Fallout 76: The Ultimate Melee Build Guide
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Fallout 76: The Ultimate Melee Build Guide

In this Fallout 76 Melee Build Guide, we’ll be showing you the basics. This means we’ll show you the Stats, Perks, Weapons and Armor that you’ll need in order to pull off a successful Melee Build. Please keep in mind while reading this that you will be unlikely to create this exact Build, and that this should be what you are, more or less, working towards. The reason for this is that you often don’t get the exact Perk Cards that you need as you Level Up. A level 50 Build Guide is great, but if you can’t use it until level 50, then it doesn’t have much use right now.

Fallout 76 Melee Build Guide

Melee Builds focus on close-combat damage, and thus need to be able to close the distance to their target rapidly, and strike hard and fast to take it down. While the concept isn’t overly complicated, it can be harder to pull off in many situations, particularly where there are many enemies with ranged weapons. In this Guide we’ll show you ways you can minimize the damage that you take as well as maximize the damage that you deal. If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at Melee, then read on for some very helpful information.


Fallout 76 Melee Build Stats

The first thing we’re going to cover in this Guide is Stats, and how they effect Melee Builds. Something many players are not aware of, is that each Stat adds a passive bonus. For example, each point of Strength will increase your Melee Damage by 5%, as well as increase your max Carry Weight by 5 pounds. This Stat therefore becomes much more important to Melee Builds than any other type of Build. The 3 main Stats you’ll need for a Melee Build are: Strength, Endurance and Agility.

strengthStrength : +5% Melee Damage per rank / +5 Carry Weight per rank
enduranceEndurance: +5 Health per rank / Sprinting AP Drain Reduced by 5% per rank
agilityAgility: +10 Max Action Points per rank / +5 Sneak Rating Bonus per rank


Strength will increase your damage, but also your Carry Weight, allowing you to wear heavier Armor. Heavier Armor equals more protection vs. damage, which will be needed to close the distance to enemies without dying. Endurance grants you more Health to keep you alive while fighting, but more importantly allows you to Sprint longer, closing to targets faster. Agility is needed to increase your Max Action Point pool, so that you can Sprint longer and use more Power Attacks. The Sneak Bonus is a nice to have, because you can kill enemies quietly in 1 hit much of the time.

One-Handed Vs. Two-Handed Melee Weapons

All Melee Weapons have two very important attributes that you need to pay attention to. The first is Damage (of course), and the second is Speed. The first dictates how much you’ll hit for, and the second determines how fast you can attack. Generally faster weapons deal less Damage per hit, and slower weapons deal more per hit. This means it is generally a better idea to use Two-Handed Weapons than One-Handed ones, because you are more likely to kill your target in one swing, but there is more to it than that.

bowie knife
Damage and Speed are the two main Stats of each Weapon, and what you need to consider when using it.

Every Melee Weapon in the game can do what is called a “Power Attack”, which essentially does about 2x the damage of a normal strike, and it usually has a bit longer of a wind-up. However, this attack uses Action Points, which means that you cannot just keep doing Power Attacks over and over infinitely. What this does do though, is it allows players who are using Weapons that hit for less damage (like One-Handed Weapons) to still be able to kill enemies in 1 hit, albeit less often. So what does this all mean?

Players should aim to use the fastest attacking Melee Weapon they can, as long as they can kill most enemies in 1 hit, even if it’s by way of Power Attack.

Getting more advanced here, you could potentially take Perks that increase your Action Point gain, so that you could use Power Attacks much more frequently. This would allow you to use One-Handed Weapons to great effect, but it’s much harder to accomplish this sort of setup near the beginning of the game. Therefore I recommend using a Two-Handed Weapon until you get much further into the game.

Pressing R1 will cause you to do a Power Attack for increased damage at the cost of AP.

Fallout 76 Melee Build Perks

Perks are mostly straight forward for this kind of play, but in this section we’ll cover the obvious and not so obvious Perks to facilitate Melee combat. I’ll break these down by Level so that you can see what to look for as you progress the game.

