Revisiting melee vs ranged

4bd581a1a08ad6e0eaa0c51869130801  1200x630 1024x538 - Revisiting melee vs ranged

Hey guys, Whitesushi here. A long time ago, I did a comparison between melee and range to find out that melee was in a pretty bad spot given how it is not only directly weaker than ranged weapons outright, it suffers from other indirect problems such as

  • downtime from avoiding damage
  • downtime moving from husk to husk

amongst some others. With the recent changes to melee namely their base damage and impact increase, I want to revisit the comparison and see if melee is in a better spot. Maybe it is capable of doing enough damage that we can overlook the other problems. That said, this analysis will come strictly from the perspective of its damage numbers because that's easy to qualify. I'm sure the impact increase is substantial given how it is a form of damage mitigation for melee playstyles but that's not going to be covered in this post. This post will be broken up into a series of sections (divided by the horizontal line) so feel free to skip ahead to the sections you are interested in

  • The Setup (the basis for the comparison)
  • The Comparison (tables and numbers for the actual comparison)
  • The Caveats (where we look at non-damage factors)
  • The Conclusion (well, the conclusion as well as the TL;DR of course)

As always, most of the calculations will be done through my spreadsheet and the somewhat recently setup perk combinations calculator. You can read more on what it is about and how you can use it here. The spreadsheet also contains other useful information which could prove useful for new players and veterans alike and I think you would be able to discover something helpful if you are looking at it for the first time.

The Setup

The heroes I'm going to assume for our comparisons would be Urban Assault Headhunter fielding our ranged weapon and Harvester Sarah fielding our melee weapon. On top of the fact that they are crowd favourites in their own right as seen here, Harvester Sarah is a better choice over Swordmaster Ken because her damage is a lot more consistent (as opposed to having to be in Shadow Stance for the case of SMK). I will also do a raw comparison without the use of any heroes for those of you who enjoys playing heroes with buff to neither (I've been having a lot of fun running Enforcer Grizzly)

The weapons we're going to look at would be Siegebreaker representing the ranged weapons and Reaper Scythe. Besides the obvious reasons being that they benefit from the 2 heroes listed above, they are also non-event exclusive weapons meaning any player opening llamas would be able to obtain them. There's also the tinge of popularity attached to them which is a bonus in the selection process

Last but not least, the perks will be selected "automatically" via my calculator. My calculator processes all possible combinations of perk inputs to find out the "best" in terms of either damage/shot or damage per second.

The Comparison

To compare ranged vs melee, we make use of my 4.2 Calculator with the updated formula as well as melee damage values. I will throw the results out here first and explain what it means. Here's the damage per shot (or slash) table

WeaponUrban Assault 70% HSUAH 30% HSHarvesterNone
Perks for aboveDMG/HS & Urban Assault HeadhunterCRIT/CRITD & Sergeant JonesyDMG/HS & Urban Assault Headhunter
Reaper Scythe789.7471.2
Perks for aboveCRITD/CRITD & Harvester SarahCRITD/CRITD & Harvester Sarah

The numbers are what we are concerned with as we compare them amongst each other. The perks are just for reference on what perk setup gave us those numbers. Although melee seems to be beating ranged by a long shot here, the Siegebreaker is a DPS heavy weapon (low damage in each shot) so we have to look at the next table for a more accurate depiction. Without further delays, here's the damage per second table

WeaponUrban Assault 70% HSUAH 30% HSHarvesterNone
Perks for aboveDMG/HS & Urban Assault HeadhunterCRIT/CRITD & Sergeant JonesyRATE/HS & Urban Assault Headhunter
Reaper Scythe901.8540.9
Perks for aboveCRITD/CRITD & Harvester SarahATTACKSPEED/CRITD & Harvester Sarah

So what does the differences look like?

