Best Melee Build

Best Melee Build - Fallout: New Vegas (FNV)

By zanuffas
Last updated:

This post will cover the best Melee build for Fallout: New Vegas. I will be going in-depth on the main attributes, skills, and gear. This should help you make decisions on how to progress through the game in the optimal matter

Best Melee Build

In this post, I would like to go through a crazily overpowered build while using Melee weapons. Thanks to the game mechanics, correct perks, and tons of chems you will be able to plow through hordes of enemies. Of course, this will require to progress a lot through the game, but the journey will be enjoyable

melee build combat fallout new vegas

With some weapons, your attacks will be so fast that the swinging arm will become invisible.

The good thing is that many of the melee weapons will work with this, especially once you get in the late game. Moreover, if you wish to play stealthy this build also accommodates and with the Old Glory weapon, you can stealth one-shot all of the enemies in the game.

Starting the Game

In this section, I would like to go through some recommendations for the Melee build. This covers only the start of the game, so read the next section on how you should progress and how the end game build should look like.


Attribute Value Description
fallout new vegas strength attribute specialStrength 6 This is just enough with upgrades and perks to maximize the attribute as we go through the game
fallout new vegas preception attribute specialPerception 5 Although this attribute is not useful by itself, it unlocks a very powerful perk Better Criticals.
fallout new vegas endurance attribute specialEndurance 8 Gives bonus HP and resistance. Moreover, it is needed for implants to further improve your SPECIAL attributes.
fallout new vegas charisma attribute specialCharisma 1 Not an important attribute as it only improves companions' stats.
fallout new vegas intelligence attribute specialIntelligence 4 We sacrifice intelligence to maximize other attributes. However, this will still be enough to maximize all the crucial skills
fallout new vegas agility attribute specialAgility 7 The attribute will give bonus action points and unlock some valuable perks. If you do not plan on using stealth, you can lower it to 6 and put a point to Endurance or Intelligence
fallout new vegas luck attribute specialLuck 9 This attribute will allow you to gamble in casinos for tons of caps and increase critical hit chance. You could go with 8 and get Lucky Shades, but this will require a positive reputation with the Legion

Tag Skills

These are the ones that you choose at the beginning of the game. Here is what I recommend:

Skill Description
melee weapons fallout new vegasMelee Weapons The main skill for this build, it will increase your damage and unlock powerful perks
medicine fallout new vegasMedicine I think this is valuable early on as you will get hit often, and using Stimpak or Radaway effectively will prove very useful. Later on, this will unlock some very good perks
Utility skill Generally, many skills work here. I like looting so Lockpick is my preferred option. Sneak is another choice, but may not be as useful early in the game, due to large open areas. If you like persuading people, take Speech, etc. So there are many options, moreover, stealth may not be as useful in the first few levels. I will assume for the build that I select Lockpick


The traits are definitely optional and just recommendations. Pick up to two of them:

  • Skilled - fairly low intelligence can be counteracted with this trait. it gives +5 to all skills making it a bit easier, getting everything you need. Of course, this reduces XP gain by 10%, but you can counteract this with Well Rested. Moreover, the games give you lots of ways to earn XP so this is not a problem
  • Built to Destroy - increases critical chance by 3% at the cost of faster weapon decay. Later you can take the Jury Rigging perk, which makes repairing items very easy.
  • Small Frame - I recommend this one if you plan on going stealthily. This will save one attribute point from Agility which you can use elsewhere.
  • Wild Wasteland - see new and unique encounters in the wasteland. I recommend taking it if you are playing for the first time

Early game tips

Here I would like to offer some early game tips for the build to make it easier when starting out

Sell ammo

You can sell most of it because the build does not use ammo. This will allow you to accumulate a decent war chest that you can use on chems - stimpaks, med-x, etc. When starting the game, Courier's Stash addon gives some, that you can sell.

Of course, if you feel the need to use ranged weapons in the early game (as it may be difficult without good armor), keep weapons/ammo and use them

Obtaining a powerful blade

If you wish to get a powerful knife that will last you many levels, you can get a unique Chance's Knife. It is close to Tribal Village up north. To get safely to it when you are starting, take the mountain path and avoid roads (as there are Cazedores)

Be sure to buy a Shovel in Goodsprings general store as you will need to dig a grave

chance's knife safe path fallout new vegas

Once there, you will find a grave that contains the weapon

Doing the main quest

Unless you are cheesing some of the game mechanics, and want to experience the game as intended, I recommend doing the main story quest up until you reach Novac. The journey will provide you with two companions:

  • ED-E - in Primm City, it is a robot that you can revive using some scrap parts. The parts can be found on Lone Wolf Radio.
  • Boone - you will find him in Novac. To join you, you have to do his quest and help him

These companions will help you a lot and make the game more fun and easier. Another thing is that Novac will give you your own room, where you can store loot. This makes scavenging easier throughout the game.

