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Armed To The Teeth: Unarmed And Melee Weapons
As in most RPGs, the amount of weapons you can carry in Fallout 3 is hilarious. Multiple firearms, swords, knives, twenty grenades, a dozen mines - all of this can fit on a single character. Despite the amount you can carry, your inventory space is still limited by your strength. You will at some point have to get rid of some of your gear in order to carry better armor or to make sure you have enough weight left for hauling around the loot you need to sell in order to afford ammo and repairs. This means you'll always be limited in the weapons you can carry, and you'll need to choose which ones are worth keeping and which ones you'll want to ignore.
This guide will cover all non-unique weapons. Unique weapons are not covered because they are rare, and you'd have to perform specific steps to get ahold of them. It is not the intention of this guide to include spoilers. There are some Unique weapons in the game that are absurdly powerful, but it should be readily apparent which ones these are once you run across them, as these super-powered weapons do absurd amounts of damage and can even be dangerous to your character's health. These super-powered Unique weapons are also often impractical for everyday use.
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Bare Fists: DPS 3 - Bare fists are obviously always with you. Their damage is only four - which is very low - but they are also a very fast weapon, which makes up it somewhat. That said, bare fists are not a good weapon to use for long unless you begin to pick up the Iron Fist perk, which increases your unarmed damage.
Brass Knuckles/Spiked Knuckles: DPS 3/4 - These are common drops from Raiders and other humanoids, and provide a decent damage increase for your in the lower levels. Once you pick up a more powerful unarmed weapon or upgrade your bare fists, these become entirely useless. They are not valuable to merchants, so they are not even worth picking up as loot.
Power Fist: DPS 9 - Obviously this is a major upgrade compared to Brass or Spiked Knuckles, and you should absolutely jump at the chance to get your hands on this weapon if you are an unarmed character. The Power Fist will be your mainstay throughout much of the game. With a value of only 100, they are not very good as loot.
Deathclaw Gauntlet: DPS 10- At first glance with a DMG value only equal to that of the Power Fist, you might wonder why this weapon - which is built via a schematic - is worth bothering with. The key to the Deathclaw Gauntlet - and the reason it is the best unarmed weapon in the game - is its massive crit multiplier of x5 and crit bonus damage of +30. It is in theory possible for a player with the Ninja perk to have a 100% chance to crit when using this weapon and other Perks which increase crit chance. On the downside, the Deathclaw Gauntlet is not an easy weapon to get a hold of, as the schematic is rare.
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Basic Weapons - There are numerous basic melee weapons in Fallout 3 including the Pool Cue, Police Baton, Rolling Pin, Knife, Tire Iron, and Nailboard. All of these weapons are useful if you have nothing else at hand. Because you can pick up the Baseball Bat - which is superior to all of these weapons - before you even leave Vault 101, all of these basic weapons are mostly useless. They also have a very low value to merchants.
Baseball Bat: DPS 12- You can pick this up early in Vault 101, and it is a reasonably effective basic melee weapon with a DMG rating of 9. It is not a quick weapon however, and will probably be quickly discarded in favor of other better melee weapons. It has very little value to merchants.
Combat Knife: DPS 20 - Although the combat knife does less damage per hit than the Baseball Bat, it is quicker and can do more damage over time. It also has a much better crit chance than normal (3x) and does more damage when it does crit, so this weapon is good choice in the early game.
Lead Pipe: DPS 20 - This weapon does the same damage per hit as the Baseball Bat, but it can be swung quicker which results in more damage over time. The Lead Pipe is not a remarkable weapon otherwise.
Chinese Officer's Sword: DPS 23 - This weapon is a true sword, which looks very cool, but it does less damage than you might expect. It can be swung with reasonable speed, has a slightly better than normal crit chance, and does a fair amount of damage when it does crit. It is a good choice until you get a hold of a Sledgehammer.
Sledgehammer/Super Sledge: DPS 30/37 - This is when melee weapons start to get fairly serious. Both of these weapons put down a good amount of hurt, have good crit damage bonuses, but don't crit more often than any other weapon. You can get these weapons fairly early on by defeating a Super Mutant equipped with one. Once you do get one, you'll likely keep hold of it throughout much of the game. They are very heavy, so they make poor loot as a result.
Ripper: DPS 30 - The Ripper is a very powerful and surprisingly cheap melee weapon which, while rare to see on other characters, will show up frequently at the gun shop in Rivet City once you get around level 10. Unlike other melee weapons, simply pressing the attach button and holding it will cause this weapon to constantly put out damage. Despite being obviously mechanical, you don't need any sort of power source to operate it. This is the best basic melee weapon, but it is overshadowed by some uniques and by the Shishkebab, and you'll like run across one of those other weapons before you get your hands on a Ripper.
Shishkebab: DPS 80/120 - The most powerful melee weapon in the game, the Shishkebab is a schematic-built combination of a flamethrower and a sword. It does a ton of damage and attacks very quickly. This damage is increased to the point of absurdity when it is combined with the Pyromanaic perk, which increases damage done by this weapon by 50%. Keep in mind that since this is a fire-based weapon, so it will set off gas leaks. And unlike other fire-based weapons, this will set off a gas leak merely by having the weapon drawn!
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This is the first article in a five-part series covering the weapons in Fallout 3. The next section will cover Big Guns, everyone's favorite choice when something absolutely, positively must go boom. Over the course of this five-part series, every non-unique weapon in the game will be covered. Even if you don't choose to go through every category, it is a good idea to train both your character and yourself in the details of at least two types of offense. After all, the best Assault Rifle in the world won't help you if all you have left is ammo for a Flamethrower.
Fallout 3 Weapons Guide
- Fallout 3 Weapons Guide: Unarmed And Melee
- Fallout 3 Weapons Guide: Big Guns
- Fallout 3 Weapons Guide: Small Guns
- Fallout 3 Weapons Guide: Energy Weapons
- Fallout 3 Weapons Guide: Explosives And General Tips
- Fallout 3 Weapons Guide: Find Special, High-Damage Weapons Within the Wasteland
- Fallout 3: Power Armor Training Guide