Zane the Operative
Borderlands 3 has become more and more popular, offering players a choice of characters to try out. One particularly intriguing character is Zane the Operative: an arrogant Vault Hunter with strange yet powerful abilities that make him fun to use.
Zane is a master of many trades, using his various gadgets to cause havoc in battle and turn difficult situations around. Zane’s Kill Skills effectively buffs almost every stat imaginable, such as Fire Rate, Damage, and Movement Speed. While not quite as flashy or dynamic as Amara, Moze, or FL4K, Zane remains an enjoyable character to play both inside and outside of battle.
There are certain builds that can turn Zane into a more powerful character. In this guide, we are going to discuss the best Zane builds in Borderlands 3 from level 1 to 72 Mayhem 11. These builds will unleash the true power of Zane and turn him into one of the best playable characters in Borderlands 3.
A brief presentation of Zane
Born into Pandora’s notorious Flynt family, Zane is a tech-savvy Operative with years of espionage experience under his belt in Borderlands 3. He’s a semi-retired corporate hitman and brother to Baron Flynt and Captain Flynt from Borderlands.
Zane grew up in a wealthy family that manufactured weapons, but he quickly grew tired of the family business and decided to become an assassin. Zane developed skills as a hitman and eventually worked for Atlas Corporation. While working there, he became romantically involved with Angelica, a fellow operative. However, after she died in a mission, he retired and became a mercenary for hire.
The Operative class have an intriguing playing style that can adapt to different situations and team compositions, making him perfect for solo and coop play. His versatility makes him a strong choice for players who enjoy a mix of offense and defense.
Zane Skill Trees Explained
Under Cover Skill Tree: The Under Cover skill tree includes skills that increase the effectiveness of Zane’s Barrier skill, cryo element, and survivability. It equips Zane with a mobile shield that can protect him, his allies, and any enemies nearby, increasing his Gun Damage. This skill tree mainly focuses on defensive abilities, healing, and shield regeneration.
Under Cover Skill Tree
Adrenaline: This skill increases your Skill Cooldown Rate up to +7%.
Hearty Stock: The Hearty Stock skill allows you to increase shield capacity by +10%.
Ready for Action: This skill increases your shield recharge rate by +6% and recharge delay by +8%.
Brainfreeze: With this skill, when you score a Critical Hit, it slows an enemy until they become Frozen.
Stiff Upper Lip: This skill provides damage resistance against enemies hit.
Rise to the Occasion: It is a passive skill that increases maximum health regeneration per second.
Distributed Denial: With this skill, Barrier gets the effect of your currently equipped shied and also share the effects of the shield with nearby allies.
Really Expensive Jacket: This skill reduces the duration of Elemental Status effects.
Best Served Cold: When you kill an enemy, it creates a nova that deals with Cryo Area Skill Damage.
Futility Belt: It is a killing skill that converts elemental damage to Physical Damage for a short time. It increases your physical damage resistance.
Refreshment: It allows you to attack enemies that are frozen and gain life steal.
Calm, Cool, Collected: With this skill, when you freeze an enemy, it starts your Shield Recharge. If your shield is full, you will get Health Regeneration.
Nerves of Steel: It increases Accuracy and Handling when your shield is full.
Confident Competence: With this skill, when your shield is active, you gain increased Accuracy and Gun Damage.
Hitman Skill Tree: The Hitman skill tree focuses on Zane’s drone action skill. This ability enables him to use a drone that hunts down enemies and uses its machine gun against them. This skill tree also increases Zane’s critical hit chances and gun damage, as well as improves reload and movement speed.
Hitman Skill Tree
Violent Speed: This skill increases Movement Speed for a short time.
Cold Bore: It increases Weapon Swap Speed, and swapping weapons gives Bonus Cryo Damage to your next shot.
Violent Momentum: With this skill, when you move, it increases your Gun Damage.
Cool Hand: This skill increases your Reload Speed, and killing enemies grants you extra stacks.
Drone Delivery: With this skill, you can send an SNTNL drone into battle to drop equipped grenades on enemies.
Salvation: When you kill an enemy, it gives you Gun Damage and Lifesteal for a short time.
Seein’ Red: When you activate Action Skill, it also activates all your Kill Skills. You will also get Kill Skill Bonuses.
Violent Violence: This skill will increase your Fire Rate and Burst-Fire Delay for a short time when you kill an enemy.
Playing Dirty: When you kill an enemy, you get a chance to add one Extra Projectile to your next 5 shots.
Good Misfortune: Killing your enemy extends your Action Skill Duration but with diminishing returns.
Death Follows Close: It increases the Effect and Duration of your Kill Skill Bonuses.
Double Agent: The Double Agent skill tree focuses on Digi-Clone action skill that distracts enemies while dealing damage. It relies heavily on misdirection and using his Digi-Clone to create havoc in battle. Nearly all of the abilities found here allow players to upgrade or utilize their Digi-Clone in some way or another.