After this, it's your choice what to do

Progression and Final Melee Build

Now I would like to go through the progression for the build and how it should look once "it is done". I will also share some tips and directions to get the most out of it.

melee build combat gehenna thermic lance fallout new vegas


Here is how your attributes should look like when they are maximized and you obtain most of the stuff in the game.

Attribute Value Description
fallout new vegas strength attribute specialStrength 10
  • +2 - Get Reinforced Spine in Old World Blues DLC
  • +1 - Purchase the implant from New Vegas Clinic
  • +1 - Intense Training
fallout new vegas preception attribute specialPerception 6
fallout new vegas endurance attribute specialEndurance 10
  • +1 - Purchase the implant from New Vegas Clinic
  • +1 - Divide Survivor, obtained after finishing Loansome Road DLC
fallout new vegas charisma attribute specialCharisma 1 No need for an implant here
fallout new vegas intelligence attribute specialIntelligence 5
fallout new vegas agility attribute specialAgility 8
fallout new vegas luck attribute specialLuck 10


In this section, I will go through the skills for the Melee Build. I want to recommend the progression below. This will ensure that you get all the skills that you need for the build. Of course, you can still spend 3-5 points at every level on other choices and this will not create any problems.

I recommend leaving skills at 90 (except science and lockpicks as you may miss some loot) and getting the rest 10 points from skill books in Mojave Wasteland

Order Skill Description
1 melee weapons fallout new vegasMelee Weapons 45 You should have somewhere close to this once you start the game.
2 The utility skill that you picked to 50 Level up your picked utility skill
3 melee weapons fallout new vegasMelee Weapons 60 Improves your damage and unlocks some new perks
4 The utility skill that you picked to 75 Continue improving utility skills, this will allow to clear hard difficulty locks, terminals, or speech checks.
5 medicine fallout new vegasMedicine 60 Get more health from stimpaks and unlock new perks
6 sneak fallout new vegasSneak 50 Improve your sneak, we will also need some perks from this
7 The utility skill that you picked to 100 Allows to clear the most difficult checks
8 melee weapons fallout new vegasMelee Weapons 70 Improve weapon damage
9 unarmed fallout new vegasUnarmed 70 Although we do not use this, this skill is a prerequisite for some very powerful perks.
10 melee weapons fallout new vegasMelee Weapons 90 Maximize your melee weapon damage
11 survival skill fallout new vegasSurvival 70 Unlock Rad Child
12 sneak fallout new vegasSneak 80 Can now get a Ninja perk for a huge boost to sneak critical damage.
13 unarmed fallout new vegasUnarmed 90 Unlock the most powerful perks for melee weapons
14 medicine fallout new vegasMedicine 70 Improve stimpak effectiveness
15 repair skill fallout new vegasRepair 90 Unlock Light Touch and Jury Rigging perks.

After this you are free to put the points however, you want and prioritize the things that you think are needed based on your playstyle.


Although I list the perk in level order of when you should get them, I recommend assuming that this is a list. Different players will prefer getting different skills first, so some of the perks might be available later/earlier.

Generally, there are a lot of perks that are useful for the melee combat build. I mostly concentrate on those that improve damage

