Historically, I have always found Montana to be one the most annoying characters to play along side of. He’s absolutely massive and had the most disturbing tendency to get in your way and block your shots. Of course, after the developers removed allied collision so that you could walk and shoot through your allies unimpeded, I learned to love him.
Montana is a massive slab of meat that you can use to give cover to your allies (via huge reserves of hp and the largest model in the game) and pain to your foes (via ridiculously high rate of fire and sustained output). He’s can be either the hammer or the anvil, though he needs support to really be effective. Without a friend to prop him up and keep him happy, he’s not nearly as effective as he is capable of being.
I do find it strange that he’s given the “advanced” descriptor since he’s not really that complicated: his skills don’t really interact much or behave in a less-than-obvious way and the only really weird thing about him is his basic attack, which isn’t really that complicated if you’re played other games with minigun type characters (like TF2’s Heavy) and/or overheating mechanics (reminds me a lot of Mass Effect 1). My theory is that it’s because he’s really designed to work when paired together with a support. Not a particularly good reason since, tactically, beyond “get a support friend and wreck face” there’s not much more going on with him than explicitly simple characters like Oscar Mike, but that’s what they decided on.
Montana’s unimaginatively named basic attack.
From a cold start, it takes a couple seconds to spin up to full speed and begin unleashing a storm of tiny, low damage projectiles; you can also use his alt-fire to begin the spin up process or keep the barrels spinning without firing any projectiles. While the barrels are spinning, Montana’s speed is incredibly lethargic, which, combined with his massive model, makes him incredibly easy to hit when he’s in combat (and is the main reason why he needs a supportive friend). Each projectile fired increases his heat by a small amount, so increasing his rate of fire also increases the speed with which he accumulates heat, and, if he hasn’t fired a projectile in a couple of seconds, his heat will begin falling.
The higher his heat, the more damage each of Montana’s projectiles deals, and there are a few other benefits you can get via helices that give him buffs based upon his current heat level. When you hit 100% heat, Montana overheats and can’t fire for a (very) short while (you can continue firing almost immediately after the interruption, but you’ll just overheat again); there’s a helix that lets you get around this, though it comes with a drawback.
On the back end, his heat repurposes recoil and reload mechanics, which means that recoil reduction will reduce the heat generated per projectile fired and reload speed improvements will reduce the time it takes for his heat to begin fading after his last projectile is fired and increase the speed that his heat fades. Strangely enough, tests have found that penalties to these stats do not have the inverse effect.
The biggest weakness of this attack is that it is *woefully* inaccurate. Thankfully, Montana uses the Law of Large Numbers to make up for his poor accuracy (he’s got one of the largest attack reticles in the game) with a ridiculously high rate of fire (the highest in the game, in fact), which means that, against a large target that can’t really avoid attacks very well, Montana’s damage can be crazy high even if each projectile is going to do piddly little plinks of damage. Against highly mobile and/or small enemies (like Mellka), Montana will do little damage, especially since he can’t really move fast enough to keep up with them. Low accuracy also means that you’re generally better served going for body shots rather than crit shots: if you aim for the head, you might get crits, but you’re going to miss completely with many, many more and dramatically reduce your total damage dealt.
Montana dashes forwards, dealing a bit of damage, and pushing enemies back; if they are pushed back into terrain (or, in the case of NPCs, one of their allies), they’re stunned. It’s pretty plain (and basically a copy of Boldur’s Boldurdash skill, or vice versa), but tactically useful. In PvP, you can use it to get annoying melee enemies off of you, scatter an enemy formation, and/or set up a kill (the stun means they’re not moving, which gives you free reign to put a bunch of bullets into them, and puts them in the stun stance, which makes their crit spot easy to access). In PvE, it’s for largely the same purposes, but you won’t be using it nearly as often.
Montana unleashes a battle cry and gives himself a short duration (8 seconds) buff that reduces his heat with each bullet fired, reduces damage taken by 30%, and slows enemies all enemies hit by your bullets for roughly 1 second. You will likely be using this way more often than Lumberjack Dash since it’s just so generally useful (and doesn’t really have an animation so you can just use it in the middle of unleashing a storm of death on your foes). Keep in mind, however, that it only lasts a handful of seconds. There are some Helix choices that *dramatically* change how this works.
You deal a bit of damage to enemies near you, throw them in the air, and reduce your damage taken by ~75% for 10 seconds afterwards. As an attack, it’s underwhelming due to a limited range (it’s effectively melee range), and, as a buff, it’s underwhelming due to the longer-than-could-be-desired activation time (if you try to use it in an emergency situation, prepare to be at lower health than you’d like by the time you’re packing huge DR). Underwhelming when you need a specific effect, but it can be pretty devastating in combination when you need them both. To use it effectively, you need to predict when you’ll need it: activate it right when you’re about to get swarmed by a bunch of enemies rather than when you’re already surrounded and have taken a bunch of damage.
