This game has a wide variety of weapons to play with, and melee is no exception. I’ve always liked having a melee option in games with guns because it tends to be surprisingly practical, especially when ammo is scarce (as it sometimes can be in The Outer Worlds). Melee weapons have a lot of inherent drawbacks, but with some investment can usually be made quite good.
The same is true here, though it’s a bit less practical in my experience so far than a similar character would have been in Fallout: New Vegas. Enemies in this game have far better aim for one thing, and stealth kills are challenging to chain together with this game’s less forgiving sneak system. Still, it’s a viable playstyle as long as you keep some things in mind.
Don’t Be Afraid to Sprint
There’s no stamina bar to worry about in this game, so sprinting is a free speed boost; and you’ll need it. If you want to close to melee with an enemy, you need to do it fast before they can plug you full of holes. When your first target dies, you should be sprinting directly at the next one. If you run around slamming enemies fast enough, you’ll take a minimum of damage.
You always want to be aware of your surroundings and remain consistently in motion. Get disoriented and surrounded, and it could be game over.
Wear Heavy Armor
Near as I can tell, there’s no universal downside to wearing heavier armor. Some give a penalty to stealth, which is a bummer, but they don’t seem to slow you down or reduce your sprint speed. If they do, it’s not a noticeable amount.
You’re going to be taking a lot of hits, so you want to be able to soak as much damage as possible in a crisis.
Prioritize Move Speed and Survivability
Max your health, damage reduction, health regen, move speed, sprint speed. These are the keys to your survival more than anything, which increases your damage or boosts other ancillary stats. These are the kinds of things most if not all of your Perks should center around. Likewise, you should keep several consumables handy, which do the same. Don’t be afraid to juice up before rough combats.
Don’t Bother Much With Power Attacks
In my playtime, I can’t think of very many occasions where a power attack raises my damage per second. Useful as an opener from stealth, but not overly practical in a combat already initiated. It’s slow, cumbersome, and easily missed with the extreme close range the melee attacks in this game have.
Sweep attacks are a different story and are great against crowds of weak enemies, but regular power attacks not so much.
Invest In Stealth
Getting caught with your pants down and your hammer in hand is a recipe for disaster; the best way to avoid it is never to get seen at all. Melee attacks also get a massive damage bonus from stealth, so if you can isolate a fierce-looking enemy and slam them before anybody else sees you, it can be a huge game-changer. Keep in mind that despite how they might appear to you in first person, melee attacks are ultra-quiet, and you can sometimes kill a guy practically right next to another enemy without them noticing as long as they have their backs to you.
Keep a Backup Gun
Sometimes, sadly, melee weapons are not practical. Thankfully, your high Strength (I assume) makes you naturally pretty good with Heavy Weapons, so why not wade into combat with an LMG or something when you’re going into a situation where a melee opener doesn’t look like it’ll work out. Enemies who stand on top of buildings are cheating.
Don’t Forget Your Social Skills
Having excellent social skills in an RPG is never a bad idea. Even less so in this game, where your social skills increase your combat prowess. Strength gives you that natural boost to Intimidate, why not take advantage of it? It has a solid proc chance to send some of the other enemies you’re fighting heading for the hills on kill. Not only is this satisfying, but it’s also powerful and helps keep you alive.
That’s about it. Now get out there and smash some heads!