(Written from a Production point of view)
Melee Combat is a mechanic introduced in Resident Evil Outbreak, involving close-quarters combat, often with no firearm involvement as means of offense or defense. It later evolved into context-sensitive attacks that can be performed against enemies in Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5, Resident Evil 6, Umbrella Chronicles, Darkside Chronicles, Mercenaries 3D, Revelations, Revelations 2, and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. More often than not, melee attacks provide players with certain tactical advantage; invulnerability frames, crowd control, direct damage, and most importantly, ammo conservation.
For information Resident Evil 6's mechanics, see Melee (RE6).
For information Resident Evil 7: Biohazard's mechanics, see Melee (RE7).
Outbreak saga iterations
Melee combat in Outbreak series are often very weak thus ill-advised as means of offense. Instead it is used to create a minimal but oftentimes crucial seconds-worth of opening/ opportunities where other players or characters to assume other tasks or break down most non-key-specific locked doors. Nevertheless, while it is ill-advised as a manner of offense, advanced players can utilize it to its fullest potential in most scenarios to gain the no weapon bonus achievement.
Melee attacks in post-Outbreak games can be performed by first shooting an enemy in specific body part, such as the limbs or face, and then pressing the corresponding button prompt displayed on-screen while the enemy is stunned. Unlike melee combat system pioneered in Outbreak series, in Resident Evil 4 and later titles, melee combat often deal devastating damage that rivals or surpasses even the strongest firearms while providing players invulnerability frames, making them a viable play style not just for ammo conservation sake but also for creating further strategical opportunities.
Not too dissimilar to Outbreak games, downed enemies can be finished off with a stomp input. Should players align their player characters to face enemy heads, they can often finish said enemies off should no further mutations occur. Otherwise, stomps in post-Outbreak titles deal considerable damage to downed enemies.
Prior to the Outbreak saga, almost every Resident Evil game features the knife as a last ditch melee weapon to use. While it is ill-advised to engage in melee combat in these games due to the underwhelming damage output it has, it can be very deadly in the hands of the more patient and expert players, providing them means of clearing pathways while conserving ammunition.
Pre-Outbreak series, some players purposefully knock zombie crowds down and let some of them grab onto their player character to execute a stomp finisher in order to save ammunition at the cost of some of their health while clearing a path. This was no longer necessary after Outbreak series' inception as stomps can now be performed manually without the need of purposefully sacrificing some health in the process.
Resident Evil Outbreak
In Resident Evil Outbreak (ergo its sequel; File#2), unarmed melee attacks can be triggered at will by having no weapons equipped and utilizing any of the assigned combat inputs. More often than not, this involves characters performing a short distance shoulder tackle which deals minimal damage but is capable of stunning or staggering weaker enemies, providing other players/ AI partner npcs some breathing room if needed be.
Some characters such as Kevin and George have special mechanics where they can perform variations of the standard melee attack; Kevin having a strong kick assigned as his special which keeps himself away from potential enemy grabs but leaves himself open to retaliation should he misses, whereas George can delay and charge his tackle for an even stronger knock back effect that is capable of sending zombies flying back as well as negating incoming damage should it be performed at the right moment.
All unarmed offensive melee maneuvers are often used to break open non-password-specific locked doors.
Other characters such as Jim, Alyssa, Cindy, and Yoko are instead given evasive maneuvers that can be used to negate incoming damage completely if performed at the right moment. Similarly, Mark is given a defensive move where he can block incoming damage to mitigate it, giving players using him the opportunity to directly retaliate afterwards (though this does not negate the chance of enemies bleeding Mark characters thus still a risky maneuver).
David has a unique melee mechanic where he can chain knife attacks successively if each strike is timed correctly, providing players means to make knife combat a viable offensive strategy. More often than not, successfully executing the full knife combo will stagger zombies to a downed state, open for stomps or further knife assault. In similar albeit contrasting manner, Mark is capable of charging his melee attacks to deal substantial damage in a single hit, often sending weaker enemies flying or knocking down tougher enemies such as hunters at the cost of breaking an equipped melee weapon slightly faster.
All characters gain similar gimmick to that of David's knife combo in file#2, instead this time it can be performed with any melee weapon. This however, will leave characters breathless for a short while after performing chained melee strikes, thus vulnerable.