Level Perk Details
2 Intense Training fallout new vegasIntense Training Increase Strength. This will give bonus damage and allow using heavier weapons
4 educated fallout new vegasEducated This skill should be taken as early as possible (level 4), it will give 2 skill points each level up which accumulate a lot during the game
6 bloody mess fallout new vegasBloody Mess This ability gives a flat 5% damage increase, so I would say it is mandatory.
8 super slam fallout new vegasSuper Slam! This is a very powerful ability, that allows knocking out enemies. This works on any of them. The problem is that after some time you lose any strategic thinking - go into fight, knockdown, finish off. There is no need to hide, run away, plan, etc. I recommend taking Stonewall as an alternative and pick this one later, or don't take it at all.
10 finesse fallout new vegasFinesse +5% Critical chance, for even more precise shots.
12 silent running fallout new vegasSilent Running Makes it harder to detect you while sneaking. Use this to get a better position and take out enemies by surprise. I think this is also a good start to use this game mechanic with your high sneak level.
14 purifier fallout new vegasPurifier Gives a huge 50% boost with melee attacks against the most vicious enemies of the wasteland - deathclaws, super mutants, night stalkers, etc.
16 piercing strike fallout new vegasPiercing Strike A very powerful perk for the melee build. Ignores 15 DT (which is all protection of Deathclaw) for more damage.
18 better criticals fallout new vegasBetter Criticals Increases critical damage with your attacks by 50%. One of the most impactful damage perks for the Fist build
20 chemist fallout new vegasChemist This is a perfect time to start using chems to improve your combat capabilities.
22 ninja fallout new vegasNinja Improves stealth critical hit damage by 25%.
24 slayer fallout new vegasSlayer Improves the attack speed of melee attacks by 30%
26 light touch fallout new vegasLight Touch If you wear light armor, definitely pick this one. It gives a bonus of 5% critical chance and decreases the enemy's critical chance by 25%
28 tunnel runner fallout new vegasTunnel Runner It increases the speed at which you move while sneaking
30 travel light fallout new vegasTravel Light Increases your moving speed, allowing you to close the distance to enemies faster
32 jury rigging fallout new vegasJury Rigging (optional) More like a quality-of-life improvement for item repairs. However, if you have plenty of Weapon Repair Kits and armor repairs are not a problem, skip this and get the next perk.
34 atomic fallout new vegasAtomic! (optional) I suggest evaluating if you need this perk. It is a very powerful perk and it gives a bonus 25% movement speed while your radiation is increasing. Moreover, when your radiation levels are high it increases AP regeneration. Now, the problem is that many areas in the world do not have constant radiation, and for this to happen you need to eat hundreds of irradiated foods (their time effect stacks).
36 rad child fallout new vegasRad Child A very valuable perk that gives bonus health regeneration while under Radiation effects. The bonus is quite large compared to other sources (food and implants). You can negate the decrease in attributes by consuming Buffout
38 implant grx fallout new vegasImplant GRX (1) (Optional) If you have not been using Turbo, this is a perfect chance to get this perk to slow down time. It gives free activations every day and makes melee combat easier
40 living anatomy fallout new vegasLiving Anatomy With vast combat experience, you know the weak spots of humans. This allows you to deal 5% more damage.
42 eye for eye fallout new vegasEye for Eye Gives 10% damage for each broken limb. You may be confused about why this perk should be used. However, getting your arms broken has no negative effect on you as you do not use weapons. Moreover, this will give you a bonus of 20% damage
44 implant grx fallout new vegasImplant GRX (2) (if you took the first level) Further improves the time slow effect duration
46 pyromaniac fallout new vegasPyromaniac (optional) If you plan on using Gehenna or Shishkebab with maximum effectiveness this perk is mandatory
48 cowboy fallout new vegasCowboy (optional) This one is relevant if you wish to use knife weapons like Blood Nap.
50 thought you died fallout new vegasThought you Died This skill would be the best option. However, if you cannot take it then go for Just Lucky I'm Alive or Ain't Like That Now

General Tips

At level 15 start Old World Blues DLC

I really recommend starting this DLC. It will give +2 Strength after you finish it.

To start the DLC you can go to the Mojave Drive-in and at night initiate the quest. This way you can avoid the Weapon Handling perk and use perk points elsewhere

Sell all ammo

As mentioned before, once in a while clean your ammo inventory at vendors. This will give some good caps that you can use to buy stimpaks and chems or repair your gear.

Use Chems

This is a crucial mechanic if you want to maximize any build effectiveness. Chems give crazy good boosts that any playstyle can utilize

Chem duration stack. So you can use 20 Buffouts and be ready with a permanent boost to stats for a few real-time hours. This way addictions don't matter, just be sure to have lots of them

The main ones to always have on hand are:

  • Stimpaks - heals your HP and the effect scales with Medicine skill. You will probably use it the most throughout the game.
  • Buffout - can negate the negative effects of Radiation Sickness. This combines well with Rad Child. You get a huge HP Regeneration boost and no downsides
  • Med-X - gives 25 damage resistance, greatly reducing the damage you take
  • Turbo - slows time, allowing you to get the upper hand in combat. Makes enemies like Deathclaws a piece of cake.
  • Slasher - gives 25% damage and 25 damage resistance buff for 1 minute
  • Battle Brew - technically it is alcohol. However, it gives a lot of various boosts, but the most interesting is 35 damage reduction. Requires Old World Blues DLC to craft
  • Psycho - 25% damage increase
  • Rushing Water - gives a 50% attack speed boost which is crazy. Crafted with 50 Survival and by using Jet and Purified Water at Campfire or Electric Hot plate. Does not work on automatic weapons' rate of fire.

If you use Med-X, Slasher, and Battle Brew together this results in 85 Damage Reduction. This is the maximum that you can get and makes any armor you wear redundant in terms of protection.


