Due to a severe lack of close-level friends, I'm stuck playing Borderlands 2 solo.

I've tried a few different builds that I've found scattered around the internets, mostly focusing on one particular tree or another, but still I struggle with some of the content as I am forced to take on (sometimes) large waves of enemies single handed. Sure, I have my turret, but even that only lasts for a few seconds.

So far, I've found my damage output to be severely lacking, while my health and shield regeneration are minimal at best. I would really like to be able to find a nice balance between the two, while ultimately enabling dual-Turret launching, but I'm unsure how I can do this, currently.

How can I effectively build Axton to play solo? Is it possible to have both high-damage and survivability?

  • Just buy a copy of Borderlands 2 and send it to someone! Then you have a friend, and you know they have a copy of BL2! Commented Oct 21, 2012 at 23:47
  • 5
    Clearly what arqade needs is another google doc for everyone's name and console they play on for [borderlands-2] !!
    – Zero
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 2:11
  • I'd play with you if both of my serious characters weren't like 30 levels above you. Figgin' slow people and your not playing BL2 every hour of every day for the last month
    – Zelda
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 15:33
  • @BenBrocka I had a marathon session on Saturday which Steam said was about 710 minutes long...
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 16:25
  • Sidenote, Gaige is pretty sweet for solo play if you have her. You might not want to start all over of course.
    – Zelda
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 18:25

6 Answers 6


Surviving in borderlands isn't as much about builds as it is about tactics, leveling up and gearing up.

For tactics: When you're overwhelmed, it's tempting to take out the bad guys smallest to largest. If you do that, you'll reduce incoming damage the fastest - BUT, you'll deprive yourself of "Fight for your life" opportunites. If you kill an enemy during "Fight for your life", you'll pop up with full shields! This is the main in-combat healing option.

For leveling up: do the side quests (lowest to highest). That bonus xp will push your level higher.

For gearing up: go to the last area you were able to complete. Bonus enemies will appear with extra loot. This is the best way to get a purple or orange weapon. For example, if you're level 10, go back and clear Frostburn canyon (level 8).

Test all the weapons of blue quality and up, regardless of stats. You never know what kind of wacky gun gimmick might help.

  • FrostFire canyon = Frostburn canyon?
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 16:26
  • I do, in fact, target the weaker enemies first. I need to stop that.
    – Niro
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 20:36
  • Though I would argue against the 'main combat healing option'. The most useful thing I've got is a regeneration classmod. Keeps me going, especially as Zero as I can cloak and run and hide like a coward in order to heal :)
    – Alex
    Commented Oct 29, 2012 at 12:14
  • Regen is certainly nice, but that mostly gets you back on your feet after the fight - it's usually too slow to really be helpful in-combat. And second winds will get you shields but not health. I use transfusion grenades for in-combat health (the damage to the opponents never hurts either.) Commented Aug 8, 2013 at 16:15

I also did Axton Solo. I started with the Guerilla tree and generally stregthened the turret and relied on it to kill the enemies before I mop up the balance with my guns, unless it's some kind of boss where I will gun it together. Basically, this will save my ammo since Axton does not have ammo regen. I finally reached my goal of the tier end (Double Up) where there was an extra gun and both shoot slag.

In between, I also invested in Preparation of the Survival tree. This gives some inbuilt heath regen when my shield are fully recharged. I find this useful though I have a health regen mod which will be used in emergencies, because I would usually reserve the mod slot for a sentry mod, to reduce the turret recharge time and add additional bursts.

When I reached Double Up (end of Guerilla tree), I respec and tried experimenting with Gemini (Survival tree end tier) and Nuke (Gunpowder tree end tier). Gemini is pretty weak, in my opinion. When you have a few enemies, they can focus on each of the two turrets separately, and possibly not many of stronger enemies will be killed since the total firepower is not concentrated on one enemy at a time. The Double Up is definitely better since there are two guns shooting one enemy.

Then when I tried Nuke, I've found it the best end tier there is. With Nuke, you can just throw and immediately the fiery blast (like a mega grenade) will take out quite a few of the nearby enemies. Sometimes with this, I can immediately reclaim the turret so that it will recharge sooner for the next use. It's like having and using a mega grenade for free. The turret health is also doubled. Then there is the Longbow Turret skill enroute to Nuke. Like a long range missle, when I am far away, just throw it far away where the enemies are and the blast will take out many of them and then the turret guns will mop up some while I stayed at a safe distance. Also notable in this Gunpowder tree are Impact, Duty Calls, Battlefront and Ranger which add additional damage to my guns. After reaching Nuke, new skills are added to Sentry (to boost turret firepower) and then to Laser Sight (it really helps to reduce misses turret misses). Adding to Preparation in between reaching any tree end tier is a must to regen my health.

