I’ll try to keep it as short as i can.
“Hammer/Mace & Shield - New attack: Push attack is now a downward slam. Pierces armor.”
“Hammer/Mace & Shield - Increased movement speed of shield slam attack.”
The new push attack uses the same damage profile as 1h mace charged, 1h axe charged, halberd light 3, which is pretty good single target damage.
I haven’t noticed increase of movement speed during shield bash, but they definitely increased movespeed for charged 1 attack.
I’ve used mace/hammer+shield on Knight and Ironbreaker (Legend), with 15% and 10% attack speed bonuses, maxed stamina and stamina regen, with 10% chaos + 10% infantry power vs - for one-head-shotting a fanatic with light attack.
Judging overall, the weapon became much more useful and effective, all thanks to the push attack, which:
Increases pace against roamers immensely (though from garbage-tier pace before).
Allows you to really contribute in mixed trash+elite fights, doing best crowd control and solid damage to elites at once.
Power wise the weapon is in a good spot, legend viable. I’m very happy the devs decided to buff the useless hammer&shield.
BUT it’s not fun to play this weapon.
I must say i very much dislike the feel of weapon now. Why?
Because from a whole run, 80% of time spent in fighting, you do the same action over and over: push->smack->push->smack->push->smack. Like a mindless machine.
Roaming phase: you see 1 clanrat - do a pushsmack. You see 1 stormvermin with 3 clanrats - pushsmack x 6. You see a fanatic with mauler - pushsmack x ?.
In roaming fights, you will use 1 attack 100% of the time, because its the most effective way, AND because all other attack types are really bad for roaming phases.
Even during hordes when elites get dragged in - you will be encouraged to push-stab spam the elites once more.
Push-stab in general have problems as a mechanic.
Not only the weapon is very repetitve, but the attack you spam is mechanically clunky and aesthetically unappealing.
To understand why push-stab is mechanically clunky, compare it to light and charged attacks (not considering damage here, just the mechanics and input).
Push attack - You’re forced to do a push - to do the attack.
Light attack - You’re free to choose - do a push then light attack, or do just light attack.
^ Here light attack clearly wins because you have more control over what you want to do. Imagine you don’t need the push at all (and that happens all the time) - then you just waste your time with push, and displace the enemy making it harder to headshot. Particularly with a shield its bothersome to chase down pushed clanrats and stormvermins to smack them with the attack part of the pushstab (they recoil for a long distance).
Push attack - Once the attack part is initiated, it can’t be held to release in a good moment.
Charged attack - you can hold it charged for some time, while getting into position for strike, or waiting for a good opportunity.
^ Here charged attack have much better feel and control due to ability to release it when you want (within a timeframe).
To summarize, push-attack have the weak side of charged attack - the long windup (with a push to displace your enemy as well!), and the weak side of light attack - unable to hold it ready for releasing.
Push-stab is aesthetically unappealing when you clearly dont need the push - like when you do it from a distance, closing to the enemy, or when an enemy is already staggered / can’t be staggered, and you keep pushing it to do the attacking.
I personally think, that “pushstab” attacks, as a concept, will work best as anti-horde moves only, being bad for single-target DPS. That way, you almost ensure that every time you’re encouraged to do a “pushstab”, the push will be a helpful thing, rather than just a nuisance.
Coming back to hammer&shield.
So its not good when a single attack dominates a weapon (especially when its a pushstab). All other attacks: light 1,2,3, charged 1&2 - are sub-par.
- Lights are somewhat slower than that of 1h hammer,
- The DPS against hordes is very bad (1 slaverat each swing, need 20.39% power vs to make it one-head-shot a fanatic),
- The damage to 2+ targets is very low,
- Atrocious move-slow while attacking,
- Cleave while being not bad - not nearly enough to compensate - besides, why you need the control advantages of hammer strikes, when you have push? The current design of the weapon could be better, look at axe+shield, where all attacks with push are needed and reinforce each other (but charged bash and charged axe strikes could use a buff).