All 8 characters can also perform a quick (albeit still weak) stomp/ kick to downed enemies to finish the off by aiming down nearby a downed hostile; though this will often require multiple execution to finish even the weaker enemies in the Outbreak games. It nevertheless is viable to keep said enemies stunned in place while other characters/ players mind their own business.
Resident Evil 4
In Resident Evil 4, melee attacks can performed against Ganados by pressing the action button after stunning them by attacking specific weak points. The visual reaction is the signal that melee attacks can be used; by attacking their heads (they'll hold onto their faces in pain) and knees (they'll fall to their knees). Handguns, the TMP, and well placed knife slashes can prompt these reaction commands. Melee attacks will knock enemies down, leaving them vulnerable to retaliation as they'll take some few seconds to get up. Being grabbed by Ganados and shaking them off will sometimes result in grapple-breaking attacks, which will briefly stun them, but not leave them open to reaction commands.
In the Mercenaries game mode, all characters have their own melee attacks that can be executed in the same way as in the main game, some with unique properties. For instance, HUNK's head stun melee attack, the Neckbreaker, is the only attack in the game that will instantly kill the target, which even includes more resilient enemies such as the Chainsaw Man and the Chainsaw Sisters; this attack will also prevent any plagas from erupting on the victim's head. Krauser's head stun melee attack has him kicking enemies twice, being the only attack in the game that hits more than once. Krauser also has a unique melee attack where he uses his mutated arm to quickly dispose of enemies in a single shot; however, it's not a reaction command, but rather a special move that can be activated after a certain amount of time.
There are other melee prompts can be used in specific situations against certain enemies. Some of the examples include:
- Leon can perform a reverse roundhouse kick against Novistadores when they use a specific attack.
- Against El Gigantes, after inflicting enough damage, they will knell over in pain and their plaga will expose itself; the player can start a quicktime event to climb onto their back and attack the plaga by repeatedly pressing the assigned button.
- During Leon's fight against Krauser, when collecting the beast plate while fleeing from him, a series of two to four quicktime events can come up, where Leon can dodge Krauser's knife attacks and counterattack with a drop kick.
- Leon and Ada, during their respective fights with Saddler, will have the chance to stab him in his mouth-eye mutation after stunning him by dealing a certain amount of damage.
Resident Evil 5
Resident Evil 5 features a refined and heavily expanded melee system seen in Resident Evil 4. Enemies can still be stunned by taking damage on the head and leg, with arms now also counting as a weak point. Characters will also use a different attack depending on wether they approach the enemy from the front or from behind when striking their arms or legs, resulting in a total of five variations for melee attacks. Enemies cannot be stunned anymore with knife attacks, only by shooting their weak points.
Each character has a different set of attacks and with different properties. Some moves, such as Sheva's Throat Slit or Chris's Neckbreaker, will instantly kill regular Majinis (Town, Wetlands and Base) and prevent their Plaga from emerging; these are performed by shooting at the enemy's leg and using the reaction command from behind.
It's also possible to perform Chain Melee Attacks with the partner, allowing to unleash powerful finishing moves on enemies. Against regular Majini, stunning them on the arm and using the reaction command will push them back, allowing the partner to follow up with their melee attack, which in turn will prompt for a third and final attack to be used by the first attacker; these finishing moves are far more powerful than any other type of melee attacks, and can even rival some of the strongest firearms. Some enemies, mostly sub-bosses such as Executioner Majini, Chainsaw Majini, Big Man Majini and Gatling Gun Majini, can also be hit with the chained attacks, or in some cases, be hit with a finish move right away. There are two types finishing moves: one done from the front and the other from the back.
Enemies that are knocked down to the ground are left vulnerable for a ground melee attack. These attacks can cause critical damage and instantly kill enemies if the player is standing directly over their head, as opposed to other body parts. However, this will not prevent their Plaga from emerging, so it is advised to take caution when doing so, as some enemies' head can mutate into a Cephalo or other types of Plagas.
There are also the Melee Assists moves, which are done with the Partner Action Button. When the partner is grabbed by an enemy, using the assist button will cause the character to hit the opponent, freeing the partner and leaving the aggressor in a stunned state. After assisting, your partner may use a reaction melee on the now stunned opponent.
