[Build] Generic Melee Zero Build by Altair




Alright, so (with the influx of new builds and newer players) I and a few others decided to set ‘standards’, as we never really see a standard playset for melee. This explains a method to taking on UVHM as a melee Zer0. By no means is Zer0 gear-needy or gear-specific. To reach UVHM, I suggest following Altair’s guide to leveling a Zer0.
The key skills are: Killing Blow, Execute, Backstab, Many Must Fall, Ambush, and Deathmark/Death Blossom (the two of which are a given together). Read over this for an explanation of the other skills.



As it stands, this is the standard level 58 Melee Zer0 skillset. The last 3 points can be put into Fearless, Two Fang, Headshot, or into filling out Resurgence and then into the other two skills.
Realistically at 58 or higher, that is the best (and most accepted/standard) build for any and all melee Zer0s. The other three points can be used for three purposes: 3 in Fearless, 3 in Two Fang, or 1 in Resurgence and 2 in Fearless/TF.
At 72, that expands to two different builds. One of which is with B0re, and B0re-less.





Past level 58, the skills chosen are entirely optional. However, previous to that the skills are pre-chosen (nearly) and are based around maximizing damage according to Zer0’s melee formula. After level 58 you can choose the skills you like the best freely, there is no rule. Just make sure to never take Grim because it will make your roid shield useless and it works against the melee playstyle.

What should I choose? Bore or Boreless?

Technically, Bore is one of the best Zero skills. It can deal a lot of damage especially to bots without the need of singularity grenades and it prevents bullet reflection from enemies and enemy shields (like Badassasarus, Dukino’s mom, etc.) which is EXTREMELY useful in a melee build.
From a DPS point of view, Bore offers more advantages and versatility. There is no reason to take the remaining melee skills because they add very little to the overall damage and they scale poorly. However if you like the Idea of a full melee Ninja, boreless builds are challenging, but still perfectly viable.



Slot 1

  • Slag Rapier . Allows max melee damage. It is a unique quest reward obtained from ‘Message in a Bottle’ quest, located in Hayters Folly. Always spawn with a blade accessory, boosting the weapons melee damage to 200%. A slag version is preferred in UVHM.


  • Law . The Law boosts melee damage by 100%. It’s the best bladed gun available in the core game. If paired with the Order shield, any melee damage done is converted to health.

Slot 2

  • Slag Evisceration Rubi . Rubi is a unique quest reward obtained from ‘Rakkaholics Anonymous’ quest, and turning the mission in to Moxxi. No Accessories guaranteed. It will take a while to acquire the correct version Slag + blade accessory). This guns will be our main healing source: in fact, as all Moxxi weapons, it will heal by a percentage of the damage inflicted. Slag element is important in UVHM and this gun will be our Zero’s main slag source.


  • Evisceration Grog Nozzle . The enemies damage reduction and the terrible DoT at high OP levels make the Rubi ineffcient. This gun is a quest reward and it might be needed at OP8 because it heals a larger percentage than Rubi (65% to 12%). It is a quest item (NOT reward) from DLC4 and it was obtainable only once during the Loot Hunt event.

Slot 3
The 3rd and 4th slots are used for support weapons. Usually, for recovering from Fight For your Life, for extra slagging, or for extra healing, or to deal with flying enemies like buzzards and surveyors, which might be difficult to reach with melee. The weapons used are extremely situational, so I’ll just mention the most frequently used.

  • Unkempt Harold . The best prefix is Double Penetrating (DPUH). It is obtained from Torgue vending machines in DLC2, or as a rare drop from Savage Lee. It is one of the most powerful guns available in the game, but its main use for a melee Zero is as healing source. In fact this gun has an extremely slow bullet speed, so shooting an enemy and then quickly switch to a Rubi or Grog before the pellets reach the target, will fully heal. This is especially useful against raid bosses like Terramorphous and Voracidous.