All points above apply to charged 1 attack (except recent movespeed buff), which serves the exact same purpose and isn’t providing any useful benefits over light attacks. More cleave? Why, you have push. The damage to 2+ targets is too bad anyway so why bother (still can’t kill 2 slaverats unless investing 30.39% power which is huge). The damage to 1st target isn’t much better, and can’t reach breakpoint to one-body-shot fanatic with 3 stacks, so no difference here as well.
And we also have a shield bash, which is even less damaging attack for crowd control, inferior to push in all ways except no stamina cost, but for IB and knight stamina builds its not a problem at all.
Both charged attacks are too slow to charge - for what they do to the enemies (not worth the exposure at all). Lights are too slow as well.
In result, the combat is extremely repetitive, pushstab 24/7 with exception of pure horde fights, where you do light 1/2 and pushes, forgetting about charged attacks. It felt as if i don’t play the weapon, its the weapon that plays me, absolutely no creativity. I switched to axe+shield for 1 run, and it felt better, not perfect but much less boring.
New hammer&shield push-attack while making the weapon viable, is a flawed way of buffing the weapon. And the core weapon - its light and charged attacks - have flawed design.
The main idea is making all attacks more differentiated, more practical and useful, avoiding situaton where spamming 1, or even 2 attacks for 80% of all the fighting - is the most effective way.
Push attack should be done as anti-horde maneuver. Maybe you can do something more creative than just copying light attack pattern, for example, make the user protected in block during the whole attack animation, compensating with less damage/cleave/attack speed.
The AP attack should be done as light attack or charged attack.
Here is 1 variant i think of:
Charged 1 is now a downward AP attack, fast to do, but with less damage than currently, using not the 1h hammer charged profile (vs armored: 14.75 body; 22.00 head), but 1h hammer light 4 profile (10.00 body; 15.00 head). Less damage compensates the fact that you dont need stamina, that its the first attack in chain, and is done with same speed as 1h hammer charged. Also you use one hand to do the strike, so doing less damage is natural. And its not like the current charged 1 is needed when light attacks exist.
Charged 2 (shield bash) - should have the same attack speed (charging time) as sword+shield on Kruber. Which would be a massive improvement from “pointless” attack, to “worth using in some cases” attack.
Light attacks should match the speed of light attacks of 1h hammer. 1h hammer have mobility advantage (and also better single target DPS - with my redesign), shield variant counters it with shield push and block, sacrificing dodge and run speed with block or attack. So there’s no point in light attacks on hammer+shield to be slower than on 1h hammer - balance-wise at the very least.
Also Light 3 - should be something more rewardable to go through whole attack chain. Either keep the same damage profile and make it start very fast after the end of Light 2, and hit the enemy fast. Or make it another overhead AP attack, with the same damage profile as charged 1 - and i think it’s the better way - to avoid the repetitive spam of charged 1… hmm, maybe then making this light 3 stronger than charged 1, or making charged 1 having longer wind-up time - all to encourage the combo:
charged 1(overhead)->light 2->light 3 (overhead)
^ versus tough targets, rather than using
charged 1 -> block cancel -> charged 1 -> block cancel -> etc.
With light 3 as overhead AP attack, after doing light 1 and light 2 the next charged attack should be shield bash. For example:
-light 1-> shield bash
-light 1-> light 2 -> shield bash
-light 1-> light 2 -> light 3 -> charged overhead strike
Whether you take ideas from my redesign or not, i just hope you’ll do something to make the weapon fun and varied. When all attacks have real, practical use.
A good example is sword+shield, but before you made pushstab do the same damage as charged 2 (making charged 2 more or less obsolete) - though i’m speaking with Mercenary in mind, with swift slaying and 25% crit chance, with that attack speed even charged 3 becomes an asset in horde fights, in other cases being a bad attack.