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It's been in since early in the week but I only really got chance to try it out today.
At first I thought it would make the zombies less of a threat, and in some ways it does. With the hatchet it's silent and deadly, taking only one shot to bring a zombie down, but you still really, really don't want more than one or two at a time. And even then, a mistimed swing can be dangerous or even lethal if you don't get the zombie first time.
Anyway, I was sneaking into Berezino to check out the apartments and supermarket (guy's gotta eat, right?) and following my standard drill of observe, wait, sneak to avoid the zombies. I heard a zombie behind a wall and waited until I knew which way it was going. A snuck round the other side, crept up behind it and killed it just as it aggrod. I pulled it off again an a hopper that was lurking between two houses. The third on was in the middle of the street, not far from the tents by the hospital. I sneak up, he aggros, I miss my swing, he hits me, I panic, he hits me again, I miss again and I'm bleeding, he hits me a third time then I get him. I bandage up, bricking myself in case something or someone heard my girlish screams. Once the bleeding has stopped I sneak into the hospital, grab as many bandages, painkillers, morphine injectors and blood bags as I can carry then leg it out.
tl;dr - melee is awesome, adds a lot to the game