On the heels of the leaked Borderlands 3 gameplay footage (opens in new tab) which Gearbox mistakenly released ahead of the game's proper reveal stream, a dataminer by the name of Nickoladze (opens in new tab) dug up a functional preview of Borderlands 3 (opens in new tab)'s ECHOcast Twitch extension. The extension was promoted as a way for Twitch viewers to inspect streamer loadouts and earn loot before the game's even out (opens in new tab), but it's also chock-full of details on the new Vault Hunters.
You can try the preview in your browser here (opens in new tab) (use an incognito window if you run into problems). The default page is a snapshot of Borderlands 3's main inventory screen. It also shows that this version of the app is from March 2019, meaning everything in it is subject to change, especially with Borderlands 3's September 13 release date still four months away. Nevertheless, it's an exciting preview of the game, in no small part because it contains the skill trees of two Vault Hunters: Amara the Siren and Zane the Operative.
To view these skill trees, open the ECHOcast overlay in the top left and click the red gear from the popout menu. You can change between Amara and Zane's profiles by pressing six or seven on your keyboard (I couldn't get this preview to work on mobile). You can also view Moze the Gunner and Fl4k the Beastmaster by pressing eight and nine, but they don't have any equipment or skill tree data in the app.
*Borderlands 3 ability spoilers ahead*
I won't lay out every skill from these skill trees here - largely because, like everything else in this app preview, these skills may not be final. Until we see Borderlands 3 for ourselves, everything in here should be taken with a grain of salt. That said, there are a few interesting elements to pull out. Let's start with…
Amara's skill tree
Borderlands 3 skill trees are split into three branches. Nearest I can tell, these branches follow a similar model as previous Borderlands games: one focuses on defense, one focuses on cooldown reduction, and one focuses on boosts to weapon and ability damage. There's a lot more to it than that, obviously, and every branch contains a variety of skills, but that looks like the general trend.
Anyway, according to this app preview, Amara's branches are: Brawl, Mystical Assault, and Fist of the Elements. Each branch offers a different active skill:
- Phaseslam: "Amara leaps into the air and slams the ground, dealing damage to all nearby enemies and knocking them up."
- Phasecast: "Amara sends forward an Astral Projection of herself, dealing damage to everything in its path."
- Phasegrasp: "Amara summons a giant fist that bursts from the ground and locks the targeted enemy in place for a few seconds. Some enemies are immune to being grasped and instantly take damage instead."
Each branch also features various augments or components for Amara's active abilities. The bottom of her skill tree indicates she can equip one attack component, one effect component, and one elemental component. At first blush it looks like you'll choose between Phaseslam, Phasecast, and Phasegrasp, then modify it to fit your play style. Of course, that's assuming you won't be able to use all three abilities at once, but who knows? There are five skill augments in each branch, so there looks to be plenty of room for customization. Here are a few examples:
- Downfall: allows Amara to shoot an elemental beam below her before following up with a Phaseslam.
- Tandava: enemies hit by Phasecast to explode and damage nearby enemies.
- Eternal Fist: causes Phasegrasp to spread to new targets when a grasped enemy is killed.
Zane's skill tree
Zane's skill tree is built slightly differently than Amara's. Let's start with his branches: Under Cover, Hitman, and Doubled Agent. Here are the active skills available for each:
- Barrier: "Drop a deployable barrier that blocks incoming projectiles. Zane and his allies can shoot through the barrier, dealing increased gun damage. Pressing the action skill button or the grenade button while barrier is active picks up and holds the barrier, but its size and bonuses are decreased."
- SNTNL: "Send into battle an automated SNTNL drone that continually flies through the environment and attacks enemies with its machine guns. Pressing the action skill button or the grenade button while SNTNL is active causes it to attack the enemy under Zane's crosshairs, if any."
- Digi-Clone: "Spawn a Digi-Clone of Zane. This clone stays in place, but distracts and fires at enemies. Pressing the action skill button or the grenade button while the clone is active causes Zane and the clone to swap places."
Zane's augments include:
- Nanites or Some Shite: Zane and nearby allies gain increased health regen, reload speed, and improved shield recharge delay while near the barrier.
- Static Field: SNTNL emits a static field that shocks nearby enemies, draining their shields and replenishing Zane's shield.
- Doppelbanger: adds a cancel button to Zane's Digi-Clone, and causes it to explode when it disappears, dealing fire damage to nearby enemies.
Additionally, where Amara's skill tree features three augment slots, Zane has six: a grenade slot, two Digi-Clone mod slots, an action skill slot, and two SNTNL mod slots. These slots suggest that Zane will be able to use multiple active abilities at the same time, but the specifics are unclear.
Even if these skills do turn out to be placeholders, they're really rad placeholders. This preview also makes the ECHOcast extension look pretty snappy, too. It'll be interesting to see how much of this information is discussed and confirmed during the May 1 Borderlands 3 gameplay reveal stream.
For now, here's a refresher on that lovely Borderlands 3 trailer (opens in new tab).