Let’s Talk About Easter Eggs

Shovel KnightYesterday I played a few hours of the new Xbox One version of Shovel Knight – a game that, while I found it late, I really love. I hit the new Battletoads Easter egg that was added in for this version, not only because that’s part of completing everything in the game, but also because I love Battletoads. It’s one of the most well done Easter eggs I’ve seen in recent gaming memory for a couple reasons and that, along with a great Kotaku article today on Destiny players tearing apart the Vault of Glass got me thinking about Easter eggs again.

To me, Easter eggs really fall into a couple categories. First there’s the ones that you find and are more artistic in nature. Usually they’re homages to developers other series they’ve worked on, or are tributes to the development team. The basement room in Saints Row 2 is a quick example, but I think the best example here is the tribute room in Halo: Reach. These Easter eggs are always nice – they’re love letters to the fans that have supported the games. The real nice thing with this style Easter egg is that they are versatile. They can be sprinkled in across the game, with varying degrees of hiding them. Sometimes they’re just in a room off the main path (Saints Row 2), while others take a bit more effort (Halo: Reach).

Shovel Knight Battletoads

The other style Easter egg that I really think of are the ones that are interactive in some way. These can range from small encounters – the Lambent Chicken in Gears of War or the Minecraft creepers in Borderlands 2 – to larger scale ones – the Cow level in Diablo, or the Battletoads boss battle(s) in Shovel Knight. These Easter eggs are my favorites. They also show a lot of appreciation for the fans – especially the ones that are crossovers, acknowledging that fans play multiple games – while keeping the fans engaged and playing. Sometimes these kind of Easter eggs blend together – the Halo: Reach trophy room has some elements of engagement with it. Serious Sam was infamous for the sheer number of secrets – some were purely gameplay mechanics, hearkening back to the DOOM days – but others did have traditional Easter egg elements.

In the end, Easter eggs don’t necessarily have to have any direct impact on the game. The ones that do are that much better – the Cow level in Diablo III gives you more experience per kill. The Minecraft creepers drop rare gear in Borderlands 2. Sometimes developers tie the Easter eggs into the achievements – there are a couple in Borderlands 2 like that. The value in Easter eggs lies with the player. Some gamers will skip them and focus on just playing the game. I love digging into the little extras that developers put their time into. A good Easter egg can help keep me invested in a game, mainly when I’m digging for it. And really at the end of the day, they tend to be fun, and that’s what playing games is all about.

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Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Borderlands 2: Krieg Overview

Borderlands Handsome CollectionRounding out our look at the playable characters in Borderlands 2, today let’s look at the last of the bunch. Krieg was released well after launch, and was only available as paid DLC, prior to the Handsome Collection. As such, I really haven’t put a ton of time into him yet – in my co-op game, my friend is playing him. But as we’ve been doing, let’s take a look at the skills he’s got available to him.

KRIEG – THE PSYCHO
Krieg is probably the closest thing that Borderlands 2 has to a pure melee character. Just like Brick in the first game, Krieg’s action skill puts him into a fury state with extra melee damage, along with a serious health regen. Where it differs is that Krieg pulls out a buzz axe, and can also reduce his cooldown by taking damage. In a game where closing to melee range can yield mixed results, Krieg really excels there. The other nice thing with Buzz Axe Rampage is that you can throw the buzz axe at enemies outside of melee range.

Borderlands Krieg

Krieg’s first skill tree is the BLOODLUST tree. It’s focused around building up stacks of Bloodlust, which you earn by damaging enemies. Almost all the skills in this tree are impacted by how many stacks of Bloodlust you have. Which is fine for longer fights – you’ll get stronger as the fight progresses. But the majority of the fights you’ll get into are over pretty quickly, which might limit the usefulness of some of the boosts you’ll get. There is a nice skill that has nothing to do with Bloodlust – Buzz Axe Bombadier – which adds a stick of dynamite to your axe when you throw it. Also worth mentioning is the capstone skill – Bloodsplosion – which creates elemental novas when you kill enemies. More damage is generated the more Bloodlust stacks you have, so this is a nice skill for playthrough 2 and beyond, when the enemies are much tougher.