Level 1: Go the Distance v. Weather Man
This might just be me, but I’ve never really seen much of a need to increase the distance of Lumberjack Dash whereas reducing the size of your massive reticle while you’ve got Hailstorm active is an incredible boon: with Weather Man, you can actually reliably get crits (at least while you’ve got Hailstorm up).
Level 2: The Ol’ One Two v. Lumberjack Blast v. Push It Push It Push It
This decision largely comes down to personal preference. The Ol One Two knocks enemies into the air, rather than away from you, preventing you from stunning them but keeping them where they were (it also takes them out of the fight for about as long as the KB + stun would and interrupts any skills they might have been using). The problem, of course, is that they’re knocked high into the air, making it impossible for melee characters to hit them for most of their aerial tumble and difficult to hit/crit them otherwise (because they’re not only moving around but they’re also having their models turned about). LjB and PIPIPI both just make the skill more effective at what it already does: LjB is gonna make you more likely to hit and hit more targets while PIPIPI makes it easier to get the stun (since they’re pushed back further) and, even if they’re not stunned, they’re still pushed further away.
Personally, I never have that much problem with getting enemies in stunned and don’t like the knock up effect because it prevents me from killing stuff as quickly, so I take LjB, but it’s less because it’s outright better than because it syncs better with how I play Montana.
Level 3: Pumped Up v. Gatling Grease
Gatling Grease was changed heavily in the WU. It’s still not that great, due in large part to the Hailstorm change making it so hard to actually overheat on a reliable basis (since Hailstorm now actually reduces your heat per shot rather than reducing generation). The benefit of this is basically that, whenever you overheat, you get a 3 sec buff that increases your cooldown rate by 50%. The only real way this happens is if you’re going for a overheat build that actively tries to avoid any heat reduction mechanisms (which involves specific choice of later helices). If you do this, it can be incredibly powerful (though quite risky) for PvP (since Lumberjack Dash gives you easy access to a stun), but I don’t recommend it for PvE: the additional hp is boring, but it’s a much safer and more reliable option.
Level 4: Icy Resolve v. Firestorm
The choice that Icy Resolve replaced was basically incorporated into Hailstorm by default (making Hailstorm reduce heat per shot), but this one is absolutely amazing. The choice between these two comes down to what you intend on doing with Montana.
Icy Resolve increases the DR from Hailstorm from 30% to 50% (which means that it’s closer to a ~30% reduction in damage taken compared to Hailstorm before) and makes Montana an absolutely amazing tank.
Firestorm, on the other hand, increases heat generation while it’s active (instead of having each shot reduce heat with each shot) and adds a DoT (the DoT doesn’t stack, so it’s basically 24 additional DPS while you have Hailstorm active). Firestorm roughly doubles the heat generation while Hailstorm is active, which can make it extremely easy to overheat.
Icy Resolve is for tank Montana while Firestorm is for DPS Montana.
Level 5: Cold-Blooded v. Focused Fire v. Hot-Blooded
This is just like the previous level’s helix: it all depends upon risk, intention, and who you’ve got backing you up. In practice, Cold-Blooded largely amounts to greater out of combat regen while Hot-Blooded amounts to greater combat regen. FF and HB sync up very well with Firestorm (as well as Feeling the Burn next level) since they allow you to use Hailstorm without bottoming out your heat.
The optimal choice here is largely determined by what you chose at your previous level. Hailstorm is an extremely powerful buff that you should want to use as much as possible (pretty much on CD, as long as you’re in combat). Because of this, if you took Icy Resolve and still have it reducing your heat per shot, CB is going to probably provide greater average regeneration.
If you chose Firestorm, the decision between FF and HB then comes down to whether you’ve got a powerful healer in your pocket following you around. If you don’t, HB is pretty much required in order to offset the damage you’ll be doing to yourself via Feeling the Burn next level while, if you *do* have a good healer, FF is going to act as a signficant DPS increase due to fewer missed shots, greater effective range, and *way* more crits (especially when combined with Weather Man from level 1).
Level 6: Swole Shield v. Icicles v. Feeling the Burn
This is a level that can completely change how you play Montana. Feeling the Burn turns overheat into a secondary concern. It’s risky, but it lets you control when you stop firing rather than letting a statistic dictate when an enemy gets a reprieve from your weapon. Of course, this is less of a concern with Hailstorms new post-WU behavior reducing heat per shot.
