Each of your four Vault Hunters—Moze, FL4K, Zane, and Amara—have three separate skill trees with different Action Skills and Augmentations, so you’ve got lots of options to play with.
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That can be a little daunting, especially if you’re itching to get stuck into the cel-shaded blood, guts, and often excrement, of Borderlands 3’s combat. That’s why we’ve agonized over the upgrade paths of each character and put together a list of the best Borderlands 3 builds for each playable character.
Remember, if you want to change your character's skills, you can do so at any time, provided you're not completely broke. For a small fee you can perform a total Borderlands 3 respec at a Quick-Change machine, just like the one Claptrap introduces you do in the tutorial you start right as you hop off the bus.
The following builds have been put together with different situations in mind; they might not all apply to your playstyle. Some help you protect your team in a tough scrap, and others will help you play on your own. We recommend using our builds as a jumping off point, but then experimenting yourself with what seems exciting to you. Now, let’s create some mayhem.
The best Borderlands 3 builds
Pet Power | Good for: Solo play, balanced DPS and self-healing
Action Skill, Pet, and Augments: Gamma Burst, Great Horned Skag, Atomic Aroma,
Key Passives: Who Rescued Who, Frenzy, Lick the Wounds, Turn Tail and Run
As a rule, FL4K’s Rakk Attack action skill sucks and Fade Away isn’t as reliable for getting out of a pickle as a walking nuclear disaster. We’ve yet to find a Borderlands 3 FL4K build that isn’t bettered by Gamma Burst, which doesn’t just summon your pet via a massive explosion, but can revive a downed pet remotely and instantly.
The Great Horned Skag is a good pet for the gun damage bonus, and Atomic Aroma keeps a cloud of radioactive pain around your little buddy at all times. It dissolves crowds. Endurance extends the length of your action skill, aka the cloud of death, the more enemies you kill while it’s active. Easy pick.
Who Rescued Who gifts a little health regen kick to the pet when FL4K damages an enemy and vice versa. Lick the Wounds is a must, gifting your pet the ability to resurrect you. Between Second Winds and faithful pets, dying is difficult. If things get too out of hand, Turn Tail and Run regenerate’s FL4K’s health and gifts damage reduction as long as he’s running around. Let the pet take the lead and get some laps in.
Teacher’s Pet | Good for: Mobility, shooting, teamplay, DPS
Action Skill, Pet, and Augments: Gamma Burst, Spiderant Countess, Atomic Aroma, Emphatic Rage
Key Passives: Who Rescued Who, Frenzy, Grim Harvest, Megavore
This build shifts the focus from a FL4K / Pet symbiosis to giving FL4K the edge for players that like the shooting bits of Borderlands best. Gamma Burst and Atomic Aroma are still the go-to Action Skill and Augment combo, but this build fares much better with teammates, especially without Lick the Wounds to double your res chances. Emphatic Rage juices FL4K’s damage by 20% while the Action Skill is active, so it’s a must for gunners.
The Spiderant Countess is a good pet pick for the health regeneration and damage reduction bonuses, as well as its ability to make a huge corrosive puddle. Who Rescued Who doles out healing between pet and FL4K generously, so we can’t turn it down again. Frenzy incrementally increases FL4K’s damage each time the pet attacks. Grim Harvest juices FL4K’s gun and action skill damage with no strings attached, while Megavore has a chance to award critical damage for shooting enemies anywhere on their darn person. Poor aim be damned.
Godhands | Good for: Crowd control, AoE elemental damage
Action skill and Augments: Ties That Bind, Allure, Soulfire or Shockra
Key Passives: Forceful Expression, Sustainment, Violent Tapestry, Catharsis, Indiscriminate
Action skill Ties That Bind sets the stage for an elemental AoE nightmare, summoning a giant fist that locks down an unlucky enemy and links all nearby enemies, sharing damage between targets. The Allure augment makes sure everyone gets linked too, summoning a singularity that bunches everyone up.
Now we’ll focus on increasing and sharing more elemental damage. Forceful Expression adds bonus elemental damage to Amara’s gun damage, Sustainment converts a portion of all elemental damage into health, and Violent Tapestry increases the chance of landing a status effect the more status effects she’s already landed. Catharsis and Indiscriminate are the capstones, causing all enemies with an elemental status effect to explode on death and spreads status effects via bouncing bullets respectively. A lovely mess, this build.
Melee Master | Good for: DPS, close quarters, fast skill recharge
Action Skill and Augments: Downfall, Revelation, Shocktra or Blight Tiger
Key Passives: Blitz, Guardian Angel, Mindfulness, Illuminated Fist
This build is all about aggressive, close-quarters combat with skills that bolster melee damage and cut down on the action skill recharge timer. As long as you’re in kissing distance of enemies, it’ll keep damage and health buffs ticking for reliable solo play and great team DPS play.
The Downfall Action Skill gives Amara an opportunity for focused damage followed up by an AoE slam attack. It’s a good way to join the fray and get close to your enemies, and the Revelation augment will make it a more memorable introduction by spawning a damaging AoE nova attack with Downfall. The Shocktra or Blight Tiger damage Augments dole out electric or corrosive damage with your big attacks, so swap them out if you know who you’ll be fighting.
