Forums: Index > Watercooler > NEW! A definitive study on critical damage, with graphs!

Actual graphs not included

Critical damage has always been an obscure field in Borderlands. I did some research, and here are my findings.

I'll start with the results, because that's what we all want:


The formula for critical damage is defined as:

CriticalDamage = BaseDamage * (1 + ZoneMultiplier + WeaponMultiplier)


  • BaseDamage: The base damage you'd do against an un armored opponent
  • ZoneMultiplier: A multiplier defined by the opponent.
  • WeaponMultiplier: The multiplier as defined by the weapon card.

What we have discovered: The existence of "ZoneMultiplier", which stacks additivelly with the weapon's multuplier.

Weapon Multiplier

This is what we all know and love:

  • Pistols, Shotguns, Rifles: +0% Critical Damage.
  • Revolvers: +100% Critical Damage.
  • SniperRifles: about +200%.

Zone Multiplier

This is the new field:

  • Bandit heads: +150% damage.
  • Skags: +300% damage.
  • Crab Worms: +2900% damage.
  • Spiderants: +200% damage.
  • Badasses: +100% ?

There appears to be an upper bound on the amount of damage a skag can take

Other interesting tidbits (melee)

The critical weapon multiplier of the player's melee is the same as the weapon that player is carrying. This doesn't mean bladed weapons are useless, as the damage multiplier ALWAYS applies, but if you are going to melee an opponent, and you don't have a bladed weapon, at least carry a sniper.

Other interesting tidbits: "1"

There is a "1" in the above formula. Note that depending on your point of view, you can integrate that 1 into the two other fields, for example:

  • WeaponMultiplier: You can consider that ALL weapons get a base +100% damage, and then the card's +X% stacks on top of that.
  • You can consider it as a part of ZoneMultiplier, and bandit heads really take +250%.

It is really just a matter of point of view. I think from a strick mechanical point of view, it belongs inside "ZoneMultiplier", as shown by the Crab Worms, which take 29x damage. Why 29? Why not 30?
However, from a human point a view, I think the "stand alone" 1 represents quite well the "BaseDamage" that a creature should normally take from your weapon, and is what makes the most sense.

Heck, you can even "extract" 1 from the "ZoneMultiplier" and put it into "WeaponMultiplier". Doing both gives a good correlation with the current Critical hit page's data.


  • The above formula has been consistently accurate for me. It perfectly explains why some users report "+100% base", while others report "+150%". It also explains why some users report that the Bessie is actually "+650%" or "+750%". Specifically, it is +500% and when you shoot a Bandint in his face, he takes 750% damage according to the formula.
  • A note of interest is that the ZoneMultiplier is additive.
    • Firing a sniper at a lava crab worm is nothing short of retarded. You are better off with an automatic weapon (SMG/Machine Pistol), or a burst weapon (shotgun/Combat Rifle/Masher). Even if you are going for a damage competition, you are better off with point blank matador.
    • Regarding skags, I think the most important is to just unload with the weapon you have in hand.

Future research

  • Study the Bessie specifically, to find out if the multiplier is correct (which I suspect it is). Edit: Done. 500% is correct
  • Study other opponents, such as Lance, and in particular, Crawmerax and Baddasses.

Future work

Re-write critical damage. The page is not top notch. As for the mechanics section, it is just plain wrong (bit I wrote it, so I'll take the blame for it)


To create this study, I made the above assumption, and tested it using various weapons on various creatures, firing at both body and critical spot. The character in question had 0 proficiency for all weapons, no skills and no mods, of course. The results were not too hard to interpret actually:

Lava Crab Worm

This was pretty straight forward:

weapon type Card Damage Body Damage Critical Damage Crit/Body Aprox. Equiv
Repeater 68 163 4868 29.86 1+29+0
SMG 34 82 2454 29.92 1+29+0
Revolver 84 204 6299 30.87 1+29+1
Sniper 233 563 17990 31.95 1+29+2
Sniper 276 667 21341 31.99 1+29+2

This chart shows quite perfectly that Crab worms take +29x damage, and each weapon's individual +0/+1/+2 critical multiplier.


The second test was with low level bandits in front of Bonehead's. Note of interest, I tested all local bandit types (thug/raider/midget), which all took the same amount of damage.

weapon type Card Damage Body Damage Critical Damage Crit/Body Aprox. Equiv
Repeater 68 163 406 2.490798 1+1.5+0
SMG 34 82 205 2.5 1+1.5+0
Revolver 84 204 712 3.490196 1+1.5+1
Sniper 233 563 2530 4.493783 1+1.5+2

Again, not much to say, the results speak for themselves. Bandits +150%


I tested with the alpha skags at the end of the "The Lost Cave". I chose them for their resilience, and because they are the only Skags I can get to reliably scream.

weapon type Card Damage Armor Damage Body Damage Critical Damage Crit/Body Aprox. Equiv
Repeater 68 29 163 650 3.9 1+3+0
SMG 34 15 82 328 4.0 1+3+0
Revolver 84 36 204 983* 4.81 1+3+0.8**
Sniper 233 99 563 983*
Sniper 276 117 667 983*

Unfortunately, it would appear there is an upper bound to the amount of damage an (alpha) Skag can take. However, the formula still holds for Pistols and SMG, and we can see that the Revolver's critical damage, while bounded, is higher than the SMG's 400%. Conclusion: Skags: +300% EDIT: I've further tested this with higher level Alpha skags, and I'm still getting an upper bound to how much damage their mouths can take from a single shot. Come to think about it, I don't think I've ever 1-shot an alpha...
I'm going to try to Bessie a really low level Alpha, and I bet it won't kill it.