His second tree – MANIA – is focused more around melee skills and defense. That first tier of skills spells it out pretty well: Empty the Rage builds up your melee damage; Pull the Pin makes you drop a grenade on death, which grants double XP with kills; and Feed the Meat gives you extra health and shield regen. Further on you see skills like Thrill of the Kill, which gives you health back when you deal overkill damage. There’s also a replacement for Fight for your Life in here – Light the Fuse, essentially turning you into a suicide psycho. You can still get revives with kills, but it’s a bit easier thanks to you still having normal movement. The capstone skill here is also pretty cool – Release the Beast; which is triggered by activating Buzz Axe Rampage while you’re in critical health. Doing so turns you into a Badass Psycho Mutant, and gives you massive melee boosts.

Krieg’s final tree – HELLBORN – is the most intriguing tree. It’s focused around elemental effects, but generally fire ones. And in particular, a lot of the bonuses trigger when you are yourself set on fire. As such, it’s a little risky – particularly early game, but can pretty kinda fun to be a pyromanic. Both of the first skills – Burn, Baby, Burn and Fuel the Fire – come with a chance to set yourself on fire, which helps with the later skills. There’s a melee override deeper in the tree, which lets you breathe out a cone of fire. The end of the tree is really good – Elemental Empathy heals you based on the elemental damage you deal. The capstone skill, which only takes effect if you’re on fire, is really nice – Raving Retribution makes homing fireballs come out of you when you are shot and on fire. Those fireballs seek out targets and explode. Extra damage is never a bad thing, especially when it’s not costing you ammo.

Overall, Krieg is an interesting player choice – he’s not as straightforward as the other characters. I really think you should be at least a little experienced with the mechanics in the game before really devoting a save file to him. But that said, he’s a lot of fun – his play style isn’t like any other one in this game. He’s aggressive, tough, and has some pretty entertaining dialogue.

Tomorrow we’ll take a day off of Borderlands and I’ll talk about Mortal Kombat X – I want to spend a day playing before I put anything down. Then Thursday will start the same journey through the characters we just did, only for the playable characters in The Pre-Sequel.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Borderlands 2: Gaige Overview

Borderlands Handsome CollectionAs we enter the second week of looking at the playable characters in Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, today we’ll look at the first DLC character that was ever added to the series – Gaige. Gaige was originally available to people who pre-ordered Borderlands 2, but was later put out as paid DLC. Since The Handsome Collection comes with all available DLC, you’ll have immediate access to her right away, free of extra charge. She’s a little interesting to look at, so let’s dive in.

GAIGE – THE MECHROMANCER
Gaige’s action skill is the Deathtrap – she summons her own personal robot guardian. He deals pretty solid damge, and also hangs around for a lot longer than you might expect. The one downside is that you can’t end it early, meaning he might linger around doing nothing. As far as action skills go, her Deathtrap is pretty close to Mordecai’s Bloodwing – an AI support buddy that can be upgraded through skills. Deathtrap is a bit more in depth, thanks to his actually being active longer. He has his own health bar too, so it is possible for tougher enemies to kill him, but you can also make him tougher through skills.

Borderlands Gaige

In particular, Gaige’s first skill tree – BEST FRIENDS FOREVER – is built more around making Deathtrap even stronger. It’s not 100% based around Deathtrap; there are plenty of skills in here that make Gaige tougher too. For the most part, the early portion of the tree is more built around Gaige, while the second half has more Deathtrap skills. There’s Buck Up, Potent as a Pony, Upshot Robot, Explosive Clap, Made of Sterner Stuff, 20% Cooler and the capstone skill Sharing is Caring – each one improves Deathtrap in some way. The really important ones I think are Upshot Robot, which makes every kill you or Deathtrap get extend his duration, as well as increase his melee damage; Explosive Clap, which gives him a new explosive attack and Sharing is Caring, which gives Deathtrap a copy of whatever shield you have equipped. There are some skills in this tree with some co-op use, but in general, this is a tree that’s much more about making you stronger.

Her second tree – LITTLE BIG TROUBLE – is pretty much all about elemental damage. It’s focused mainly around electric damage – you can see that right with the first two skills: More Pep and Myelin. There are skills in here that help out Deathtrap still – The Stare is an early example that gives him a new attack for ranged fighting; and One Two Boom is a later one, that opens up some combo attacks. Going down this tree is a great way to make Gaige deal damage over time, regardless of weapons. Shock Storm makes your critical hit kills deal electrocute damage; which can be further upgraded with Electrical Burn to add in fire damage; Shock and AAAGGGGHHH! makes your reloads cause electrical explosions, meaning you don’t even need to shoot to do DoT. This is a tree that’s great for solo play, because you can get all this status damage going, and then focus keeping alive. The capstone skill plays into that – Make it Sparkle let’s you shoot Deathtrap with elemental weapons, giving him that same element for his melee attacks. Combine that with Shock Storm and you’ll be able to have electric storms all over the battlefield, along with whatever elemental damage you hit him with.

