Starfield Quietly Made A Huge Change To Melee Combat, Just In Time For Shattered Space (2024)

Summary

  • Starfield adds tiers to melee weapons with June update.
  • Melee weapon modifications introduced for customization.
  • Shattered Space expansion may introduce more melee variety.

Starfield's Shattered Space DLC seems poised to change many aspects of the game. However, Bethesda is not waiting until its launch to fix one of Starfield's major issues: melee combat. Players who started their first playthrough as a Ronin and were unpleasantly surprised by the poor quality of close-quarters combat will be ecstatic to learn the official release of the Shattered Space trailer was not the only thing published by Bethesda that day.

On June 9, 2024, the first official trailer for the Shattered Space DLC was shown to eager fans who were watching the Xbox Showcase. This trailer revealed that the DLC would focus on House Va'ruun, the mostly absent member of Starfield's triumvirate of greater factions. Those who have run across a Zealot are likely to be aware of their preference for melee combat, especially with the game's most powerful dagger, the Va'ruun Painblade. Bethesda sought to reignite players' own passion for knife-fighting with a surprise Starfield update, which was overshadowed by the release trailer on the same day.

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Tiers Have Finally Been Added To Starfield's Melee Weapons

Melee Weapons Scale With Player Level

Gun-toting Spacefarers are likely already aware of the tiered firearms available in Starfield. While each gun has a basic variant, they can also be found in Calibrated, Refined, and Advanced varieties as the player gains levels. These tiers affect the value and, more importantly, the damage of the weapon. A basic Razorback can be found from the start of the game, but it will only do 51 damage. At level 46, however, the player can start finding its Advanced version, which deals 140 damage. This damage is amplified further with skills like Ballistics and Pistols.

Unfortunately for the berserkers among the fanbase, the same tiers were not initially available for melee weapons. This cemented the Va'ruun Painblade as the only viable option beyond the player's first few levels, and it has a damage rating of only 62. One of the few ways this could be increased was with the Dueling skill, which only raised the damage by 50%. Instead, it seems like melee was designed to only be useful in stealth, as its strikes are ten times as powerful with the Concealment skill - a skill which also quadruples ranged damage.

Luckily, this is no longer the case. With its June update, Starfield finally added tiers to melee weapons. They can now be found as basic, Sharpened, Honed, or Quantum-Edged. The Va'ruun Painblade is still the best option for the budding space samurai, but its best version now deals 148 base damage. Even better, this change has been paired with another one: modifications.

Starfield's June Update Introduced Mods For Melee Weapons

Customize Your Knife To Make It Even Deadlier

Starfield Quietly Made A Huge Change To Melee Combat, Just In Time For Shattered Space (3)

At launch, Starfield had modifications for its various pistols, rifles, and shotguns, but there were no options to modify the few melee weapons in the Settled Systems. This resulted in an even greater disparity between the melee and ranged options. Something like a Breach shotgun was available in multiple tiers, had its base damage affected by multiple skills, and could be made even stronger by making it fire faster, harder, or farther, on top of having its ammo made deadlier with options like slugs. Meanwhile, a combat knife could only ever be a combat knife.

That has changed with the June update. While each melee weapon has the same options available, there are an abundance of choices to be made. Both the handle and blade can be modified in ways which better suit a specific playstyle. A stealth-focused player can use the Alloyed Steel Blade, which increases sneak attack damage. This could then be combined with a Weighted Handle or Force-Extruded Handle, both of which increase damage at the cost of attack speed.

Those who prefer to dart around the battlefield may take a different approach. The Lightweight Handle is the inverse of a Weighted Handle, increasing attack speed and decreasing damage. Different blade options can compensate for that lower damage by increasing it directly or by also corroding, irradiating, or poisoning the enemy with each swing. This would be especially deadly when combined with the Furious and Lacerate legendary effects.

Because most melee weapons weigh as little as a pistol or even less, players can decide to carry different melee weapons for different situations, just like they might carry a sniper rifle, shotgun, and assault rifle. An encounter can start with a stealth kill from a specialized knife, switch to an armor-penetrating wakizashi for a heavily-armored alien that wanders over, then finish with a flurry of blows from a speedy tanto. This approach rewards players who plan ahead and encourages more dynamic combat.

Melee-combat builds are especially fun when paired with Starfield's best Starborn powers, as many of them manipulate the battlefield.

There Is Still More Room For Improvement In Shattered Space

Starfield's Expansion Can Add More Melee Changes

June's update has certainly improved melee combat, but there is still room to grow. The weapon variety is sorely lacking; Starfield only has 9 melee weapons, which is about half of the options for pistols alone. Worse, what few exist are the same, other than different models and damage numbers. The Spacefarer swings a combat knife just as quickly as a rescue axe or wakizashi, but it also has the same range as these weapons despite being a fraction of the length. There are also only one-handed options.

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Starfield offers a limited selection of melee weapons, but some prove highly effective in combat, allowing for some of the best roleplay experiences.

Since the Shattered Space expansion will focus more on the bloodthirsty House Va'ruun, Bethesda has the perfect opportunity to introduce more melee variety in the DLC. This could mean adding additional one-handed knives, but blunt weapons could also be added. The game's hammers could go from a clutter item to an improvised weapon, or Starfield could take advantage of its existing electromagnetic weapons and add stun batons. Bethesda could even add two-handed weapons, like the conspicuously absent katana, to Starfield.

Starfield Quietly Made A Huge Change To Melee Combat, Just In Time For Shattered Space (5)
Starfield

Bethesda Game Studios presents Starfield - the first original IP from the studio in twenty-five-plus years. Set in the year 2310, the United Colonies and Freestar Collective are observing a shaky truce after a war set 20 years prior. The player will customize their character as a member of a space exploration team called Constellation while navigating The Settled Systems and the conflicts between the warring factions. According to Bethesda, players can explore over 100 systems and 1000 planets to find resources and build their ships, living out their own sci-fi journeys.

Platform(s)
PC , Xbox Series X , Xbox Series S

Released
September 6, 2023
Developer(s)
Bethesda
Publisher(s)
Bethesda
Genre(s)
Action , RPG

ESRB
M For Mature 17+ Due To Blood, Suggestive Themes, Use of Drugs, Strong Language, Violence
Starfield Quietly Made A Huge Change To Melee Combat, Just In Time For Shattered Space (2024)

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