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Ways to Play: Zane the Operative

Posted: Jul 30 2019

Zane the Operative is Borderlands 3’s resident tech expert, with an ingenious gadget at the ready for any life-or-death situation. Zane can equip two Action Skills at once, though choosing to do so will replace his ability to toss grenades. To help you decide if Zane is the right Vault Hunter for you, here’s a brief overview of his three skill trees: Doubled Agent, Hitman, and Under Cover. Will your Zane build be worthy of the Flynt family name? 

Doubled Agent

Action Skill: Digi-Clone

“Take advantage of Zane's unique ability to equip two Action Skills to help decimate your enemies. With the passive tree Doubled Agent, Zane players gain large bonuses such as Synchronicity's increase to gun damage when both Action Skills are active. And don't fear: just because you can't manually throw a grenade doesn't mean you can't use a grenade! Grab Fractal Frags or Duct Tape Mod and your Action Skills and gun fire will litter the area with explosions!” - Grant Kao, Game Designer

Become a master of misdirection with the Doubled Agent skill tree. Whenever Zane’s Digi-Clone is active and drawing enemies’ fire, he can trade places with it on a short cooldown. By learning skills in the Doubled Agent skill tree, you can amplify your Digi-Clone for some truly tricky setups that’ll leave your target’s head spinning before you blast it into a bloody explosion. 

As you progress further into the Doubled Agent skill tree, you’ll find plenty of clever ways to improve your Digi-Clone, along with some bonuses that reward Zane for having two Action Skills active at the same time. Here are just a few of the helpful skills you can unlock:

  • Quick Breather lets Zane immediately start recharging his shield whenever he swaps places with his Digi-Clone, which provides a huge boost to survivability.
  • Enhance causes your Digi-Clone to consume up to 3 grenades when you summon it, giving the Digi-Clone amped-up stats for every grenade consumed.
  • Double Barrel ups your DPS by giving your Digi-Clone a copy of Zane’s current weapon - and swapping places triggers increased gun damage for you and your Digi-Clone. 

The Action Skill Augments on the Doubled Agent skill tree give your Digi-Clone even more utility, like giving you the ability to detonate it for an explosion of fire damage or having it soak up some of your damage. With enough points invested into Doubled Agent, your Digi-Clone gets an upgrade from ‘handsome distraction’ to ‘meaningful source of damage’ that’s always got your back.

Hitman

Action Skill: SNTNL

Embrace the ‘kill or be killed’ mentality with the Hitman skill tree. You get substantial bonuses whenever you kill an enemy, and that includes any enemies who run afoul of your SNTNL—a hovering drone that peppers targets with machine gun fire. Specializing in Hitman skills is a means for stoking your bloodlust: scoring kills makes you stronger, which makes killing easier, and the cycle repeats until nothing but bodies and loot lie in your wake.

Throughout the Hitman skill tree, you’ll find plenty of perks called Kill Skills that activate every time you end an enemy’s life, like faster firing rates or the chance to shoot additional projectiles. You’ll also find some crucial skills such as:

  • Salvation gives your damage a bit of life steal after you score a kill, so you can shoot your way back to health if your life bar starts dwindling during battle.
  • Death Follows Close improves the effectiveness and duration of your Kill Skills, letting you tear through large groups of enemies with ease.
  • Seein’ Red sets off all of Zane's Kill Skills any time he activates an Action Skill. If you stagger your Action Skills properly, your overall damage output will be through the roof. 

The Action Skill Augments on the Hitman skill tree focus on enhancing the SNTNL’s arsenal, including cryo damage upgrades to its weaponry, a radiation beam that weakens enemies while buffing Zane, and the ability to paint targets for a missile barrage. If you live for the thrill of the kill, the Hitman skill tree gives you all the help you need to rack up a ridiculous body count.

Under Cover

Action Skill: Barrier

Keep your entire team safe and buff their damage output with the Under Cover skill tree. The Barrier Action Skill deploys a shield that blocks all enemy fire and gives you and your allies increased gun damage whenever you shoot through it. You can even pick up an active Barrier to turn Zane into a mobile bulwark, though this decreases its size and damage bonuses.

Investing points in the Under Cover skill tree can give your Barrier some clear improvements, like increased maximum shield capacity and decreased recharge rate. Go deeper still, and elemental damage becomes a dominant theme, whether you’re dishing it out more effectively or improving how much you can take. Here’s a sampling of some key Under Cover skills:

  • Confident Competence buffs Zane’s gun damage and accuracy whenever his shields are active, with better bonuses for stronger shield percentages.
  • Calm, Cool, Collected rewards Zane for using cryo weapons; any time you freeze an enemy you’ll regenerate shields, health, or Action Skills in that order, depending on what’s currently full.
  • Distributed Denial is a big one, giving your Barrier the effects of your currently equipped Shield Mod, which also applies to any allies near the Barrier (with reduced bonuses for Zane himself). It’ll feel like everyone’s getting together for a big buff party any time you drop a Barrier.

The Action Skill Augments along the Under Cover skill tree make the Barrier even more effective at saving (or ending) lives, giving it properties like increased movement speed and fire rates for any Vault Hunter who touches it, a dome shape that protects you on all sides, and a Deterrence Field that shocks and staggers any enemy who gets too close. You and your allies will feel unbreakable with the combined powers of the Barrier and the Under Cover skill tree, while your enemies will be frozen from fear and cryo damage before you shatter them into a million pieces.

Check out the Zane character page if you’d like to experiment with his skill tree for yourself; you can even share your build once you’ve crafted your vision of a perfect Zane.

Remember, just because you choose a particular Action Skill it doesn’t mean that you’re locked into that skill tree; you’re free to mix and match to see what powerful combinations you can come up with. Be sure to check out the other Vault Hunters you can play as in Borderlands 3: Moze the Gunner, Amara the Siren, and FL4K the Beastmaster. 

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