Gaige’s final tree – ORDERED CHAOS – is where things get a little more complicated. The big selling point of the tree is the Anarchy skill, which is a stacking skill. Every kill or full empty of a magazine grants you a stack of Anarchy; those stacks grant you extra damage, but reduce your accuracy – each per stack. If you reload prematurely, you lose your stacks. It can make for some crazy damage output at high levels for sure, should your bullets hit – but the FPS player in me can’t really get behind it. The accuracy loss hurts it, and I’ve been so programmed to reload constantly thanks to shooters that I wouldn’t ever have stacks. Now there are a couple other skills in the tree that don’t directly relate to Anarchy – Robot Rampage, Blood Soaked Shields and Annoyed Android right in the middle of the tree – but in general, the whole skill tree is based around Anarchy and its paired ability Discord. Discord makes reloading prematurely drain your Anarchy while it’s active – and doing so gives you extra accuracy, fire rate and health regen. The problem is that it’s a tier 3 ability, meaning you need to wait a while to get the benefits. The bottom of the skill tree also isn’t super strong – the capstone skill is a melee override skill, which is neat, but the other two are much stronger overall.

In general, Gaige is pretty flexible – she doesn’t have any real weapon specific skills – only ones that relate to her magazine. So you can use whatever weapons you like the most and not worry. She is definitely built for elemental damage – in particular shock damage, even more so if you use the Little Big Trouble tree. Picking Anarchy is a fun way to play – you do dish out damage for sure, but the accuracy loss is hard for me to really recommend going that way – especially if you’re playing her solo. In a co-op game, you can get away with it; but even then, I think the other two trees are stronger all around. Over all, I think Gaige is a fun character to play – her abilities aren’t really like anyone else’s in the game.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Borderlands 2: Zer0 Overview

Borderlands Handsome CollectionRounding the four default playable characters in Borderlands 2, today we’ll take a look at Zer0. He’s the character that I’ve played, by far, the most in the game. He’s similar to Salvador in that his role is bit clearer defined, but still has a bit of wiggle room in how you go about building him. After today’s look at Zer0 we’ll hit the two DLC characters that were added to Borderlands 2 – the first two added in the series – Gaige and Kreig next week; after that, we’ll start looking at the characters in The Pre-Sequel (again).

ZER0 – THE ASSASSIN
Zer0 fits into the sniper role for your party – but he goes beyond just sitting back and sniping. He’s also your stealth character, who can perform surprisingly well in melee. His action skill – Deception – tosses out a decoy, while you go invisible. The longer you stay cloaked – within the duration – the bigger damage boost you’ll receive. The default numbers are a potential 650% boost for melee attacks, while you can get up to 200% gun damage and up to 250 Critical Damage for your guns. That melee boost really comes into play when you take into account his action skill achievement, and the skill Many Must Fall. In a solo game, he can be a little fragile, but still capable of dishing out a ton of damage; in a co-op game, he can really be an integral party member with that damage output.

Borderlands Zero

His first tree, SNIPING, is pretty straightforward. You’ve got a whole tree all about making your sniper rifles even more powerful – and increasing your critical hits along the way. If you plan on playing Zer0 as a sniper in any capacity, you really need to head down this tree, at least a little bit. The first tier of skills will get you extra critical damage, as well as extra zoom and aim steadiness. That helps you out early on, without having to really invest in the tree if you plan on using the other two more. I do like grabbing Bore from this tree – it highlights enemy critical hit locations when you enter Deception, as well as making your shots pierce through enemies. The capstone skill – Critical Ascension – is one of the stack based skills in Borderlands 2. Every critical hit you deal with sniper rifles nets you a stack of this – it stacks up to 999 times, and each stack grants an extra 6% critical hit damage and an extra  5% damage with snipers. For dealing with groups of human enemies, this is a skill that can get you doing crazy damage fast – and the same with boss enemies.