Spiderants were harder to test on, because I could not get a direct feed on the "body damage". Nothin a bit of extrapolation can't fix though ;)

I tested on Workers, Queens, and a Baddass Corrupter which took a critical blast of all my weapons :o !

Here are the results for all 3:

+ Worker
weapon type Card Damage Extrap. Body Damage Critical Damage Crit/Body Aprox. Equiv
Repeater 68 105.4 317 3.007590133 1+2+1
Revolver 84 130.2 529 4.062980031 1+2+1
Sniper 233 361.15 1828 5.06160875 1+2+2
Sniper 276 427.8 2168 5.067788686 1+2+2
+ Queen
weapon type Card Damage Extrap. Body Damage Critical Damage Crit/Body Aprox. Equiv
Repeater 68 105.4 317 3.007590133 1+2+0
Revolver 84 130.2 529 4.062980031 1+2+1
Sniper 233 361.15 1828 5.06160875 1+2+2
Sniper 276 427.8 2168 5.067788686 1+2+2
+ Baddass Corruptor
weapon type Card Damage Extrap. Body Damage Critical Damage Crit/Body Aprox. Equiv
Repeater 68 97.24 195 2.005347594 1+1+0
Revolver 84 120.12 366 3.046953047 1+1+1
Sniper 233 333.19 1350 4.051742249 1+1+2
Sniper 276 394.68 1601 4.056450796 1+1+2

We can see the "base" +200% damage for spiderants quite well, and a +100% (only) for the Baddass. I'm really happy at how well my formula held up.

Bonuses, Deadly, Sniper, Ranger

I did some extra research to study the effect "stuff" on critical damage. The results are astounding (IMO):

Proficency, +X% Damage, +X% BulletDamage

All the above effects have a direct effect on "BaseDamage", and the effect on the cirtical is thus geometrically the same.

EG: +75% damage will result in an overall +75% Damage on a critical hit.


For starters, I found that Deadly's Bonus was arithmetic. It can be written in the form:

CriticalDamage = BaseDamage * (1 + ZoneBonus + WeaponBonus + DeadlyBonus)

The catch is the "Deadly"'s bonus description is WRONG and actually gives 2.5x times what the skill says.

I have tables full of numbers, but to make it simple, at level 5, Deadly will actually give a +75% Critical Damage Bonus (!) A pistol that normally hurts 121, on a Bandit:

  • Without Deadly: 303 damage : 121*(1+1.5+0)
  • With Deadly: 393 damage : 121 * (1+1.5+0+0.75)

This shows that:

  • A) Deadly is an incredibly powerful skill
  • B) Deadly tends to be (relatively speaking) more effective with low critical damage weapons, than, say, sniper rifles.

This was thoroughly tested on Skags, Bandints, Crabs, and I 100% guarantee accurate data.

Ranger & Sniper Com

Here is the data I used, extracted from bandits.


  • Deadly = +75%
  • Sniper = +85%
  • Ranger = +54%
Card Base Head Sniper Ranger Deadly DeadlySniper DeadlyRanger
Dove 61 121 303 303 303 393 393 393
Razor 248 495 1731 1731 1998 2102 2102 2369
Unforgiven 165 330 1485 1485 1842 1733 1733 2089
Solid 274 548 2353 3190 2885 2763 3601 3295
Thunder 386 772 3473 4745 4307 4052 5364 4886
Gamble 221 441 2205 3142 2800 2536 3473 3131
Bessie 543 1085 8131 9974 9302 8945 10768 10115

I'm not quite sure how to explain this, but basically, the formula I posted on critical hit works with a nearly null deviation. I tried it out on Skags are Larva Crab Worms to cross confirm, and it holds too.

The results are basically: Sniper and Ranger give a percentage based bonus to a weapon's critical bonus.

The Bessie works a *little* differently regarding these two weapons:


The Bessie is a Sniper Rifle that "looks" like +500% Bonus Damage. In real life however it is actually a 200% damage sniper that gets +150% bonus from the scope: EG:

  • 200% × (1 + 1.5) = 500%

When coupled with a Ranger or a Sniper Com, the impact is that the bonus only applies to the base +200%

  • 200% × (1 + 1.5 + 0.85) = 670% Total Bonus
  • 200% × (1 + 1.5 + 0.54) = 608% Total Bonus

You can try it out, the formula correlates to less that 0.5% error. It took me a while to figure this one out, as well as the formulas of Ranger/Sniper, because Ol' Bessie was part of my test lineup.

This is why:

  1. The base Bessie is incredible, but Sniper Com Bessie isn't crazy incredible
  2. The mechanics page of the Bessie says that the scope gives +150% Critical damage bonus. While one might think it is should be a +300% Bonus, it is actually a multiplicative +150%.

Final Formula

For completeness's sake, the FULL COMPLETE formula is:

CriticalDamage = 
  BaseDamage × DamageModifier ×
    (1 + EnemyZoneBonus + DeadlyBonus +
      WeaponCriticalBonus × (1 + SniperBonus + RangerBonus + BessieBonus)

Where "DamageModifier" is proficiency and stuff, but one could consider it is a part of "BaseDamage", depending on how you look at it.


Thanks for reading! happypal (talk • contribs) 15:04, July 19, 2012 (UTC)

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