Read our full Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel review.
Most Borderlands fans may not recognize the name Nisha, but those that drilled through the events of Borderlands 2 almost certainly remember the Sheriff. A croney of Handsome Jack’s — not to mention his lover — Nisha brought misery to the good people of Pandora, first for helping to take down New Haven and later for capturing Brick and murdering his poor, innocent puppy. The puppy thing is especially brutal.
That’s not the Nisha you’ll meet in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. The story opens long before her nefarious efforts in Jack’s name elevate her to the position of Lynchwood Sheriff. She’s just another gun-for-hire, called upon to help a younger, not-yet-Handsome Jack achieve his mysterious goals.
Nisha is a good choice for lone wolf players, given that she’s the only character in the game — so far, we still haven’t seen Fragtrap — that doesn’t have any support abilities in her three skill trees: Law & Order, Fan the Hammer, and Lawbringer. Her action skill, Showdown, automatically aims at enemies while boosting the gun damage, fire rate, reload speed, accuracy, and bullet speed stats. It doesn’t work with sniper rifles or rocket launchers, but Showdown is a powerful skill, and a very welcoming one for Borderlands newcomers. Just activate it and shoot; the guns take care of the rest.
The Law & Order tree is for the more technical play-minded players. If you really enjoyed generating stacks of Anarchy with Borderlands 2‘s Mechromancer, this is the tree for you. It’s all about getting up close and personal, especially with the first-tier Order skill that encourages you to take damage. It works like this: Whenever you take 15 percent of your maximum health in damage, you gain one Order stack. The more stacks you have, the higher your chance of instantly healing double the damage taken.
Other opportunities open up further down the tree that offer new ways of generating Order, with stacks granted for dealing damage with the new Slam attacks and scoring kills. With Wanted, you also tag enemies that do enough damage to generate Order with Wanted stacks, which temporarily boost the damage you do to them. It sounds like a very effective strategy for taking down bosses quickly. The tree’s capstone skill, Thunder Crackdown, is a melee override that spits out a cone of shock energy, with the damage total influenced by the amount of Order you’ve generated.
Nisha’s Fan the Hammer skill tree is all about enabling a pistol-fueled cowgirl rampage. This one’s for players that like to boast about a body count, with three Kill Skills that grant different bonuses every time you take an enemy out of the fight, plus a fourth skill that extends the duration of Showdown with every kill.
Most of the other skills are built around powering up Nisha’s capabilities while she’s got Showdown active. The mid-tier Pickpocket creates some interesting possibilities, with melee attacks having a chance to steal up to six bullets from the enemy and add them to your ammo total (rocket launchers excluded). While the name of this tree, “Fan the Hammer,” suggests a pistol focus, that specific firearm isn’t emphasized until you get to the capstone skill. One For Each Of Ya spawns a duplicate pistol in Nisha’s other hand whenever she’s got one equipped.
Don’t let the name of The Riflewoman skill tree confuse you into thinking that this one’s all about precision sniper fire. Most of the skills in this tree are meant to encourage fast-firing, quick-reloading action. It’s a more technical play-oriented skill tree than Fan the Hammer, but it’s not as micromanagement-focused as Law & Order. A Nisha specced for The Riflewoman uses skills like Quick Shot and Crack Shot to improve hip-fire stats after a reload and boost damage on a fully loaded weapon’s first shot, respectively. Move and shoot, move and shoot. The Unchained skill supports this by boosting your fire rate as you earn Unchained stacks for shooting lots of enemies in a short amount of time.
Further down the tree, Riflewoman skills beef up Nisha’s critical hits (headshots, with humanoid enemies). Hot Lead carries the chance of igniting enemies with incendiary damage when you score critical hits with non-elemental weapons. Tombstone complements this well, boosting Nisha’s critical hit chance for a brief period of time after every kill. The capstone skill, The Unforgiven, is a pure damage attack, with shots fired during Showdown ricocheting into other enemies and triggering an explosion when the action skill’s duration expires. All of Nisha’s skill empower a more solitary approach in different ways. She’s a potent team member in any co-op game thanks to a range of skills that favor a high damage-per-second (DPS), but those same skills make her just as formidable on her own.
Here’s some of Nisha’s Riflewoman tree in action. Don’t you love the sepia tones overlaid across the screen when Showdown is active?