There is no denying that it feels good to take on big groups of enemies or enemies that are bigger than life by just hitting them with a stick. Many fights can be won by just shooting the enemy on the spot. There isn’t much of a challenge beyond putting the enemy in the crosshairs and pulling the trigger.
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With melee combat, the player puts himself or herself in a more dangerous situation, but it gives them more satisfaction to beat the odds. The games that do this well vary in how much technical skill is needed and how many times a player can use the same skill. They can be quiet and tense or loud and over the top, but either way, they are entertaining. They might even be free for a short time on Xbox Game Pass.
Tales Of Arise
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Tales of Arise is the latest game in Bandai Namco’s JRPG series. It builds on the great foundations of games like Tales of Vesperia and, especially, Tales of Graces f, which also has a great melee combat system. Tales of Arise has six well-balanced characters that each play differently. Alphen and Law are great choices for people who like melee combat.
The combat in Tales of Arise is very satisfying because it has a strong progression system that lets players shape their fighters by choosing passive skills and Artes.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo Wii U
Most of PlatinumGames’ games have fun melee combat in some way, but Bayonetta 2 is where the company reached its full potential. Taking a lot of ideas from Devil May Cry, Bayonetta 2’s fights are based on a system called “Witch Time,” which rewards precise dodging at the last second.
Even though this is a huge help in the beginning of the game, Witch Time is not the only thing Bayonetta can use. The Umbran Climax, Torture Attacks, and multiple powerful melee and long-range weapons are all part of a complex combat system that takes dozens of hours to master.
Kingdoms Of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC
In 2012, Kingdoms of Amalur’s battle system blew away most of the other RPGs that were available at the time. The game was fast-paced and put a lot of emphasis on skill and reflexes. It also had a good selection of weapons and skills that let players change how their characters fight.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning doesn’t make many changes to the original game, other than giving it a new look. Even though the melee combat isn’t anything new anymore, it’s still a lot of fun and easily the best part of this game.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC
Even if someone knows nothing at all about the Warhammer universe, they should give Warhammer: Vermintide 2 a chance if they like melee combat. Vermintide 2 has good ranged combat, but most of the game is about close-quarters fights where a group of characters cut through hordes of enemies.
The system doesn’t have too many surprises, but when everything comes together, it’s exciting and fun. Vermintide 2 puts a lot of focus on timing, blocking, and skill, and it has a good range of weapons.
Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch (Yet To Be Released)
Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a game with a realistic and historically accurate setting in 15th-century Bohemia. Its combat tries to capture the appeal of real-world melee fighting in the same way. Players can use and master a wide range of melee weapons, from swords and mace to axes and polearms.
Each type of weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, especially when it comes to different types of enemy armour. Kingdom Come: Deliverance is different from other games because it focuses on making the player practise with their chosen weapon if they want to use it well. It also has a 5 axis combat system that has a surprising amount of depth. Mastery is a must, especially for hard quests like Nest of Vipers.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC
You can’t talk about melee combat in games without bringing up at least one game with a lightsaber. Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy is that game for a lot of people. This game is the only Star Wars game that lets you fight with a lightsaber with the same fluidity and speed as in the movies.
While the rumored Jedi: Fallen Order 2 will no doubt please many people, in Jedi Academy’s system, combatants will be jumping around the room, using the environment to their advantage, clashing blades, and using the force to try and gain the upper hand. If that isn’t enough, there is a large community of modders who can take it to the next level.
Condemned: Criminal Origins
Platforms: Xbox 360, PC
Horror would be the only genre where melee combat would immediately make it better. It forces the player to not only face the scary threats in front of them, but to do so in close, long-lasting fights. In Condemned: Criminal Origins, players will use whatever they can find to fight off criminally insane people in abandoned buildings.
Weapons break easily and guns are rare, but the player does have their two greatest tools already on hand, a taser and their foot. These are very important for making enemies vulnerable to damage so that the player can kill them.
Platforms: PlayStation 4
There are a lot of games that use the combat system from Dark Souls in some way. But it could be said that Bloodborne did it better than any other game. The enemies are scarier, the weapons are more fun to use, and the wins are more satisfying.
The key to winning is to stay alive long enough to attack your enemies when they are weak, and to figure out their patterns so you can act accordingly. It is hard, tricky, and requires a lot of dodging, but there is no greater satisfaction in the end.
The Witcher 3
Some people don’t like the way combat works in The Witcher 3. People have said it’s too hard, too easy, too light, or too awkward. I don’t agree at all. I think the combat in The Witcher 3 is great. It’s consistent and fun, and you can fight anything from a bumbling thief with a club to a flying monster the size of a hippopotamus that’s twice as dangerous.
It has problems, the biggest of which is that Geralt’s style is very flowery and he often spins his sword like a helicopter rotor. It also gets a lot of things right. It knows that swords are light and dangerous, not like a sharpened club that is used more for hitting than cutting. It has a great built-in logic that makes you pay for being dumb. You can’t just cut through a guy with a shield, because he has a shield, and you can’t block a giant’s attack, because it would break all the bones in your arm into cereal. Some enemies in a group work together to attack you, rather than just taking turns.
Most of all, though, it feels unique to Geralt as a Witcher, not just because of how nimbly and skillfully he uses his sword, but also because of how he prepares for a fight by learning his opponent’s weaknesses, making potions, and making bombs. Every part of it shows something about his personality and his place in the world.