Double Agent Skill Tree
Synchronicity: Active Action Skills increase your Gun Damage.
Praemunitus: It increases your and your clone’s Magazine Size.
Borrowed Time: With this skill, each active Action Skill increase Action Skill Duration.
Donnybrook: When you kill an enemy, it increases your clone’s Health Regeneration and Gun Damage for a short time.
Fractal Frags: Killing an enemy gives your clone a chance to throw a copy of the grenade you have.
Duct Tape Mod: With this skill, you become immune to the damage you deal. Also, you get a chance to equip a grenade.
Quick Breather: When you swap places with your clone, it heals them by 50%.
Pocket Full of Grenades: Killing an enemy gives you stacking Grenade Regeneration.
Old-U: This skill helps you to sacrifice your clone and get a full-health Second Wind.
Supersonic Man: Active Action Skills increase your Movement Speed.
Like A Ghost: With this skill, you and your clone can Evade Bullets.
Boom. Enhance.: When you activate Digi-Clone, it consumes 3 grenades and increases your clone’s Gun Damage, Max Health, Fire Rate, Reload Speed, and Digi-Clone Duration.
Trick of the Light: With this skill, you can deal Bonus Cryo Damage to enemies that aren’t targeting you.
Double Barrel: It is a passive skill that grants Zane’s Digi-Clone the same weapon you currently hold.
The Professional: The Professional skill tree grants Zane access to an arm cannon that specializes in critical hits. It focuses on the MNTIS Shoulder Cannon action skill. This skill tree allows Zane to launch his weapon from far away while replenishing shoulder cannon charges whenever he makes a critical hit against an enemy.
The Professional Skill Tree
Man of Focus: This skill gives you Accuracy and Handling when you activate an Action Skill.
Renegade: When you score Critical Hit, it gives you Health Regeneration for a short time.
Déjà Vu: When you kill an enemy with a Critical Hit, you will get a chance to reload 1 ammo.
Headman’s Hand: Killing an enemy grants you Critical Damage for a short time.
Tunnel Vision: When you move, you gain increased Accuracy and Handling.
Commitment: When you kill an enemy, you can stack Gun Damage and Skill Cooldown Rate.
Fugitive: With this skill, you can sprint and shoot at the same time.
Domino Effect: When you score a Critical Hit, it increases your Fire Rate, Burst-Fire Delay and Reload Speed.
The Art of War: With this skill, when you activate an Action Skill or Action Skill Ability, it will give you Gun Damage.
Sheer Will: It increases your Skill Cooldown Rate.
Eraser: It gives you and your clone’s critical hits the power to penetrate enemies and significantly increase their damage.
Our Man Flynt: When you aim, it adds Bonus Damage to your guns.
Zane the Operative Leveling Build Borderlands 3
If you want the most out of Zane the Operative in Borderlands 3, selecting the correct leveling build is key. As one of only two Vault Hunters in the game with two action skills equipped simultaneously, there’s plenty to choose from when it comes to leveling him up.
This build focuses on increasing Zane’s damage output and survivability in combat. By using his drone and playing dirty to increase his damage output, and violent output and violent momentum to increase speed and gun damage, he can take on enemies with ease. It’s not a support or DPS build but rather a hybrid between both so that your team will remain resilient in any fight.
In this build, we are going to start by allocating skill points to the Hitman skill tree. It is Zane’s most important skill tree, and he will mostly empathize with his kill skills. We are going to level up skills like, violent speed, violent momentum, salvation, seein’ red, cold bore, cool hand, violent violence, and playing dirty. Apart from these skills, we are also going to use Action Skills like SNTNL and MNTIS Shoulder Cannon.
We recommend following the leveling guide below to level your Zane and get the best out of him during the early game. Here is how you should level Zane in Borderlands 3.
Level 0: Start leveling up
Level 0 – 2: Select the SNTL and MNTIS Shoulder Cannon action skills.
Level 2 – 7: Invest 5 points in Violent Speed skill.
Level 7 – 12: Invest 5 points in Violent Momentum skill.
Level 12 – 13: Invest 1 point in Salvation skill.
Level 13 – 14: Invest 1 point on the Seein’ Red skill.
Level 14 – 17: Invest 3 points on Cold Bore skill.
Level 17 – 22: Invest 5 points on Cool Hand skill.
Level 22 – 26: Invest 4 points on Violent Violence skills.
Level 26 – 30: Invest 4 points on Playing Dirty skills.
At level 30, your Zane skill tree should look like this:
Best Mid Game builds for Zane the Operative Borderlands 3
Once you get through the early game in Borderlands 3, it is time to play with some cool mid-game Zane builds. Here are the two best mid-game level 50 builds for Operative, i.e., FroZane and Invincible Zane.
