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Posted by jakob187 (22947 posts) -

I've received a few different direct messages after my last blog about doing a melee build in Fallout 4, and I figured "what the hell, I'll give everyone the secrets." Now, I'm not going to say that this is an end-all be-all of melee builds, but it will give you a good idea of where to start and what to look for. There MAY be spoilers somewhere in these parts, so be aware of that (though I doubt there will be).

Let's start with some simple information: doing a melee build in Fallout 4 is fun as hell. It's INCREDIBLY fun. However, it will cheese the hell out of this game on low difficulties, and it will be somewhere between fairly difficult to nigh impossible on Hard and above. Much of this is because you will have a ton of damage up front with very little genuine survivability until you have worked up some legendary gear with great affixes (Sentinel, Martyr, and stuff that generally has percentage damage reduction on it). You'll also need to get Armorer and Blacksmith at some point in order to improve that armor and weaponry, which is what you'll focus on past level 20 or so.

Skill points

Here is a basic breakdown of where you'll need to allocate your SPECIAL points as well as what perks to focus on for the first 20 levels or so:

Basic build

  • 9 points in Strength (use the SPECIAL book at Shaun's crib to give you a 10th point if you are going to use power armor and Pain Train)
  • 9 points in Endurance
  • 6 points in Luck
  • 2 points in Intelligence
  • 2 points in Charisma (use the SPECIAL book at Shaun's crib to give you a 3rd point if you are not going to use Pain Train)

With this build, you are looking to unlock the following perks as fast as possible...

  • 2 points in Idiot Savant
  • Full points in Iron Fist (if unarmed) or Big Leagues (if melee weapon)
  • Full points in Rooted
  • 1 point in Ghoulish
  • Full points in Medic
  • Full points in Bloody Mess
  • Full points in Lone Wanderer
  • Full points in Toughness
  • 1 point in Cannibal
  • 1 point in Aquaboy

This will cover about the first 20 levels or so for you.

Idiot Savant is ABSOLUTELY IMPORTANT, as it's going to level you insanely fast. Some people like to go three points into it so they can essentially get mini-quest levels of XP from enemies in the game. However, I prefer the 5x XP from popping a quest. Fun trick -you can quicksave before turning the quest in, then turn it in. If Idiot Savant doesn't proc, reload your quicksave and try it again. If it does not proc on the second turn-in, it won't happen at all.

Iron Fist and Big Leagues are your bread and butter for getting big damage out of your fists and weaponry.

Rooted gives you additional damage when standing still. Fun fact: when you are in VATS, you are considered standing still.

Ghoulish means that food that would give you radiation will actually heal you for MORE. You will still get RADS on your health bar, but it's really great for making the low end stuff heal you really big early in the game.

Medic is just great survivability, and when you eventually get a legendary piece of gear that offers Legendary Slow Time, it makes it that much more worthwhile.

Full points into Bloody Mess gives you 15% increased overall damage, as well as an essential Exploding Palm proc.

Lone Wanderer is excellent for you, as it'll give 30% damage reduction and 50% additional damage. That's just killer, and you can have this active WHILE having Dogmeat with you. Fun fact - Dogmeat is NOT considered a traditional companion, so Lone Wanderer STILL works while having him around. Moreover, he's actually really good crowd control for you, and with good dog armor on him, he's survivable enough. We'll explain some of that in a second, though.

Toughness is base damage resistance. That should be self-explanatory in and of itself.

Cannibal only needs to have 1 point put into it, and this is only because of Mr. Strong. We'll explain that in a minute.

Aquaboy is good solely because it lets you swim around freely, and there is quite a bit of water to traverse that makes trips far shorter.

Once you've gotten these levels grinded out (which shouldn't take long with Idiot Savant), you'll want to get your points in Armorer and Blacksmith (both located in Strength). Put full points into both of them. If you are interested in lockpicking, you can take points into that as well. That doesn't mean you'll have to put points into Perception (requires Rank 4 Perception to get Locksmith perk). If you want to hack things, then you could do that as well...I guess...but it's going to make Idiot Savant proc less, which will slow your leveling. Honestly, I don't feel like many things that are hacked lead to many great things anyways. One point in Awareness is also decent so you can see what your enemy's level and resistances look like, and points into Refractor also aren't bad for energy resistance. You can focus on these later in the game, and in all honesty, you are going to be one-shotting almost everything you encounter on difficulties below Hard anyways, so Awareness is kind of here or there really.

If you are going to use Pain Train (which is the highest melee damage move in the game), then...I can't help you. I don't use Power Armor. I'm a man, goddammit. I would suggest finding a guide somewhere else for that.

Skills to AVOID are Lead Belly, Rad Resistant, Basher, Penetrator, and Pickpocket. The first two are simple: radiation heals you from Ghoulish. Moreover, Rad-X will give you all the radiation resistance you need, and RadAway is not hard to get. Basher is if you use a gun to melee someone, and that's pointless since...you know...you'll be a melee build. It just won't do much damage. Just hotkey your melee weapons, then switch over quickly. It doesn't take much longer to do that, and you'll be able to knock the shit out of someone. Penetrator is really only good for guns. Pickpocket is for rogues. You aren't a rogue. You are a goddamn barbarian. Barbarians don't steal stuff. They kill and take what they want.

