The great sword feels a bit oppressive to me, but I think the whole issue is centered around two things. First is that its heavy attacks are too strong. In new world you get locked into your attack when you make it, so you need to make choices based around the risk your animations put you in. In this way New World is very similar to many fighter games which focus on the start and recovery frames of all your attacks.
All other charged heavy can be avoided if you enter into a light attack at the same time your enemy enters into a heavy attack. This isn’t the case against the great sword in onslaught stance. Nothing that comes out so fast does near as much damage. It is almost too risky for most weapons (with the rapier having riposte or evade up as the only exception) to try and start a light attack against it with the threat of such a swift and painful heavy attack. In defiance stance as well, the great sword heavy is very powerful, the fact that it blocks attacks makes the great sword too safe. If you start a heavy attack at the same time as a great sword at full stamina in defiance stance heavy attack starts, or with very similar timing, you’re likely going to eat a heavy attack at merely the cost of most of his stamina. He’ll very likely be at a sufficient stamina amount if he just used steadfast strike or calamity counter with the 20 stamina gain perks.
In short, the great sword is too punishing and too hard to punish, in fighting game terms the great sword has a very strong neutral game. I think it has the strongest neutral game in NW.
The second issue that makes the great sword so oppressive is how melee abilities with built in slows work in conjunction with the new mechanic of having a run delay after being hit by a melee attack. With the introduction of the new mechanic, these abilities became insanely powerful when they land, especially against light and medium armor users.
I was fine with these slows pre patch, and I’m fine with the slow I take in my light armor post patch upon taking a melee hit (except for when both slows are in combination), in both cases the need to outplay your opponent to come out of the situation safely is expressed and exciting, but when you combine the two mechanics, you need to play to extreme perfection to survive properly, and if they play to perfection as well you might not be able to do even that.
The main offenders in this category are the great sword and SnS. The spear and hammer might be issues as well, but I haven’t witnessed them being an issue yet. The abilities that both apply slow and count as a melee attack are: relentless rush on great sword; leaping strike, shield rush, and the last attack in the light attack chain on SnS; cyclone and the last attack in the light attack chain on spear; and any cc from the hammer when it has the aftershock skill. There may be other offenders with perks added in that I don’t know about.
The slow on relentless rush in combination with the new mechanic and the previously mentioned other strengths the great sword has makes it really hard to deal with. If you did decide to actually engage with a great sword user in melee combat, getting hit by relentless rush forces you to stay engaged with him for a significant amount of time, if you try to get out, most of the time you find he is too sticky.
When you combine the issues of the great sword slow making him as sticky as he is with the consideration that he may have the strongest neutral game in New World, now you’ve got a real problem. The great sword trades better than any other weapon and the slow forces you to trade with that great sword, this puts you in a very unfavorable position, a position that I find too unfavorable to be considered well balanced; though to be fair, this is just my opinion and humans are fallible and prone to having incorrect opinions.
The final thing that I feel like I need to address here is SnS. As I previously mentioned, abilities that apply a slow and double up as a melee attack are potentially problematic. The sword has a disproportionally large number of options that both slow the opponent and double up as a melee attack, three to be precise; and most SnS users I see use all three of them, and they used all three of them even before the patch hit. It feels almost impossibly difficult to get away from an SnS once one of the slows applies. Moreover there are quite a number of videos online expressing that SnS has the highest dps before the great sword was introduced.
The sword n shield trades fairly well, not as well as the great sword, but it does trade well and as previously mentioned in this post, things that stick to you so well and are great at trading are potentially problematic. In the case of SnS this isn’t as bad though; in my opinion, other weapons are much more likely to trade evenly or even have the better part of the damage trade against SnS than they are against great sword. It is still a problem, however, and it is problematic that the SnS can lock you into a damage trade when it does well defensively if it does end up failing the damage trade. They force you to trade and either win or go on defense, while a lot of other weapons can’t defend very well when they are the ones that lose the trade. And considering one of SnS’s options for a melee attack that doubles up as a slow is every third auto attack; if you are losing the trade you can be locked in combat until you die.
I don’t play SnS but I have a friend who does, according to him, he has been doing really good now when compared to before the patch, and he was always pretty great at SnS gameplay. He felt like suddenly his skills had jumped and not many people could compete with him. When we discussed what I was noticing about the combination of melee slows and the new mechanic, and showed him some of my gameplay, he said he finally understood where the sudden jump in his power level came from.
Anyway, these are balance issues that, from my perspective exist in the game. We’ve had people complaining about the strength of the great sword. In the company I belong to in NW, it is a common topic in our discord server that the great sword feels over powered right now. But most of what I see and hear about it is “the great sword is too strong,” “The great sword does too much damage,” or some such statement without stating any premises to support why they feel that way. I came here wanting to give my subjective opinion on why people may feel that way, and what I feel the heart of the issue is. I think SnS is also subtly in that overpowered position right now, but because the great sword is new and so many people are using it, it is the great sword that has everybody’s attention.
I feel like having peoples actual perspectives on balance after taking a step back and thinking about things rather than surface deep statements of somethings strength is helpful for developers in making balance decisions. Maybe this will help.