Melee Build Strength Perks

Slugger – This Perk will increase your overall Melee Damage with Two-Handed Weapons, and early on in the game you should be using them when you Melee. You want to aim for 1 hit = 1 kill, and using Two-Handed Weapons is the best way to do that. This one isn’t too hard to acquire, so keep your eyes out for it early and slot it once you reach Level 6. You can swap this out for Gladiator later in the game if you wish. Only take 1 rank.

Barbarian – This Perk will increase your overall Damage Resistance for each point you put into Strength, which should be a lot. Take this one at Level 14, or as soon as you find it, and rank it to 3 as quickly as possible.

Martial Artist – This Perk may be the single most important you can take for a Melee Build, because it increases the Speed of your Melee attacks, and you look for it once you reach Level 16. Take this one to rank 3 if you can.

Blocker – This Perk will reduce the damage you take from other melee opponents. Whether you’re PvPing or PvEing, this Perk can save your ass, big time! Take this one when you get to level 21 and take it to rank 3 if you can.

Perks like Slugger are great, but you get more bang for your buck at rank 1 then on subsequent ranks. Keep this in mind when selecting them and try to stay away from higher ranks in order to save Perk Points if you can.

Expert Slugger – A natural pick if you chose Slugger, this will further increase your damage with Two-Handed Weapons, and becomes available at level 24. Take only 1 rank.

Incisor – This Perk reduces the effectiveness of enemy Armor vs. your Melee attacks, which is a huge increase to your damage. It becomes available at level 34, and you’ll want to take 3 ranks.

Master Slugger – This one should be self explanatory by this point, and becomes available at level 48. Again, only take 1 rank.

This will require 14 points into Strength, which should be done easily. You may not have all of these Perks, so if you cannot get any of them, or for some reason have extra Points into Strength from gear or Mutations, it is advised you invest in Perks that reduce the Carry Weight of equipment or items. This will prevent you from becoming Encumbered, which is terrible for Melee Builds.

Melee Build Endurance Perks

Adamantium Skeleton – This Perk reduces the damage your limbs take, helping to prevent you from being crippled. You can’t get it until Level 21, but once you do you’ll want to take it to rank 3 as soon as possible.

Solar Powered – This is a great way to increase your Damage and Health during the daylight hours of the game. Since there aren’t too many Endurance Perks to grab, this one isn’t bad. Take it to rank 3 when you can.

Ironclad – This Perk will further increase your Damage Resistance, helping you to stay alive while closing the distance to your target. Take this one to rank 5 when you can.

You can see from this Perk list that Endurance is mainly used for the Health and AP Sprint Cost reduction, so you will level this Stat up more slowly than Strength. There are many other good “general” Endurance Perks, however, so consider using those ones earlier on in the game until you can get these ones. These Perks will require 11 Endurance total.

lead belly
Perks like Lead Belly are great in general and will often fill up your Endurance Perks slots until you get later in the game. Use them while you have them and then switch to the ones in the list.

Melee Build Agility Perks

Action Boy-Action Girl – This Perk will increase the speed your Action Point regenerate, which will help you be able to Sprint and Power Attack more often. Take this one to rank 3.

Moving Target – This Perk will further increase your Resistances while Sprinting, which you will do often. Take this one to help you get to your target alive, so that you can take them down. Take this one to rank 3.

Marathoner – Marathoner allows you to Sprint for longer by reducing the AP cost of Sprint. This is important because you will need to move quickly to get to your target and don’t want to worry about your AP. Take only 1 rank of this Perk.

Evasive – This Perk will increase your Damage Resistance further for each point spent into Agility. Take this one up to rank 3.

Moving Target is a great Agility Perk for Melee Builds because you will be Sprinting often and you can never have enough Damage Resistance!

Adrenaline – This Perk is excellent for Melee Builds that, once detected, need to run from target to target as fast as they can killing. You only need to take 1 rank of this perk for it to be good.

Agility has many good Perks for Melee, as you can see, but most deal with Damage Resistance and Sprint reduction cost. You will need at least 11 Agility to get what I have suggested here, which is easily doable.