Another thing to point out: YOU ARE GOING TO BE THE BIGGEST DRUG ADDICT AND ALCOHOLIC EVER! You are a damn barbarian, so act like it! When you are going to fight something big, get fucking SMASHED! The best part is that the penalties you'll be taking for being wasted DON'T MATTER! They are not going to affect your damage in any way, and when you lose -1 Charisma or -1 Int, it just means you are losing the effective stats from them. You can still unlock and use the perks, even with these losses. There are few things that will make you lose Strength and Endurance in the game once addicted, so just be wasted whenever you want. If you WANT to take some Addictol or a Refreshing Beverage here and there, have a doctor cure your addictions, or take those dumb perks for not getting addicted, I...GUESS you could do that, as well.


With an unarmed build, it's actually easy as hell to get your endgame weapon: the Furious Power Fist. Just head to the Boston Common, then go to the little pond there and hit the boat. A behemoth named Swan will come out of the pond. Kill him and he will give you the weapon guaranteed. Congratulations. You never need another weapon, as Furious weapons will add damage to eat attack after your first if you haven't killed the target. Specifically, it adds an additional 40 damage to each attack. Furious weapons are ridiculous. Another solid option is the Deathclaw Gauntlet, which you can get from the Museum of Witchcraft. Go there, kill the Deathclaw, pick up the Pristine Deathclaw Egg, and then put it back in the nest. It will give you the weapon. It's up to you how you want to play that out. One option is a burst weapon, while the other is a DPS weapon.

If you are going the melee weapon route, your options are a bit crazier. A good starting option would be Grognak's Axe. The weapon has stagger when you hit someone, and the damage scales pretty well until you get my personal favorite options. You can find this (and Grognak's Costume) in Hubris Comics.

My personal favorite options are the 2076 World Series Baseball Bat/Rockville Slugger or the Kremvh's Tooth/Furious Machete combo. The World Series bat is located in Jamaica Plain, on display in a case in the treasure room. It has a unique ability that can send an enemy flying through the air on a proc chance. It's hilarious and makes me giggle with glee every time it happens. It also has a TON of damage on it, but like the Furious Power Fist for unarmed builds, it is a burst weapon. It is also not very VATS-friendly. Therefore, you might want to consider trading it in to Moe in Diamond City for some caps and buy the Rockville Slugger from him. It's a small decrease in damage from the World Series bat, but the bonus is that your attacks will cost 40% less in VATS. Where the World Series bat can usually get two or three swings, the Rockville can get about five or six. Therefore, it's technically a damage INCREASE against bigger enemies that you (for some reason) don't one-shot.

Kremvh's Tooth is located in Dunwich Borers, and it has a really...interesting...quest to do with it. If you played Point Lookout in Fallout 3 and remember the Dunwich quest there...and you are a fan of Lovecraft, this is going to be fun for you. Nonetheless, Kremvh's Tooth is a sacrifical blade, which means that it deals bleed AND poison damage.

If you can get a Furious Machete, however, then you are winning. Break down the Kremvh's Tooth to a regular machete, and the sacrifical blade mod will be added your inventory (which gives the bleed and poison damage). You cannot upgrade the Furious Machete past a serrated blade at your Weapons Workshop, but you CAN add the mod from Kremvh's Tooth to ANY LEGENDARY MACHETE! This takes the Furious Machete from being a weapon that does good base damage and gains increased damage with each swing, but it ALSO gains supplementary bleeding and poison damage for the mod you added from Kremvh's Tooth.

With both builds, however, you are going to have to have at least two guns on you at any point. I know. I know. This feels like a cop out, but there is one genuine reason for it: turrets. They are in all kinds of places, and in higher levels, you'll find that MKII and higher turrets can have staggering bullets that will rip you apart. On higher difficulties, they will hit you like trucks. Therefore, having a Combat Rifle and Combat Shotgun will help you greatly with ensuring you can take them down. I personally have a legendary Combat Rifle that I found which is converted over to .308 rounds, and it's my go-to gun. With the ammo being more scarce than others, the Combat Shotgun is just solid backup. If you ever find an improvement to either of these laying around, pick it up and turn it into your new main.