This section will cover some gear recommendations for the Melee Build


The build has a ton of melee weapon choices. All of them fit a particular niche - armored enemies, crit hits, pure damage, etc. The ones I list are all good choices and you cannot go wrong.

Weapon Description
thermic lance fallout new vegasThermic Lance Just hold down the attack button and move forward. This is probably how the Lancers felt when riding in battle on horses. You constantly melt enemies and critical hits are applied multiple times a second. Moreover, it ignores any Damage Reduction and Damage Threshold on enemies.
blood nap fallout new vegasBlood-Nap A crazy fast and powerful knife. With all the perks and chems activated you barely see its attacks. If you use it a lot be sure to take the Cowboy perk. Unfortunately, it has a short reach, so I recommend using Implant GRX or Turbo to slow down time.
gehenna fallout new vegasGehenna (GRA) A burning sword. Another very powerful option if you like seeing your enemies burn. Be sure to take the Pyromaniac perk
old glory fallout new vegasOld Glory This is a must-have if you heavily use sneak attacks. It can kill anything in one stealth hit with VATS by using a Grand Slam attack. It gives a bonus of 200% damage.
Oh, Baby! fallout new vegasOh, Baby! I think this deserves a mention. Although not as powerful as other options, it is still crazy fun to use it and smash enemy's heads
Katana fallout new vegasKatana (GRA) The coolest weapon, it is a very fun weapon to use and you look like a samurai. of course, the damage is not as high as other options but still viable
chance's knife fallout new vegasChance's Knife This is a pretty boy. You can get it at the start of the game and it can carry you very long throughout the game.

There are many more weapons in the game and all of them will make it very easy, no matter what you choose.


Although armor is important, due to how New Vegas works, they can be made redundant. Generally, when dealing damage the minimum amount that will be dealt is 20%. This means that you can reach 85% damage reduction with Med-X, Battle Brew, and Slasher. After this, any Damage Threshold (DT) from your armor is redundant
Armor Description
ulysses duster fallout new vegasUlysse's Duster This is hands down one of the best armor. Gives a 5% Crit Chance. Moreover, this will activate all light armor-related perks we take
joshua graham's armor fallout new vegasJoshua Graham's Armor Has a good Damage Threshold and increases Crit Chance by 3%. Moreover, this will activate all light armor-related perks we take
elite riot gear fallout new vegasElite Riot Gear Gives a 5% Crit chance boost and is cool looking. However, the perks - Light Touch, Tunnel Runner, and Travel Light are redundant, so skip them. Of course, you will lose a lot of DPS and critical chances without them.
Scorched Sierra Power Armor fallout new vegasScorched Sierra Power Armor If you would like to use Heavy armor this is the option to go, mainly it gives +2 HP regeneration per sec. However, the perks - Light Touch, Tunnel Runner, and Travel Light are redundant, so skip them. Of course, you will lose a lot of DPS and critical chances without them.


Helmet Description
1st recon berret fallout new vegas1st Recon Beret This is hands down the best helmet to use for maximum DPS. It is one of three headwear that gives this bonus (and the highest). I recommend wearing it while exploring during the day or outside
salt upon wounds helmet fallout new vegasSalt-Upon-Wounds' Helmet Gives +2 Crit Chance and provides a 4 Damage Threshold.
Elite Riot Gear Helmet fallout new vegasElite Riot Gear Helmet This is a perfect helmet for night operations as it provides sneak sight. This makes it easier to spot enemies. You can use it together with 1st Recon Beret


Armor Description
lucky shades fallout new vegasLucky Shades These are a perfect option if you do not use a helmet that covers the eye. It gives +1 Luck, which ensures the maximum amount for the Crit Chance. It's perfect with 1st Recon Beret
Atomic-valence tri-radii-oscillator fallout new vegasAtomic-Valence Tri-Radii-Oscillator Can be worn together with any helmet. Gives health regeneration and Endurance +1. Moreover, it provides an additional Damage Threshold. Requires Old World Blues DLC
Valence radii-accentuator fallout new vegasValence Radii-Accentuator Can be worn together with any helmet. Gives health regeneration and Endurance +1. Moreover, it provides an additional Damage Threshold. The weaker version of the Atomic-valence Tri-Radii-Oscillator. Requires Old World Blues DLC


Thank you for reading this post on the Melee build in Fallout New Vegas. I covered the most important aspects like the start of the game and how to progress with your perks. This should give you a guiding hand not get lost in this huge game

Feel free to leave any questions in the comments


Post author zanuffas avatar zanuffas
Gamestegy Founder. I have been writing game guides and builds for 4 years. I like to push myself to create something wonderful for the readers!