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I have real trouble trying to use the melee weapons in Team Fortress 2. I always seem to miss. Are there any tips for making good use of the melee weapons, or what can I do to train this skill?

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Protip: Don't stand still! –  Mark Rogers Aug 23 '12 at 10:31
    
Second protip: You need to build an intuitive understanding of the distances of different melee weapons. Also if you shield bash, you get a free crit swing for a second. –  Mark Rogers Feb 25 at 15:48
    
A question just like this (How do I improve aim with Scattergun?) was quickly closed. –  Austin Mohr Feb 25 at 17:46

6 Answers 6

up vote 13 down vote accepted

You can always play in offline mode and hone your melee skills vs. the computer players there. While they wont mimic the true skills of people you meet online, it's better than nothing at all.

Additionally, learn the different speeds, ranges and hit timing of each weapon. You can swing the scout bat much faster than the heavy can punch, for example. The demoman's "Eyelander" sword has a much larger range than most weapons and can hit from what feels like a non-melee distance, compared to most other classes melee that requires you to be much closer. Also, each weapon has a slightly different "delay" between when you click and when the swing actually has the window to connect. It's minor, but worth getting a feel for.

Lastly, learn your limits. It's not wise to melee certain classes if avoidable. Pyros and heavies are dangerous targets to melee, and scouts tend to be too fast to hit reliably in melee range.

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Additionally, remember your hitboxes : gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/1239/what-is-a-hit-box . It's not the center of the model you have to hit in tf2, it just has to make contact somewhere within the hitbox. Which hitbox you hit determines the damage, not how accurately, nor how square-on, nor how deep into the box is. –  rlb.usa Jul 21 '10 at 20:18
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You can also search for 'Fun' servers and request melee-only battles with players (or your friends). In my experience, one-on-one melee-only is the fastest, most realistic, and best way to improve melee combat. –  rlb.usa Jul 21 '10 at 20:20
    
Eyelander, Headtaker (which is an Eyelander reskin), and Skullcutter all have longer than normal melee range. Certain melee weapons seem to hit slower than normal, such as the Soldier's Equalizer, but I haven't tested to see if this is actually true. –  user2974 Mar 4 '11 at 23:19
    
@Powerlord Indeed regarding the Eyelander/Headtaker/Skullcutter for having the larger range. In regards to weapons hitting faster or slower than normal, there are obviously some weapons that swing faster/slower (as is noted by the Scout's bat vs. others), but I don't have any actual numbers on hand to back up the exact timing of weapons. –  TheQ Mar 7 '11 at 17:47

It's all about choosing the best time to break out the Melee weapon. There are times you want to use it, and times it would be wise to avoid it.

Good Times To Use Melee Weapons

  • When you've flanked your opponent and want to take them by surprise (Melee is initially quieter than bullets)
  • When they're on the run (A single melee hit does consistent damage, and can finish off low-health classes)
  • When you can outrun them (trying to run down someone who is faster than you will never work. You need a class with some speed to attempt melee combat (unless...))
  • When the target is stationary (A stationary target, like a scoped-in sniper, is perfect for a melee assault. You're practically guaranteed to hit them several times.

Bad Times To Use Melee Weapons

  • In a head-on assault (Unless your target is very bad at aiming, you're likely to die before you get close enough for a head-on melee assault)
  • Against a Pyro (Pyros will wreck you in melee. Do not attempt melee against a pyro)
  • Against an overheal target (Any class that is overhealed or very healthy will notice your assualt well before it will do any good (Unless you're a Demoman with a shield, or get lucky with a crit). Instead, GO FOR THE MEDIC! Melee works great against an unaware Medic)
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I agree with the other answers here: That practice is the best way to improve your melee skills.

As part of the 2010 Christmas update, a new game mode was released: Medieval Mode. This is a melee only mode, with the exception that the Sniper can use the Huntman and the Medic can use the Crusader's Crossbow because these are considered to be Medieval weapons. I have found this a great way to practice my (admittedly poor) melee skills.

Currently this game mode is only available on the DeGroot Keep map, which makes it really easy to find a medieval game to practice on:

  • From the title screen, click Start Playing
  • Ensure that the Simplified List option is unticked
  • Enter cp_degrootkeep into the Map textbox

This will filter the server list to only show active games that are currently playing Medieval Mode.

Note: For the full range of allowable weapons in Medieval Mode, I recommend checking the Team Fortress wiki.

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You can find melee only maps. And/or use a bigger weapon like the eyelander to get some fun practice.

It's just a practice thing, challenge yourself.

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I'd find a friend and an empty server and practice melee fighting with each other. One of my old clans used to have boxing matches once the heavy got the KGB every once in a while. Things like that help out a lot.

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One useful tactic I've found is to keep your distance. You don't have to be "hugging" your enemy to hit them, and if you do it will make it harder for you to turn and smack them when they move around. Melee range might be short but it's not zero, and it's much easier to hit them when you have a bit of distance.

I have to confess I have trouble keeping the distance myself. I'd recommend practicing a bit offline - even by doing something as silly as hitting the wall - just to see how far you can be from the contact point.

Also, whenever I melee someone I tend to move backward a bit and then forward again in-between weapon swings, for the same reason - to be able to track them easier.

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