A month or two ago, a patch was released that dramatically improvement the power of melee weapons. This improvement took the form of making melee weapons affected by Weapon Proficiency (resulting in a huge increase in effective damage), and, of increasing their shield penetration to 80%.
As a result, melee is now a viable and in some cases preferable method of combat. What used to be a total joke can now slay some tougher enemies with less time and risk than using guns.
Which brings me to...
WHICH MELEE WEAPON DO YOU PREFER, AND WHY
Basically your options are Sword (they're identical except for visuals), Lirpa, or Bat'leth.
The sword is quick and hard to interrupt. It can make its entire 3-hit main combo in the same time as the two-handers take to make 2 moves. It's easy to use and really you only have to remember two things: LMB until exposed, then RMB. The rapid hits, "lunging" target-seeking behavior, and low opportunity cost of each attack makes it great for wading through weaker enemies and carving them up in a frenzy of slashing.
The lirpa is a more ponderous weapon. Its attacks are slower and more complicated, and to become skilled with this weapon you have to memorize half a dozen different combos. But what it sacrifices in speed it gains in power, and a good strike can send an enemy flying back missing half their health. The lirpa has two attacks that provide area-effect damage, and make this a dangerous weapon from any direction.
The bat'leth is similar to the lirpa in its basic attacks, but where the lirpa has two distinct AOE attacks with different purposes that affect every enemy near you, the bat'leth has only one AOE attack. Instead, its impacts are heavier in general. I have not yet passed 1000 damage with a bat'leth strike, but I'm into the 900s. The bat'leth also has the benefit of being featured extensively in the TV shows, and its canonization is the strongest of the melee weapons.
And since it's my thread, I get first vote! My personal favorite is the lirpa. The AOE attacks are tremendously useful, not only for causing damage but also knocking away and interrupting nasty borg trying to assimilate you from behind. And they look awesome!
The energy whip. It has the longest range out of all the "melee" weapons, it has great damage, its stun/hold/expose abilities make it a great crowd/boss control device, and its damage type has no resists!
The only downside is that the Borg can adapt to it.
Originally Posted by vivenneanthony
Get your facts straight about Star Trek. It was not a money making scheme. It was one person vision / idea.
CBS turned it into a making making scheme during the original movies.
I have always used melee weapons in STO, even when they were an absolute joke. All of my Starfleet and Empire toons regularly carry a melee weapon for cqb.
While there are many better melee weapons in the game these days, my favorite Empire tool remains the Shard Sword of Kahless. My (possibly grandfathered) SSK Bat'Leth seems to do a hair more dps than the current quest reward in stats and it certainly tears through Borg (even the serious ones) with aplomb.
My Starfleets generally carry Lirpas as they are both plentiful and, as the OP noted, possess solid AOE attacks.