Back 4 Blood: Melee Build

A different kind of gun show

When it comes to weathering the zombie apocalypse, choosing the right weapon is essential, or better yet, having the best Back 4 Blood melee build set up for your cleaner. Most of the time, assault rifles and shotguns are great choices, but they require ammunition, and reloading can cost you critical time in the heat of battle.

Do you know what doesn’t require ammunition or reloading? A good old baseball bat.

Melee is always a solid choice for surviving undead enemies, even more so in the frenetic dystopia put forth in Back 4 Blood, the spiritual successor to the Left 4 Dead series. But with Back 4 Blood’s unique deck-building mechanics and four different melee weapons to choose from, you’ll have plenty of variations on the kind of slugger you want to be. Which will you choose?

A tank, absorbing blow after a blow like it was nothing? Perhaps a healer who heals themselves with each swing of their weapon? Or are you more of a DPS dealer, rushing around the map, beheading every foe in sight?

May I offer you a fire axe?

Back 4 Blood Fire Axe
The strongest of the Back 4 Blood melee weapons

There are four different melee weapons to choose from in B4B. And while they each come with different damage, attacks, and range, they all get the same job done.

The baseball bat is a side-to-side weapon, great for clearing multiple ridden at once. When the hordes come, you can position yourself in a choke point—a doorway or stairwell works great and swings for the fences. It does 15 damage per swing. The downside of the baseball bat is that you can very easily hit your teammates–don’t do that. And that it takes a solid 15 stamina from every swing.

The hatchet is a downward swinging weapon that does 40 damage per attack and gives the most speed of any melee weapon in the game. Meaning, that if you’re looking to speed run or want to maximize movement, this is your weapon.

The fire axe is the strongest melee weapon B4B has to offer, doing 70 damage per attack. Aim for heads and weak spots, and you can easily double that. It does cost 25 stamina per attack, which is a problem. But with its high damage, you’ll be putting enemies down long before you run out of stamina.

Back 4 Blood - Melee Weapon Selection

Last but not least is the machete. Ten damage and ten stamina are what you can expect from this side-to-side weapon. It’s honestly not the best melee weapon, at least to us, but the side swings did help us out, similar to the baseball bat. And since it swings quicker and the stamina cost is lower, the machete can be a viable alternative.

In the end, our favorite weapon was the fire axe. Its serious damage made it an easy choice. Let’s break down how we made the fire axe even stronger, lowered its stamina cost, and made it heal with each attack.

Different melee goals

Time to decide: tank, healer, or DPS? The different goals dictate how you’ll build your deck.

If you want to be a tank, your best choice for a weapon is the hatchet or the fire axe. The high damage they come with means you won’t need to bring cards to buff your damage—unless you want to. 

Back 4 Blood - Melee Card Build
Build your deck to support your cleaner’s melee build

Some must-have cards are Spikey Bits and Scar Tissue when building your deck around tanking damage. Spikey bits will buff your damage resistance while your melee weapon is equipped, and Scar Tissue lessens damage from all ridden attacks, including mutations. Stack your deck with cards like Motorcycle Helmet, Body Armor, and Durable to increase trauma resistance and health.

As a tank, you won’t be very quick. But that’s okay since both of your goals don’t require speed. 

  1. Goal number one is to absorb damage meant for the rest of your team. 
  2. Goal number two is to destroy anything that comes within your reach. 

To that end, Ignore The Pain, Heavy Hitter, and Berserker are necessary cards to fulfill your role.

As a healer, cards that give B4B’s version of life-leech are your bread and butter. Face Your Fears, True Grit, Battle Lust, and Vanguard all heal you as you kill ridden. Sometimes the healing is temporary health, but that’s still better than nothing. Vanguard doesn’t just heal you; it also heals teammates within range. The hatchet and machete work well for the healer. Their high attack and quick speed will dispatch of ridden quickly, which means you heal quickly.

