I am posting this from reddit after much positive feedback as well as a few points which I’ve added from other contributors. This is in regards to what I think is the core issue with this game that sucks the enjoyment out of it; that even if all the bugs were fixed it is still flawed at its core gameplay-wise
A meta revolves around what is most effective at dealing with a variety of situations using the least resources. The ranged meta everyone complains about is a natural response to bad game design or coding flaws.
The reason why the ranged meta is so prevalent is two-part: The first is that ammo regen traits are broken and allow certain classes to spam their ranged weapons with no consequence. This can be easily fixed by having Scrounger and Heat Sink NOT consume ammo/heat on Proc rather than returning ammo. Alternatively we can re-introduce Earthing Rune and other ammo regen traits as a melee-only traits while removing the ranged-regen traits. Burning Head for Pyro should also have a longer cooldown for balance.
The second is that the game is almost exclusively designed to punish a player for engaging in melee combat.
Let me list why:
• Enemies don’t have collision which leads to enemies stacking into each other and stabbing through one another, thus giving the player no way to anticipate their attacks and block. This is in stark contrast to V1 where pattern-recognition and reaction-time was key to not getting damaged. You could solo a whole horde on Cata and not receive any damage. This is near impossible to achieve in V2, and no matter how good you are you will still receive damage from an unexpected stab. On the other hand, stacked enemies advantage ranged players as a single shot or fireball can kill multiple enemies at once from a distance.
•Ice skating enemies.
•Running attacks proccing too often if the player takes one step back and with too far a range than should be possible.
• Chokepoints only give the enemies an advantage since Hyperdensity is still a thing and the slot system is either outright ignored by the AI or perverted by the above points. Get trapped in the wrong area and you will be assaulted by 10+ stabs that lock you in place, leaving you almost no way to fight back.
•Likewise, an entire chokepoint or superior positioning can be disrupted by a lone hookrat that can wade through dozens of rats and pull tanking players into a mass of sharp, pointy objects. Because after all this is a team based game, teammates will break position to save the player and will be punished by the above points. This has started a worrying trend I’ve seen on Legend pubs where teams will abandon a player who is hooked because it isn’t worth the trouble to get them back or even chastise them for fulfilling their classes role.
• Level geometry can screw you over. A one inch plank of wood sticking out of the ground will prevent you from dodging away from a dense horde or boss combo-attack, leading to you getting swarmed.
• Most specials can’t be approached in normal combat either due to distance or due to the dangers of getting disabled/fired at while trying to melee them. Thus it is easier and more efficient to comfortably take them out with a ranged weapon. The issue is that the ammo count was reduced from V1 and thus most classes only have 11-30 ammo to spare, which they run through quickly due to the increased special spam in higher difficulties. This means their effectiveness is cut in half once they run out of ammo, as otherwise it is difficult to reach and melee specials before they attack, especially when other enemies occupy you. Ranged-focused characters have both high ammo count and thus more chances to procc ammo regen, thus not being affected by this issue. Conversely if you ran out of ammo in V1, having the Scavenger trait on your melee weapon would restore a paltry but sufficient amount of ammo for dealing with specials after a horde, rewarding you for melee combat.
•Boss battles take longer and are riskier to fight if you dont have enough DPS classes, with only 2 of them being melee-based (Shade and a VERY talented Slayer).
• Blocking most boss attacks is useless as you still get damaged from them, the Ogre and Chaos Spawn have an unblockable 20-frame-long insta smash that may or may not be executed as they 180 towards an unsuspecting player. If the player is too close or cornered by these bosses they will execute that attack nonstop with no way to escape or recover in time in most situations. This is related in the next point.
•Multiple boss spawns in the game are placed in inconveniently cramped or otherwise hard to navigate areas. Some notorious examples are the dark area in Hunger in The Dark, the Ogre pens in Into the Nest, the narrow canyon area in Athel Yenlui, and the falling cliffs in Halescourge where the first grim is. This is only made worse if a horde spawns or an area-denying special such as a rattler, gas, fire rat, or blightstormer fires anywhere near that area, leading to end game situations where you cannot effectively kite and melee so many enemies at once.