  1. UAH with 70% Headshots does 78.66% more damage than Harvester
  2. UAH with 30% Headshots does 54.19% more damage than Harvester
  3. Siegebreaker in general does 43.98% more damage than Reaper Scythe

Do note that this was after the melee damage buffs and as you can see, ranged still wins outright so what went wrong? What makes ranged still so much better just from a damage perspective? I figured it might be due to Urban Assault simply being too strong so I took a setup assuming

  • Special Forces at 30% headshot accuracy and turns out the DPS number dropped to 1017.2

In this case, the ranged setup is only 12.8% better than the melee setup. Still better regardless but not that much of a disparity. The other reason I considered was the fact that the Siegebreaker was a great DPS weapon which isn't really true since there are a lot better ones that I could have used to make the comparison tip further in the ranged weapons' favour

The Caveats

We looked at the damage numbers above but there are other factors which should be taken into account when doing these comparisons. There's no "numbers" for these which makes it hard to qualify but it's still worth noting that these exist and plays a substantial role on the final "results"

  1. Melee has a redeeming factoring being that you can hit multiple targets with a single swing. If you are hitting 2 targets at the same time, then technically your DPS is doubled which puts it ahead of ranged

  2. Melee weapons like the Scythe I compared has more impact in general. This makes it easier to break a husks impact guard to stagger it meaning less damage done to you or the objective

  3. Melee weapons are also "cheaper" to use. While the weapon does indeed cost more materials to craft, the fact that they don't require ammunition is a pretty huge plus

Besides these 2, I can't think of any other benefits to using melee weapons. However, there are disadvantages such as

  1. When using melee weapons, the player is trying to kite enemies to avoid damage. As such, the "accuracy" falls since you are more prone to missing swings

  2. There are a lot of downtime when running melee weapons. Bee trails deter you from entering the area and blasters could force you to hide behind walls. You can also get hit and slowed by modifiers / water husks. All these factors increase your time between hits as you now take longer to get to your target

Last but not least, the heroes I picked are not fully representative of the scenarios. Some people might use Brawler Luna for her 40% vulnerabilities (maybe it's better) while others use Dragon Scorch which while does not buff melee as much, offers great crowd control on top of some solid damage output

Later Edits

Details-Examples suggested factoring in Corrosion tactical which basically reads

Critical hits from melee weapons deal 15% of hit damage every second for 3 seconds while reducing movement speed by 30%

If we just look at the damage portion of this ability, we take note of the 15% damage as well as critical hits. The weapon along with the perks I assumed comes out to have a 51.4% critical chance after diminishing returns which means the perk translates to a 150.514 = *7.71% increase in DPS. Factoring this into our Harvester DPS, the new number becomes **971.33 which is still far cry from our Siegebreaker setup albeit inching closer if we assumed Special Forces as our main hero

The Conclusion

I came into this post thinking that melee would beat ranged weapons outright in terms of DPS which boils the comparison down to the other factors. Turns out, I was wrong. Even with the melee buffs, melee weapons still fall short of ranged weapons in general. Sure, melee is definitely a lot closer to ranged now but closer isn't enough given how melee setups suffer from a myriad of other problems caused by environmental factors.

All that being said, this situation seems to be a conscious design choice on the part of Epic Games. Perhaps it's their way of balancing a weapon that is cost effective as it doesn't need ammunition to use. Its ability, or rather niche, to deal with multiple husks in single hits may also be part of the reason why it's damage will never beat ranged weapons.

What do you guys think? Should melee be stronger than ranged weapons damage wise to compensate for their need to consider environmental factors or are they fine as it is? Maybe the damage doesn't even matter because the game is so easy at the moment that the ranged setup I assumed above is merely overkill. Thanks for reading and I hope this was insightful on how melee would perform at the moment.

TL;DR With no heroes, a Siegebreaker potentially puts out 43.98% more DPS than Reaper Scythe. Melee remains great for clearing trash, a lot better than pre-buff for dealing with tanks but still falls short of ranged in terms of sheer damage output

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