The damage isn’t simply based on the projectile either; it’s actually based on the additional heat generated, so you’ll take even more damage from FtB if you’ve got Firestorm active (and you might need FtB to compensate for Firestorm’s increased heat generation, so, if you don’t have a lot of healing, it’s kind of a catch-22). Only take FtB if you’ve got a *lot* of natural regeneration or a healer in your pocket; without either (or, preferably, both) of those, FtB ends up being more of a risk than a boon.
If you’re not taking FtB, Swole Shield and Icicles are both good and come down to preference: Swole Shield is awesome if you want to be an even tankier Montana, though shield isn’t stellar since you have to avoid getting hit (which is difficult, as big as Montana is) in order for it to recharge. Icicles is awesome for mowing down (and debuffing) hordes of enemies; it works quite well with Firestorm too (though you’ll overheat crazy fast).
In general, as with previous helix levels, the choice here is largely determined by your previous helix choices. If you took Firestorm, you’re going to want to take FtB; if you don’t, you’re liable to overheat any time you use the skill and waste precious uptime. If you didn’t, SS is for tank Montana while Icicles is for control Montana.
Random side note, one of Montana’s lore challenges requires him to have 5 enemies slowed by Hailstorm at the same time on 20 occasions; this is remarkably difficult normally since the slow doesn’t last long and enemies get in the way of each other, but Icicles makes it *way* easier since a single bullet can penetrate enemies in the front and slow multiple foes. It’s something to consider until such time as you complete the lore.
Level 7: Icebreaker v. Barrel Cooling v. Ice Age
Icebreaker is largely worthless, in my opinion, mainly because Lumberjack Dash isn’t really a damage ability. The obvious intent of it is to prevent the “waste” of Hailstorm’s buff if you use Lumberjack Dash while it’s active, but the increase to damage on the conditional use of a skill that isn’t used for damage purposes just doesn’t justify taking the helix in my opinion.
Barrel Cooling and Ice Age are both excellent options, however. Barrel Cooling will allow you to shoot for longer periods before you overheat (and, if you took FtB, it reduces the damage you take since the damage is determined by turning excess heat into damage; this reduces heat generated, so it reduces that damage) while Ice Age keeps up a very useful buff for a couple seconds more (~25% increase in duration). Counterintuitively, while Hailstorm (not Firestorm) is active, Barrel Cooling will actually reduce the amount of heat lost per projectile fired, since it’s a multiplier rather than subtractive, which is something to factor in.
The question of which of these is optimal to take once again boils down to previous helix choices: if you took Feeling the Burn and are having problems with the damage taken (i.e. you can’t seem to heal back fast enough to offset the damage you’re dealing yourself), take Barrel Cooling; if you aren’t having problems with damage taken or chose Icy Resolve, go with Ice Age.
Level 8: Too Big to Fail v. KRACKADOWWW!
As I said before with Icebreaker, Lumberjack Dash isn’t a skill you use for the damage it deals and, even if you’re focusing on skill damage with it (such as trying to get the kills with it for the lore challenge), you’re better off just using it more often since you get the additional control that comes with using it more often.
Level 9: Bullet Buff v. The Cooler v. Perfect Storm
Bullet Buff is only awesome if you didn’t take Firestorm. Increasing the strengh of the slow can be quite the boon in PvP, where the ability to slow down a fast moving agile opponent (like a Mellka) can turn someone that’s normally extremely annoying/dangerous into someone that you can basically laugh at. Since the DoT doesn’t stack, doubling the duration of Firestorm’s DoT from 2 to 4 seconds basically gives you an additional 48 damage to a target after you stop shooting them, which isn’t really going to do much. In fact, it takes only 10-15 bullet hits (or less, depending upon heat and gear) over the course of a single use of Hailstorm (Montana’s default RoF is roughly 20/sec) for Perfect Storm to end up doing more damage than Bullet Buff with Firestorm.
The Cooler will make it a lot easier for a healer to keep you happy, but it’s worthless if you don’t have one (since it doesn’t affect regen); Perfect Storm gives you a very potent DPS increase. Choose based on this simple algorithm: if you didn’t take Firestorm and you want more control, go with Bullet Buff; else, if you have a healer and they need help keeping you alive more than you want some extra damage, go with The Cooler; in any other case (such as not having a healer or just wanting damage), go with Perfect Storm.
Level 10: Big Payback v. Instant Payback
Big Payback can easily kill people stupid enough to stay near you when your ult ends. The problem is that you need to be *alive* when it ends in order to destroy them (and they need to be near you). As such, this is the question you need to ask yourself: can you guarantee that you will you be alive for 3 seconds after your ult ends?
Since Big Payback returns all of the damage in a small PbAoE after it ends, you have some choice over who takes all of this damage and, if you’re taking damage from a bunch of sources, all of them end up contributing damage to the others. It can be truly devastating, but if things don’t go correctly, it’ll be wasted.
