Let me preface this post by saying most of what I will be bringing up only concerns a cutlass/gun pvp setup. Oh, and most of the scenarios I bring up are assuming that it's a close quarters combat situation. And I do apologize in advance if this post was difficult to follow as my thoughts are jumbled up. Also, if you don’t have the time to read this whole thing, just skip to the suggestion section. But if you wish to add to the discussion, reading the whole thing would be helpful.
There are some concerning things that have been brought up recently, such as the infinite sword swinging due to being able to cancel your third sword swing of a combo and quickly taking out your sword again. However, I think what Rare has done with the combat in the recent update (even with the unintentional results of some of the changes) has made me hopeful for what the combat system could be like in the near future.
Of course, most of what I say is going to be anecdotal, but I hope you will listen to what I have to say. Typically, a lot of pvp fights would boil down to viciously left clicking (or whatever button it is on the xbox) with the cutlass. I can hardly blame those who played like this because a lot of times that was the best option. And if the players had some idea on how to pvp, they'd shoot before they start swinging their cutlass. I think this is how pvp combat has been generally seen, at least in this past month with the recent combat changes (taking out the instant double shots, tweaking how swinging the sword interacts with the speed of your movement, and gun wielding delay). Guns weren't as reliable because it took a good second to actually shoot one after a sprint. Moreover, the cutlass would do weird things when you were trying to switch out of it, and it took forever to switch to something else after a cutlass swing. Yes, we adapted, accommodated, got used to the way combat worked, but combat needed to change. Not only was combat clunky, but combat options were very limited. What I mean by that is there were only a few viable ways to pvp. The one option that comes to mind is shooting someone once first and then rushing them with your cutlass. You would shoot first because if you used your cutlass first and tried to mix it up and switch to your gun, you'd find that you're pretty much dead since you're still waiting for your gun wielding animation to end. Now, if you were determined enough to see if there was more to combat than that, you may have stumbled upon tutorials on how to quick slash, or what I call zero shifting, with the cutlass. It’s a useful maneuver one can do with the cutlass that allows you to swiftly cover some distance while doing a light swing. This gave some depth to sword fights that happened in open areas. While bunny hopping around and baiting attacks from your opponent, at the opportune moment, you could swoop behind them by zero shifting and get a clean hit in, maybe even two more hits. While all these methods were effective in pvp and helped me stay afloat more often than not, the way a fight would play out was all to predictable; there was not enough depth in the combat mechanics—not enough options.
Combat Changes with the March 20th Update
However, with the recent March 20th anniversary update, combat has changed; more than what most people realize. Here are the two changes that everyone who’s read the patch notes or found out through playing know about: 1) we’ve been given the ability to switch to anything instantly after swinging the cutlass, and 2) we can instantly shoot after a sprint. These changes, I think, were meant to be a solution to the clunky nature of combat that resulted from the update before the March 20th update. And I think that’s all it was intended for (correct me if I’m wrong). But for some of us, this update not only made combat less clunky, it also introduced some mechanics that should be thoughtfully addressed and considered.The two changes mentioned earlier enable more options in combat. This update introduced (re-introduced might be more appropriate), perhaps unintentionally, different ways to fight. With the ability to switch out to anything instantly after a sword swing, or the ability to instantly unequip the sword after swinging a sword, and the ability to shoot right after a sprint, players are enabled to mix gun and swordplay much more effectively than before. What this means is that shooting after a sword swing/sword combo/zero shift no longer takes a year to perform, but can now be done quickly, granted that you shorten the animation of your light swing by unequipping the sword and sprint before you shoot your shot. I’ve play tested this with a friend and found that this has some interesting and useful applications in a fight, and it adds more ways to approach a fight, thus, making close quarters combat a bit more robust and enjoyable.
Double Shooting & Infinite Swinging
Now, what I haven’t brought up in length, yet, is that players are now able to shoot two guns within a second and swing practically indefinitely by utilizing the new mechanics that have been mentioned earlier. I’m aware that the ability to do this has not been well received by a portion of the community. And here is where I get to my point. While the changes have been ill-received by some, let the new changes sit for a bit. Although the double shot is back, it’s back in a different and less frightening form. That is, the one performing the double shot must be grounded for the most part in order to perform the double shot. Moreover, the player performing the double shot is an easier target—at least, while they are performing the double shot. As for the infinite swinging with the cutlass, this is just another “cheese strat” that can be countered by careful movement, positioning, and kiting with either a flintlock or EOR.
In any case, it seems to be too soon to demand a change in the combat at this time. What I suggest is that we wait and see how players who are keen on close quarters combat utilize the new ways to fight, and to see how effective or ineffective each strategy is as the game progresses (hopefully) with this new update as opposed to changing something that hasn’t been around long enough to be fairly/adequately assessed.
Edit: But if anything must change, perhaps add a wielding delay on the cutlass but allow players to immediately swing after a sprint. That shouldn't be too hard to implement since it's already been done with the guns, and it should also fix the infinite swinging "problem". Clunky sword play shouldn't be an issue with this kind of change either since a knowledgeable player would know to utilize the sprint to make things more fluid, and although bypassing the sword wielding delay by sprinting would be able to make sword play more fluid, it wouldn't enable a player to do something that's deemed as unfair or broken, by some of the community, like the infinite sword swinging. This change would also add layers to sword play since bringing out your sword and being able to swing at a moments notice demands more skill from the player.
Didn’t mean to make this into a 1000 word essay, but these are just some thoughts I had regarding the recent combat changes. The reason I suggested this is because I'm seeing quite a few people demanding a change--more specifically, a reversion--in the combat not even 2 days into the update and, also, without testing enough combat scenarios. I’m aware there’s a whole lot more to say on combat, but I just mentioned some of the things I thought were worth mentioning. If you’ve read this in its entirety, I appreciate you :).
TL;DR: Let the changes sit for a while before we all cry "broken." I think the changes that we got with the recent update might actually create some interesting engagements, granted that the players who are pvping actually know what they're doing.