It is time for part 2 of my Borderlands 2 in-depth character guides. This week we focus on Zero, the Assassin. With an active ability similar to Lilith’s phasewalk with a lot less power (depending on your perspective on kunais), this character focuses on darting to and fro in battle, concealing himself and throwing enemies off his trail with his decoy before landing immense amounts of damage from the passive boost to gun or melee damage when breaking stealth. In this guide I’ll do the same that I did before concerning Axton. I’ll cover the history of the character, favorite builds, recommended weaponry, and other insightful information pertaining to this character. I will make a side note that Zer0 seems to be one of the most popular online characters for some reason, and many people find themselves lacking in diversity as far as parties are concerned, which intrigues me, as I also started with him. Unfortunately, his ability just didn’t seem to impress me as much as I thought it would, so I converted to playing both Gaige and Axton for a while. I’m also currently working on a Maya, but we’ll see how long that skillset intrigues me. Anyway, on to the guide…
As far as we’re concerned with Zer0’s history, there isn’t really much given concerning his life before Pandora. In the couple of echoes found lying around, we see that he’s essentially a hunter. This character thrives on the challenge of the hunt and catching his prey. When Jack first happens upon him thanks to angel, we get a discussion between Zer0 and what may be a bartender concerning the bounties of Pandora and Zero’s lack of enthusiasm due to the lack of a challenge. The bartend then informs Zer0 about the Vault and sends him along his way. Unfortunately, that’s about as much as we learn about Zer0 from the echoes. I suppose Gearbox kept him in line with his ‘mysterious’ allure. That’s about as much as I could give you guys about Zer0. Feel free to complete this summary in the comments below or alert me to things that I’ve missed.
Okay, finally time for me to move onto something I’m more relatively knowledgeable about concerning the Assassin. There are three ways to go about building this character, all of them incredibly fun in their own way, though I prefer the kunai build over anything else, but we’ll cover that in a second. The three main skill trees for you to focus on revolve around melee attacks, sniper rifles, or fun things to do with deception (with a melee twist). The melee tree allows you to increase your melee damage by ridiculous amounts (especially when hitting enemies from behind), and can extend the duration of Decepti0n on each kill with your sword (or whatever overridden melee attack you have). The sniper tree focuses on getting critical hits and the one-shot, one-kill theory (or two birds with one stone, thanks to B0re). Speccing all the way down the sniper tree allows you to stack a bonus damage buff per critical hit, up to 999 (if i’m not mistaken), making it seem incredibly interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t find much use for it due to the inaccuracy of the weapons I was wielding at the time. The third and final tree focuses on his active ability and fun things to do while its active. Speccing all the way down this tree allows the user to fling sets of 5 kunai 5 times (which all do ridiculous amounts of random elemental damage). This is by far my favorite tree, and the one that seems to have the highest damage per second by my account.
First and foremost, I’ll start with my favorite tree. Zer0’s kunai build allows for lots of versatility in the way you play, ranging from up close and personal combat to sniping enemies from halfway across the map. What really brings this skill set to life is the ability to utilize the kunai. The first major ability you get down this tree is called the death mark. What this does is add a debuff to an enemy that causes them to receive more damage from any source for a few seconds. Where this really comes into play is during the use of kunais, as they all apply the death mark debuff and allow you to essentially gib any unfortunate normal enemies that decided it would be a good idea to block your path. I spec all the way down the kunai tree, grab bore from the sniping tree, then use the rest of my points to max out melee and increased health. This build focuses on being a jack of all trades with the increased melee and gun damage down their respective trees. This isn’t the highest DPS build by far, but it’s kept things relatively interesting. If you don’t want to get bore, you can just spec all the way down the melee tree to pick up the override ability there.
Next up is the melee tree. A know a lot of people that enjoy this tree to no end, so I figured I would include it here despite it not being something I particularly enjoyed. This focuses on dealing ludicrous amounts of melee damage to anything and everything within your reach. Unfortunately this also means that you’ll have to keep yourself closer into the fray than normal. This minor detail is incredibly easy to manage, however, as the rest of his abilities deal with healing during deception and after kills. I believe the reason this tree didn’t appeal to me much was because of the lack of focus pertaining to the game’s copious selection of guns to choose from. However, melee is still a fun way to play the game, so don’t let me sour your opinion and try it out for yourself! There was no point for me to spec anything into the sniping tree, so I decided to take death mark as it’s my favorite skill of the bunch.
Onto the final setup I tried out during my playthroughs as the Assassin. Unfortunately in terms of damage output this build seems to fare the worst in a solo game. By speccing all the way down the sniper tree, I essentially limit myself to only utilizing that type of weapon in order to keep my damage potential at its maximum. While this is interesting during the first playthrough, it just becomes painful to manage during the second go-around. It focuses on dealing critical hits with weaponry and rewarding you justly for it. I chose to spec down into the Cunning tree in order to get the death mark ability, which is just too good for this particular build in terms of damage as you can apply deathmarks before firing. This method is particularly risky, however, as it requires people to be spread out otherwise your Zer0 will get destroyed by the hordes of enemies that populate the game.
Admittedly, the recommended weapons for Zer0 depend solely on which tree you spec into. For the melee build, I recommend anything with a blade attached. The Law/Order gun/shield combo allows for ridiculous fun by keeping your health up while you melee and providing decent damage to boot. If you spec into the sniper tree I would recommend anything that uses the sniper rounds. I’ve had fun using the Longbow and the Pitchfork. Unfortunately the other Dahl snipers don’t really seem to do much for me, but I’ve learned to like the legendary drop. The kunai skill build is versatile in terms of damage, and can essentially use anything you want. Of course, any of these builds can use whatever weapon you want, I’m just giving general guidelines here. Go out, have fun, deceive enemies and tear them to pieces.