Miscellaneous Melee Build Perks

Miscellaneous Perks are Perks from other Stats that you may want to take to further improve your Melee Build. None of these are required, but they can help in some form or another, and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with them. You can take all or none of these:

Refractor – This Perception Perk will further bolster your defenses, which helps to protect you while you are being shot at. You have far less Energy Resistance with the above Perks, so this one helps to shore that up. Take this one to rank 3.

Suppressor – This Charisma Perk will help reduce the damage you take when facing hard to kill enemies, which is when you need it most. Consider taking all 3 ranks.

Makeshift Warrior – This Intelligence Perk is a great way to prevent your Melee Weapons from breaking, and allows you to Craft them as well. This is a good quality of life Perk for any Melee Build. Consider taking all 5 ranks.

This Intelligence Perk works extremely well for Melee Builds so that your weapons don’t break as quickly.

Junk Shield – This Luck Perks gives you Resistance just for carrying Junk in your inventory, which you will almost certainly be doing. Take this one when you can and never unslot it. Consider taking all 3 ranks.

Starched Genes – This Perk will allow you to keep your Mutations when you use Radaway if you have rank 2. Don’t take this one until you can take rank 2 because it’s not worth it for Melee Builds.

These Perks added together add up to 12 Perk Points, while the other Perks above add up to 33 Perk Points. This means you will need a total of 45 Perk Points, which leaves you a few extra to use on what you want. It is unlikely that you will be able to obtain this exact setup, so keep that in mind when you are playing. You will have to improvise with the Perks you have while working your way towards this goal.

Melee Build Mutations

In Fallout 76 players can gain what are called Mutations, and gain extra bonuses, that more often than not come with some side effects. Mutations are obtained by gaining a significant amount of Radiation, which is not hard to do at all in the Wasteland. This is important for all Builds, because can make your Build go from good to great very easily. In this section we’ll look at some of the Mutations you might consider taking if you wish to play a Melee Build. Remember that you will need Starched Genes rank 2 in order to be able to remove the Radiation and maintain these Mutations, so they will most likely come into play later in your build.

Mutations Table from the Wiki.

Scaly Skin – This Mutation increases your Damage and Energy Resistance by 50, at the cost of -25 AP. While that’s a lot of AP to lose, you will have high Agility when playing Melee, which will make up for that loss. This is definitely one you want to look out for.

Speed Demon – This Mutation seemingly has no side effect and it increases your Movement Speed. This will help you close the distance to your prey much more quickly, which is an added boost.

Twisted Muscles – This Mutation increases your Melee Damage by 25% and gives you a better chance to cripple the limbs of your target. The downside is that you loose 50% weapon Accuracy, which only applies to ranged weapons, so is not really a negative for a Melee Build.

Marsupial – This Mutation increases your Carry Weight by 20, but more importantly, increases the height you can jump. This will allow you to get over obstacles more easily, and reach your targets faster. However, it has a heft downside at -4 Intelligence.

Melee Build Weapons

In this section we’ll take a look at the Weapons and Armor you should be looking for when making a Melee Build. Many Weapons and Armor are level gated, meaning you cannot use them until you are a certain level, so we’ll make multiple recommendations here (accounting for this). Let’s start with Weapons.

Melee Build Weapons

As mentioned above you’ll want to decide whether or not to use a One-Handed or a Two-Handed Melee Weapon, but it is strongly advised you use a Two-Handed earlier on in the game. Some great early game Two-Handed Weapons are the Fire Axe and the Sledgehammer. These both deal tremendous damage per swing, and can 1 shot most enemies, particularly if you use a Power Attack. They also have decent attack range, allowing you to not stay right up against the enemy you are attacking (if it’s a tough one that doesn’t go down in one swing), meaning you can back away between strikes to prevent damage from return attacks.

fire axe
The Fire Axe is a great starting Weapon that you can use. The Sledgehammer is a bit better, but they are harder to find.

Later on in the game you can use whatever you want, as long as you are taking most targets down in one attack. I suggest you look over the Melee Weapons page on the Fallout 76 Wiki and become familiar with what there is to choose from, so you get an idea.

