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Starfield Melee Build
Screenshot by Prima Games

Best Melee Build in Starfield

A street samurai? No, thanks. A space samurai!

Starfield has an extensive list of role-play options, thanks to its numerous backgrounds, skills, traits, weapons, and armor that complement almost any imaginable build style. In time, the modding community will add to everything. But for now, whether you want to play a pirate build, a stealth sniper build, or the best melee build in Starfield, you have options. Here’s how to craft a front-and-center melee fighter in Starfield.

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The Best Starfield Melee Build

While much of Starfield’s combat revolves around firearms or spaceships, there is room for a viable melee build in this universe. One of the earliest weapons you’ll discover on Kreet is the Rescue Axe, which is a fantastic starting weapon for this build. But forcing yourself to close the distance and hack-and-slash your way through Crimson Fleet and Spaces often means taking much damage in the process. As such, you need to focus on improving survivability alongside your melee skills to bolster damage.

A melee build in Starfield is a fantastic challenge run, but when done right, it’s mighty!

Best Backgrounds for a Melee Build

Starfield Melee Build Background
Screenshot by Prima Games

You have plenty of options when selecting a background in Starfield, but only a few prove worthwhile for a melee build. The recommended backgrounds for such a playstyle include:

  • Chef
    • Gastronomy: You can craft food and drink items that provide additional health, O2, and other unique buffs.
    • Dueling: Increases melee damage and, at higher levels, provides healing for every melee kill.
    • Scavenging: Increases the odds of finding credits, ammo, and aid items at higher levels.
  • Ronin
    • Dueling: Increases the player’s melee damage and will heal you for every melee kill.
    • Stealth: Provides a stealth meter when sneaking and improves sneak detection.
    • Scavenging: Improves the chances of discovering credits, ammunition, aid items, and will highlight resources in the hand scanner at higher levels.
  • Diplomat
    • Persuasion: Unlocks the ability to persuade NPCs in dialogue.
    • Commerce: Increases the amount of credits earned by selling items and reduces the cost of items.
    • Wellness: Increases maximum health by up to 40% at max level.

Yes, seriously, I do recommend the Diplomat background for a melee build in Starfield. Why? For a number of reasons, including opening up the ability to persuade your way out of combat, selling items for better prices to acquire more health items, and boosting health through the Wellness skill.

Recommended Traits

Starfield Melee Build Traits
Screenshot by Prima Games

While most of the game’s traits don’t affect much beyond dialogue options, a few may bolster a melee build significantly. These include:

  • Alien DNA: Increases total health and O2 but decreases the effectiveness of all healing items in the game.
  • Wanted: You have a bounty on your head but deal additional damage when your health is low.
  • Terra Firma: You’ll receive additional health and O2 when on the surface, but both decrease when in space.

As a melee build, you’re more likely to fight on the ground instead of through the hallways of a spaceship. As such, Terra Firma wins out over Spaced. Furthermore, while you will come under attack occasionally due to the Wanted trait, it’s worthwhile for the increased damage when taking hits.

Recommended Skills

Along with the previously mentioned skills included in your chosen background, such as Dueling, Stealth, and Gastronomy, you’ll also want to put points into the following skills for a melee build:

  • Physical Skills
    • Wellness: Increases total health.
    • Weightlifting: Increases carrying capacity.
    • Martial Arts: Increases melee attack damage.
  • Social Skills
    • Scavenging: Increases the amount of loot you discover.
  • Combat Skills
    • Dueling: Deals additional damage while taking less damage when using a melee weapon.
    • Pistol Certification: Using a high-powered revolver, like Deadeye, as a secondary can save your life.
  • Science Skills
    • Medicine: Increases the amount of health a first aid item heals for.
    • Spacesuit Design: Opens up unique crafting mods for your spacesuit to withstand more damage.
  • Technology Skills
    • Security: Unlocks the ability to bypass security systems.

Best Weapons for a Melee Build

Starfield Wakizashi
Screenshot by Prima Games

Unfortunately, there aren’t nearly enough melee weapons in Starfield to make this build exciting and unique for more than a single playthrough. But for a challenge run or a single run through the main story, the following weapons will feel fun and powerful:

  • Wakizashi: This unique samurai sword deals a staggering 49 damage per hit, is relatively light, and is easily found at most vendors in the Settled Systems.
  • Va’Ruun Painblade: The best melee weapon in the game, the Va’Ruun Painblade deals 62 damage per hit but is only available from a few select spots, like The Key and on Va’Ruun Zealot bodies.
  • Osmium Dagger: While certainly not the most powerful melee weapon in the game, the Osmium Dagger is an excellent starting point for this build. It deals 28 damage per hit, making it capable of quickly taking down most early-game foes.

Ideal Powers for a Melee Build

When it comes to collecting and using the various powers found during the main story quest, a few may prove genuinely useful for a melee build. At the very least, you’ll want to focus on those that slow time or provide greater movement capabilities. To that end, we chose:

  • Grav Dash: Manipulates the surrounding gravity to propel you forward into your enemies while also increasing your damage.
  • Reactive Shield: Creates a cosmic light shield around you that reflects enemy projectiles.
  • Phased Time: Slows down time for a short period.

Tips for Playing a Melee Build

Unlike using a firearm and taking cover whenever possible, a melee build in Starfield requires you to close the distance and get in everyone’s face quickly. If you’re not careful, this can often mean an untimely demise. Here are a few tips for playing a melee build.

  1. Use your Starborn powers to close the distance quickly, strike quickly, and then keep hitting until the enemy falls.
  2. Use aid items, including food and drinks, to bolster your health and O2 before a fight, and always keep a steady supply of first aid.
  3. Don’t be afraid to disengage and retreat if a fight becomes overwhelming or you’re clearly outmatched.
  4. If all else fails, there’s no shame in reverting back to a sidearm to clear a combat encounter.

Like all Starfield builds, the melee build requires several levels and skills unlocked to become effective. Give it some time, use what weapons and armor you need, and then devastate your enemies with quick slashes!

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Brandon Morgan
Brandon began writing in 2012, for websites such as OnlySP, before transitioning to digital marketing in 2016 to learn the ins and outs of SEO. In mid-2023, Brandon returned to write strategy guides for Prima Games, IGN, DualShockers, and more, with a focus on ARPGs, RPGs, and Survival games. His past coverage includes Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, Starfield, Skull and Bones, and many more!