Character Deep Dive – Wilhelm - Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - PC -
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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Character Deep Dive – Wilhelm

Welcome back, traveler, to the second of our Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel character deep dives. Today, we’re turning our attention from Athena (the subject of last week’s examination) to the man with the tin can (body): Wilhelm.

If you played Borderlands 2, you’ll remember Wilhelm as one of the game’s early bosses. As The Pre-Sequel takes place before the events of that game, Wilhelm is still alive (oh, and he’s a little bit more human).

His active ability brings two flying drones into battle. Wolf is his attack dog, zeroing in on enemies and dealing out damage. Saint hangs back to shield and heal Wilhelm. Calling them back earlier reduces the cooldown timer.

Two of the three trees focus on making Wolf or Saint stronger. The third is all a bout stripping Wilhelm of his humanity.

Skill Tree: Drednaught

Notable Skills

  • Auxiliary Tanks - Decreases Wolf and Saint cooldown, Increases duration 
  • Energize - Saint boosts shields of you and your party, increases the rate at which Saint regenerates your health
  • Termination Protocols - While in Fight for Your Life mode, you can walk (at reduced speed), and you shock enemies nearby. If you run out of time, you release a nuclear explosion as you die.
  • Rapid Reinforcement - Killing increases your cooldown rate for Wolf and Saint
  • Zero Hour - When Saint is recalled or time runs out, he deploys a healing zone under you that regenerates you and friends.
  • Overcharge - When summoned, Saint bestows increased movement speed, fire rate, reload speed, and ammo regeneration to you and your team.

Play Style: Support

The Drednaught tree is about getting Wolf and Saint into battle more often and for longer durations. While active, Saint will help shield and heal you and teammates.

The tree also includes abilities that help with team elemental resistances. This is where to look when your party needs someone to support the mayhem.

Skill Tree: Hunter-Killer

Notable Skills

  • Fire Support: Increased gun damage, Increased Wolf damage
  • Afterburner: Increased reload speed and projectile speed, Increased air speed for Wolf
  • Venom Bolts: Increased corrode chance and damage, Wolf has a chance to deal corrosive damage
  • Laser Guided: While Wolf and Saint are active, tapping a button has Wolf target the enemy under your reticle. That enemy receives extra damage from all sources.
  • Kill Switch: Wolf dive bombs and explodes when recalled, runs out of health, or expires
  • Omega Strike: Wolf periodically shoots missiles

Play Style: Aggressive support in co-op, good for solo

Hunter-Killer gives up the healing and shield buffs from Saint in favor of dealing bigger and better damage with Wolf. Laser guided gives you better control over Wolf, while other skills keep him in the game longer.

Nearly every skill in this tree has a benefit for your attack drone. And, at the bottom, Wolf gets some pretty devastating ordnance. 

Skill Tree: Cyborg Commando

Notable Skills

  • Man and Machine - Increased shield capacity for you and Wolf
  • First to Fight - Increased Gun Damage, but bonus is lost after five seconds in battle. Bonus recharges after five seconds of not dealing or taking damage.
  • Power Fist - Replaces Wilhelm’s left arm with a cyborg fist and makes gives your punch extended range and explosive power (12 second cooldown).
  • Emergency Response - When your shield is depleted, fire rate, reload speed, and Wolf’s fire rate increase.
  • Shock Absorbers - Wilhelm’s legs get a robotic overhaul. You can now shoot while sprinting with bonus gun damage.
  • Divert Power - When shields are empty and health is low, more damage increases shield regeneration and damage resistance.
  • Meteor Slam - Increases radius of Zero-G slam ability.
  • Vengeance Cannon - When shields are empty, Wilhelm’s shoulder-mounted cannon is activated. It shoots incendiary laser blasts for 12 seconds in tandem with your active weapon.

Play Style: Run, gun, and damage sponge

This was my favorite tree of the preview. Not only do you see Wilhelm change as you level up, but his voice deepens and becomes more synthetic.

The abilities that play off shield depletion give Wilhelm a fighting chance in dangerous situations, and that vengeance cannon capstone ability is a beast. Wolf and Saint are still there, but they play a significantly diminished role for players focused solely on the Cyborg Commando tree.

For more, be sure to check out our Athena deep dive and our preview from E3. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is out on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on October 14.

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  • I honestly like this character. If you'd told me that the weird robot boss I fought ages ago suddenly has a backstory and was playable, I'd have not believed it. But, I guess few things are off-limits with Borderlands.

  • BALLERS as F U C K!!! In pre ordering this!!

  • Can't wait! It's good this is coming out since Gearbox isn't working on Borderlands 3 yet.

  • This guy RIGHT HERE is gonna be my new character. Ever since they announced Wilhelm as a playable toon, I've been dying to see his set up. Not disappointed one little bit. Can't wait to dive into this game. Plus the fact he turns into a cyborg the more you upgrade him...*nerdgasm*
  • So ready for this expansion pack.
  • Its like everybody at 2k Australia is standing up and dancing for me. STOP TEAsingS ING ME ALREADY and give me the game

  • I just want to see Claptrap.
  • So far Athena and Wilhelm look really good. It's cool, that he has one defensive surveyor and one offensive one. I've seen enough skill trees, I hope they don't show the rest off. I want to go in surprised.

  • he sorta looks like the main bad guy from the old Silverhawks cartoons, when he (the bad guy from the Silverhawks cartoons) doesn't have his helmet on

  • now i know why i won't be getting this game, the playable characters are unappealing to me.

  • Hopefully we'll get some Nisha gameplay this weekend at SDCC, and then a deep-dive for her like these next week.

  • I really want to play this game now! My girlfriend and I are definitely going to pre-order it!

  • Ok so Athena is cool and Wilhelm is a tank but still I think I'll have to go with Claptrap just because he is an option.

  • Pretty much going to play as Wilhelm. Any explanation as to why he is black in BL2, but white and Wolverine looking in this one?
  • Ok, I know who I'm playing as. Wilhelm looks pretty awesome. Can't wait to play as him.

  • The shoulder laser sounds rad. But I'd want the baddest drones possible, so I would likely split my points between those 2 trees. Also, I hope there are some cool head skins for him cuz he isn't just ugly. He's ooglay!

  • While I was very impressed with the story of Borderlands 2, the humor wore thin quickly, and the overall experience seemed a re-hash of Borderlands. That being said, I look forward to playing the Pre-Sequel.

  • Looks like I'll probably max out the Cyborg Commando tree. It just seems like it would be best-suited to the way I would want to play.

  • Looks like a newb character. Just like Axton, I'm not sure if I'll get to this one.