Backgrounds, offering a free rank in three specific skills, shape your character’s progression and contribute to the thematic richness of your journey. In this guide, we explore four backgrounds tailored for players seeking an up-close-and-personal experience with a Melee build in the vast cosmos of Starfield.
How to Choose a Background
To choose a background in Starfield, start the game, and once at the main menu, select “New” to start a new game. Go through the guided tutorial, and you’ll soon be able to fully create your character, making a biometric ID, Body, Face, and then selecting a Background and three optional Traits.
See our Full Character Creation Guide.
The Best Backgrounds For Melee Builds
“You’ve worked the line at the toughest clubs in the Settled Systems. Back then, you learned that most non-lethal confrontations can be solved on of two ways: a strong right hook, or a more strongly secured door.”
A unique and unorthodox approach to the game, the Bouncer background provides a player with an unarmed fighting style by granting one rank in the Boxing, Security, and Fitness skills.
Boxing will be your bread and butter, granting you a solid 25% damage boost with a 25% Oxygen (Stamina) reduction when using a power attack. This right out of the gate will make your cinderblock fists your trusted weapons dealing more damage than anything else you’ll find early on in the game and making your total carry weight far less by not having a weapon equipped, meaning more room for loot and credits.
Security is a fantastic skill that opens up many facets of the game to you, with the ability to use digipicks to lockpick doors, computer terminals, crates, and security systems.
Finally, the Fitness skill is an absolute must for Melee builds, and an essential pick for almost all builds in Starfield, as it provides one of the most important bonuses in the game, Oxygen. This first rank will grant you a solid 10% boost to your O2 level, allowing you to run further, travel faster, and, more importantly, swing your fists before getting tired.
In addition to the mechanical synergy of this background, the Bouncer background also provides some niche and unique quest dialogue options, especially in the gritty club city of Neon. Overall, this background is one of the more cohesively constructed ones in the game, where the mechanics fit the theme of the background seamlessly.
“Masterless and unbound, you wandered the Settled Systems as a blade for hire. To some, you were a simple mercenary. To others, a hero. And to a select few…a nightmare they could never wake from.”
The Ronin background provides the only viable opportunity for a subtle, stealth melee build in Starfield. It provides one free rank in the Dueling, Stealth, and Scavenging skills.
The Dueling skill will provide us with the damage bonus and damage reduction we want to have a viable melee character.
Stealth will provide us with the ability to unlock the stealth meter along with a 25% sneak bonus, and a 5% sneak attack damage bonus at rank 1. Ranking up the Dueling and Stealth skills will unleash the deadly assassin that is the Ronin. Layering the damage bonuses from Dueling and sneak attack bonuses from Stealth you can very easily one shot most enemies at the start of the game.
The Scavenging skill synchronizes well with the stealth build so that you get more loot and credits from containers as you skulk about a facility, dispatching the spacers, pirates, or mercs as you cut through them with your preferred blade.
The Ronin also provides extremely unique and edgy anti-hero dialogue options that provide that extra thematic layer that makes the Ronin feel more distinct as you continue to play through the game and rank up the skills. This background and playstyle would be recommended for those familiar with and enjoy stealth melee builds from other Bethesda titles and looking to scratch that itch in a sci-fi setting.
“While the unrefined masses scarfed down Chunks by the shipload, you catered to those with a more… discerning palate. In your kitchen, countless alien species became true culinary masterpieces.”
The Chef is an easy-to-overlook background in Starfield, but look past the quirky description, and you will see the absolute beast of a melee build lurking within. This background is for those looking to get up close and personal with a melee weapon and have survivability along with a crafting/utility capability. The Chef is the polar opposite of the Ronin in the fact that you will be loud and proudly charging into melee combat with your enemies rather than stealthily vanquishing them.
The Chef provides you with one rank in the Gastronomy, Dueling, and Scavenging skills. Gastronomy is surprisingly a useful skill in Starfield as it is both a crafting skill and a utility/survival skill. It allows you to craft unique specialty food and drink items that have various mechanical effects in the game, such as XP boosts, damage reduction, healing, damage boosts, and much more.
The Dueling skill will provide a strong 25% damage boost to melee weapons and a 10% damage reduction while wielding a melee weapon. This skill is extremely strong, and maxing it out as early as possible with this build is highly recommended, as later ranks grant you even further damage bonuses, reduction, lifesteal, and a speed boost. This will make knives, cutlasses, and rescue axes your go-to equipped items as you charge in to decimate your foes.
Lastly, the Scavenging skill grants you more credits, ammo, and aid items while looting containers, which synergizes well with the Gastronomy skill mentioned above. These three skills come together to provide a player with quite the aggressive sustain melee build right out of the gate in Starfield. Furthermore, the Chef dialogue options are some of the quirkiest in the game and provide a slightly unhinged/refined edge to your character, especially when visiting some of Settled Systems’ more gourmet establishments. While mechanically being more of a berserker build than a Chef this background will be a favorite for many a melee specialist.
“You were always disgusted by suckers killing themselves to make an “honest wage”. As soon as you were old enough to hold a weapon, you took what you wanted from anyone unlucky enough to have it.”
At first glance, you might wonder how this is a melee-related background. Starfield has a mechanic that synergizes and unleashes this background into essentially a standalone build for players who want to get up close and personal with their enemies but still want the option of pulling the trigger. The Gangster grants you one rank in the Shotgun Certification, Boxing, and Theft skills.
Shotgun Certification will give you a 10% bonus to shotguns at rank 1, with further ranks increasing the damage bonus and allowing you to stun targets. On its own, Shotgun Certification is an alright skill but when combined with the effectiveness of the Boxing skill and, most importantly, the Bash mechanic it elevates this background into its unique playstyle.
As mentioned earlier, the Boxing skill increased your Unarmed attacks by 25%. Bashing an enemy with your weapon is registered as an Unarmed attack, thus it applies the damage bonus from the Boxing skill when you bash an enemy with your shotgun. Furthermore, bashing an enemy with your gun is highly likely to stagger them 9/10 times, which creates just enough space to then quickly blast them away with your shotgun. With further ranks in both Boxing and Shotgun Certification, this quickly turns into an extremely powerful combo that kills most average enemies outright after a quick bash and blast and effectively stun locks more powerful bosses and small crowds, especially if you weave in a power punch to knock down the enemy at the start of the fight.
The Theft skill adds an interesting dynamic to this build/background that lets you take what you want from your enemy before starting a ruckus, especially at later ranks when you can pickpocket holstered weapons, you can take your enemy’s ability to fight away from them before bashing them in the face and blasting them with your shotgun. This background makes for a fantastically aggressive and in-your-face hybrid melee build. Not only all of the mechanical options, but this background also provides some intense and equally aggressive dialogue options throughout various questlines and particularly synergizes well with some criminal activities on Neon, Crimson Fleet, and Bounty Hunting missions.
The Final Word
The recommended backgrounds for a Melee build cater to diverse playstyles, from unconventional brawlers and culinary combatants to ruthless gangsters and stealthy mercenaries. Each background not only enhances your character mechanically but also enriches your roleplaying experience in the cosmic tapestry of Starfield. We hope you found this article useful and be sure to check out our website for more tips and tricks on all things Starfield.
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