As such, Big Payback is high risk, high reward whereas Instant Payback is good for consistent returns. The risk is a bit much for me, in general, so I almost always go for Instant Payback unless I’m feeling particularly frisky (or have a nice pocket healer).
Montana is a great big tanky character that uses some stats in strange and unusual ways and, when built and played properly, can be a DPS powerhouse. I’ll go over all stats here, based on how I personally categorize them, and provide a priority list for each category.
(Attack Speed=Attack Damage>Critical Damage>Recoil>Reload=Cooldown>Skill Damage>Shield Pen):
Attack Speed increases your damage as well as your heat generation, which can either be a very good or a very bad thing, which is why it’s tied with Attack Damage. If you don’t want to generate a lot of heat, Attack Speed is going to be significantly lower but, if you do want to generate a lot of heat, it’s outright better.
If you can fill your target reticle with an opponent’s crit spot, Critical Damage can provide ridiculously massive amounts of damage, more than Attack Speed or Attack Damage thanks to the larger values the stat gets. The difficulty of this, however, makes it less valuable than either of them.
Recoil reduces your heat generation per shot, which can offset the risk of an extremely high Attack Speed build. It also means that you’ll be attacking for longer. Reload allows you to recover faster when you’re not firing, which shouldn’t be often, in my opinion, because Montana is character designed to place constant pressure on his enemies. Sadly, as mentioned in an earlier section, a penalty to either of these stats doesn’t affect Montana at all.
Because Hailstorm varies so heavily based on helix choice, Cooldown can be a mediocre damage stat (if you build Hailstorm for survivability/control) or excellent (if you build it for heat management/damage). It will never get up to the same level as Attack Speed, Attack Damage, or Critical Damage, but it improves your control and survivability while the others don’t.
Montana is not a character built around dealing damage with his skills. He has a control skill that does a bit of damage, he has a buff that makes your basic attack better (the only way Skill Damage is the DoT from Firestorm, which is pathetic compared to the normal projectile damage), and a buff that deals moderate damage on activation. Skill Damage is an extremely low priority.
Shield pen is utterly rubbish. It’s only useful in PvP because most enemies in PvE don’t have shields (and no bosses have them; Rendain’s shield doesn’t care about shield pen). Still, it actually does something unlike recoil and reload.
(Damage Reduction<Max Health<Max Shield=Health Regen=Healing Received<Shield Recharge=Shield Regen<CC Duration):
Montana has a lot of hp and some pretty good recovery mechanisms (and, if in a group, should have a healer accompanying him at all times). His hp+shield is *just* shy of the break even point where DR overcomes max hp for TTK purposes, but, when you factor in the recovery tools he should have (whether natural or coming from friends), it pushes him over the top.
Max Health is just powerful and useful for not dying. It’s the gold standard against which all other stats are compared.
Max Shield is of lower value to Montana than for most other characters because he will very rarely actually recover his shield since he’s so easy to hit. Since he’s liable to be fighting and taking damage for extended periods, Health Regen gear is easily going to overcome Max Shield (primary max shield is 140; primary health regen is 14/sec, which means that, if an exchange lasts longer than 10 secs, Health Regen adds more).
Healing Received is contingent upon having a pocket healer; if you’ve got one, this is probably tied with DR for usefulness. If you don’t, it’s worse than CC Duration.
Shield Recharge and Shield Regen are bad for the same reason that Max Shield is bad: Montana doesn’t take breaks. You can’t stack enough Shield Recharge to make his shield begin recharging in combat before he’s liable to just get shot again and you can’t stack enough Shield Regen to have his shields recover enough to actually make a difference if/when they *do* start recharging.
CC duration is functionally worthless. CCs don’t last that long so the minute values of CC duration on gear basically mean nothing.
If you want to make Montana a better controller, the only option is to grab Cooldown. With a properly helixed Hailstorm and Lumberjack Dash, he can do a pretty good job at pushing around opponents and interfering with their movements, so I recommend this more for him than I do for other characters, especially if you’ve got good healers, good attackers, but not much in the way of control on your team.
(Move speed>Cooldown>Sprint speed>CC duration):
Move speed is useful in combat and out of combat and is increased by sprint speed. Cooldown means more Lumberjack Dash availability but that’s all it provides. Sprint speed is only really useful outside of combat, less so than normal because Montana can’t sprint while his gun is spinning. CC duration reduces the duration of slows and stuns but is still absolutely terrible.
Getting shards helps you buy gear as well as construct buildables. Buildable reduction makes them way cheaper, however. Something to consider is that I only find these stats remotely useful in PvP. PvE gives you shards like candy; unless you’ve got someone who bogarts all of the shards, every mission should provide a surplus of shards even if you have a triple legendary loadout (like I do for pretty much everyone). In PvP, however, these are absolutely amazing and can actually be the foundation of an effective strategy.