Zer0’s second tree – CUNNING – is based more around making Deception better, and has a bunch of skills in there that help out both melee and ranged combat. The boosts for Deception are a bit deep in the tree, but that’s fine because earlier on in the tree are a bunch of skills that get you extra damage, reload speed, weapon swap speed, extra melee damage and other bonuses for combat. As you reach the skills for Deception – Innervate and Unforeseen – you’ll have a pretty solid base for an all around strong character. The capstone skill for the Cunning tree is a little interesting. It’s a melee augment for Deception – while you’re invisible, you toss out a handful of Kunai knives. Each use has a random elemental effect, and can be used 5 times per use of Deception. It’s nice in that it’s another stealth attack, and one that doesn’t take you out of Deception; and also pairs well with the Deathmark skill in the same tree.

Finally, Zer0 has the BLOODSHED skill tree. This one is more about melee attacks – it’s a good tree to pair with Sniping. The other big thing here is that this tree has the Many Must Fall skill – which you need to get his action skill achievement. Unfortunately, that’s also the capstone skill, so you have to spend some time investing in the tree. On the bright side, there are plenty of nice skills here to make it worthwhile. You’ve got a couple really good kill skills – Grim and Followthrough – that not only get you moving faster after kills, but also shield regen and cooldown reduction. Melee might seem a little counter-intuitive for a sniper character, but this tree will change that. You start off with Killing Blow, which makes your melee attacks even deadlier against weak enemies. By the time you’re looking at Many Must Fall, you’ll have a number of really awesome skills. In my Zer0 build for my primary character, I went down this tree, and secondly down the Sniping tree – and Zer0 as a result turned out to be a killer.

Zer0 is a little pigeonholed with his weapons – he has a number of skills focused around sniping obviously. So as you go about looting Pandora, you really want to keep your eyes peeled for great snipers. Don’t run with just snipers – you’ll burn through ammo really quickly; but it is very important to remember your skills. While there really aren’t any melee “loot” to grab, there are items that you might want to keep an eye out for. Melee shields help out there, as do some of the class mods out there.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Borderlands 2: Salvador Overview

Borderlands Handsome CollectionContinuing our look at the playable classes in both games in the Borderlands: Handsome Collection, today we’ll look at Salvador. We’ve already looked at Axton and Maya, we’ll round out the default characters with Zer0 tomorrow, before hitting the two DLC characters included in the Collection.

SALVADOR – THE GUNZERKER
Salvador is an interesting class to pick. He’s sort of a replacement for Brick from the first game, but a little more flexible since he uses weapons for his action skill. Instead of Bezerking, Salvador GUNzerks – basically Borderlands-speak for dual wielding. He’s a class that on the surface doesn’t have a ton of nuance – but in practice has a bit more going on than it might seem. He does set up very nicely as your team’s primary damage dealer – especially once you get a couple rocket launchers to Gunzerk with.

Borderlands Salvador

His first skill tree is the GUN LUST tree. With this tree you’re looking at skills focused, surprisingly, around guns. A lot of the skills in this tree are buffs, some just straight stat boosts, others rely on you either switching weapons, reloading or getting kills. The really nice skill in this tree that I grab when I play Salvador is Divergent Likeness – it rewards you with extra damage when you Gunzerk with two of the same type of weapon, and extra accuracy if they’re two different types. It really helps you late-game, thanks to extra bonus damage, dual-wielding those rocket launchers is even better. The capstone skill, No Kill Like Overkill is another good one to build towards – again, you get extra damage, but this is based around how much excess damage you do to enemies you kill. In general, it’s a good tree to pick, but I like upgrading Gunzerking more, and that’s easier with the other trees.

In particular, the second tree, RAMPAGE, is focused very much around Gunzerking. There are a couple of skills – Last Longer and Yippee Ki Yay – that extend your Gunzerking duration. That’s great in and of itself, but it is also important for the achievement that relates to Salvador. If you find yourself not particularly liking Gunzerking, I would still recommend hitting those skills to grab the achievement, then respec. Also in the Rampage tree, you’ll find a few skills designed around ammo conservation and generation, keeping you shooting longer. While there aren’t a lot of damage boosts here, I think ultimately you’ll do more with this tree – you have more ammo, ammo that isn’t consumed, extra grenades and more time Gunzerking. I will say that I’m not a huge fan of the capstone skill – Keep Firing… – which gives you more fire rate and reload speed while Gunzerking, but you have to hold down the trigger.

