Endless Explosions for Everyone!
At first glance, Moze, the soldier of Borderlands 3’s roster of playable Vault Hunters, seems rather mundane. Compared to characters that can summon animals and clones and elemental fists, the character that revolves around guns and explosions isn’t going to stand out much. As it turns out however, if given the proper build, Moze is practically immortal. This is largely true even on True Vault Hunter Mode with Mayhem 3 modifiers.
While there are quite a few variations of the build floating around, one of the aspects that they all share is the Bloodletter class mod. Bloodletter makes it so that any healing that you receive recharges your shield instead. As one may expect, it synergizes very well with Moze’s Shield of Retribution skill tree. The second unifying trait is the use of Vampyr Skill in the Demolition Woman skill tree. Vampyr makes it so that inflicting grenade damage heals you. The third vital piece of the puzzle is the Means of Destruction Skill, also in the Demolition Woman skill tree. Means of Destruction has a chance of refunding your grenades and weapon ammo whenever splash damage is inflicted.
As you may have guessed, the general idea is to throw grenades constantly to heal yourself and get more grenades. That is just the core of the Bloodletter build however. While strong on its own, an optimized Bloodletter build will require the use of four specific Legendary items at minimum. It is undoubtedly one of the most item-dependent builds of any Borderlands game, much less just in Borderlands 3.
There are a very small set of grenades that can trigger both Vampyr and Means of Destruction consistently. You essentially want grenades that can apply constant damage over time rather than a single explosion. Most would recommend the Hex grenade, which follows an enemy and basically lasers them to death. Good alternatives are the Quasar or Storm Front. The Quasar literally throws enemies around for a couple of seconds, and the Storm Front deploys an electric field. Both are great for keeping Vampyr active, though they’re not particularly damaging.
Many variants of Moze’s Bloodletter build use the Front Loader shield. The Front Loader converts your health into shields, though it doesn’t really offer much else. If you want raw shield strength, the Front Loader is great. If you can’t find a Front Loader, then the Transformer is a very viable alternative, if not better. You won’t get as much shielding, that much is undebatable. However, incoming shock damage repairs your shield instead of destroying it. Plus it’s a reward from a side quest.
The one thing that pushes the Bloodletter build from very good to borderline broken is the Deathless artifact. Deathless takes away all of your health, doubling your shield capacity in exchange. Even if your health has been reduced by other effects (i.e. Front Loader shield), the effect still applies. One can imagine that any future balancing updates for Borderlands 3 will change this, but for now Deathless allows Moze to have some 40,000 or more points of shielding.
Since grenades are decidedly unimpressive against most of Borderlands 3’s bosses, you need actual guns. After the October 3 hotfix that puts a two second cooldown on Means of Destruction grenade triggers, having good guns is especially important. Technically speaking any Torgue gun will suffice. They all do splash damage to trigger Means of Destruction and they offer decent damage.
For endgame activities like the Circle of Slaughter on Mayhem 3 though, you will be hard pressed to use a generic gun. Legendary weapons like the Flakker shotgun and the Devastator, Occultist, and Roisen’s Thorns pistols are excellent in that they fire multiple explosive projectiles at once with high damage. Vladof’s Ogre is also viable in that it is an assault rifle that fires rockets, even if it is a little awkward to use.
Amusingly enough, in spite of the Bloodletter build’s obvious utility for tanking, you can do a lot of damage. The Desperate Measures skill in the Shield of Retribution tree increases your damage as your health gets lower. Since you will ideally always be at one HP, it will always be fully active. If your class mod comes with extra points in Desperate Measures, you essentially get a 60-70% damage buff for free. If you have the Grave artifact, which provides even more damage when your health is low, you can get up to 100% bonus damage.
As strong as Moze’s Bloodletter build may be, it still has some distinct weaknesses. The most notable is the health gating mechanic. In previous games, as long as your health was above 50%, you could not be instantly killed by any singular attack. Basically, regardless of how much a boss smacked you around, you had two chances to survive. The mechanic appears to have returned in Borderlands 3. Seeing as how the build’s theme is shifting all health to shields and steady healing via grenades, health gating is never active. Sources of burst damage like rocket spam, boss attacks, and Tink dynamite will have the potential to instantly kill you regardless of how many grenades you threw.
In addition, you have no innate crowd control capabilities. Iron Bear is also Borderlands 3’s most useless endgame ability, providing no damage, no utility, and no survivability. Flying enemies are going to be annoying, unless you have homing and freezing grenades. Outside of that, it is somewhat tedious to constantly throw grenades all the time instead of actually shooting. It goes without saying that having to find all the Legendary items to make the build work is going to be a grind. Regardless, Moze’s Bloodletter build is unquestionably top tier for endgame content, making the otherwise unassuming soldier class very viable. Or at least, it will be until Gearbox nerfs it into the ground.