Gloves (attack damage):
Pacifier (algorithm), Symbiotic Gauntlet (sentinel)
Attack damage beefs up the minigun, which is good. SG gives one of his best survivability stats and is better offensively, but you probably won’t see full value very often, even with a pocket healer, because Montana soaks up bullets like no one else. Pacifier gives a nice little attack damage debuff to everything he hits with anything, which he should be doing all the time to as many enemies as possible.
Vow of Vengeance should probably be mentioned because it’s one of the most popular legendaries out there. Do not use it on Montana, even though it has really good stats. The stacks only apply with his quick melee and the stacks fall off very quickly (a matter of seconds) so it’s basically an expensive epic. VoV is for melee, which Montana is not.
Swords (attack speed):
Stolen Edge of Arcvynorr (sentinel), Orbital Tracking Spike (llc)
VSEoA is the gold standard of attack speed legendaries: the stacks are permanent and reasonably easy to acquire (even if Gal is bad at scoring crits, you’ll still get the 5 purely by accident as long as you’re fighting), and it provides an good stat in addition to the attack speed. It’s also dropped from the Sentinel mission, which has 4 of the best legendaries in the game in its loot table.
Orbital Tracking Spike is actually extremely good on Montana. The Winter Update changed it so that the additional attack speed provided by the legendary effect diminishes the faster you move (full while standing still, none while moving at full speed) rather than simply vanishing as soon as you start moving. Since Montana’s move speed is slowed to a crawl while firing, he does very well with this since he gets the legendary effect very easily.
Vow of Zealous Fury used to be absolutely amazing but it was gutted in the Winter Update. Don’t use it.
Helmets (CC Duration):
Silverback Hydebear Hide (upr)
While CC Duration gear is generally *never* taken and pretty much never recommended for anyone, this is a true exception. The primary stat is basically worthless, but you get DR as well as regeneration, both of which are exceptionally good stats. If someone else on your team has a Demon Bear item, it’s basically an additional epic injector that you can take if you’ve already got one (since it’s a legendary and costs a helluva lot more). It’s not *stellar*, but it’s something to consider, especially if you really want to push the regen and DR.
Goggles (critical damage):
Vigilant Power Scouter (sentinel), Hostile_Takeover.exe (algorithm)
VPS gives you hp in addition to crit damage and increases the damage of your next attack following a crit. It isn’t consumed on a miss so Montana’s tendency to miss isn’t going to hurt you much and his tendency to accidentally crit when you’re anywhere near your opponent’s crit location will help. It’s not going to be as awesome on him as it is on true crit driven characters, but it’s not a bad choice. Hostile_Takeover is only of interest in PvP and only because Montana unleashes a boatload of bullets that might just crit. If you luck out and get a crit, your target isn’t getting any shield back for 10 seconds, which can be long enough to ruin someone’s day if they’re trying to get away.
Pauldrons (damage reduction):
Blissbeast Skull Plate (void’s edge), Burning Sunset (rogue), Porta-bUnkr Phalanx Rig (upr), “Alamo-7” Armor (algorithm)
Blissbeast Skull Plate provides damage reduction and a nice chunk of regeneration, though Montana’s massive pool of hp makes the legendary effect problematic to trigger. You’re not liable to get the legendary effect often due to Montana’s impressive amount of hp, so it’s worse than on many other characters, but it’s still useful. Burning Sunset makes it a lot harder to screw with you when you’re on a rampage because it allows you to ignore the damage from one skill every 30 seconds (only useful in PvP; this does nothing in PvE). The CC duration fits with the theme of ignoring opponent’s trying to screw with you. Porta-bUnkr Phalanx Rig and “Alamo-7” Armor should probably also be mentioned here because they’re somewhat popular options to consider. PbPR could be viable in a full UPR group (especially if your group spends a lot of time hiding behind you) but that’s not going to happen often, especially since the UPR doesn’t have any healers (and Montana *really* wants a healer); A7A provides a low value secondary stat and, while 2 seconds of immunity is nice, Montana doesn’t really have anything he can do with 2 seconds to avoid dying (other than killing his opponent).
Amulets (healing received):
Vidania Root Poultice (experiment), All-4-One Morale Booster (upr)
Normally, I don’t recommend amulets because they only really contribute if you’ve got a healer watching your back; since you can often be assured that, if someone picks Montana, someone else is gonna pick a healer to keep him company, this isn’t really a problem. Both of these provide a lot of healing received and a nice secondary stat to keep you alive. The legendary effect of VRP means that you’re gonna be able to push a bit faster, which is nice, and the Morale Booster is gonna help your healing friend keep themselves alive.