My strategy:

Start with Guerilla tree and accumulate enough skills to reach Double Up. Us ethe turret to distract and kill for me and save my ammo. In between, spare some skills for Preparation (and strategically run away to regen health) to reduce dying. Upon reaching Double Up, try Nuke which I find to be more devastating and versatile (long range mega grenade!) Then add new skills to Sentry and then Laser Sight to further boost the firepower of the turret. I am now at Level 40 and into the DLC so that's all the points I have at the moment.

Hope this helps.

  • I don't understand your point. Are you saying that by level 40, you have all 3 tier 6 skills?
    – childe
    Commented Mar 6, 2013 at 11:19

Spend most of your points in survival tree to get Gemini and some in guerilla tree to get scorched earth. The two turrets with rockets are bad ass and will kill many enemies for you....cap off the impact skill then get a class mod to add to it. An extra 5 or 6 points there will increase your damage pretty well and allows you to fight along side your turret instead of hiding


I've been doing a ret / sniper Axton.

Sniper Rifle * once you get them, stick with them * when enemies show up (they do in waves), drop your ret, retreat, and snipe * look for snipers with high accuracy and rate-of-fire of 1.0+ * snipers also have a hidden recoil stat; experiment with each sniper rifle to see how much it "kicks" when you shoot. Your ideal sniper has a decent 1-shot-per-second ROF, good accuracy (96+), and hardly any recoil. This lets you just nail head-shots one after the other * If you have Captain Scarlett add-on, then the Pimpernel sniper you get from a side quest is amazingly effective

Skills * 1pt sabre ret * 1pt Preparation (full shield will regen health constantly, and it's all you really need. Get shields that have lower capacity, but also lower recharge delay and faster recharge speed. You want to be able to duck behind cover while your ret covers you, and that shield boosts to max asap.) * 5pts Sentry (ret shoots more and lasts longer) * 5pts Willing (major boosts to shield recharge rate, which benefits "preparation") * 1pt Scorched Earth (+22 rockets); those rockets do major damage

With this route, you drop your shield and skirmish with your sniper rifle. Don't go charging in. Let your ret lure/tank while you snipe from a distance. In most cases you can clean out an area with your sniper rifle alone. But, when things get hairy, you just drop that ret and let it go to work. Get a class mod that reduces cool down time, and you can practically have the ret up almost all of the time. If you find a class mod that boosts other ret skills (like Sentry), then bonus.

I'm only around level 20, but so far I've felt the game is crazy-easy with this setup. I was going to expand on a few skills in the survival tree (health, preparation, ret cooldown, etc), but when building out your ret you have to pick a tree, b/c your ret can only specialize in 1 of the 3 trees. IE: it can either have slag guns, or it can do a nuke, or you can deploy 2 rets with shields.

I liked using Roland's ret in BL 1, and I'm liking Axton's in BL 2. I like letting my pets do the dirty work, so if you're more of the run-n-gun type this type of build might not make you happy.


Optimizing Axton as a solo player is a tough challenge. Axton is one of the few classes that have no real "escape" when near death, alongside Salvador and Krieg. Other classes have getaway options, such as Zer0's Decepti0n, which allows him to go invisible for a short period of time, Maya's Phaselock, which can be modded to turn enemies against each other, Gaige's Deathclaw, to draw the aggro away from Gaige herself.

This means you want to focus in two areas, keeping yourself alive, and keeping your damage output high (drop things dead faster).

To keep yourself alive, it's good to have skills that grant a boost in shield recharge rate, a decrease in shield delay, and an increase in max hp, and hp regen. Luckily, Axton is blessed to have amazing skills that can keep him in play long enough for solo play.

For starters, Willing, Able, Healthy, Preparation, Forbearance, and Grit


One of the best setup for Axton if you want to play solo is The Rough Rider shield in combination with the Crisis Management skill. As Skillsetup, play 30/12/30, taking almost all the health regenerating or health increasing skills. Don't touch the shield skills. Get the a mod with health reg/health increase and you're ready to roll. My commando is currently sitting on 1.4kk HP, no OP level yet, just leveld him up recently. The only problem you actually have is fire which is able to destroy you pretty fast, you are almost forced to take Forbearance, which is actually good, since it increases your max HP by another 5%.

It's important to focus on the left skilltree first, since you need Crisis Management. The survival tree is the next important one. The Rough Rider shield can be obtained at ~ lvl 30 in Hunters Grotto, so you need the "Hammerlocks Big Hunt"-DLC for it.

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