If an enemy is stunned by conventional means, both players can hit with melee attack at the same time, if timed correctly. However, this cannot be done if the attack is an execution move, which is done from behind when the enemy is stunned on the legs.
In The Mercenaries, melee kills add five seconds to the timer, which is a crucial part of gameplay in order to achieve higher scores and extend the timer. In The Mercenaries Reunion, melee attacks are much stronger, able to kill almost any regular Majini in a single hit (mostly head melee). Additionally, characters have access to Special Melees in Duo Mode depending on who they're paired with:
- Chris's leg stun melee are different if his partner is Barry or Rebecca.
- Sheva's ground execution is different if her partner is Josh or Excella.
- Rebecca's arm stun melee is different if her partner is Excella or Chris.
There are a few example of attacks that aren't physical but are still performed as explained above. For example, Sheva uses her kurki in her execution moves; Rebecca uses flame spray, tear gas, and a stun gun; Excella uses a lethal injection syringe; and Barry Burton uses his signature magnum to pistol whip or fire a bullet (which doesn't use ammo).
While not part of the regular melee system, Wesker can use his signature high-speed dash in The Mercenaries (at the cost of a small amount of health) at any time. Running through Majinis will deal a small amount of damage and briefly stun them. Wesker can also perform a Special Melee Attack during the dash, called Knee Cannon, which deals large damage, and will usually kill any normal Majini in a single hit, or knock them down.
Characters also have a special type of melee attack to used exclusively against lickers when they are knocked down, instantly killing them.
Also, during fights against Wesker, players have access to a unique quicktime event combo if they can stun him.
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
In Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, the attack patterns and Melee Prompts are the same as Resident Evil 5. A few characters have different moves than their Resident Evil 5 counterparts. Notably, the characters are now balanced to an extent, some moves been modified to be more useful and reliable while others have been downgraded to be not as powerful. For example, Rebecca Chambers no longer has her Flame Spray and HUNK loses his neck breaker move (but gains new melee attacks involving concealed blades).
Resident Evil: Revelations
Resident Evil: Revelations only features one melee move for each character, and now the player can charge this melee attack to deal more damage. However, this leaves the player vulnerable to attacks from other enemies or even the targeted enemy should they recover (however the player is still invincible during the execution). Evident from Raid Mode, all melee attacks have the same base damage, only changing if a character has a skill stating their melee does extra damage, or if the player has a weapon equipped with the Brass Knucles part, which increases melee damage. Enemies are also much harder to stun compared to the previous games, making Melee Attacks not so reliable as before.
In order to use your melee attack, enemies must be stunned but the method of doing so varies for each enemy. Regular and Pincer Ooze must be damaged in both their arms, Hunters and Farfarellos have to be shot in the head as they start to dash, Scagdeads and Final Form Abyss simply need to sustain so much damage to be stunned. Scarmigliones and the previously listed can be instantly stunned with a Pulse Grenade, with the exception of Final Form Abyss.
An interesting feature about performing a melee attack in Revelations is that just attempting to do one, even if it fails to connect and regardless the amount of charge it has, will instantly reload your current weapon to its maximum capacity. This can be used strategically by some players who may prefer to melee an enemy in some situations instead of having to wait for the reload animation.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 features 3 types of melee moves: stun melee moves, follow-ups, and stealth attacks in addition to standard melee weapon combats.
- Like Revelations, stun melee moves can only be used when an enemy is stunned. These melee moves can be charged for longer periods of time after being upgraded with BP. Only the main character can do stun melee moves.
- Follow-ups is used on grounded enemies, initially it can only be done with the support character, but with upgrades, main character can also do follow-ups.
- Stealth attacks can be done to enemies who are not aware of the character's presence.
In Raid Mode, there are some character skills that involve melee:
- Gabriel Chavez can use Ground Pounds to damage surrounding enemies.
- Gina Foley can use Gesticulation to damage enemies with her gesture.
- Leon can use his Shockwave skill to push enemies away.
- Pedro Fernandez can use his Drill Charge to run through enemies and deal damage.
- Leon's Inherent skills; Savor the moment, and Melee Mastery, substantially increases knife damage output and mobility.