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(Written from a Production point of view)
They debuted in Resident Evil Outbreak as attacks that could be triggered at will. Melee moves in titles following the Outbreak games are often used by experienced players to save ammo and get spacing, as when used, the player is invincible from incoming attacks from other enemies, and will also hit/knock/stagger any enemy nearby depending on the angle/position.
Almost every Resident Evil game features the knife as a last ditch melee weapon to use. In the hands of an advanced player though, it can be one of the greatest means of conserving ammunition.
The head stomp or kick after grounded the zombies is also a good way to conserve ammunition.
Resident Evil Outbreak
Resident Evil Outbreak features both melee weapons and physical actions from the playable characters in combat. All characters are capable of a shoulder shove that can be used to push away enemies or weaken locked doors as well as a kick that can be used on fallen enemies when no item is equipped. George Hamilton has a more powerful version of the shoulder charge. Kevin Ryman likewise has a stronger kick that can be used on standing enemies and in Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 he gets an even more powerful shoulder charge that has a chance of knocking enemies down. Various items can also be found to use as weapons such as Iron pipes and Wooden Planks.
Resident Evil 4
In Resident Evil 4, melee attacks can performed against Ganados by pressing the action button after stunning them. The visual reaction is the signal that melee attacks can be used; Ganados can be attacked when they are stunned by being damaged on the head (they hold onto their face in pain), or being shot in the lower leg area (they will fall to their knees). Handguns, the TMP, and well placed knife slashes can achieve these stun set ups. Melee attacks will knock enemies down to the ground and it will take a few seconds for them to get back up, leaving them open to weapon fire, knife slashing, or running past them. 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.
Other melee attacks can be activated with the action button in specific scenarios for certain enemies. Leon can preform a reverse roundhouse kick against Novistadores simply when they walk up to him. Against El Gigantes, after doing enough damage then will knell over in pain and their plaga will expose itself, the player can then climb onto their back and start a quick time event where they have to rapidly press a button to slash at it. 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 doing a certain amount of damage. During Leon's fight against Krauser, while he is collecting the beast plate and Krauser is chasing him, a series of two to four quick time events can come up where Leon has can dodge his knife attacks and end it with a drop kick.
In the Mercenaries minigame, all characters have their own melee attacks performed in the same manor. 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 like the chainsaw opponents. Krauser's head stun melee attack consists of two kicks in a row that can hit enemies twice.
Krauser also has a unique melee attack that involves using his mutated arm. However, it's not a reaction command, but rather a special move that can be activated after a certain amount of time.
Resident Evil 5
A refined Resident Evil 4 melee system is present in Resident Evil 5, which has been heavily expanded. Enemies can still be stunned by being damaging in the head and leg areas, but now can also be stunned by being hit in the arms. Characters will also use a different attack depending on wether they approach the enemy from the front side or back side for arm or leg stuns, totaling to five normal types of melee attacks.
Each character has a different set of attacks and each attack has different properties to them, meaning there is a difference between playing as Chris or Sheva in the main game (other than how she aims left handed). 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.
It's also possible to perform Chain Melee Attacks with your partner and unleash finishing moves on enemies. Against regular Majini, stunning them in the arm and using the reaction command will push them back but not cause them to fall over; from here the partner can hit them with another arm stun melee, which will prompt for a third attack to be used by the first attacker. Those finishing moves are far more powerful than all other melee attacks. 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 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 your partner is grabbed by an enemy, using the assist will make the character hit the enemy, 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 normally, both players can hit with melee attack at the same time if they're coordinated. This however cannot be done if the attack is a execution done from behind when the enemy is stunned in the legs.
In The Mercenaries mini-games, melee kills add five seconds to the timer which is a crucial part of gameplay in order to achieve higher scores. In The Mercenaries Reunion, melee attacks are much stronger, able to kill almost any regular Majini. Also, characters have access to Special Melees in Duo Mode depending on who they're paired with:
- Chris's leg stun melees are different if his partners are Barry or Rebecca.
- Sheva's ground execution is different if her partners are Josh or Excella.
- Rebecca's arm stun melee is different if her partners are 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; Rebecca uses flame spray, tear gas, and a taser; Excella uses a syringe; and Barry Burton uses his signature magnum to pistol whip and 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 do a small amount of damage and stun them. Wesker can perform a Special Melee called Knee Cannon during the dash which causes major damage and be fatal to most regular Majini or cause knockdown.
Characters have certain melee attacks used against lickers when they are stunned.
During fights with Wesker, players have access to a unique quick time 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 neckbreaker 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. 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 6
Similar to the previous games, the Melee System in Resident Evil 6 has reaction moves, though stunning an opponent is usually harder and can require more than one shot in the specific area. However, the system has been refined and further expanded; enemies can be stunned by simply being shot anywhere in their bodies, not requiring specifically to be shot in the head or other weak points (though shooting these have a higher hit-stun rate).