A quick note on the Leechsteel Brooch: it brings healing received, some skill damage (meh), and life steal (ooh!), but the life steal only applies to damage dealt by skills. While this includes damage dealt while Hailstorm is active (when Hailstorm is active, it’s considered “skill damage” even if it’s not improved by Skill Damage gear), Montana is an attack damage character, so I really don’t recommend this. If you want to heal yourself, use an injector or other source of health regen.
Injectors (health regen):
Song of Vigor (sentinel), Oath of the Sustained (renegade), Ziggurat Schematic Serum (phoebe ops)
Song of Vigor is normally pretty bad, but I like it on Montana: he can generally plan on having a healer nearby to take advantage of the healing received and some healers have issues healing themselves when healing someone else, so the health regen to nearby allies can help. OotS is the more offensive minded variant: Montana is liable to be dealing out a bunch of damage with his sustained fire, so the attack damage and healing to allies will be useful. Of course, the primary reason to use an injector in the first place is that you won’t have a healer around so having injectors on a character that will almost always have a healer around is a bit redundant (and not the good kind of redundant).
The ZSS is something of a special case. The secondary stat is basically worthless but, if you are doing a 100 ops run, the legendary effect is absolutely amazing. At 100 ops points, every 60 seconds (starting after you activate it), you’ll get an overshield equal to 150% of the health damage you’ve taken. The overshield only lasts for ~6-8 seconds before vanishing, you have to be taking a lot of damage to get the shield be large, the 60 second window is rather large and unwieldy, and it only works in operations, so it’s extremely conditional. It’s more gimmick than useful tool.
Armor (max hp):
Vigilance Link (sentinel), Vampiric Vestments (jennerit), Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter (upr), Custom-Fit Flak Vest (lore), Squad Goals BDU (mike ops)
Vigilance Link gives you 2 excellent survivability stats and makes your team more durable as well. Excellent for team players and more support minded people. Vampiric vestments will give you hp, more hp when you kill things, and more attack damage so that it’s easier to kill things. However, because you lose them when you die, I wouldn’t recommend VV for PvP since dying is relatively common (and, while Montana is a tank, he’s an easy target to hit and kill in PvP).
Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter is probably the most useful max hp gear for Montana because he’s such a large target that he’s *going* to get hit often enough to double the +hp but it also comes with his best defensive stat: DR. If you’re running ops, SG BDU is better (and is actually the single best TTK item you can get) because it provides more hp than P2G with the exact same DR contributions: if you’ve got at least 56 ops points, SG BDU is better than P2G can possibly be.
His lore legendary is also an excellent option: attack speed is a great attack stat and the effect is absolutely *incredible* for FtB builds, since it dramatically reduces the damage you take from overheat (by reducing the heat generated when you’re above 85% by *50%*. It’s like having an even better version of Barrel Cooling (since high heat is good, as long as you’re not overheating).
Batteries (max shield):
One-4-All Shield Array (experiment), Modernista (saboteur), SKNK-WRK Decoherence Refractor (montana ops)
Modernista is a good anti-ranged shield with a decent secondary stat. A good way to discourage snipers in PvP since you can avoid the first crit and hurt them in the process. One-4-All Shield Array gives you more shield, your allies more shield, and, while Shield Pen is an incredibly sub-par stat, that’s not why you’re using the legendary.
If you’re doing ops, SKNK is the single best survivability item you can bring since it provides the most DR possible on any single item (19.2%) if you’re running for 100 ops points: 19.2% DR is a 23% increase in TTK, which means that it’ll provide more survivability than anything else you can possibly take.
Boots (move speed):
RDC Ground Pounders (upr), UPR Boot-Loader Bandolier (upr)
RDC GP are only boots I would really recommend for Montana, not because he likes movement speed a lot but because of the other 2 effects: recoil reduces his heat accumulation and there’s a nice bit of conditional DR if he takes damage from the side (which can happen with players a lot since most people don’t want to be in front of a spinning cannon that spits doom; it also helps that your healer will almost always be to the side or rear of you so stray shots/attacks from assassins trying to kill your healer will trigger this).
If you’ve got a nearby UPR ally (except for Galilea) and really want to focus on recovering from heat as quickly as possible, BLB are excellent. That’s about all they’re good for, however.
Mini-Singularity Launcher (saboteur), Stable Executioner (renegade), Starkweather’s Oscillator (llc)
MSL reduces your heat generation, gives you regen, and one target every 10 seconds hit by your attacks will be slowed for 3 seconds. It’s a useful bit of additional control if you want to push that, but it’s not that special since it’s so limited and Montana isn’t really about “precision”. You’ll probably waste the slow as often as you get it on someone useful. SE’s main value comes from Montana throwing out so many body shots (it used to apply to both skill and normal attacks but the WU changed it). A 35% chance to get 30% additional damage on hits or crits can provide a nice little bonus over the long term. It’s an amazing 10.5% increase in damage, which, while not on par with taking an attack damage legendary like the Symbiotic Gauntlet, can be taken alongside one.
