Borderlands Character Strategy

So you’re still debating about picking up Gearbox’s Borderlands, and you’re wondering about how you might play? Below you’ll find a handy-dandy guide to the four main character classes and how, with a little bit of death and dismemberment, you can upgrade your skills to be everything you’ve always wanted to be.

Gearbox gives the player the choice of one of four characters, each with a specific skill tree that they can explore to their heart’s content. Although actual customization of the character is not specifically open – you can alter your character’s basic color palette, and give them a name to your liking, but there’s no armor or clothing options to speak of – you will be able to choose the direction in which you want to level up.

Although there are some skill upgrades that are fairly common to all characters – better shields, more accuracy with weapons, higher weapon damage, etcetera, you’ll find that each character’s specific tree quickly divulges on its own path. The key to these paths is determining how you want to be rewarded for killing everything in sight. Here’s some ideas to get you started.



After earning your first level, you’ll have access to the Hunter’s talent, Bloodwing. Bloodwing is actually a hawk that follows the Hunter around, and when engaged, strikes out at enemies in the area dealing more damage to them. Bloodwing grows in power just as the Hunter does, and will become an invaluable asset when you’re overcome by enemies, particularly during boss fights.

Playing as the Hunter, you’ll be spending a lot of time getting to know sniper rifles. In fact, upon graduation to level two, you’ll be able to tag one skill out of the six available, and of those six, one of them is specific to the sniper rifle: Caliber, which increases damage done with the sniper rifle at 4% for each point you assign to it. In other words, after the maximum of 5 points assigned to that skill, you’ll deal 20% more total damage with a sniper rifle.

As you can see from the skill chart above, each five points you spend within a category gives you two more options to choose from. So if you do things right, by the time you reach the level cap of 50, you can max out two final skills (in this case, the Sniper Trespass skill that earns you a 100% chance of your bullets going straight through an opponent’s shield, and the Rogue Bird of Prey skill, which increases the number of opponents Bloodwing will strike during its attack – the max being 6). When you add all of these skills together, you can see there will be multiple outcomes on how your Hunter character can max out. In the above case, you would deal maximum pain with your weapons – having increased critical strike damage, nullified shields, increased your damaged done and reload speed and boosted your loot count.  Putting time into the Gunslinger category would net you bonuses like a 100% Killer Shot (one-hit kills, if you know what I mean), shortens your Cooldown time (how long it takes before you can use your main skill – Bloodwing), and boosts your health after every kill.


Playing as a Soldier means access to his special talent state, deploying a Scorpio Turret. The turret will come in handy when you’re pinned down or trying to tackle a particularly tough boss (say, Sledge), as it provides not only a nice stream of anti-bad guy munitions, but also a shield to be used as cover.

The Soldier, as seems fit, as a few categories you can spend your points in that range from Infantry, Support or Medic. Unlike the Hunter, whose character is definitely the “lone wolf” type, the Soldier can be upgraded specifically for the purposes of co-op or multiplayer. From healing injured or downed friends (the final Medic skill, Stat, rejuvenates the Soldier and any nearby friends after each kill), to providing backup (the Support final skill, Supply Drop, has the Scorpio Turret deploying weapons and ammo to comrades in the area) or blowing the crap out of everything (the Infantry final skill, Guided Missile, does just as suggested: fires bullets and missiles at nearby enemies, guaranteed to level the playing field).

As the Soldier, then, your best friends in combat are going to be grenades, combat rifles and shotguns. That’s not to say you can’t employ rocketry and sniper rifles into your arsenal – just that there are no specific rewards for that category in your Skill Tree. You’ll find similar upgrades to your ammo count, reload times, cooldown times, and more, however, to keep you one step ahead of the outlaws on Pandora.



The Siren role has been, in my experience, the most popular of the first time Borderlands players, and I can only imagine that’s because she turns invisible in the middle of combat then reappears with a sonic boom behind her enemies. The Siren’s talent is what’s known as Phasewalk – literally shifting the player into another dimension before exploding back into reality. Certain upgrades to her Tree Skill let you lengthen the time you can spend in Phasewalk, increase the damage you do as you begin and exit your walk, and employ elemental attacks – such as shock – to those rifts you make in real space.

The Siren doesn’t favor any specific weapons like the last two classes, however, but is a particular fan of elemental weapons. Along with the other 87 bazillion guns available in Borderlands, you’ll sometimes stumble across an elemental weapon capable of dealing extra damage: whether it’s fire – literally lighting up your foes; shock – which electrifies and stuns the enemy; corrosive  – a lovely case of skin melting; or explosive – think sniper rounds that explode like an M80 on impact. Employ these with a Skill Tree that increases the chance of an element weapon making good on its elemental promise, and you can deal some serious damage.

The Siren also offers up skills like Venom that adds corrosive damage to any melee attack, Inner Glow that lets you regain health points while Phasewalking, and Phoenix that offers up fire damage to nearby enemies after killing one of their buds, and up to a 25% chance that those next few shots after that bad guy dies won’t cost you actual ammo. Siren’s must be Energy Star rated.


The last class of characters you can choose to play is that of the Berserker. Oddly enough, the Berserker talent is just what you thought it would be: going Berserk. Literally, the state lets you take your frustrations out on those nearby by slamming down the trigger buttons to slam your fist into them. As a bonus, you gain health as you do so, and you take less damage.

Berserkers are big fans of big guns, so the rocket launcher and grenade types – pretty much anything that goes ‘boom’ – are your new favorite toys. In fact, you’ll be having so much fun blowing things to smithereens that by earning the Master Blaster skill in the Blaster category, you will not only increase your fire rate on all weapons after each kill, it will also regenerate up to 10 rockets a minute! Similar bonuses find you regenerating health each time you pound someone to death during a Berserk state, to dashing during melee attacks and quick shield regeneration after your shield has been decimated.

So, how are you going play? We hope we’ve helped you plan out how you want to rule the planet of Pandora, or at least given you some insights into by what means you want to do so.

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