SALVADOR in Co-Op Mode
Pretty much all of us with hair on our chests know that Salvador is one of the most powerful solo toons, with the best sustained DPS around. Now, reading that, you might initially think that he's not a team oriented character; and I mean, he doesn't HAVE to be. But TRUE Vault Hunters, hunt in packs. So what is the TEAM role of a Gunzerker? There are three skilltrees, and any number of combinations of talents and specs and equipment.... but in GENERAL, from level 1 to level 50, here's how things sorta break down.
'Gunlust' is a damage-dealer tree. All the talents in this area are oriented towards raw damage output. As a Gunlusty zerker, that's what you bring to the table -- ludicrously high, sustained DPS. The tradeoff for all those +Hurt talents is that you won't be quite as resilient as a Brawn zerker, or have the cooldown of a Rampage zerker. That being the case, your team will benefit the most when you prioritize your action skills. Resist the urge to mash it every time your cooldown expires; use it when your team needs it. For instance, if your siren goes down and somebody needs to manually revive an ally, your group will be down to three guns unless YOU double-up. Or maybe you go down -- DNO will let you keep both guns out during FFYL. In general, a Gunluster has the fairly simple task of shooting at the biggest, nastiest bad guy around; and you can do that however you like, really. But I recommend a quick check at everyone's health bars right before you 'Zerk, just in case you might wanna wait.
Rampage is subtly different from Gunlust, because rather than boosting your DPS through raw power, it's focused on ROF and cooldown. The biggest advantage of an R-specced Salvador is the nearly-persistent Gunzerking -- you might have to wait as much as five seconds in the heat of battle, but that's about it. Thanks to natural ammo regen, magazine boosts, and free shot skills, R-zerkers have more bullets than anybody else in the game. That makes them the ideal support-gunner. If this is you, help your buddies out by "pushing" enemies together and blanketing whole areas of the field in lead. R-zerkers in co-op should strongly consider carrying slag weapons, since you'll be able to coat enemies faster, longer, and more reliably than anyone else. If your allies are using crowd-control tactics, like Converge or Singularities, home in on those areas and hammer them hard. You can also throw up huge streams of flack to take down aerial targets quite effectively, and some enemies of their arms (loaders) or heads (goliaths). FriedRiceThem0n adds these great RAMPAGE tips: while reviving, you can maintain fire with your left hand, so feel free to revive as many people as possible; stay mobile and active; always always always have a slag weapon ready to rock as your offhand weapon; match up mainhand elements if possible.
Certainly B-zerkers are the most obvious team-oriented spec. These are the tanks of Pandora, boasting spectacular health, damage reduction, and regeneration -- and some great melee options, too. B-zerkers -- especially wearing a Sham -- can soak up more bullets than anyone else, and they can even do it on PURPOSE with the end-tier skill "Come At Me Bro!" In team play, make sure you're using your Taunt (CAMB) whenever somebody else needs it -- your job is to be the first person to die, every time, and preferably not to die very often (because that means nobody else is dying, either). Keep attention on yourself as much as possible, with heavy weapons, harrassing fire, taunts, melees, and bum-rushes. Let your teammates argue over who got the l33test k!llstr33k -- you're doing the real heavy-lifting. When it comes to "Where should I go?" in a given fight -- be somewhere that keeps bullets away from your friends. If everyone's standing in a group, you should try to get far enough away that they're not eating collateral damage, but CLOSE enough that you can run in and punch an unwelcome rusher, and so that you won't put your allies in danger when you eventually drop into FFYL. Thanatos-Omega adds these useful BRAWN tips -- take OOBG, perhaps skip Sexual Tyrannosaurus, and get soem MOBILITY skills (Bus, Incite) so you can support your team.
General Do's and Don'ts
DO: Help your friends when you can. Be the guy that picks up a fallen comrade, if you're able.
DON'T: waste a whole Gunzerk rezzing your allies. It's nice, I know; but it's not smart. As long as there's somebody else capable of saving the teammate, your team needs you to shoot things. If anybody else kneels down, your unit is at 4 guns. If you kneel down, your unit is at 3.
DO: Take care of yourself. Carry a Moxxi weapon if you suspect you'll need the health; wear a responsible shield, and play it smart.
DON'T: equip double-conference-calls or fibbers. In solo play, that's fine (that's great, actually); in co-op, you're freezing everybody's screen. It's still effective, but it's rude, and it'll bug everyone.
Raiju adds: EQUIP A HOARDER MOD! It's a massive contribution to everyone else on the team, who won't be regenerating ammo. Keep one handy -- they'll all thank you for it!
HOW TO PLAY WITH....
These tips will help you maximize your co-op effectiveness when working with a specific class. Bear in mind, every situation is different, and these tips are more like guidelines than hard-and-fast rules; the only way to *really* develop synergy with a player is to play frequently (I KNOW, I KNOW, SO INCONVENIENT!). These tips are designed to help you know what the other class is generally going to be trying to do, and how you can best support it and/or capitalize on it. We're not talking about "how to re-spec your character to achieve mathematical maximum damage" or anything -- just some things you can do as you're playing normally to make everything work a little smoother. SPECIAL NOTE: This part of the guide is going to need as much community input as possible, from every class! If you're reading this and you have thoughts that haven't been mentioned yet, please share them!
