All men are created equal, but all game characters aren't. We're far enough out from the launch of Borderlands 3 that players have been able to level up all four available Vault Hunters and come up with builds to pull out their very best features. But at endgame, one Vault Hunter is seemingly lagging behind: Zane.
Zane is based largely around subterfuge and speed in Borderlands 3. He has a barrier he can deploy to buff himself and allies, a digi-clone that he can switch places with, and a drone that can attack his targets. The latter is Zane's most damaging Action Ability and it's probably the weakest of the pack. Moze can spec into a hefty shield and crowd-destroying grenade improvements, FL4K can hit some of the highest critical hit levels of any character, and Amara can either push her Elemental damage, or build herself around her melee damage and the Phaseslam ability.
He fills the same basic slot as Mordecai from Borderlands or Zer0 from Borderlands 2. The difference is Mordecai and Zer0 had skills that increased their Sniper Rifle damage, with additional flavor coming through Morecai's Bloodwing or Zer0's melee attacks. Zane doesn't really get much of that though. His best bet is focusing on high-speed attacks, or as a support-level character who buffs allies. Zane isn't bad per se—he's actually my main—he's just not as great at Mayhem 2 or 3 as his fellow Vault Hunters.
The general idea has filtered into the community as a whole. A large chunk of the Borderlands 3 subreddit involves memes about Zane and his general performance at endgame. You can also find several players crunching the numbers and pointing out where Zane lags behind.
"Movespeed build is a total gimmick that doesn't work well at all [in my opinion] in end game," wrote Reddit user ChuunibyouImouto. "His issue is he has zero synergy with any of his skill and gear. The others all build towards something and combine all their skills to end up with a really broken build. Zane tries to do 10 things, but does all 10 badly and ends up being bad at 10 things instead of being good at one."
Some note that Zane's high-speed builds are fun, but aren't as useful in Mayhem 3. Many compare Zane to Axton from Borderlands 2, a character that was viable, but not as good as the rest of his counterparts. "Zane is probably [similar to], but stuck in a worse spot than, Axton because while more balanced classes existed in BL2, BL3’s other three classes are so much stronger that it seems Zane is the Axton among three Salvadors or Kriegs. Zane doesn’t suck, but it's pretty hard to deny he is the weakest class," wrote Borderlands 3 forum user Darreltan2004.
Despite his gameplay performance, Zane has a lot of fans that continue to support the character. These fans—who have taken to calling themselves the "Zane gang" today—simply love the character himself. While all four Vault Hunters comment on the events of the story, Zane's jokes are probably the best all around.
"Something I really appreciate about Zane is that he's basically a representation of how people react while playing Borderlands. He's vocal, dramatic, hilarious, has fun and oddly empathetic at times," wrote Reddit user McDazzler.
"Straight up, he's got the most hilarious and memorable voice lines out of all of the vault hunters in the entire series. Sometimes it feels like he's played Borderlands before and is just hyped to be in the third one," wrote Reddit user Angrypinecone.
Borderlands 3 is a game you play alone or with friends though, and while Zane might not touch his counterparts, players are still having fun with him. "His absolute maximum DPS with god tier rolls is like 30% of what FL4K with newbie tier legendaries can put out, it's sad really, but I refuse to play anyone else because of how fun Zane is," said Reddit user Thecutesquirrel.
At the end of the day, Zane is the lovable loser of Borderlands 3. If you're vibing with the tone of the game, Zane is the character who truly fits within the universe. And with further balance changes coming to Borderlands 3 over the next few months, it's likely that Zane will see some buffs. You can buff up character though. So while my max level Zane looks at the others longingly, I'm still a part of the Zane gang.