There are three basic types of weapons that survivors carry into the field: melee, pistols, and rifles. Melee weapons can be anything from a poker found in the crumbled remains of a pre-Fall fireplace to a handcrafted, exquisitely balanced sword. Pistols also run the gamut from improvised to elite, including things like homegrown zip guns, revolvers, and submachine guns. Likewise, rifles range from simple crossbows to rare and powerful sniper rifles.
Characters are far more likely to encounter makeshift items (such as a pistol fashioned out of a paintball gun) until they’ve developed the skills needed to scavenge or craft higher-quality items. Along the way, crafters with the right Knowledges can improve their existing weapons by bolting on scopes or other add-ons. Players not interested in crafting will be able to purchase upgraded weapons through Merchants.
In general, melee weapons do massive amounts of damage at close range, while rifles are great for precise, long-range combat. Characters specialized solely with one weapon type will have a tough time during certain encounters: rifles penalize your defenses in close-quarters combat, and melee weapons are worthless at range. Meanwhile, pistols are something of a balance between the extremes. They’re versatile and can be used at short and long ranges, but they don’t do nearly as much damage as the best weapons in the melee and rifle classes.
Weapons wear out over time and require regular maintenance using Weaponry or Ballistics Repair Kits to keep in useable shape.