Credit to Ki11er Six
The FroZane build for Zane at level 50 is focused on utilizing cryo damage to freeze enemies and deal damage. This build is perfect for Slaughter arenas and works amazingly well for defeating bosses like Graveward, Tyreen, and Troy.
With this build, you can enjoy a lot of control over the battlefield through the use of cryo damage which makes it perfect for solo play. The FroZane build is also great for co-op play, as you can easily freeze enemies to make them easier for your teammates to take down and use your action skill to provide them with extra damage and support.
The FroZane build mainly focuses on action skills like Barrier and SNTL for defense as well as dealing damage. Apart from that, you need to use main skills like Adrenaline, Brainfreeze, Stiff Upper Lip, Raise to the Occasion, Really Expensive Jacket, Futility Belt, Refreshment, and Calm, Cool, Collected from Under Cover tree. You also need to use Violent Speed, Violent Momentum, Drone Delivery, and Seein’ Red skill from Hitman Tree.
Invincible Zane Build
Credit to Ki11er Six
Want to make Zane unstoppable in Borderlands 3? Try this Invincible Zane build. This build focuses on increasing your survivability through shields, health regeneration, and damage resistance. The invincible Zane build is all about staying alive while dealing damage to enemies, which makes it perfect for solo play.
With this build, you can be self-sufficient and rely on your own abilities to take down enemies. While this build is mostly suitable for solo play, you can make it work for co-op play as well. With increased survivability and damage-dealing capabilities, you can also support your teammates in the game.
The Invincible Zane build emphasizes two action skills, i.e., Barrier and SNTL. Apart from that, it focuses on all the Hitman tree skills except Cold Bore and Death Follows Close. Next, you need to use Ready for Action, Brainfreeze, and Distributed Denial skills from the Under Cover skill tree. From the Doubled Agent skill tree, you just need to use Synchronicity and Donnybrook skills.
Best Zane the Operative Builds Level 72 Mayhem 11 BL3
Finally, when you reach level 72 in Borderlands 3, you need to use the best end-game builds for Zane the Operative. Here are the two best level 72 Zane builds for solo and co-op play.
Credit to JoeForLong and Ancient Rune
Clonemaster is a premier level 72 Zane build that focuses on dealing the highest level of damage using the Digi-Clone action skill. This build emphasizes maximizing the effectiveness of your Digi-Clone, which can be a powerful tool for dealing damage and drawing enemy attention.
The Clonemaster Zane can be effective for both solo and co-op play in Borderlands 3. In solo play, this build will help you to draw the attention of the enemies away from you and use your action skills and other kill skills to deal a great amount of damage. It will also allow you to support your teammates in co-op play by maximizing the effectiveness of your Digi-Clone.
In this build, you have to use the Digi-Clone action skill with Which One’s Real and Doppelganger augments along with MNTIS Should Cannon skill with No Way Out augment. These skills will help you to distract as well as debuff enemies for a short period of time while dealing damage. This build is mostly based on skills from Hitman, Doubled Agent, and The Profession skill trees to further boost the action skills. Overall, the Clonemaster Zane builds a great option for solo and co-op players who rely on Digi-Clone for damage.
Best Gears for the Clonemaster Build
Weapon 1: Sandhawk
Weapon 2: Free Radical
Weapon 3: Unkempt Harold
Weapon 4: NoPewPew
Grenade: Mesmer (DLC 6)
Shield: Re-Volter with Ass Break/Fill
Relic: Icebreaker/Snowdrift Victory Rush
MOD: Seeing Dead
Violet Momentum Build
Credit to Ancient Rune and JoeForLong
The Violet Momentum build emphasizes Zane’s speed and mobility, allowing him to move quickly and dodge enemy attacks while dealing great damage. This build is effective for both solo and co-op play. With the right gear and a few tweaks here and there, you can use this build in any situation.
When playing solo, you can make some tweaks in this build to prioritize Zane’s survivability while still taking advantage of his speed and mobility. With this build, you can take advantage of hit-and-run tactics in solo play and use barriers for protection. The Violet Momentum build is perfect for co-op play as you can use speed and mobility to quickly move around the battlefield and support your teammates.
In this build, you have to focus on Zane’s action skills, SNTNL, and MNTIS Should Cannon for increased damage output. You also need to use main skills like, Violent Speed, Violent Momentum, Cool Hand, Drone Delivery, and Salvation to keep your speed up. You have to use the majority of skills from Hitman and The Professional Skill Tree to increase gun damage, accuracy, fire rate, as well as speed, and momentum.
Best Gears for Violet Momentum Build
Weapon 1: Free Radical
Weapon 2: Plasma Coil
Weapon 3: Crit
Weapon 4: Unkempt Harold
Grenade: Its Piss
Shield: Old God