Starkweather’s Oscillator used to be utterly rubbish pre-WU but was completely revamped with it to be extremely *good*: 15% of your damage dealt is provided to you as shield healing. The secondary stat is basically worthless but Montana’s tendency to get clipped by attacks and have his shield constantly down means that he’ll almost always be getting the shield recharge from the legendary effect (and could potentially fully recharge his shields with it).
Keeper-Seeker Reaper Rounds (upr)
First off, all other magazines are terrible for Montana. Vyn’s Quiver, Mag Daemon, and Hidden Charger all provide nice stats and effects but those effects are contingent on the actual act of *reloading*, which Montana never does. He simply benefits from the stat in a non-traditional way.
Keeper-Seeker Reaper Rounds, however, double up on heat management stats for Montana and, due to his insanely high rate of fire, he’s gonna stack up those hits to get the full bonus damage very easily. Of course, it only applies to UPR opponents so… I doubt you’re gonna get a lot of mileage on that unless you’re fighting another Montana.
Spikes (shield pen):
Bunker Buster (algorithm)
While shield pen is terrible, the Bunker Buster can form the basis of a powerful anti-shield loadout/build. Stack up some shield pen secondary gear and Montana can melt through shields extremely effectively (and can do wonders against Sentries in Incursion).
Pins (skill damage):
Bola’s Target Finder (experiment)
While there are some other good skill damage items, it’s important to remember that Montana is *not a skill damage character* and the primary stat on them is basically a waste. Bola’s Target Finder gives him an excellent secondary stat and allows his skills to make everything else he does (and anything his allies do to a target hit) more effective. This can make a FtB/Firestorm build all the more doom-y and makes Lumberjack Dash for stuns even more of a death sentence.
Since legendaries generally require extensive PvE to acquire (even the loot pack legendaries are easier to get via PvE due to the ease at acquiring commander packs via the ops), most PvP players won’t have ready access to many of them. Of course, because they require so many shards to activate, many PvPers don’t bother using them in the first place (they’d rather activate cheaper gear and use spare shards on buildables). It should also be mentioned than many newbies won’t have ready access to a full spread of gear either so this provides them some stuff to look out for.
Keep in mind that all of these items can be acquired from Core loot packs; each item also has a relevant faction listed; if you’re looking for a specific item, your best bet is to open faction or commander packs of that type so that the loot table is smaller.
This list will not be comprehensive. I’m only mentioning those items that I feel are most relevant/important. I’ll also be labeling them based upon faction, rarity, and if you want the version with a penalty if possible (items with penalties are cheaper to activate; in general, only use gear with a penalty that doesn’t affect your character since it’s basically a free cost reduction).
Gloves (attack damage):
First and foremost, the Eldrid gloves are all awesome because max hp is absolutely amazing and the conditional effect on the rare and uncommon versions are extremely easy to activate. Montana does have a shield so you don’t want to reduce it with the penalized versions.
The LLC epic glove is good because it provides some more shield. The other gloves aren’t worth it because of bad conditional requirements.
The Rogue rare glove is awesome because Montana can quickly peel shields and is extremely good at scoring crits without even trying to activate and maintain the conditional buff.
Swords (attack speed):
The exact same stuff here as with the gloves, with a different primary stat. Same rules apply.
Wrenches (buildable cost):
Excellent for PvP building loadouts, this is the only free wrench that doesn’t penalize Montana at all. The higher rarity wrenches tend to not be worth it because you’re spending shards to save the same amount on later purchases.
Goggles (crit damage):
The exact same stuff here as with the gloves, with a different primary stat. Same rules apply.
Pauldrons (damage reduction):
12.4% DR after activating a skill is extremely good (especially given how Hailstorm already gives you DR), given how much Montana likes DR and how he tends to use his skills (i.e. as much as possible). Keep in mind that DR from separate sources is multiplicative, not additive, so 30% DR from Hailstorm + 12.4% DR from the rare Rogue pauldrons = ~39% DR (1 – (1 – .3) * (1 – .124)), not 42.4%. Don’t go for the penalized version because that’s -hp, which is bad: you en up losing almost as much TTK as you gain.
