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Melee weapons are any weapons that require close-quarter physical contact in order to cause damage. They are the staple of any character that uses strength as their primary attribute. Majority of weapons in Diablo series are melee. Monsters also mainly use melee weapons, although many of them fight with their claws and teeth instead of hand-made tools of war.
Unlike the mostly wooden, and light Ranged Weapons, melee weapons are usually made of very hard and heavy materials, though there are some that exist that do not adhere to these requirements.
They are all characterized by some sort of cutting-edge, piercing tip, or blunt head, set atop a handle. The size and shape of the cutting-edge and the handle can be varied to produce a multitude of different varieties. Have a long, flat and sharp edge upon a short handle that allows for a tight grip and you have a Sword. Using a much broader and heavier edge with a strong and medium-sized handle creates the Axe. Most melee weapons can be either one-handed or two-handed.
The melee weapons found favor with the Warrior class in the original Diablo. The Rogue and the Sorcerer preferred Ranged Weapons and Spells respectively. They were not used widely by the other two classes due to the high strength requirements of the more powerful weapons that are needed to do enough damage in the late-game.
Once Diablo II was released, the Barbarian and some builds of the Paladin were favorites for melee weapons, even though there were no limits to the attribute distribution in the game. This was not only partly due to the fact that their skills swerved more towards melee use, but standard stereotyping also played a role. One could not imagine a Barbarian wielding a Bow, although some enterprising players successfully created the Barb Bowman build. All five classes had some melee weapon particularly designed for their use: the Amazons had Spears, the Necromancer had Daggers, further aided by their Poison Dagger skill, the Paladin gained bonuses with Swords and Scepters, Sorceresses favor Sorceress Orbs, Assassins use dual Katars, while the Barbarian could become proficient in any type of weapon due to their Combat Masteries.
Another major factor in the switch of many players towards melee weapons was that Ranged Weapons now required ammunition. Bows and Crossbows required Arrows and Bolts respectively, while the various Throwing Weapons got depleted as they were used. The Throwing Weapons could carry some modifiers that replenished them in time and Arrows and Bolts were easily found as drops by killing monsters, but many casual players still found the constant search for more ammunition very tiring, not to mention boring. Consequently,
After the release of Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, both new classes were used in melee. The Assassin had class-specific melee weapons, the Katars, while the Druid used Undead-bashing Mauls to great effect. The Druid seldom used them in combat, for he usually leaves the weaker enemies to his minions. Druids are the only class which does not have special weapons, since even if they fight in melee, they do so in beast form, where fangs prove to be more of aid than blades.
In Diablo III, the Barbarians are most proficient in Melee Weapons. They can even wield massive Mighty Weapons, which are way too heavy for any other human to even lift. In return, Barbarians despise ranged weapons and will never utilize those (yet may hurl throwing weapons if they want to soften enemy up before charging into close combat).
All other classes mostly use melee weapons as secondary tools:
- Wizards channel their might to unleash spells, therefore preferring enchanted Wands, yet may choose Staves or any other sorcerous weaponry if needed.
- Witch Doctors use sacrifical Ceremonial Knives, which are used for sorcery and rituals rather than for combat, but can take other enchanted weapons as well.
- Monks generally fight with their fists (sometimes reinforced with blades and knucles), but can also defend themselves with combat staves. While they are trained to use any melee weapons at will, the Monk's real weapon is their own body, their will made strength.
- Demon Hunters use Bows and Crossbows, including automated Hand Crossbows, and only use melee weapons if cornered and unable to find anything that may be shot or thrown.
- Crusaders arm themselves with melee weapons, particularly massive Flails, and bear their Shields with pride, but most of their power comes from faith and wrath, unleashed in forms of heavenly fury.