Recently I joked on the forums that I had a reliable source inform me about some upcoming changes to the combat system. Well, when I say "some combat changes", I actually meant adjusting just about every aspect of it.
Two-handed weapons are currently inferior to wielding two weapons of the same level in just about every situation you have a real choice. Unless influenced by special abilities, enemy weaknesses, or certain ability set-ups, even magic hits more with 2 weapons wielded when you consider Ancient Magicks and their effects. Now, this is rarely prevalent as most weapon tiers don't have the full set of two-handed and dual-wield set-ups available at every level, but when given the choice, most people will go for dual-wielding.
In the past, having slow and bulky two-handed weapons was useful for people with high Strength levels, allowing them to score the occasional massive hit. This was for a very long time the way the Strength skill was utilized by pures, for example. With Range and Mage that was a bit harder to define. Since then the EoC and Revolution happened (and a lot more changes) that thoroughly changed the nature of the Melee combat class. Pretty much all your damage is based on what weapon you wield which comes available by levelling Attack.
With that in mind, the Strength skill has become the oddball in all of this. I can't see anything but a complete redesign of (or massive boost for) this skill necessary for it to continue making sense. Someone with level 90 Attack and level 10 Strength will beat the crap out of 15 people with 10 Attack and 90 Strength, simply based on the equipment available.
Consequently, regardless of the weaponry and spells becoming available as you rise through the levels, Range and Mage levels should boost the damage you do as much as Strength does for you, and therefore should adapt accordingly. Since Range boosting itself sounds ridiculous, the only option is to rework the Strength skill so it is the default damage booster for all three classes, something I might detail further in a future article.
The other thing I joked about was Shields. Currently, armour and shields only reduce damage if the opponent uses the wrong style against you. Anyone who has ever watched The Deadliest Warrior knows that armour is quite essential in becoming the victor, and this goes double for shields.
But before we had to accommodate the cry-babies who can't adapt to a balanced system, armours used to do this by providing a massive HP boost. But since that is gone, Tank armour (the regular non boosting type, good against a particular style) has become obsolete for fighting all but the most serious bosses.
Now, some would argue that the Defence skill should do the damage reducing, rather than armour. But even though this rhymes better with reality, it would be preferable to do something like this; The Defence skill should provide you with improved chances of avoiding an attack altogether. Meaning no poison, no stat reduction, no freezing, no stunning, nothing gets through if you're not hit (Area of Effect attacks like Chinchompas, Ancients, and certain abilities would do splash damage of course). Armour should instead do some reduction of damage after you would get hit, even if it's the wrong class of armour. The role of a shield in this should be utterly tremendous to offset the loss of doing some extra damage by not having two weapons (or one big one), which should make using 1 weapon + a shield about as useful again as dual-wielding. I won't go into the specifics, as there are people getting paid to do the proper calculations.
But, not to be thoroughly negative, we have a system now that sort of works. It needs a rebalancing, especially on the front of shields and armour, but with abilities and weapon tiers roughly sorted out, I think it's time to complete the picture with the defensive side of combat.
Oh, and can we merge the All and Hybrid classes please? One of them is starting to look mighty redundant.