For healing purpose, any weapon with a very slow bullet speed can be used. I used a Blockhead once for example but in the end the DPUH is the most reliable emergency-healing weapon.
In the 3rd slot, other support weapons are used, especially by Bore ninjas. The choice goes to weapons that easily Bore:

  • Barking Pimpernel . It’s a unique sniper from DLC1 obtained from the mission “Don’t Copy That Floppy” located in Washburne Refinery. It’s one of the most powerful weapons available in the game, however you need to know how to use it to make it effective. The best variant has Jakobs grip.
  • Practicable Interfacer . It is a seraph shotgun dropped by Voracidous the Inivincible. The best variant has practicable prefix.
  • Tediore Plasma Casters . A special mention to Tediore reloads. Before OP levels, it was a fantastic second wind weapon: in fact, you can reload-throw it like a grenade: if the magazine is almost full, it deals immense damage, especially if the enemy is weak to its element. At OP levels, with enemy damage reduction, it’s not as good as it was. The same applies to the legendary Baby Maker .

Slot 4

  • Norfleet . It’s the most powerful rocket launcher available in the game and the best weapon for FFYL emergencies. It is a rare drop from Hyperious the invincible and Vermivorous. Fire, shock and corrosive norfleets are fine, slag element is not recommended.


  • Topneaa . The Topneaa is a Vladof Etech rocket launcher. Its high fire rate and low ammo consumption make it the best FFYL weapon to use at non-OP levels. However its damage might not be enough to make it viable at OP8. It can be optained from any loot source.
  • PBFG . This is Norfleet’s little Etech brother. It is a viable alternative to the Norfleet even at OP8. It can be optained from any loot source.
  • Badaboom . This legendary bandit RPG is dropped by King Mong.


  • Hide of Terramorphous . The Hide is a rare legendary Drop obtained from Terramorphous the Invincible. It has the highest Roid damage available in the game. It also have spikes and nova effects which are appreciated because they passively heal when holding a Rubi (in fact any damage done when holding a Moxxi weapon will heal you regardless of the source). The best hides have an elemental resistance and has a delay of at least 3.5 seconds. The best elemental resistance is grounded or inflammable.


  • Love Thumper . The Love Thumper is a unique quest reward obtained from ‘Best Mother’s Day Ever’ quest located in The Highlands. This quest randomly drops from Stalkers after completing ‘Stalker of Stalkers’. when the shield is depleted, it adds an explosive nova to all melee attacks. The nova inflict friendly fire, so it is not recommended for coop playing. It also has an extremely long recharge delay, so it doesn’t need to be managed. However it will leave your health exposed the whole time. The best variants comes with an elemental resistance.
  • Order . The Order has a maximum roid damage comparable to the Love Thumper. It is a unique quest reward obtained from ‘BFFs’ quest located in Sanctuary. It is used in Coop instead of the Love Thumper if an Hide is not available. The best versions of this shield have an elemental resistance and a delay of at least 3.5 seconds.
  • Any Maylay shield with elemental resistance. I’ve seen a purple alkaline maylay shield with 1.4M roid damage, when the maximum damage for a perfect Love Thumper is 1.5M. Generic roid shields can be amazingly good! Always keep an eye on them and pick them up if they have an elemental resistance. There is no need for rare items and hours of boring quest farming. Purple Roid shields are always great as long as they have an elemental resistance. They can be found in any loot source, Pyro Pete should drop maylay shields relatively often, together with other goodies, and he is easy to farm.


Grenades are mainly used to strip your shield when roid bonus is needed. They are also used as healers when thrown while holding a Rubi. The only grenades that strip your shield without hurting your health are:

  • Longbow Stormfront or Longbow/Lobbed Tesla . The Stormfront is more powerful, but any Tesla can be as good as their legendary counterpart. Both Tesla or Stormfront need to be a bit specific, as it does need to be Longbow or Lobbed with a 0.0 fuse time. The Stormfront is a legendary grenade mod dropped from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Rats located in Bloodshot Stronghold. Longbow Teslas can also be found on vending machines and any loot sources. It must be powerful enough to strip your shield completely when you need roid bonus.


