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Action Skills are special character abilities that the player explicitly activates, bound typically to the Action button on a game controller or a particular key on a PC keyboard. Once a player invokes a character's Action Skill, that skill will remain active for a specified duration. After the Action Skill ceases, a cooldown period must elapse before the player can again invoke the Action Skill.
A character first acquires their action skill upon reaching level 5 (level 3 in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel). Only after unlocking that Action Skill will other talents in the character's skill tree become available.
Each class has their own characteristic Action Skill, distinct from every other class's skill.
- Main article: Phasewalk
- Duration: 5.5 seconds (can be increased to 12.7 seconds)
- Cooldown: 36 seconds (can be reduced to 6 seconds)
Lilith's Action Skill is Phasewalk, which allows her to turn invisible and increase her running speed. Upon entering and exiting Phasewalk, Lilith releases a Phase Blast that damages enemies around her. While in Phasewalk, Lilith cannot shoot, jump, or collect loot, and a melee attack will cause her to exit Phasewalk.
Lilith's Phasewalk can be upgraded to have many additional effects: causing elemental damage to enemies around her, altering the Phase Blast to daze enemies, regenerating a portion of her health, and strengthening her exiting melee attack to deal up to an additional 800% damage. The duration and the length of the cooldown of Phasewalk can also be upgraded through the use of skill points. The addition of an Eridian Artifact adds an elemental effect to her Phase Blast when entering and exiting Phasewalk, and is likely to cause elemental damage over time effects.
- Main article: Bloodwing
- Duration: 1 attack (can be increased to 10 attacks)
- Cooldown: 28 seconds (can be reduced to 1 second)
Mordecai's Action Skill is to summon his pet Bloodwing that attacks one enemy, dealing substantial damage, then returns to him. When upgraded, Bloodwing can cause enemies to drop additional money, ammunition and healing items, heal Mordecai for a percentage of damage inflicted, daze enemies, and attack up to six enemies. Pressing the action button when Bloodwing has been sent out will command Bloodwing to return to Mordecai, and the cooldown adjusted accordingly (instant cooldown if Bloodwing did not attack anything before being recalled).
If Bloodwing cannot find an enemy within range, he will return to Mordecai after circling the area in front of him for several seconds. Bloodwing can attack enemies behind cover, and can be used as a scout when moving rapidly through hostile areas. When upgraded to attack multiple enemies, Bloodwing can potentially attack the same enemies more than once if they survive the previous attacks. For example, if there are two enemies in close proximity, and Bloodwing is upgraded to attack five enemies, he will "bounce" back and forth in between the two enemies, attacking one two times and the other three times for a total of five attacks.
- Main article: Scorpio Turret
- Duration: 20 seconds
- Cooldown: 100 seconds (can be reduced to 36 seconds)
Roland's Action Skill is to deploy a Scorpio Turret, which fires at nearby enemies while providing cover with an energy shield. When upgraded, the turret may also fire a guided missile, provide supplies, heal and regenerate ammunition for nearby teammates, and even revive teammates when deployed. As with the Action Skills of all classes, Eridian Artifacts may be applied to the Scorpio Turret to deal elemental damage.
A good strategy for the turret is in using it as a distraction for bosses, to flank them and score critical hits.
- Main article: Berserk
- Duration: 18 seconds (can be increased to 34.2 seconds)
- Cooldown: 60 seconds (can be reduced to 6 seconds)
Brick's Action Skill is to go Berserk, which gives very fast health regeneration and high damage resistance. While Berserk is active, Brick may not fire his weapons; instead he punches his enemies. Berserk can be upgraded in various ways, such as being able to dash forward before punching to close the gap between himself and an enemy, or a chance to spawn cash prizes every time a punch connects with an enemy. The addition of an Eridian Artifact imbues his punches with elemental properties. Notably an explosive Artifact is most often useful, given Brick's numerous enhancements from skills and class mods to that elemental damage type.
While in Berserk, Brick may pick up individual pieces of loot but cannot quick-equip or quick-loot. Berserk can be cancelled at any time by entering the ECHO or SDU menu.
Comparison of Action Skills
Roland's Scorpio Turret is sometimes regarded as the most tactical of the Action Skills, due to its potential uses when deployed appropriately. Most enemies, especially non-human ones, will actually turn their attention on the turret, allowing the player to find better firing angles, recharge shields and health, or even to escape while enemies are busy attacking the turret. The Scorpio Turret's initial cooldown, limited targeting area, and the need to be in close proximity to it to benefit from its radius effects often make it less effective against powerful and fast melee attackers such as skags and psychos.
Mordecai's Bloodwing is an aggressive skill with limited defensive or tactical applications. The Bloodwing will only attack a single opponent for the majority of the game, and it does not always reliably attack if the hunter is under cover or not looking at the enemy. Despite this however, it can operate and attack independently, making it a useful skill against mobile enemies who are tricky to hit with Mordecai's usual precision-targeting combat style. It should be noted that through use of the Swipe skill, a good deal of loot can be gained from most enemies. Also, when Swift Strike and Bird of Prey are fully upgraded, it is possible to take down an entire Rakk swarm without firing a single bullet
Brick's Berserk is a powerful, but often risky skill, because Brick must expose himself to damage to use it. It may also require some degree of running down targets in a firefight . Players are well advised to avoid having Brick leave the berserker state while exposed to attack. Despite this, Berserk's powerful offensive damage and rapid health regeneration make it a very effective skill in many situations. Berserk can be used to prepare for battle by regenerating health as well as used in battle, even as the main damage component instead of a gun.
Lilith's Phasewalk can be utilised for a variety of roles, enhancing both her offensive and defensive capabilities. While in phasewalk Lilith becomes invulnerable and invisible. This can be used to regenerate shields and health while escaping, run to a downed teammate, or to move close to enemies where the shockwave can be used for devastating effect.