The remaining passives are all about increasing melee damage, Action Skill effects, and health regen. Illuminated Fist increases melee damage and imbues melee attacks with the assigned action skill element. Guardian Angel works as an instant revive, accompanied by a nova. Mindfullness stacks as Amara takes damage, increasing her shield regen and movement speed. Blitz is the big one, giving Amara the ability to dash a short distance with every melee attack. Even better: if Blitz melee kills an enemy, the cooldown is instantly reset.
Team Gunner | Good for: High shields and armor, low action skill cooldown
Action Skill and Augments: Railgun, Corrosive Sabot Round, Bear Fist, Close the Distance
Key Passives: Dakka Bear, Stainless Steel Bear, Deadlines
The differences between this tank build and the DPS one below show the wide range of approaches you can take with Moze. This build is all about shields, armor and buffing your teammates against the toughest targets. Yes, we’re looking at you Killavolt.
Whether you’re in the Iron Bear mech or out, you should be distracting your enemies by taking them head on. This build gives you a very healthy shield to do just that; the Thin Red Line passive even takes some of your health away to do it, so keep an eye on your shield level at all times.
But this build really comes into its own when Iron Bear arrives on the scene. When it’s activated, Full Can of Whoop-Ass sees the shield recharge rate of your allies increase. Then it’s all about keeping your cuddly death robot there for as long as possible as you swat enemies away with your Railgun and Bear Fist: Deadlines and Stainless Steel Bear help out with that nicely. Then your team can combine by using Dakka Bear to clamber onto the turret on your mech’s back.
Fire and Fury | Good for: Incendiary, high-crit DPS
Action Skill and Augments: The Salamander, Molten Roar
Key Passives: Stoke the Embers, Specialist Bear, Fire in the Skag Den
This Borderlands 3 build is the kind of loadout for which the phrase ‘kill it with fire’ was made. If any poor sod as much as looks as you funny, they’ll be burned to a crisp. Naturally this build starts with the two Salamander flamethrowers, which deal devastating incendiary pain at close range. Augment that with Molten Roar to increase the AoE of your offensive with three fiery projectiles.
Fire damage is especially useful in the early stages of Borderlands 3: it’s most effective against fleshy foes, and you’ll be fighting plenty of shield-less CoV targets in the beginning. Shielded Maliwan soldiers you fight later on have shields, but their flesh is still vulnerable to fire once that’s been taken down. Use Stoke the Embers and Fire in the Skag Den to increase your fire damage and unleash hell.
With its emphasis on gun and critical hit damage, even armored enemies will struggle against you, especially with the Chemical Warfare augment on the second flamethrower. What’s more, since there are two flamers equipped, Specialist Bear boosts the damage of both, too.
Frosty Tank | Good for: Co-op, high shield recharge rate
Action Skill and Augments: Barrier, Nanites or Some Shite, All-Rounder, Digi-Clone, Schadenfreude, Binary System
Key Passives: Ready For Action, Calm, Cool, Collected, Adrenaline
This is an effective co-op build that protects and buffs allies to rescue them from the stickiest of scrapes. It heavily emphasises shields but, while a high capacity is useful, it’s really the recharge rate and delay that matter. That’s because plenty of other passives—such as Adrenaline, which boosts your Action Skill cooldown—boost Zane proportionate to your shield percentage. So, Ready For Action is an essential perk to pick up early.
Stiff Upper Lip and Futility Belt protect the tech-savvy Operative by improving his resistance to the elemental attacks harming him, and against non-elemental moves, respectively. Zane’s Digi-Clone is a useful way of taking the heat from your team, too, so Borrowed Time is a useful means of keeping it and Barrier in action. Then, when your team is in an especially tough spot, Nanites or Some Shite and All-Rounder let your team recover as they shelter beneath a damage-boosting shield dome.
Agile Killer | Good for: Solo play, fast-moving DPS
Action Skill and Augments: Digi-Clone, Doppelbanger, Digital Distribution, SNTNL, Boomsday, Bad Dose
Key Passives: Old-U, Violent Momentum, Seein’ Red
Agile Killer is for the Zane player who wants to play on their lonesome. Most solo players pick FL4K, but this combination of abilities should see you through even the toughest situations Borderlands 3 can throw at you. That means that you need to focus on gun damage: the likes of Synchronicity and Donnybrook will help you out there.
But a big part of this build is movement speed, which works beautifully when combined with the game’s new mantling and sliding mechanics. They can get you right into an enemy’s face or aid you in getting behind cover so you can recharge your shields and Action Skill. Thankfully, Violent Momentum boosts your gun damage while moving; the Children of the Vault will go down like flies.
That said, since you’re playing solo, it’s worth having some contingencies in place. Old-U to destroy your Digi-Clone when downed to activate Second Wind without killing an enemy. Also, using Doppelbanger to instruct your drone to self-destruct is a great get out of jail free card.