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Meet the Ninja-Assassin of Borderlands 2

4 min read


While the internet is in a tizzy surrounding all kinds of wub-wub gameplay increases and the bazillions of guns that will be littering the plains of Pandora in Borderlands 2, it’s easy to forget that there are some interesting new characters to play as in the September sequel.

And while gamers are ready for the dual-wielding carnage that the gunzerker presents, and are anticipating a revamped version of the new siren class, it’s that mysterious ninja that has drawn quite a few comments, because after all, how does a sword-wielding assassin survive on a world where guns are more common than sand?

“The cool thing about Zer0 is you don’t really know where he’s from or what he’s all about just yet”, art director Jeramy Cooke told IGN.

He’s definitely a bit of a mystery and that’s on purpose…an interesting note about Zer0 is his real name is not Zer0. That’s what everyone calls him because every time he assassinates someone he displays a zero on his faceplate so he’s just known as Zer0.

Character customisation options in Borderlands 2 is still focused on one primary ability, such as the turret-spawning skills of the Commando, the phase-locking powers of the Siren or the dual-wielding nature of the Gunzerker.

The Assassins however, prefers to instead release a decoy and enter a stealth state, which will see him dish out massive amounts of damage in quick bursts. The sword that Zero is seen using in the game isn’t exactly a collectable weapon, but is instead his default melee attack, and can be customised to be more effective, thanks to some handy digistructuring.

“The blade actually digistructs,” Cooke said. “It’s somewhat like a lightsaber. The handle exists on his hilt and when he pulls it out the blade digistructs for the attack.”

That’s how our cars appear in the world and a lot of things in the game are constructed in this way…when you pull your guns out they digistructed out of their holster. Hopefully people will finally get to really realize all this kind of cool technology we invented.

In fact even Claptrap has a digistruct module. If you’ve ever seen his little tray pop out of his chest, he’s got a digistruct module in there. 

Thanks to his action skill, “Deception”, Zer0 can close in on enemies easily, allowing for him to perform his signature close quarter combat strikes. “He can deploy a holographic decoy of himself onto the battlefield,” said creative director Paul Hellquist.

Then he goes into a predator stealth kind of mode where he can move around on the battlefield while the enemies think that he’s where his decoy is. This allows him to manoeuvre around the battlefield and do tons of critical strikes.

But don’t think that the action skill for Zer0 is a rehashed version of the Siren phase-walking powers from the first game, as his ability does have some limitations, such as being vulnerable to splash damage from explosive attacks.


When attacking from a stealth state, Zer0 will do less damage the further he is from finishing up the timer on the ability, but doing so will also allow for a quicker cooldown effect, allowing for it to be used multiple times, while staying in stealth mode longer means that his attacks will have a more of an edge towards them when dealing critical damage out. Such abilities apparently make Zer0 an ideal character for co-op as he is “definitely more single target focused than any other class,” according to Hellquist.

He’s also a very versatile character, as his abilities allow for him to deal damage based on changing weapons while also highlighting where exactly to strike. “When he launches his decoy out he gets this special vision and all the enemies are highlighted on the battlefield,” Cooke said.

They glow bright blue and all of their critical hit locations are revealed. So this allows the assassin to find out where crit locations are on bosses or take a very, very careful shot.

And on his “Be like water” skill, Hellquist says that the character makes for an interesting balance of opposites.

It’s this really interesting dichotomy of guns with melee. What it does is every time you shoot an enemy it increases your melee damage for a few seconds and then every time you melee someone it increases your shoot damage for a few seconds, so it encourages people to switch back and forth and do this ninja dance of gun to sword to gun to sword.

It’s a really neat and fun skill.

So far, Zer0 is looking like the go to character for sniper-enthusiasts and stealthy fans of back-stabbing. It’s amazing to see how much work goes into building a new character, and it looks like the new classes in Borderlands 2 will indeed be all new experiences instead of rehashed ideas slapped together with a different coat of paint.

Last Updated: February 27, 2012

One Comment

  1. While the concept of a bazillion guns would make you think that each one is different, that is incorrect. It inclines that there are a few hundred, maybe thousand guns with different customizations. Thus creating the bazillion guns concept. Say you get a Barking Volcano that has a Maliwan scope one time, but the next time it’s a Vladof or a Dahl scope. Maybe it’ll have a vinyl, or some decal on it. Maybe it’ll even have a blade attached.


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