Legendary Weapon Effects (Melee)

Once you know what type of Weapon you’re looking for you’ll want to try to get one with as many Legendary Effects as possible on it, up to a max of 5. While these are very much random, and you cannot control what you get, knowing which ones to have will help you decide if what you got is what you need. Because this is a rather long list, and there are many that can be used in Melee combat, I’ll refer you once again to the Fallout 76 Wiki for information about Legendary Effects.

somerset special
You can see the Legendary bonus up top and you can see how many Legendary bonuses it has on the bottom left. You can have a max of 5 on any one weapon, so look for Legendaries with as many bonuses as possible.

Melee Build Armor

Since this is a Non-Power Armor Build, you will need to find the best Armor that you can get and keep it in good condition to protect yourself from damage. Because of high Strength, and likely one or two Perks that reduce Carry Weight, you should be able to use the heaviest Armor you can find with this Build. This will afford the best protection possible, helping to reduce the damage you take. Since what you find is random, you’ll just want to look for the pieces with the best Damage and Energy Resistance on them.

Legendary Weapon Effects (Armor)

Just like Weapons, Armor can drop with between 1-5 Legendary effects, and you’ll want to get as many bonuses on these Armor pieces as possible. There are many good ones you can get, and it is likely that these bonuses will outweigh the Armor protection of the piece you are wearing, should there be many. Check out the Fallout 76 Wiki for the list of possible Legendary Armor Effects, so that you know what you can get, and whether or not what you have is the best Armor for the job.

silver lining
You can see the Damage Resistance in the bottom left and the Legendary Bonus up top.

Final Tips

The key to playing a Melee Build successfully really boils down to killing things in 1 hit (most enemies), as well knowing when to attack. If you have to sit there and wail on enemies over and over you will take lots of damage in return because it is hard for the AI to miss a point blank target. And, charging a group of enemies that see you coming will surely end in you dying quickly, because they can hit you multiple times before you even reach them. Boost your damage high, and be smart about when and from where you attack.

Playing Melee is easier in a group where your teammates can draw fire, and you can charge in when the enemy is not looking. If you are having trouble playing your Melee Build successfully, consider joining a group, and seeing how it goes. Just make sure they aren’t all Melee as well, or it could be a shit show.

Stealth works extremely well with Melee because it makes very little noise when you kill an enemy (in 1 hit). If you are looking to play a stealthy character, playing Melee is one effective way to do this. Consider adding some Perks like Stealth Boy and Escape Artist if this is the predominant way you wish to play.

Stealth Combat
Stealth Combat works tremendously with Melee Weapons because they don’t make much noise, preventing other enemies from becoming alerted to your presence.

I have mentioned it a few times above, but I will mention it again here; you will be hit while playing Melee, so you need to reduce the damage you take when this occurs. This is done through Perks, Mutations and even Chems, so be sure to use ones that do this. Even if you’re getting hit, if it the damage you take is extremely low from it, you can charge through a bullet storm and still come out fine!

Lastly, use Chems when you need them! There are some really great Chems for Melee Builds (like Psycho), that boost Strength, Damage Resistance or Damage Dealt. Use these when you need an extra boost in damage or defense, like when you’re fighting hard to kill enemies. They don’t last very long though, so only use them when you really need them.

There are some great Chems like Psycho that help to increase your damage for a short time. Make sure you use them if you need them.

Stay tuned for more Fallout 76 Builds coming through out November as we take a look at the Sniper and Power Armor Master!

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1 response to “Fallout 76: The Ultimate Melee Build Guide”

  1. I’ve leaned pretty heavily on a hunting rifle for the beta and up to level 23. But I left myself some options to morph into melee as I go. The way these cards work, it seems like you can spread your stats out more than in other Fallout games, and create different loadouts for either tanking, sneaking, playing a medic, all on the same character.

    Right now I’m swimming in so many fusion cores that I’ve been using PA just so I don’t have to toss away the cores. Combined with a spiked sledgehammer, it’s a great playstyle.

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