Which brings us to the final skill tree – BRAWN – which I think is a great second tree to use. It’s built around toughening up Salvador, giving him health regen and extra health right off the bat. It’s a tree that looks straightforward – almost every skill has some kind of defensive focus. There are a couple offensive ones – Out of Bubblegum and Just Got Real – both relate more to offense than defense. But in general this is a good tree to complement either of the other two. I prefer going down Rampage first, and then grabbing some of the health ones here in Brawn. That way you get the Gunzerking boosts, as well as the health boosts. I do like the capstone in Brawn the most – it’s a melee override that takes effect during Gunzerking; which gives you a taunt to all enemies – and also healing you instantly, and massive damage resistance.

Salvador is a fun character to play – he’s got some really funny dialogue that triggers while he’s in combat. You might want to write him off as a pure berserk character, but there’s a little bit more going on. Sure, he’s not exactly a medic or support character, but there is a lot more flexibility in how you can go about building him. He does have a couple weapon specific ones that might impact what weapons you look for, but that’s alright thanks to Divergent Likeness. I like having Salvador in a party as often as possible, just because he’s tanky enough to fill that role, and at the same time can dish out serious damage with his Gunzerking.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Borderlands 2: Maya Overview

Borderlands Handsome CollectionToday we continue to look at the playable characters in the Borderlands: Handsome Collection. Yesterday we looked at Axton, the Commando in Borderlands 2. Today, we’ll talk about Maya, the Siren from the same game. She’s a good choice for both solo or co-op play with strong crowd control play.

MAYA – THE SIREN
Maya takes up the Siren mantle from Lilith in this game, and while her ability does sort of relate, but her skill is totally opposite in its intentions. Lilith was more about self-preservation, with health regen and stealth elements to her Phasewalk. Maya on the other hand is more proactive – pulling enemies out of the action, and making them vulnerable to the team with her Phaselock. It’s good for pulling badasses out of the mix when you have a big group, letting you and your team focus them. With her skill trees you can add a bunch of other nice little boosts to it too.

Borderlands Maya

Her first tree, MOTION is your tree to pick for crowd control focused skills, as well as defensive ones. In a way, the first section of the skill tree is focused more around Maya herself – giving her shield and weapon buffs, as well as some nice couple of kill skills. The second half of the tree is more focused on Phaselock – reducing the cooldown, adding in a converge aspect to it, adding in the chance for it to transfer enemies, and ultimately, allowing it to turn your enemies into allies. This is probably the tree that I think is best in a solo setting, as the other trees have nice co-op skills. I think if you are set on using this tree, you’re really looking to hit Converge and Sub-Sequence, along with the skills early on to boost Maya’s combat.

Her second tree, HARMONY, is the co-op tree to go with. It’s built to turn Maya into a facsimile of a medic. You’ll get a couple of skills that make Phaselock just as much as a healing skill as it is a combat skill. Sweet Release, Restoration, Elated, and Res all help Maya heal her team through various methods – with Restoration being the only one that isn’t related to Phaselock. You’ve got a couple other skills in there to help increase your combat – both pure boosts, as well as some that take effect when you have an enemy Phaselocked. The capstone skill, Scorn, is a really nice melee override skill that takes advantage of Borderlands 2‘s Slag element. It does constant damage within an area, so it also adds into Maya’s crowd control focus.

Her final tree, CATACLYSM, is the one that I think is the most fun to look into. It’s based more around elemental damage, which was a big calling card of Lilith in the first game. You’ve got early skills that build your magazine size (Foresight) and increase your elemental effect chance (Flicker) that both help build the foundation for the later skills. Unlike Lilith who was built more around shock damage, Maya’s skills focus more around fire and corrosive damage. You’ve got Immolate, Helios and Backdraft for fire damage; and Cloud Kill for pure corrosive. Add in Blight Phoenix, which is both corrosive and fire damage together after kills; and the capstone skill, Ruin, which adds in slag, corrode and shock damage to Phaselock; and you have a really great elemental class.

