Full disclosure: I haven’t used the shield and mace or shield and hammer since the recent changes went through, so I don’t know what they’re like. I’ve used Kruber’s sword and shield and Bardin’s axe and shield a lot in legend, so I guess those two are what I’m talking about.
The changes had a positive effect overall. They took weapons that already felt satisfying to use and made them even more so. They’re slower to kill things than non-shield weapons, but every single kill feels good. I have to actually manage my stamina now that I can’t spam pushattacks all day. That’s pushed me to experiment with new attack combos and added variety in the way you can deal with the different kinds of encounters that happen in the average game. The new attack orders give you a workable tool for just about any job, and having the opportunity to pick the right one makes the weapons feel more engaging to use.
If there’s one thing that still feels a bit off with the sword and shield, it’s the stab attacks. They feel weak considering what they cost you to use. Pushattacks cost you a stamina shield and charged stabs can be tricky and slow to setup if you’re not already in the right attack combo at the time when the opportunity for a stab presents itself.
A lunge on the charged stab attack would give you a little bit more breathing space and leave you less reliant on pushstabs for dealing with groups of armour (with such limited dodge and the slowdown when attacking, running out of stam because you spent it all on pushstabs = death). It would also make the attack feel more forceful, which would make the difference in damage between the push attack and the charged stab something that the player can pick up on more intuitively.
One huge complaint: I can’t stagger berserkers anymore. What’s up with that? Was it really that much of a problem?
The shield slam feels like it carries so much force. It’s really jarring to slam a single berserker in the face only to have them keep on swinging like nothing happened. You can interrupt chaos warriors with a slam. Why not berserkers? It’s not like they’re immune to it. Sienna can slap them around all day like they’re nothing.