So far I have leveld a Zealot to 30, an Ogryn to 15, and a Veteran to 10. Toughness on the surface level seems like a great mechanic, it’s a shield that protects you from getting shot allowing you to go take cover, and it takes more damage from melee, that makes sense. In fact, when playing Veteran, toughness is a great mechanic, it rewards careful gameplay.
For melee focused classes such as Zealot and Ogryn however, it’s not that great, and the reason for it is that it presents itself as Temp HP like in Vermintide 2, and talents for both and toughness regen on melee kill further reinforces that idea, that you, as a melee character can replenish your toughness in melee so you can stay in the fight for longer. The reason this is an issue is because despite already taking more toughness damage from melee attacks, you still take damage to your health when you get hit. This is especially a massive issue for Zealot who has multiple feats and even penances dedicated to being at low health and depending on toughness regeneration to compensate, but toughness becomes meaningless if it still damages your health. You can be at full toughness and low health, get hit in the back by a poxwalker, and then immediately die despite being at full toughness because you built your character around toughness generation like the game encourages you to do.
This does not feel rewarding or good, it feels frustrating, especially since it seems like a half implemented copy of the Temporary HP from Vermintide considering the Zealot is a copy of Saltzpyre’s Zealot class, but is missing the functionality of surviving on Temp HP while at low half. There is no reason to take the feats that give you bonuses for being at low health, because you will never have a proper barrier for soaking up damage with your toughness and giving you some wiggle room when you make a mistake. Ogryn has this same issue but in a different way considering they can’t dodge as well as other classes can, so they have no choice but to soak up more damage a lot of the time especially since they get shot so much more often due to their size.
I think taking melee damage should not damage your health if you still have toughness available to soak it up, I can see it taking health damage if it breaks your toughness and the remaining damage carries over, but having it do damage through your toughness while you still have some is frustrating, especially since the tutorial states you don’t take health damage until your toughness is gone.