After reading the recent update, there's something that's been gnawing on my mind.
Most classes seem to have a fairly obvious preference for melee or ranged combat, while others can go either way depending on preference. A Fighter seems to have a melee bias, a Ranger would likely use ranged weapons exclusively, and a Rogue could put either option to good use. So far, so good. This distinction makes sense given the combat roles of each class.
The thing I'm not sure about is when it comes to different weapon types in the same range category. A typical example would be a melee Fighter vs a melee Rogue. Assuming they're both interested in dealing damage, an archetypal fighter might choose to go with a big greatsword to cleave his foes in half, while a typical Rogue would be more inclined to grab a dagger in each hand for quick, precise stabs and slices at the enemy's vulnerable spots. Something similar can be imagined for ranged weapons, where you might have a choice between an arquebus (high damage but hard to reload and not accurate at long range) or a longbow (less point-blank damage, but better range and speed).
Does Eternity have such a distinction? Is there any reason to pick one weapon type over another, or will there be a "best choice" for every situation? For example, D&D somewhat simulates this situation by giving the Fighter a higher damage modifier when having high strength and using a two-handed weapon, while the dual-wielding Rogue won't miss that modifier since he has lower strength and would rather get extra attacks to apply his sneak attack bonus to. Note that I'm not necessarily talking about damage types (like a club doing crushing damage vs a sword doing cutting damage), but more a general sense of choosing what weapon type your character will specialise in. In some games there is a clear "best choice", where for whatever reason one weapon type is simply more efficient in any given situation. For the sake of this question, I am completely disregarding the fact that many players simply choose their weapon type for flavor reasons. While that's of course a very valid way to pick your preference, it's not really relevant to the mechanics of the game.
The way I see it, looking at the various games I've played in the past, there are factors that can influence what is "best" and often multiple of those can play a role at the same time. A few examples include:
- All classes have a default preferred weapon type, which means they either can't use any other weapon types or they simply get artificial bonuses to one type that make other types less desireable. This is a very simple to understand and straight-forward system, but does tend to restrict player choice. Even if it's just a bonus or penalty to certain types, it still feels restricted and artificial because it's just some arbitrary modifier that isn't based in the rest of the game's mechanics.
- Some weapon types simply have better options available. Like there are some awesome magical spears in the game while the best mace is kind of lame, so specialising in maces is less desireably than spears. While this makes sense, I feel that it rewards "spoilers" (how else would you know about those spears when you make your character) and penalises players for making choices that they have no way of knowing that they are bad for the endgame.
- Weapons have different damage types. For example is the game has many enemies that resist piercing damage, this will make spears a very undesireable weapon. On the other hand this tends to be one of the most frustrating options, like when your strongest character specialises in spears and you are in an area with many enemies immune to piercing damage. Suddenly your main source of damage is useless and the game becomes much harder than it would be if you chose to specialise in axes.
- Mechanical differences like attack speed are in my opinion one of the more interesting options. A light dagger can swing faster than a heavy axe even though it deals less damage, so you have to choose whether a character needs to hit fast or hard. However this can also quickly devolve into a simple DPS race, where an axe does 12 damage every 3 seconds while a dagger does 5 damage every 1 second, so the dagger ends up having a simple statistical advantage and there's no real reason to choose the axe.
- In some games, all weapons are more or less equal (with minor penalties in one area roughly evening out against minor bonuses in other areas, for example damage vs accuracy) which offers the best options for character customisation (you want a Rogue with a giant mace and a Wizard dual-wielding hatchets? There's no reason not to do it!), but makes some sacrifices in terms of variety since all choices end up feeling very much the same.
So after all that text, my question is simply how does Eternity handle the differences between weapon types. Does it encourage a certain weapon type to be used with certain classes or play styles and if so, how?