We’ve sunk our teeth into Borderlands 2 for a few weeks now, and while some of us may still be sniping that last bullymong or stabbing that last Midget Psycho, many of us have been craving for something a little different. A new way to play. That’s just what the Mechromancer brings to the table, and while she appears to cater to beginners on the surface, dig a little deeper and you’ll have yourself the most interesting and bizarre characters to hit Borderlands. Gaige the Mechromancer has some wit to her, as well. Her dialogue, and even her costumes will make a few of us giddy. Gaige may come off as a typical punk rocky teenager, but with a little help from her companion Deathtrap, you’ll have a character that will make the Borderlands tremble. She has the most unique ways of play out of the five classes, and they’re so stark that all three could warrant their own guide. Luckily, Borderlands 2 lets you shift your skill points at a minor fee, so you could test all of them out for a few missions to see what whets your appetite for destruction. Let’s take a look at the skill trees available.
Our first skill tree, simply called Best Friends Forever, is very centered on a casual players, who aren’t very immersed with shooters as other classes would be. You can tell based on all the skills that make you essentially fail-proof. “Close Enough” makes it so bullets will ricochet off surfaces, making accuracy a little less vital for survival. Also, the skill tree focuses on Deathtrap’s ability to provide great cover, granting abilities to heal you, also providing extra shields and health. It’s pretty clear that if you’re a first timer in the Borderlands universe, Gaige is the way to go. Higher level abilities like “Sharing is Caring” and “Made Of Sterner Stuff” are definitely catered toward health sponges, and while that is great for some people, others want to go into a fight with some strategy in mind when traversing Borderlands 2.
The next skill tree down the line is Little Big Trouble, which focuses on the elemental side of combat, something greatly enhanced from the previous Borderlands. The whole skill tree is littered with abilities that cause elemental effects and enhance them to the point of insanity. It also props Deathtrap up as more of an assistant than the main combatant, boasting powers like “One Two Boom” and “Make it Sparkle”, the latter of which is one of my favorite abilities in Gaige’s repertoire. Shooting Deathtrap with an elemental weapon gives him that elemental power for his melee attacks, adding that little icing on the cake which could determine if one lives or dies. While there aren’t a lot of standout abilities in this tree, the mere fact that all of the electrical and burn powers start stacking with certain abilities makes the tree that much more appealing. Why just have a bullet when you have a bullet that stuns and depletes enemies health? Put your points into this tree, and you’ll make the Borderlands tremble.
Ordered Chaos is the most intriguing skill tree up Gaige’s arsenal, if not the entirety of Borderlands 2. Crucial to Ordered Chaos is the “Anarchy” ability. Anarchy itself is a little complex. Killing an enemy or emptying your clip grants a “stack” of Anarchy. For every stack you have, your accuracy goes down while your damage goes up. The catch is that if you manually reload your gun, those stacks are gone. But it’s not as trivial as say, ten or twenty stacks. No, with abilities like “Preshrunk Cyberpunk”, your stack capacity goes up to 250. Those are some big damage numbers, if you don’t want to do the math. Better than any rocket launcher I’ve come across. This works best with shotguns, as many of them have very small clips, and use multiple bullets at a time. Also, shotguns aren’t built for accuracy in the first place, and you can have good old Deathtrap as a nice distraction before you unleash hell. With the final tiered ability “With Claws”, you can actually multiply a melee based on how much stack you’ve got stored up, .6% per stack. Doesn’t sound like much, but imagine having hundreds of stacks – you’d put Zer0 and Mordecai out of the melee business.
The best part about the skill trees of Borderlands 2 is that you don’t have to pick just one; you can mix and match to find that perfect combination for your own Gaige. Obviously, it would be a “jack of all trades, master of none” situation if you want to be perfectly even throughout the skill trees, but if you like one skill tree over another, dump your points into that and spread the other points on the remaining two. Here’s my build that’s centered around the Best Friends Forever Tree.
As you can see, Best Friends Forever and Little Big Trouble work well together, especially in comparison to Ordered Chaos. The “Myelin” ability grants you shock resistance and a boosted shield capacity, which definitely helps newer players ease into the game. Adding abilities like “Brainstorm” and “The Stare” are good when you want to be by Deathtrap’s side while still in a safe environment. I neglected to use any of the Ordered Chaos tree because you need to invest a lot of points into it to make it worth your while, especially if you’re in the business of stacks. The Borderlands aren’t kind to newcomers (just ask Claptrap), so if you want to make it out there, you’ll have to conserve your shields and health, and be sure to loot, loot, loot!
Little Big Trouble, as stated before, melds well with Best Friends Forever. The Little Big Trouble branch is all about the elements, yet is also about buffing up Deathtrap, but from the BFF branch, you can use some interesting abilities like “Close Enough” and “Cooking Up Trouble” to make sure you won’t be too vulnerable, and actually mesh well with some of the LBT abilities like “Shock and ARGHHHHHHH”. You’ll be dishing out massive electrical and burn damage, with a nice side of slag, you need to be on the defense if you’re facing down some bigger opponents. “One Two Boom” and “The Stare” are some great abilities in Deathtrap’s arsenal, making him a living nightmare for smaller level runts that litter the Borderlands..
Now we get to Ordered Chaos, my personal favorite skill tree of Gaige’s. Clearly, you put all you can get into most of the Ordered Chaos abilities. “Smaller, Lighter, Faster” increases damage while lowering your magazine size, which is the perfect compliment to the Anarchy ability. Couple that with a shotgun with two blasts (that reduces to one), and you’re maximizing Anarchy’s potential, without a doubt. You definitely should aim for abilities that make Anarchy that much more deadly, like “Typecast Iconoclast” and “Preshrunk Cyberpunk”. My favorite ability in this tree is “With Claws”, which multiplies your melee damage by how much stack you have, as stated earlier. With Deathtrap at the very lesat as an adequate distraction, you should be ripping people apart in no time. Putting some points into Little Big Trouble is recommended, because you have more you can do with Deathtrap at some of the mid-tiered abilities.
No matter which way you slice it, Gaige is a unique spin on the usual faces you play as in the Borderlands games. With Deathtrap at her side, you’ve definitely got a powerhouse on your side when facing down Handsome Jack and his forces. Hopefully, Gearbox will have a couple more tricks up their sleeves with new character possibilities for Borderlands 2, because if they’re half as interesting as Gaige turned out to be, it’ll be well worth the $10 entry fee. Even now I’m wondering what ideas are floating around Gearbox’s collective heads for the next Borderlands, and it’s great that unique ideas are already being churned out for this entry.