Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel: Athena Overview

Borderlands Handsome CollectionReturning 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.

Borderlands Athena Splash

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.

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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel – Athena Co-op Build Tips and Tricks

Borderlands PreSequelYesterday, in addition to going over my thoughts on the Vault of Glass raid in Destiny, I also ran through the skill trees for Athena, the Gladiator in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. I gave my thoughts on how you should probably go about playing her from a solo perspective. Today I’ll point out a few of those skills that really benefit co-op play, as well as some tips how to go about playing with a party.

First, playing co-op you’ll probably want to focus on the Phalanx skill tree. In the second tier of skills, you can grab Vanguard, which will grant health regen based on rank, and you gain more regen while using the Apsis. Next up, you should grab United Front, to build up shields for you and your teammates using the Apsis; and in that same tier, grab Clear!, that way you can play medic for teammates that are in Fight For Your Life. Also important to grab would be Stalwart, letting your teammates build up the Apsis; and Prepare for Glory, letting you draw aggro away from your teammates. In general, using the Phalanx tree will also just get your defense buffed up a bit, while also building up your Apsis’ damage output.

Borderlands Athena Splash

Beyond Phalanx, you should probably also work your way through the Ceraunic Storm tree. Elemental damage over time is really great to have, both solo and co-op, letting you deal damage while pulling back to heal up. With multiple people pouring on the elemental damage, it helps clear out bigger fights quickly, and bosses fall really quick as well. To that effect, you’ll want to take the skills that build up Maelstrom stacks quickly, while at the same time grabbing the skills that increase the damage of those elemental damage effects.

Depending on your party make-up, Athena should generally be your medic and healer. Those Phalanx skills help make this role a lot easier to play. Having a Claptrap in the lobby also really helps, since the I Love You Guys skill tree helps tremendously. Beyond that, using the Apsis helps defend the party, soaking up incoming damage to turn right back around to dish back out; and with the boosts from Phalanx it becomes even more effective. Play a little conservative, especially for the mid-game levels, since by then you probably will have Clear! in your skills. With that skill, it’s important that you stay alive to use the Apsis to grant Second Winds to your party.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel – Solo Athena Build Guide

Borderlands PreSequelContinuing our way through the characters in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, today and tomorrow we’re going to look at Athena, the Gladiator. In general, she’s a pretty solid solo character, with a skill that lets her survive some encounters, then dish back out the damage she would have taken. Let’s go through her skill trees, just like we did with Claptrap.

ACTION SKILL: Kinetic Apsis – using your action skill button, you raise your Apsis shield in front of you. Doing so absorbs incoming damage – only from the front though. Once you’ve absorbed a set amount of energy – dependent on your level – you toss the shield out at enemies, dealing the base damage, plus double the stored damage. You can also toss the shield out earlier, at the cost of less damage. The Apsis has a cooldown of 16 seconds.

Borderlands Athena Splash

PHALANX SKILL TREE – in general, the Phalanx skill tree is based around building up the Kinetic Apsis. There are a couple skills in there to help boost co-op play, which I’ll point out.

Invictus: (Tier 1, 5 ranks) Increases the damage of the thrown Apsis by +7% per rank.
Ephodos: (Tier 1, 5 ranks) Increases your movement speed and gun damage by +4%, per rank, while you are holding the Apsis
Vanguard: (Tier 2, 5 ranks) This is the first of those co-op skills – it grants you and nearby friends health regen, based on rank, while you are holding the Apsis. The health regen also increases as the Apsis takes damage.
Hold the Line: (Tier 2, 5 ranks) Boosts the duration of how long you can hold the Apsis before it’s thrown automatically by +1.1 seconds, per rank.
Prismatic Aegis: (Tier 3, 1 rank) Your Apsis will now store elemental damage – every type that hits is stored, and when thrown, all types stored are dished out.
United Front: (Tier 4, 5 ranks) This is another one with co-op value. Increases your shield capacity by +4%, per rank. 5% of damage dealt to the Apsis, per rank, is converted into shields, both for you and your teammates.
Clear!: (Tier 4, 1 rank) This is another co-op skill, throwing the Apsis grants Second Winds to teammates within range. It also increases all damage by +40% while you’re in Fight For Your Life.
Stalwart: (Tier 4, 5 ranks) Another co-op skill – using this, your teammates can shoot your Apsis, which will absorb +20% damage, per rank. It also increases your max health by +5% per rank.
Return Fire: (Tier 5, 5 ranks) Your Apsis gains a +10% chance to reflect bullets and lasers, in addition to absorbing the damage.
Prepare for Glory: (Tier 5, 5 ranks) When you activate the Apsis, you draw aggro from nearby enemies. Every enemy that damages your Apsis grants you a stack of Prepare for Glory, each one grants +2% gun damage. The stacks last a little bit after the Apsis is thrown.
Wrath of the Goddess: (Tier 6, 1 rank) When you throw the Apsis, it ricochets to nearby enemies, up to four times. Each bounce does 33% less damage then the last hit.

XIPHOS SKILL TREE – the Xiphos tree is built more around melee damage and abilities than anything else, including bonuses based around getting enemies to bleed from melee attacks.