Back 4 Blood - Selecting Cards for the Best Melee Build

The DPS dealer is the one who runs ahead of the team and eliminates threats before they get out of hand. They are all about speed and stamina efficiency. They don’t need cards like Vanguard, since they won’t be around their teammates much. They will need cards like Heavy Hitter, Meth Head, and Slugger. Heavy Hitter allows you to charge up your melee attacks, making them 100% stronger when you release them, and Meth Head gives the biggest boost to stamina efficiency for melee users. Since they’re often running around on their own, bringing Breakout, which allows you to break out of a mutation’s hold, is probably wise.

Of course, you don’t have to conform to any of these molds. You can build a hybrid version or do your own thing.

Holly or Sharice?

Similar to the sniper build, the melee build has two characters that are ideally suited for it. It’s more than that, though, since choosing any other character to go melee will most likely get you killed. So, the only question you need to ask is: Holly Forrester or Sharice?

Back 4 Blood - Melee Cleaner Sharice

If you don’t have the Tunnels of Terror DLC, then forget we even asked the question. Your answer is, Holly, but that’s not a bad thing. Holly is the apparent choice for melee. Her innate skills grant her ten stamina for every kill, and she gains +10% damage resistance. That stamina regen works perfectly for melee builds, and her extra damage resistance is more than helpful.

However, if you have the DLC and can choose Sharice, we think you should. Sharice starts with the fire axe, which is a big plus, and she comes with increased trauma resistance and bolstered heath. She also has the ability to shoot off pieces of armor from armored mutations to wear for herself.

She’s awesome.

Pitfalls for melee

With the right deck, a melee user can walk around B4B like Conan the freaking Barbarian, cleaving enemies in twine. But even with the best-built deck in the game, there are a few occurrences in B4B that will always trip up a melee user, especially if they are playing on Nightmare.

Reekers, Exploders, and Retches are the bane of any melee user. They require you to whip out your gun or ask for help from your team. You don’t want to find yourself next to any of them.

Sleepers will get you before you can get them. Yes, we’ve managed to knock a few Sleepers right out of the air as they were pouncing at us. But we’ve been tackled by them more often than not. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Volatile and blighted ridden make melee almost impossible. Volatile ridden have an explosive mass on their heads that explodes when hit. And blighted ridden explode when killed, coating the ground in toxic sludge similar to a Retch. You should approach both forms of ridden carefully, and you should look for a side-to-side weapon to use.

Crushers, Tallboys, and Bruisers can be a royal pain in the ass if you’re not quick enough on your feet. The trick to circling them is to always move in the direction of their weak arm. Their right arm is the large, mutated one they use to attack you. So, when approached, circle to their left (your right). 

You’ll dance just out of their attack range, which gives you the chance to circle around and whack their weakspot. If you find that you’re not quick enough to get away, try adding a speed card like Cross Trainers to your deck.

Final thoughts on the Back 4 Blood melee build

Don’t sleep on melee characters. We did when we first started playing Back 4 Blood, opting for more of a sniper build. But since taking the time to explore all that melee has to offer, we’re finding ourselves with a fire axe in hand more often than not these days. Even more so since the release of Tunnels of Terror, since the current meta shines upon melee builds. Skull Totems and legendary melee weapons have never been stronger.

Whether you’re just picking up your first baseball bat or you’re a regular Babe Ruth, playing melee is a valuable role to fill on any team. It allows your teammates to reload, heal, or collect resources while you lay down the law. It’s not without a slight learning curve, however, and that can turn some people off at first.

Still, we think melee characters are as strong as they’ve ever been since the latest update, and they are welcome on our team any day.

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About Victor

Writer. Gamer. Outdoorsman. Victor has written across multiple mediums, with some of his work appearing in anthologies, magazines, and websites like,, and When not writing, he is usually gaining inspiration for writing from the library of video games he owns. If he's not indoors, Victor is outdoors climbing mountains, hiking forests, or otherwise conquering nature.

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