Being a longtime fan of ARPGs such as diablo, diablo 2, path of exile, what have you, i have always loved the in your face, visceral feel of melee combat. The problem is that feeling is just...Missing. the crusader especially has unappealing weapon skills usually revolving around arc slashes or rudimentary spins, and in the case of chainswords the basic attack is extremely awkward to use on anything smaller than an ogryn. Compared to the bodyblasting explosions of a meltagun or plasma cannon, the overall experience just doesn't work, especially the speed at which you smite your foes. while you are ponderously attempting to clear a small pack with your limited range and slow cooldowns, the rest of the room is merrily carving your health to pieces from range, utilizing cover to it's full advantage while you stand in the open waiting for the demons to die. However, i'm not just here to bitch, but to provide some suggestions that might help this experience, especially on the crusader, as the assassin has mobility skills that make melee more viable. As a disclaimer to avoid nerd rage, i understand that the crusader is supposed to be a bit slower due to the heavy armor he wears, but that should not extend to his ability to kill things once he is actually in range, and if anything he should be taking full advantage of the power armor's enhanced strength in melee combat, especially with the larger weapons. So. onto the suggestions, and i'll bullet them for convenience.
1. Shorter cooldowns on melee skills.
This one is big. melee combat is supposed to be frantic, buttonmashy and fun, once you make it there. waiting 3-5 seconds for a simple spin move to come off cooldown makes it feel like a chore, rather than the glorious murderfest it's supposed to be. If the damage of the abilitiy needs to be adjusted to compensate, fine, but most players i'm sure would be more than willing to trade a bit less damage for the ability to press their buttons faster and chain skills together in melee. the basic attacks are especially bad, the eviscerator and chainsword's rend does not target well and has too much recovery for a basic attack. a simple swipe would be far preferred, on about a half second or so CD. you could easily change the secondary fire to the rend, up the damage, and add a bit of a cooldown to it once you let go, or maybe an overheat meter and it would make far more sense, and fit better with the established fluff for the weapon. Hammers are supposed to swing hard, and honestly feel the best out of the weapons, but even they take a long time to cooldown, and i think the onehanders especially should swing faster than they currently do. the poweraxe has no real niche, and as such is kind of a filler weapon between powerswords and power hammers when you're leveling, but i can't see a reason to take one over those two weapons. I would far rather have some spammy abilities and a heat gauge to manage than kite for days waiting for my spin slash to come off cooldown so i can kill 6 more mobs with it. That puts the skill element into the combat and rewards good play.
2. Shields with a reliable deflection skill and suppression loss reduction
Shields we have access to so far have good secondary abilities, with a shield rush or an aoe slam. those work great. however, the block skill is nigh impossible to use due to the short duration and unpredictible nature of the AI. as with the weapons, i think a shield heat meter would work great, where you can hold the button similar to a channeled attack to reduce incoming damage actively, and then release it to let it cool and return to it's passive defense bonus. another thing that would make shields stand apart and be a good reason to take them over a second offhand weapon like a pistol would be to build in a suppression damage reduction passively as part of the shield. The reason for this would be that shields are supposed to essentially be moving cover, and any shot blocked or deflected by a shield should do reduced or no damage to your suppression meter, allowing a shield user to rush in openly and confidently, as opposed to a twohand or sword/pistol user who would have to flank and use cover to get in effectively. it's a playstyle difference i would love to see better supported.
3. Health/Suppression recovery on killstreaks
Not sure if this is already planned or not, but a way to make melee feel more viable and keep the action going is to provide small health and suppression boosts for melee killchains, so we 'aren't scrabbling for the nearest wall to recover our suppression after a single pack of 6 monsters because their buddies chewed us up while we were dispatching them. while i understand the idea is to make this game more tactical and less traditional arpg, and the cover mechanic should not be able to be ignored in its entirety, this would maintain the hard charging playstyle of melee characters a bit better than the current state of things. Power armor is supposed to greatly enhance a combatant's effectiveness in melee in terms of protection and strength, and that doesn't feel like the case with crusaders.
4. More movement-related abilities/gapclosing capability
the thunder hammer has a good example of the kind of skill that works well on melee weapons, as does the combat shield. Shoulder charges, rushdown attacks, and combination weapon/shield slams are all longstanding melee traditions, and rushing to engage once you're close should have a unique feel compared to rounding cover with a lasgun. not every weapon needs one, but the faster weapons would benefit highly from this, such as the power sword. the assault armor is on far too long of a cooldown to reliably be used to stay mobile, and getting shredded by turret fire because you dropped in on the first one and now have to slog to the others is a frustratingly painful experience. some form of innoculator movement speed buff or belt item that grants a berserker style state such as combat stimms would help immensely.
5. Melee-Focused armor abilities
Again, this is probably already planned for full release, but another couple of armor options that benefit melee such as smoke launchers, a built in rosarius style overshield, or something along those lines would make sense.
I would welcome some discussion on this, but i've spent the last day or so testing the various melee implements available and these are my observations as such. If you have more to add, keep it civil, sane, and constructive. As a final note, Neocore is doing amazing work so far, and i would love to see this join the ranks of Path of Exile and others and hold its own. If you made it this far, thanks for reading my tl;dr ranting. Have a great day, and keep on purging!