Returning our attention to the plethora of characters available in Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, let’s start looking at the playable characters in The Pre-Sequel. Now, I’ve written about the four default characters here in the past – but this time around, instead of going over each skill individually, I’m going to look at them just like I just did with the previous game’s characters. We’ll quickly look at the action skill, then take a top-level look at each skill tree.
We’ll start today with Athena, the only playable character from this game that appeared first in the original Borderlands. In her initial appearance, she was an NPC in the Secret Armory of General Knoxx DLC. She’s changed a bit now that’s she’s playable though, so let’s dive in.
ATHENA – THE GLADIATOR
Athena is the closest thing to a tank character that this game has, thanks to her action skill. When you activate it, she pulls out her kinetic apsis shield, absorbing damage, then returning it when you toss it back at enemies. If there’s one thing that this game does with the characters, it’s avoiding traditional RPG roles. Sure, there are skills in Athena’s tree to make her more durable, and the other characters to help increase other roles, but there isn’t really any characters that fit into those boxes. Because of that, you’re really a lot more free to go about playing the characters however you feel.
Her first skill tree – PHALANX – is all about building up your kinetic apsis. This is your tank tree right here – there are skills that make the apsis stronger offensively sure, hell the first tier has a skill that increases the damage it deals. But in general the skills here increase your defenses. There are skills that even add in some medic skills – Vanguard gives your whole team health regeneration while the apsis is active. If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel like going down this tree, I really think you should at least until the tier three skill – Prismatic Aegis makes your apsis able to store elemental damage, making it that much more effective. If you do stick with it, the capstone skill is pretty useful too. With Wrath of the Goddess, your apsis will bounce between targets, making it even more useful against groups of enemies.
Her second tree – XIPHOS – is more focused around melee attacks. The big selling point is the tier three skill Rend, which adds the bleed effect to melee attacks. Essentially, bleed is a non-elemental damage over time effect. Once you’ve taken Rend, the further skills add extra effects while you have enemies bleeding. You’ve got health regen (Bloodlust), extra gun damage (Tear), extra firerate and reload speed (Fury of the Arena) and explosions on death (You’ve Got Red on You). Add in the capstone skill, Blood Rush, which lets you do a melee rush dealing extra damage, and you go from being a defensive character, to a melee machine. The problem is that this tree tends to be the most narrow focused, and thus most limited in use.
Which brings us to the final tree – CERAUNIC STORM – which is all about elemental damage. You have to take Maelstrom in order to progress down the tree – which is a stack mechanic based around dealing fire or shock damage. Each stack you have, the more elemental damage you do. Unlike some of the other stack mechanics – like Anarchy – this one doesn’t really have a downside, nor is it particularly complicated. Deal fire and shock damage, get extra elemental damage, boost later skills. There are a couple skills in this tree that tie together – Storm Weaving and Elemental Barrage – for example, so it’s worth being thorough with this tree. There are great skills in here too, Smite, which does extra damage when you attack from air; Zeus’ Rage makes your apsis create a fire and lightning storm; and the capstone skill, Hades’ Shackles, which turns your slam attack into a powerful electric damage-over-time attack.
Athena is a really well balanced character – she functions well in both solo play and co-op play. It’s hard to really go bad with her – each of her skill trees has a lot of great skills in there.