HOW TO PLAY WITH AXTON
Axton players are a varied bunch. Typically they fill a "jack of all trades" role, spitting damage and soaking up fire, and supporting the team with their powerful turret. The "A" stands for "Action." He's going to move fast and hit hard, from cover when possible, and he'll be able to take care of himself fairly well. AXTON can make outstanding use of neutral-element weapons or explosives, and can carry more grenades than a normal human being should be allowed to have. Generally his class will make use of Assault Rifles, SMGs, and rocket launchers, though really, anything works. Some AXTON players are specially-oriented to be tanks, and they're pretty good at it! But, if you AND Axton are BOTH specced into tanking, you might start stepping on one another's toes. If you're in a team of 3 or 4, you can get by; teams of 2 should probably have a discussion about who's going to do what, and *generally*, the Salvador oughta shift focus and deal damage. It's not that he's a better tank than you -- it's that you have the option to use two guns at once, which makes you a better damage-dealer by default. BUT don't worry too much -- most Axton players aren't tanks, so you won't run into this problem very often.
The Turret is a highly-survivable damage booster, which can be deployed pretty much anywhere. There are a few cues you can watch for to see what Axton is going to do; if the turret is SLAGGING enemies, you can take off one of your slag weapons; this is a high-damage turret with rocket pods and double the guns, and it'll let you focus on damage.
If the turret is also a NUKE (it explodes when thrown), this is a highly-survivable turret and a combat-boosted Axton. He likely has taken "Battlefront," which makes him much more effective whenever the turret is active, and "Longbow," which gives the turret extra deployment-range and survivability. Focus on slagging enemies, especially when they're in large groups, as the nuclear blast will essentially auto-kill anything slagged; Axton will be a high-damage contributor in this case. If Axton is using a TORGUE gun, he's probably explosives-oriented. Group enemies together and slag them for the *craziest* two-man damage you'll ever see!
If there are TWO turrets instead of one, you've got a SURVIVAL commando. This one's a little tricky -- he might be tank-oriented, or he might not. In general, a Survival Axton can be more or less left to his own devices -- he probably isn't going to die, and even if he does, he'll be even stronger in FFYL mode than he is on his feet. SURVIVAL is a team-player's tree. Run to his Phalanx Shields if you get in danger; support his turrets if able, and throw damage as much as possible. Pay attention to see if he's using SLAG weapons, and if he is, switch into full-on damage mode for total annihilation.
HOW TO PLAY WITH MAYA
MAYA is a fairly-predictable character, in terms of planning, with some subtle differences that you'll need to account for. By and large, co-operative Sirens know to take the skill "Res," which will be a complete game-changer. The most important thing about playing with a Siren partner is to keep her alive at all costs. More than anyone else, Maya can directly support the team effort. She's the only player with better slag skills than you; she can pull enemies together with her mind, set them on fire with her fists, and breathe life into your corpse with the push of a button. She can even cure AIDS by shooting you in the face. But she can't do most of those things unless she's on her feet. MAYA players tend to prefer elemental weapons, which means they'll typically opt for pistols, SMGs, and sniper rifles to give themselves the best chance to inflict status on enemies. You'll also see some explosive builds, with Rockets as a point of emphasis (MAYA also carries an extra grenade, compared to other classes). Generally speaking, the Gunzerker's damage output will greatly outpace that of a Siren; however, it's important to remember that keeping her alive is more important than killing bad guys, especially in larger teams. Do as much damage as possible, but remember your priorities!
Maya's action skill is severely altered, depending on which specialization she takes. This should make it much easier for you to tell what the Siren is planning on doing with her life, and how best to support her.
MOTION TREE sirens have the capstone ability "Thoughtlock." Rather than lifting a bad guy in the air, this skill takes over their brain and forces them to fight for you. THOUGHTLOCK builds will also typically include "Converge," which will group enemies closer together whenever the action skill is triggered. This siren is focused on survivability, mobility, and crowd-control. She'll have increased damage as well, so it's a good idea to carry a high-ROF slagger to support both HER and her thought-locked minions. Beware that THOUGHTLOCK also increases the cooldown time of her "RES" talent -- you'll need to be careful to stay alive, because she'll have a slightly harder time reviving you; but on the flipside, you'll find it much easier to engage large groups of mooks. If you can help it, try not to kill her Thoughtlocked target -- it's a good tank, and she'll likely be receiving damage bonuses for the duration of the lock.
HARMONY TREE sirens are all about healing and support. They're your best friend! Most builds will incorporate "RES" as a secondary game-changer, so the way to identify a HARMONY siren is to watch for "RUIN" -- a giant floating ball of slag that overrides her melee action. When playing with a HARMONY siren, you can ditch your slag weapons and focus purely on damage. Watch for the ball of slag and shoot anything it touches. You can play YOUR game when teamed up with these players, so the team will do better when you take the lead on damage. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS keep line-of-sight with the Harmony siren -- she wants to revive you instantly, and she can only do that when she cans see you. Also, if it seems like Maya is shooting at YOU, hold still. Her bullets are like vitamins, but they only work if she can hit you (consoles won't let her "auto-target" an allied player, so shooting you can be tough). When a HARMONY siren phaselocks a target, your whole team will receive a massive health-regeneration bonus; your goal should be to leave the target floating in the air for as long as possible, and KILL it at the last second to trigger health bubbles.
CATACLYSM TREE sirens are elemental warlocks of fantastic destructive power. You'll be able to identify them by the "Helios" and "Ruin" skills -- when they phaselock a target, it will EXPLODE in fire, slag, corrosive, and shock status effects. CAT Mayas will want to hurt things whenever possible -- they can still support the team, they can still RES a fallen ally, but they're going to be specced for elemental DOT. They're most powerful when they're using their god-like powers for offense; every time she has to "Res" you, she's missing out on a vital "Ruin" opportunity, so try to stay alive (note: if the "phaselock" seems to have a "Singularity" type effect, that means she can't and won't use Res on you). For this flavor of siren, your team will work best when YOU focus on supporting HER -- fire on her targets, stay close and keep her alive at all costs. You can shoot down her Phaselocked targets, but she may prefer you to leave them alone thanks to the "Chain Reaction" talent, so it's good to ask about that if you can.