  • Chain Lightning . The Chain Lightning is a legendary/unique grenade Mod dropped from Sorcerers in the 4th DLC, with a 0.0 fuse time. However this grenade is very dangerous because it inflicts DoT and it needs to be paired with a grounded shield. It also wipe out a big chunck of health if used as shield stripper without holding a Rubi near an enemy. The advantage is that it regenerates ammo so it is easier to manage a fast recharging shield like Hide of Terramorphous. It also instantly heals if thrown while holding a Rubi.


  • Cooldown relic or Bone of the Ancients (non-shock). A better cooldown means more Deception, more Kunai, more DPS, more survivability. More cooldown means more Executes overall, which is far better than any other relic in the game for Zer0. Shock variation of the Bone means that your grenades are boosted, and that means that they are deadlier to your health than any other Bone. Avoid these at all costs. So: cooldown relics, and Fire/Corrosive Bone of the Ancients are the most preferable relics.


  • Blue Shadow Ninja (+6 backstab, +5 Killing Blow). This is the best class mod available for a Melee Zero in the base game. The blue com is the best because you definitely want +6 in Backstab, and Resurgence boost is not really needed.


  • Legendary Ninja . It will give bonus to all the Shadow Ninja skills, plus Ambush and Followthrough. This class mod is only dropped by Tubby enemies above level 62, it does not exist at lower levels. However, the Legendary Ninja is certainly better than the Shadow Ninja but not to the point to notice an big increase in DPS. The only noticeable difference is the boost to followthrough which is always good to have.
  • Legendary Hunter . The lack of melee damage boost is evident at endgame, but at lower levels (usually around 50) it can be good especially for the healing and cooldown bonus while mobbing.

If you do not find the correct quest reward variant you were looking for, they can be obtained by dashboarding/Alt+F4ing/quitting without saving to turn the quest in over and over. However …cheap that may sound, it is a strategy used to tweak chances in your favor.

Big help from jiandersonzer0 to write this guide!


That looks great good job, we’re smashing through these


Just a little commentary :

I personally run with Unf0rseen, so I do use a shock BoA much of the time. At OP8, I need to use a Chain Lightning three levels lower than when I have a fire or corrosive Bone equipped.

The Lightning Bolt is a viable shield stripper but it on average does more damage than a Chain Lightning of the same level - so one will need to experiment with grenade level and shield capacity.

Edit : also something conspicuously absent from the shield roster is the Pun-Chee. Damage is slightly higher than a purple roid ; it has two distinct advantages and one disadvantage :

  • recharge rate is remarkably good - like Tediore good. I even use it for non-melee scenarios.

  • it’s availability is unmatched. If you save just outside Moxxi’s bar in the Torgue DLC, the Seraph Vendor is a Decepti0n sprint away. It is the only roid shield you can effectively farm at any level - and getting a Grounded version doesn’t take very long.

  • on the minus, its recharge delay is c. 0.4 seconds shorter than an equivalent Hide, et al. This makes MMF chains more challenging.


The Pun-chee was buffed in the loot hunt, which happened after Altair wrote this. It used to suck big time


The pun-chee honestly came in handy for me while doing sniper zero for a while (it was my only shield for a while lol) it’s a good shield in my experience

Anyway are all these from the old forms or something?


Yep - this sudden surge in new builds & topics is from IdlePhantom, Pie and myself porting all these old-forum threads. Newbs have been bitching for months about all the dead links, so we’re dregding up the Web Archive versions and remaking them.


I feel your pain…I was a moderator for a large IRC chat at one point…that was great


@HeavenlyAnarchy if you know af any threads that that could be helpful to newbies but dont have working links then pm me with them


Hella late lol but what skin is that in the third photo?

This is not my work - I just ported the topic from the old forum. Altairsky isn’t really around these days to answer that but I suspect it’s L0rd of Darkness that’s gotten a bit of colour added to it somehow.

If you look at her Steam version, there’s better contrast between it and Cleansing Fire (the above two shots).

I scoured all my Zer0 skins (I’m only missing one or two) and that’s the only fit.

Yeah dude your so right it is! Thanks!