We’ve been getting some great melee changes recently, and it’s been great to have more choices, but there are still some weapons that are in a really terrible place right now and I think it really has to do with the fact that they have been designed to fill extremely niche roles.
As great as it sounds in concept to have one person specializing 100% at a specific role, and another person specializing 100% at another, I don’t think melee combat necessarily supports this. A lot of the fun comes from the game’s most chaotic occasions, but consequently, players don’t often chose what they get to do, you don’t get to chose if your huntsman gets packmastered, you don’t get to chose if two shielded stormvermin are all that stands between you and reviving your team, you don’t get to chose when a Chaos Patrol agros on your Bounty Hunter and your Hammer and Shield, Dual Swords, or 2H Sword simply cannot do anything to them. Obviously some weapons/careers should be better at some things than others, but if you look at ranged weapons, at no point do any of them meet a special unit that they do nothing/negligible damage to. Now, Waystalker will a longbow might do it 10x better than a Foot Knight with a repeating handgun, but in an pinch, both can get the job done.
Melee weapons, at the moment, don’t have this baseline versatility, and it really hurts player choice. You could make the 2 handed sword 3-4 times better at cleaving hoards, but as soon as one Chaos Warrior, or even one Stormvermin, enters the mix you’re weaker than a 1H axe and fully dependent on either someone else, your ranged weapon (which many already consider to be the best choice for every scenario anyways), or rng crits. The same is true for a lot of weapons with no AP at the moment, you could make the hammer and shield 100% stun every non boss unit in the game but if it can’t even deal with a single Stormvermin, no one will run it. Even in a 1v1 scenario, some of these weapons will simply do negligible damage to a Chaos Warrior, or if they do, it takes roughly as long as the spawn timer for special waves on Legend. For other weapons like the mace and shield, it might not even be possible to kill a single shielded stormvermin on Legend.
Specialized roles are great and all, but not when it means you hit a mechanics wall by bringing them where you simply cannot contribute. Versatility can be accomplished without hurting weapon identity (as seen on ranged weapons, or even between falchion and flail), and there really needs to be some baseline if more weapons are to become Legend viable.
What this versatility should be?
At least some form of AP that is relatively accessible in either the power attack, push attack or light attack, weapons where their only AP is the last swing in the light attack combo are a pretty tough sell right now. (Maybe use the alt fire button used for Saltz’s rapier pistol for shielded weapons to chose between shield bash and heavy swing, same philosophy could be applied to 2H and 1H swords as well, maybe even use the alt fire key to toggle between an AP focused stab/overhead focused moveset and their normal hoard clear moveset).
Enough damage to be relevant against the bile troll. Right now melee dps to bosses is pretty weak across the board with exception of Shade (and maybe Slayer) for the amount of risk involved. But you can barely even match a troll’s regen if you’re last alive and using something like Kruber’s single sword and dodging correctly.
Establish a maximum no. of heavy swings required to make a Chaos Warrior fall over. They should still be seen as the ultimate non-boss threat in melee combat, but some weapons either take an unrealistic amount of swings, or simply don’t deal damage at all.
Characters like non-Shade Kerillian or non-BH Saltz don’t even have a ranged option to switch to in order to deal with them and really depend on having versatile melee weapons.