When it comes to gearing, you have multiple options. The best options are legendary pieces that will give you as much DR and ER as possible while also being able to be improved to higher quality. Affixes that you want are Sentinel/Titan (15% damage reduction while standing and not moving), Assassin (15% damage reduction vs Humans, the most common enemy type in the Wastelands), Fortifying (+1 STR and +1 END), Cavalier (15% damage reduction while blocking or sprinting), and Bolstering (up to +35 energy and damage resistance the lower your health). You will need at LEAST one piece of Martyr gear, which will give you a temporary slow-motion effect when you hit 20% or lower health. This is a perfect spot to pop a Stimpak and get your health back up, or you can use it to utilize your Bolstering gear and do some severe damage to people. As far as what type of gear you want, that is totally up to you. Combat Armor offers probably the best pound-for-pound DR/ER hybrid, but some people care about vanity a little bit more. I know that I do, and we'll explain that in just a second. With a helmet, I'd go for Combat Armor helmets, but if you can't get on, just about anything will work. Frankly, headgear isn't the most important piece (unless, again, you care about vanity).

Now look... I'm a barbarian in this game, literally. One of the best pieces of melee weapon armor that I've found in the game is Grognak's Costume, in terms of damage at least. I've tried replacing it with a +1 STR and +1 END chestpiece (Black Ops Chestpiece, specifically), and it's just not as much damage. However, you CANNOT upgrade the Costume at all, which means it is constantly going to leave you with less DR and ER than you'd like to be super survivable. I also personally wear the Mascot Head (which you can get from Bosco in D.B. Technical School), as it does actually give 5 DR (the only things higher are basically Synth Helmet or Combat Armor Helmet), and...it makes me a BAR-BEAR-IAN. It's basically amazing.

Supplementary Things

There are multiple other things to consider getting for the build, some of which are companion-related, some quest-related, and some just general pickups in the world. Here's a short list of the most important ones:

  • When you reach the maximum positive relationship status with your companions, they will give you a permanent perk each. The most useful ones are Paladin Danse (20% damage to ghouls, super mutants, and synths), Codsworth (+10 damage resistance against robot energy attacks), Preston (20% more DR and 20% more damage when outnumbered), Curie (heal for 100 health if under 10% HP), X6-88 (20% more ER if hit by energy weapon), Mr. Strong (20% more unarmed/melee damage if under 25% HP), and...if you are really daring, Hancock (20% crit hit if you are over 250 RADS).
    Of these, the two most important ones are Mr. Strong and Curie. The combat heal from Curie will save your ass so many times, and Mr. Strong just gives us more damage. Danse also does this, but it's to particular enemy types. You'll find yourself in situations with little health more than you'll find yourself against three specific enemy types. Mr. Strong...likes it when you kill innocent people...and when you eat corpses...which is why you took that one point in Cannibal. Makes sense now, right? Meanwhile, Curie likes it when you say good things about synths, are nice and kind to people, and heal Dogmeat or give her items.
  • Grognak the Barbarian comics are an obvious thing you need in order to beef your damage up further. However, there are a couple of other really good magazines to keep your eyes out for: Massachusetts Surgery Journal (increases limb damage with any weapon by 2% per per magazine) and Unstoppables (1% chance to completely avoid all damage dealt to you per magazine). Beyond that, there are a few issues of Astoundingly Awesome Tales andWasteland Survival Guide that can get you some good additional damage, DR, healing abilities, etc.
  • Chems and alcohol are your friend. You love them. Booze almost always give you more strength and endurance, which leads to more damage and survivability. Alcohol of the same category cannot give you a corresponding stack. For instance, if you drink two forms of alcohol that gives +1 STR, then you only get +1 STR. Therefore, what you want to do is drink something that gives +1, something that gives +2, and something that gives +3 for a total of +6. The other option is to drink whatever the fuck you want. Who cares, right? Just get shitfaced for the fuck of getting shitfaced and hit things really goddamn hard. Each point of Strength you gain gives you 10% more unarmed or melee damage, so it's worth it!
  • The Cabot House quest line will lead you to making a decision: either kill Jack Cabot and his family or kill Lorenzo Cabot, the patriarch housed within the Parsons Insane Asylum. If you want to be awesome at melee, then you kill Jack and his family. Lorenzo will give you an endless FREE supply of Mysterious Serum, which will give you +5 STR, 50 damage resistance, and take away -36,000 RADS. Yes. That was correct. -36,000 RADS. Ridiculous.
  • There will be at least one Bobblehead for Strength and one Bobblehead for Endurance that you can find in the game. Get them and be happy with your permanent +1 increase.


There's not much else beyond that to the unarmed/melee setup. Utilize your entire toolbox of tricks and you should find the Commonwealth to be your own personal punching bag of dastardly fun! I hope that this guide has been able to help you substantially in learning more about an unarmed/melee build in Fallout 4. The last thing you need to know is simple, though: praise be unto the One True Grognak, for He is the Light and the Savior of the Commonwealth. I will share with you all very soon pictures and a blog about my founding of the Church of Grognak soon enough, and you'll understand it all.

Take it easy and good luck out there!

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#1 Edited by fallouts (1 posts) -
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#2 Posted by TravisRex (819 posts) -

Just a minor correction, if you reload and it doesnt work, when turning in the quest, do it again, maybe wait a few seconds. Ive sometimes had to try up to 7 or so times. But it will work, just might not to be worth the squeeze since sometimes the dialogue is time consuming.