Gun Kata: (Tier 1, 5 ranks) Increases your gun damage by +3% per rank – after shooting an enemy, your melee damage is increased for a short time by +10%, per rank.
Clarity of Purpose: (Tier 1, 5 ranks) This is a straight up buff – +3% max health and +5% melee damage, per rank.
Mercurial: (Tier 2, 5 ranks) Killing an enemy increases you movement speed by +4% per rank, and also [5%, 9%, 13%, 17%, 20%] increased damage resistance, per rank, for a few seconds.
Omega-Senshu: (Tier 2, 5 ranks) Increases all damage dealt by +7% per rank to enemies with under 50% health.
Rend: (Tier 3, 1 rank) Your melee attacks cause enemies to bleed, which amounts to non-elemental damage over time, for 12 seconds. The damage is increased by up to +100% against higher-health enemies, and benefits from melee damage bonuses.
Bloodlust: (Tier 4, 5 ranks) For each enemy that is bleeding, you regen .8% max health, per second, per rank.
Epicenter: (Tier 4, 5 ranks) Causes your butt-slam attacks to generate a Singularity effect, pulling enemies towards you, and also dealing some minor damage.
Tear: (Tier 4, 5 ranks) Increases gun damage by +7% per rank against bleeding targets.
You’ve Got Red on You: (Tier 5, 5 ranks) When an enemy dies from your melee attacks, or bleeding, it explodes, dealing damage to nearby enemies, with the radius determined by rank.
Fury of the Arena: (Tier 5, 5 ranks) For each bleeding enemy, you gain +2% firerate and reload speed per rank.
Blood Rush: (Tier 6, 1 rank) You gain a dash melee attack. The dash attack deals +40% damage – but also has a 10 second cooldown. However, if the attack kills an enemy or causes it to bleed, the cooldown is reset.

Athena

CERAUNIC STORM SKILL TREE – It’s a skill tree that’s built around elemental damage, including a stack mechanic in Maelstrom.

Storm Weaving: (Tier 1, 4 ranks) Swapping weapons increases your elemental effect chance by +25% and firerate by +7.5%, per rank, for 9 seconds.
Maelstrom: (Tier 1, 1 rank) Dealing Incendiary or Shock damage grants you a Maelstrom stack. All elemental damage is increased by .2% per stack. Stacks decay slowly over time, and decay quicker the more stacks you have.
Gathering Tempest: (Tier 2, 5 ranks) Increases your magazine size by +8% and reload speed by +5% per rank.
Conduit: (Tier 2, 5 ranks) While you have at least on Shock status active on an enemy, you regen .02% of your shields, per second, per rank for each stack of Maelstrom you have.
Smite: (Tier 3, 1 rank) When you are airborne, and have at least 10 stacks of Maelstrom, shooting an enemy will Smite them. Smite causes both Incendiary and Shock damage, based on your current Maelstrom stacks in a small area. Smite does have a 12 second cooldown.
Unrelenting: (Tier 3, 5 ranks) When you kill an enemy, your weapon swap speed is increased by .08% and firerate is by +.06% per rank, for each stack of Maelstrom, for a few seconds.
Superconductor: (Tier 4, 5 ranks) Your Apsis has a 10% chance, per rank, to Shock nearby enemies when struck. If this happens, you gain +5 Maelstrom stacks per level.
Zeus’ Rage: (Tier 4, 1 rank) Throwing the Apsis creates a Fire and Lightning storm at the hit location, for a few seconds, dealing damage in an area that increases the more damage your Apsis has absorbed.
Elemental Barrage: (Tier 4, 5 ranks) While Storm Weaving is active, your weapons have a 6% chance, per rank, not to consume ammo, plus an additional .02% chance, per rank per Maelstrom stack.
Overload: (Tier 5, 5 ranks) Whenever you kill an enemy that is either Shocked or Burning, there is a 9% chance, per rank, that the status effect will spread to nearby enemies. If this happens, you gain +4 Maelstrom stacks, per rank, and double if the enemy had both effects.
Flash Freeze: (Tier 5, 5 ranks) When you freeze an enemy, you gain Flash Freeze for 1 second, per rank, during which you can’t gain, nor lose, Maelstrom stacks.
Hades’ Shackles: (Tier 6, 1 rank) Performing a butt-slam attack links you to nearby enemies with a Shock Tether, which electrocutes them for 3 seconds. You gain +20 Maelstrom stacks for each enemy you tether. After those 3 seconds, or if an enemy dies, each target releases an Incendiary Nova. If you lose line of sight with an enemy, the tether is broken prematurely.

In general, Athena has a lot of skills that build up her gun damage, as well as damage over time, either with bleeding damage or elemental damage. From a solo perspective, being able to deal damage over time is awesome, since it can give you a break to get back shields or heal up. Her action skill is a real strong option for fighting bosses and badasses, absorbing their attacks, then dealing it back even stronger. I would say that as a solo player, you’re probably actually better off with the Ceraunic Storm or Xiphos skill trees. Since there are skills in the Phalanx tree with pretty clear co-op focus, those skill points could be better spent in the other trees.