•The Stormfiend is either the easiest boss ever or you can accidentally touch a flame and lose 70% of your health to insane DOT. This happens frequently during melee due to players getting caught on level geometry or being blocked by other enemies.
•Approaching or being near a CW too close during combat leads it to executing an insta punch that is near impossible to predict. They also have a fast shove which leaves you motionless for a second and allows another enemy to have a free chance to hit you. On the other hand they can be stunned by a well placed headshot and taken out more easily and quickly with ranged attacks/ULTs.
•Heavy attacks can be magnetically locked on to you. You dodge sideways from an overhead only for the enemy to spin into your direction near instantly and taking half your health. Dodging backwards will either lead to ice skating or you simply getting hit due to poor lag/hitbox detection.
• Patrols can be dealt with more efficiently with ranged spam while engaging in melee combat leads to all of the above.
•The Troll is the biggest offender of bad game design. If your team doesn’t have enough DPS, the battle can take up to 10 minutes which makes it more likely for hordes or specials to spawn during the boss battle. If you are down a member or two, or are the last player standing, you can’t even revive your teammates due to a mind numbingly stupid decision by the Devs to place an impenetrable wall that enemies can cross but you cant, all because of “muh speedrunners”.
The Troll’s running attack can deal damage regardless of blocking or dodging effectively. Attacking the troll’s rear can resulting in it spinning towards you and puking all over you, preventing you from reacting to whatever comes after for the next 5 seconds. Its bile’s DOT punishes you for walking anywhere near it during the puking animation since it spreads past its back most of the time. If the Troll pukes and then walks the opposite direction, chasing after it with a melee weapon results in you taking damage from the bile.
Now while Ranged focused teams aren’t immune to these points, they do otherwise avoid them and are thus rewarded with more stable and consistent runs as opposed to a melee-focused team. A lone melee-based class on a ranged dominated team would be lucky to have anything to kill and would otherwise uselessly tags along. On the other hand, a competent lone Ranged character is rewarded with the highest scores at the end of the game except for damage taken since they can comfortably deal insane damage, Crowd Control, Special and Boss elimination all at a safe distance and avoid most of the mentioned points.
Despite the Devs claiming that this is a melee-focused game the game design undermines such statements. Being a Pyro, Shade, BH, WS, or Huntsman on average puts you on easy street and increases your chance at completing a level on legend. Shade is only doing so well because of her ult. Ranger Vet is passable with crossbow or smart Grudgeraker play. Merc, Slayer (better than most), WHC, FK, IB, and Zealot all struggle with bosses and other unfavorable situations as they have to approach enemies rather than standing still and firing at whatever comes at them.
Considering all this, its no wonder most players choose to focus on ranged classes and thus the meta you see today.
The reason I took my time to write this isn’t because of saltiness or sour grapes with the game, although I’m sure everyone who has played the game as long as me secretly harbors such feelings. I want this game to do well, as do any others that supported it by purchasing it. But the main issue stands that the game is broken on a fundamental level. The Devs may call such feedback a “hatetrain”, but it is more akin to passionate and active customers expecting better especially when mistakes from the first product should have not been repeated.
And this is only focusing on the main meat of the gameplay. There are many baffling and head-scratching design decisions made by the devs which inconvenience players or outright downgrade the experience from V1, something that V2 as a sequel should have avoided. Instead we are now bleeding players and jaded review scores have panned the game critically on Steam.
TL;DR I propose Fatshark_Hedge and the rest of the dev team to sit down with the community ,not just with j_sat and the rest of the high level vets but the ENTIRE V2 community, and answer or explain the reasoning behind many of the game’s design decisions and what we can do to fix those which are glaringly inconvenient, broken, or just plain bad. Once legitimate solutions are proposed, create a flexible roadmap of fixes and patches as well as how soon can they be reasonably implemented so that the community is constantly updated and no longer needs to feel like their feedback doesn’t matter. I would also like to kindly ask the Dev team to accept my feedback regarding the way melee feels inferior in the current state of the game and rework Range’s dominance.