Borderlands 2 DLC Character Preview: Krieg – Psycho Bandit

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Love Borderlands 2? Hate the fact the game punishes you for trying to run into battle blindly and just attack everything in sight with reckless abandon? Krieg, the new DLC Psycho Bandit, may be right up your alley.

Last week I was able to get some hands on time with the latest addition to the Borderlands 2 roster, Krieg, and the best way to describe his play style is aggressive. This is not a character you think about tactical assaults with; he’s a powerhouse that rewards skilled players who run in and attack everything in sight without concern for their own safety, and it feels incredibly rewarding if you can pull it off. However, less skilled players should beware his high risk, high reward style of play.

Let’s start by running down his skill trees and abilities.

Action Skill: Buzz Axe Rampage

Krieg’s Action Skill, which you’re encouraged to spend as much time as possible using, is called Buzz Axe Rampage. When active, it puts you into auto sprint, puts away your equipped weapon, and sends you charging at all in your path with your dynamite loaded Buzz Axe. You smash everything that moves, dealing massive damage and storming around the battlefield thinking very little of restraint, defence or tactics. You can throw your axe by mimicking the scope and shoot setup of a regular gun and the whole skill serves to encourage aggressively throwing yourself head first into close quarters combat.

Bloodlust Skill Tree

The focus of the Bloodlust tree is killing and to never stop killing for even a second. Every kill you achieve on this tree gives you a Bloodlust Stack, similar to the Mechromancer’s Anarchy Stacks, which increase the strength of your attacks and your ability to maintain that kill streak, up to a maximum of 100 stacks. If you stop killing for more than a few seconds those stacks will start to fall away, so the tree encourages you to maintain momentum, rushing full speed from one encounter to the next rather than taking time to explore and prepare for fights.

Some of the more notable skills in the tree include Buzz Axe Bombardier, which causes the dynamite on your Buzz Axe to explode when the weapon is thrown and the top tier skill Bloodsplosion, which causes enemies you kill to explode in an elemental blast matching the element they were destroyed with. Each of these explosions has the potential to kill surrounding enemies, which will also explode causing a domino style chain reaction.

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Mania Skill Tree

The Mania tree is all about increasing your strength at the expense of your shields and health. Skills will trade shield for attack power, the lower your health the more powerful you are and you’ll want to be constantly on the brink of death to get the most out of the abilities on offer. From the Feed the Meat skill which delays your shield recharge, to the Fuel the Rampage skill which allows you to take friendly fire damage from your co-op teammates, the skill tree expects you to lower your health by any means necessary, and keep it as low as possible to get the most out of your offensive perks.

Some of the more interesting offensive skills include Light the Fuse, which replaces Fight For Your Life with a variation on the theme where you remain on your feet and sprint around throwing explosives to try and earn your kill, dropping a grenade upon death which could potentially bring you back to life if it kills an enemy. And there’s top tier skill Release The Beast, which allows you to transform into a huge, hulking behemoth if you activate Buzz Axe Rampage with less than 33% health remaining. This instantly refills your health, causes you to deal dramatically increased melee damage and receive huge reduction in the amount of damage you take while the Action skill is active. Oh, and it instantly recharges Buzz Axe Rampage for you to use again right away.

Hellfire Skill Tree

This last skill tree is going to sound a little bit nuts, even compared to the rest of the characters skill trees. Hellfire encourages deliberately setting your character on fire. Being on fire is the key to increasing your attack strength, your reload speed, your resilience to attacks and grants you additional abilities.

The idea of the tree is that any attack has a chance of setting your enemy on fire. If you set an enemy on fire, that may set you on fire. While on fire you can use special abilities like Hellfire Halitosis, which replaces your standard melee with the ability to breath flames, and your top level skill, Raving Retribution, which will summon balls of fire that will automatically track down and attack anyone who damages you.

Final Thoughts

Krieg is not a character for the faint of heart, he requires you to get up close and personal with your enemies, constantly putting yourself in harms way and playing much more aggressively than any other class. Disregard everything but your killing spree and fight tooth and nail to wipe out your enemies. The skill trees all seem to have a good deal of depth to their mechanics and while novice players may struggle not to die, those of you who’ve been playing since launch and are looking to spice up your game will find a truly unique experience playing as a Psycho Bandit.

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