Characters now have different reaction moves depending on the enemy and if it is carrying melee weapons or not. For example, using a reaction move against an enemy carrying a weapon, such as a knife or shovel, will cause the character to "steal" the weapon from the enemy and kill it with it; however these weapons cannot be picked up or equipped as regular items. In a similar fashion, some reaction moves will be different depending on the weapon your character is carrying (such as impaling grounded enemies when holding a knife).
Additionally, all characters now can use a standard Melee Attack freely, at any time. Most of these moves are strong enough to stun (thus opening a chance to Reaction Moves) or even kill an opponent. However, these free melee moves and reaction commands consumes an amount of stamina (displayed under the character's health), called Combat Bar. This Combat Bar regenerates slowly, but if completely depleted the player will be unable to use Melee Attacks or Sprint. In this case the bar will flash red and regenerate slower than usual, and the player will only be able to use Melee Attacks again when it's full; trying to use melee attacks with the bar depleted will result in a very slow and weak attack, leaving the character vulnerable to the opponents.
Unlike in Resident Evil 5, all melee attacks (both reaction moves and free melee) now have chance to cause critical damage, and this chance can be further increased by purchasing specific skills. Also, players can stomp enemies more than one time, and, like in Resident Evil 5, depending on the player's position to the enemy, hitting the head increases the chance of critical damage.
Jake is unique as he can "equip" an option called Hand to Hand, which allows him to use different types of melee attacks and combos, making him capable of engaging in close combat more efficiently than other characters. Jake's melee attack moves are based on his father's. Most of his Hand to Hand moves doesn't consume stamina, save for a few more powerful attacks.
These attacks can be used at any time. Only the first attack of the two-hit combo doesn't cost a block of stamina.
- Two-hit combo: by pressing the Melee Button 2 times, the character will perform a two-hit combo, with the last hit being potentially more powerful and causing more hit-stun, usually stunning weaker enemies and leaving them open to Reaction Attacks.
- Sprint attack: by sprinting and pressing the Melee Button, the character will perform a dash attack, capable of either stun or launch the enemy (these depends on the character used and the specific enemy). Male characters will use a shoulder ram while female characters launch a flying kick.
- Backward attack: While facing backward (facing the camera and the player) then pressing the melee button, the character will perform a different attack to hit an enemy behind them.
- Slide kick: Running forward then pressing the dodge button results in a slide kick than can cause light damage to enemies and possibly stun them. This slide kick can also be used to crash item boxes and may also kill a downed enemy.
- Stomp: by pressing the Melee Button near a downed enemy, the character will stomp it; if the character's foot hits the enemy's head, it will cause a head critical strike. Depending on the weapon equipped the character will perform a different attack rather than a stomp.
- Low kick: used to deal with small enemies such as Cerberus. It shares the same animation of breaking crates and boxes.
- Standard Reaction Attack: the character performs a powerful attack against an enemy facing him/her. This attack usually can hit multiple enemies. This attack will be used if the enemy is stunned by a quick-shot.
- Weapon-Steal Reaction Attack: if the enemy is holding a melee weapon, the character will steal that weapon and kill the enemy with it.
- Strong Reaction Attack: A stronger attack than the standard one. Usually can be used if the enemy is stunned by a head shot.
- Back attack: if the character attacks the enemy from behind, it will perform a more powerful attack that usually causes head critical. Additionally, if the enemy does not notice the character, the Reaction Attack is available without having to stun the enemy.
- Coup de Grace: Very powerful attack. Usable if enemy is dazed. This attack is automatically used against stunned Bloodshots and Napads.
Environmental based attacks
- Wall Smash: if the enemy is close to a wall, the character will slam its head against the wall, causing head critical. Requires enemy to be stunned first.
- Leg Pull: If the player is standing near a ledge and an enemy is on a higher level next to them, the character pulls the enemy's leg forcing them down.
- Ground Smash: If the player is at the ledge of a higher level and the enemy is on a lower level, the character and jump from the ledge and catch the enemy and drive them to the ground.
- Push: if the enemy is close to a gap in a bridge or building, the character will push them away.
- Stealth take down: Pressing the melee button while standing against a wall and an unaware patrolling J'avo comes close enough, characters can perform stealth kills.
Certain enemies in Resident Evil 6 can be killed or incapacitated using well-timed counter-attacks:
- Bloodshot: Simply move away from its jumping attack; Characters will flip the creature on its back and stomp its organs, this will kill the Bloodshot instantly in easy and normal difficulties.
- Napad: Pressing the command prompt will make the character stops the Napad's charge and cracks its armor (male characters) or jumps on the creature's back to avoid damage (female characters).
- Deborah: Although very hard to pull off, players with fast reflexes will be able to counter Deborah's jump-dive attack and incapacitate her.
- C-Virus Zombies: the zombies' attacks can be counter-attacked in various ways such as weapon steal, shoulder ram, and ground kick.
- J'avo: Similar to C-Virus Zombies, the J'avo can be counter-attacked in many ways, depending on the player's position and weapon being used.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 features 3 types of melee moves: stun melee moves, follow-ups, and stealth attacks.
- 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: