Now, I just spend like 8 hours in arena so I can voice some hopefully reasonable criticism.
Food and rest has ENORMOUS effect on combat it feels. I was fighting just fine, doing work as usual... but when I slept for few hours to get a daylight again (fighting in dark is hard) I got hungry. I didn´t really cared, it was on like 50% so I started fight.. and man did I got fucking wrecked. I usually have like 70% parry success rate... when hungry I didn´t parry single blow. Furthermore, enemy was capable of evading almost all my hits. He was capable of breaking any combo I tried. And what was worst, he was able to start striking, and get into unbreakable chain of 5-8 hits, which totally destroyed my stamina and most of my health in single combo. That sucked... It all got normal after I ate same apple, so it was definitely hunger debuff.
So fight rested and stuffed! This food penalty currently feels just bit too high.
Another really annoying thing - when you get hit, camera just shakes way too much. When I get hit into my shield with his lil short sword, I don´t really think that my character should turn 180degress and get hit 4 times in row. These uninterruptable chains are probably what most players think when talking about clumsy and hard to control. You just can´t do anything during that, and all it takes is to miss 1 parry or dodge and you can be screwed.
Next really important - stamina should have bigger base pool, or it should regenerate much faster. Most fights start with few hits, blocks, and after 5 sec, both opponents have 0 stamina and stare at each other for 15 sec. It really takes away from fighting experience, as it is more like waiting simulator, which is kinda wrong. I am personally for bigger stamina pools, and same regeneration - it should make player to think of stamina as resource over the course of whole fight, not just something hindering him from fighting. And it should allow to form a strategy - do I want to rush in, and attempt a quick win by flurry of blows? Or should I wait, carefully parry and counterattack into deadly combo, while retaining as much stamina as I can? Now, that is interesting! But currently, I hit 3 times, he blocks 3 times, we are both at 0, and wait... This also might be tied to stamina penalty for armor - it could be great balance tool, as unarmored fighter could have advantage of quite better stamina pool or regeneration, giving him atleast some chance at fighting armored opponent.
And probably most important think - for fights to feel really intense, ALL fighters need a lil less resilience. Average 1v1 fight in arena takes about 3-5 minutes in my experience. I am usually able to pull of 3-5 combos per that single fight, and about 10 successful strikes on average, usually stabs or counterparries before they die, which is just too much. It feels like a chore to win against single enemy, it should be faster and much much deadlier. I mean, 5 stabs straight into face, even with scarmaker combo should kill everybody.
Less health, more base stamina -> stamina is now really the main resource, not just hinderance to combat rhytm.
-> fights are faster, deadlier, more strategic, more fun, armor is much more important.
More control during hit chains - I want to atleast partially still see enemy so I can react - and I want to be able to react, ATLEAST by well timed counterstrike or block, or some roll away. Not just stand there and die --> more control, more fun, less frustration
Lesser effect of food and rest - being bit hungry shouldn´t really disqualify player from combat