I am sure it has been discussed repeatedly but here it goes. In order to understand why the combat in this game is bad let us first understand what makes combat in other games good. The key element of any combat system is Risk vs Reward. The idea is that low risk actions only lead to low rewards while high risk actions lead to great rewards. KC:D does the exact opposite.
The key reason this inverse risk/reward exists is due to the poorly thought out Master Strike system. I should not be able to win any fights by simply using the block button and only the block button. This forces passivity on the part of the player and is very boring and just not fun gameplay. You are in fact punished for even attempting to throw out an attack even in advantageous situation such as after successfully dodging an attack, pushing your opponent off balance from a clinch, etc. Every time YOU attack you risk taking high amounts of damage. This is the inverse risk/reward where low risk actions lead to great rewards such as only using the block button to kill your opponent. Where as going for a combo hardly ever leads to anything because even if the combo goes off it just does a bit of stamina and maybe some health damage but you risk taking huge ammounts of damage yourself.
Other issues with the combat system are the buggy lock on system. There are too many times I have knocked my opponent off balance to go for an attack only to have my attack act like I’m not locked on even if I am hard locked with tab. There are also several occasions where an attack animation will play out from a master strike but due to the models being desynched no effect occurs other than the locked animations play out. This is annoying.
Then there are the circle strafing enemies who will lock on tackle you from several feet away while you are looking at them and you cannot defend against it because your animation and camera are locked the very instant the AI decides it gets an automatic tackle. This occurs most often in 1vx situations.
Also before anyone goes “muh realism” this game is far from realistic when you look at anything to do with the AI and just claiming “muh realism” is not a valid defence against criticism. Games at there core should be fun and the combat system is too often not fun. Between the annoying glitches in combat, some I haven’t even covered like back pedalling up a bush because bushes are solid and made of sloped concrete, and the terrible Master Strike system and the lock on system I say that the system should be heavily reworked. Also don’t bother putting in combos if you never get to use them or on that rare occasion you do get a sequence going the combo doesn’t go off because fuck you thats why. This occurs mostly with combos that end with a thrust such as the longsword’s Up left, Down right, Stab combo which I only ever got to see before the latest patch.
I sincerely hope if there is another melee heavy game made by Warhorse that they consider these issues and come up with whatever solution they feel works best. You could get rid of the lock on system and do a more mordhau style approach or keep the lock on system and improve hit detection, animation sync, collision detection with the environment, etc etc.
Please keep in mind that the Risk/Reward system should NOT be as it currently is which is inverse. One proven solution used in Dark Souls, Soul Calibur, and plenty of other games is to have an advancing parry/guard impact that is very risky as you could eat a lot of damage but when timed right throws the opponent off balance so that they eat a lot of damage.
Don not think I hate this game at all. I love medieval RPGs, I practice HEMA and Archery. I will say that the Archery system is near perfect and you just need to improve the AI and animations of animals. Also the spawn system for animals. It is pretty dumb that they only spawn right on top of you when you have entered the zone and stood directly on the spawn point. but thats another issue. Please continue to work hard and expand upon what you have in your future projects Warhorse.