Injectors (health regen):
Montana is big and, if you don’t have a pocket healer, really needs access to a lot of damage recovery; without a pocket healer, some other way of recovering hp on his own so a regeneration item of some kind is virtually a necessity (even with his helices). The conditional on the Eldrid one is extremely easy to activate (just don’t die) and stays up for as long as you might need after it’s been activated. The LLC variant will give you regen when you’re in combat (when your shield is down), but it won’t really heal you as much outside of combat so which is better depends upon how often you figure you’ll die.
Armor (max hp):
The LLC rare is one of the best max hp items in the game for PvP. As soon as your shield breaks, your max hp and current hp both increase by 210. As soon as you have a shield again, your max hp and current hp are both reduced by 210 (though no less than 1). It’s extremely good (and will actually provide slightly more TTK than the previously mentioned pauldrons). The Eldrid variant is basically a bridge gap until you can get the LLC one.
Shard Gen (free shards):
Virtually required for most PvP loadouts, these free shard gens don’t penalize Montana at all. The higher rarity shard gens tend to not be worth it because you’re having to wait to activate it before starting to generate shards, effectively doubling the cost.
Stolen Edge of Arcvynorr, Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter, Blissbeast Skull Plate
One legendary devoted to damage and 2 devoted to survivability, stacking attack speed, dr, and max health with a little bit of crit damage and regen. If you’re doing ops, replace the BSP with a SKNK-WRK and the P2G with a SG BDU since they’re outright better.
Pure Damage PvE:
Stolen Edge of Arcvynorr, Symbiotic Gauntlet, Vigilant Power Scouter
Only do this if you are sure that you have a good pocket healer because you’ll have very little regen with this. Lots of attack speed, attack damage, and crit damage. You’ll be getting a good chunk of +hp from the Eldrid legendaries, but that’s unavoidable. If you’re in a group that can coordinate and/or have problems scoring crits, you might consider replacing VPS with Bola’s Target Finder, for a truly pure DPS allotment, though you’ll end up with lower personal DPS.
Pure Survivability PvE:
Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter, Blissbeast Skull Plate, All-4-One Morale Booster
As much DR as you can possibly squeeze into a single character coupled with plenteous max hp and a healthy portion of regen and healing received. If you’re solo, replace the Morale Booster with Oath of the Sustained or another good injector for regen.
Pure Survivability Ops:
SKNK-WRK Decoherence Refractor, Squad Goals BDU, Ziggurat Schematic Serum
All 3 of these provide massive survivability boons but only while running ops. The SKNK and SG BDU are basically requisite but the ZSS can be replaced without much problem by an epic UPR (for extra DR) or epic Jennerit (for extra damage) injector without any problem (and definitely more reliable performance). Another option, if you’re running with friends, would be the Oath of the Sustained.
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), 2 of (SKNK-WRK Decoherence Refractor, Squad Goals BDU, Symbiotic Gauntlet, Stolen Edge of Arcvynorr, etc.)
The free shard gen allows you to afford the other 2 legendaries, of which there are a whole plethora of options.
Legendary PvP Tank:
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), Pain-2-Gain Re-Knitter, Blissbeast Skull Plate
In PvP, since you’ve always got a team of 5 (at least to start with), Montana works best as a meat shield for his allies to hide behind. The free shard gen is there to allow you to afford the other 2 legs.
Legendary PvP Damage:
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), Stolen Edge of Arcvynorr, Symbiotic Gauntlet
Attack Speed and Attack Damage will make this Montana dangerous, especially for wave clearing on minions or other NPCs. VPS is out largely because players are annoying to crit. The free shard gen is there to allow you to afford the other 2 legs.
Legendary PvP Control:
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), Mini-Singularity Launcher, Modernista
Mini-Singularity Launcher gives you some non-skill slowing capability as well as heat management. Modernista makes range people less willing to take pot shots (especially Marquis, who can be very annoying) and reduces CD. The free shard gen is there to allow you to afford the other 2 legs.
Fast Leveling PvP:
Sketchy “Easy Money” (-heal power), Crude Handyman Multi-Tool (-skill damage), any 1 legendary
Build as much as possible to get easy xp and level up as quickly as possible. Make sure you stick around the fights as well so that you’re not sacrificing minion xp for build xp. The legendary is there for when you hit level 10 and no longer need to spend shards on build xp. I don’t mention any specific legendaries because there are a *crapton* that can fit in depending upon what you want and how you want to do it.
Cheap and Functional PvP:
3 of (Trickster’s “Painkiller”, Sportsman’s Haute-Couture Kevlar, Stout Ekkuni Wristguard, Stout Aelfrin Warblade)
Since there aren’t any legendary items, you don’t really need a free shard gen (though you could replace either the glove or the pin if you really wanted). The Eldrid uncommon glove and pin can be replaced by the epic versions if you’re worried about dying, but it will increase the price a fair deal (2 greens and a blue costs 2352; going from uncommon to epic would cost 336 each).