The really nice thing about playing as Maya is just how flexible you can be. You aren’t pushed toward any weapon type, so there’s no reason to tailor your loadout around that. The only area that you might want to look at is manufacturer – Maliwan weapons always have elements on them, so Maya builds that focus on the Cataclysm tree might want to keep a few Maliwan weapons on hand. Maya can, at really high levels, be both your healer, and also your elemental specialist – both with a high level of effectiveness. She’s a fantastic addition to any co-op party.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – Borderlands 2: Axton Overview

Borderlands Handsome CollectionWe’ve reached the end of the Battlefield: Hardline content I had planned – at least based round the launch game. I expect to hit the game again when DLC drops, but we have a little ways till then. So continuing the plan from mid-March, over the next couple weeks, I’ll be looking at the 12 playable characters in Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. I’ve written “guides” for each of the base game’s characters in the past – Pre-Sequel here on this very blog, Borderlands 2 was one of my first freelance gigs at G4TV. So going in I wanted to mix up a little how I approached these posts. I don’t want you to think of these as Build Guides or Class Guides – instead I’m going to go higher level – overviews of the skill trees, not skill-by-skill. Weapon types you should look for, grenade mods, class mods, certain skills you should grab – those are more what I’m looking to put into these posts. So with that in mind, we’ll start with Borderlands 2′s Commando Axton.

Borderlands Axton

AXTON – THE DAHL COMMANDO
Veterans of the series will be familiar Axton’s playstyle – he’s Borderlands 2‘s answer to Roland. Their class skills are very similar, just with the upgrades you would expect with the (real) time gap between games. He’s a character that’s designed for crowd control – albeit in a different way than Maya is. Maya is made more for pulling apart crowds with her Phaselock; Axton is great at holding them back and putting damage onto the crowd as a whole with his Sabre Turret. His Sabre Turret has an interesting timetable – it’s active for 20 seconds, but has a 42 second cooldown – meaning that you really should be perhaps a bit more prudent with your usage. In prolonged fights you’ll want to pop it early to make sure you get multiple turrets up during the fight. Depending on your preferences, and what your team needs, you can pick a few good skills to customize just how your turret will behave.

Your first skill tree is the GUERRILLA tree. In general, the Guerrilla tree is full of a good mix of skills that benefit your turret, as well as your character. You’ve got skills like Sentry, Laser Sight, Scorched Earth and Double Up that all make your Sabre Turret much stronger – more damage, more accurate shots, and extra attacks with rockets and a second barrel on the turret. If you like using the turret as a “second gunman” this is the tree for you – you can make the turret deal some nice damage, while also boosting your own stats a bit too – particularly your reload speed and shield recharge stats. If you’re playing alone, this is probably the skill tree to go down. There aren’t any weapon specific skills in this tree, so you don’t need to worry about tailoring your play around them. In fact, the only weapon boosts are blanket gun damage boosts (one after kills and one when your shields are drained), and extra grenade capacity.

Your second tree to look at is the GUNPOWDER tree. If the Guerrilla tree was about making the turret stronger, Gunpowder is all about turning Axton himself into a more deadly warrior. You’ve got skills all over that give you weapon boosts, gun damage, melee damage, fire rate, recoil reduction – you name it, there’s probably a skill to increase that stat. There are a couple that are tied with the turret – Battlefront’s boosts apply when you deploy the turret – and there are a couple skills that only really impact the turret – Longbow Turret and Nuke. This is the tree that you’ll want to go down if you don’t really rely on your action skill – whether solo or co-op. You do have a skill in here – Overload – that’s tied to a weapon type; in this case it’s extra ammo for Assault Rifles, so that should factor into how you look at your weapons.

Axton’s final tree is the SURVIVAL tree. This is your defense tree – you’ve got skills that boost up all sorts of resistances, as well as boosting Fight for Your Life. You get extra health right off the bat, as well as shield capacity. The tree isn’t solely focused on defense/survival – there are a couple skills for your turret in there. In particular, Phalanx Shield, Resourceful, Mag-Lock and Gemini all impact your turret in some way. Phalanx Shield is a good pick for a team game – you help protect your whole party, while not hindering the offensive output. Mag-Lock is nice, but limited, and Gemini is great – two turrets at once, come on – but it is the capstone skill, so it’s a bit of an investment to get to.

Ultimately, Axton is a pretty flexible character. You can focus on either his skill, his combat or his defense – teamwork isn’t particularly present in his trees though, so you might want to be the team’s offensive support. Depending on which tree you pick, you don’t necessarily need to focus on any weapon type – although he does have skills for Assault Rifles and Rocket Launchers. That makes you really flexible – you can use whatever weapons you like. You might be turned off of Axton, just because of the sexy abilities the other characters have, but he’s a surprisingly deep character.