I’ve played a lot of PvE across a number of different characters. I’ve mastered ranged characters (Alani, Mellka, Miko, Thorn, Caldarius) and melee characters (Galilea, Boldur, Kelvin, Ambra, Attikus, Deande) and, in mastering all of those characters, I have come to one startling conclusion.
Either by accident or intent, the PvE designers do not want people playing melee characters.
Almost everything in PvE seems to be focused on making life harder for melee characters. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fight that’s harder for a ranged character than it is for a melee.
Enemies that fly will often bounce out of range the second you close so that you’ll get, at most, 1-2 attacks in before they back away while you stare at the sky, shooting you all the while. Melee enemies hit way harder and you’re forced to get near them, not to mention that ranged enemies get more accurate the closer you are to them so you’re taking more damage as well. The shields that Brutes and Beastmasters have also cover pretty much everything that you can attack while in melee with them and soak up an unbelievable amount of damage before breaking, and they also use that thing to shield bash you, as a knockback that does a pretty impressive amount of damage.
And then we get to the bosses.
Everyone knows about ISIC, which is a fight that’s pretty much designed to be a giant middle finger to anyone playing melee: you have to be right under the stompy foot to attack the batteries, which are high so you have to get really close and then look up to even get them, his ground wave (which can be dodged) prevents you from doing anything for about 5+ seconds while you flail around in mid-air, and it’s basically impossible to contribute anything without a ranged attack on the final part because ISIC flies around way up high, using ranged attacks, and using a vertical pushback on whoever he might be staring at. You’ll be lucky to get a handful of hits against ISIC’s head while ranged characters are able to attack with impunity.
Then there’s the Conservators, both of which are so tall that it’s literally impossible for melee characters to score crit shots on them (Musklati at least bends down for 5 second intervals a couple times to let you punch his face… if you’re near him when he bends down). They’re also floating but have large enough collision detection that you’re liable to miss attacks against them even though you’re right up against them because the part of them that can actually be attacked is outside of melee range. The same can happen with the golem bosses: the one area on them that you can actually damage is higher than melee range.
And then we get to the almost omnipresent knockback and pushback. Ranged characters honestly couldn’t care less, even if the knockbacks and pushbacks could actually reach them (which they tend not to do since those effects are almost always PbAoEs); melee characters end up not being able to do thing for the entire time. Rendain is probably the worst intended perpetrator of this because of his damned swirly blades of juggling (that I’ve seen juggle a character for 15 seconds straight) and how he always drops them at his feet; to make matters worse, they’re basically permanent (he just throws out new ones when the old ones expire) and he spends pretty much the entire fight inside of them. It’s almost as bad as fighting ISIC.
And that’s just the actual intended knockback and pushback. Large models like Enforcers, Bonecrushers, Warlord Nix, Foreman Grall, and Jailer Hylis will pretty much constantly push away anyone who happens to be near them thanks to collision detection (Hylis and Enforcers are the worst of these because their gun does the pushback so, if they’re facing you as melee, you’ll get pushed back pretty much as soon as they turn to face you, which they will when you’re in melee with them). A bunch of other enemies do similar things (like Geoff and Antem slinking back to do their charge attacks and, somehow, being present enough to keep you from advancing while far enough back to prevent you from hitting them).
It’s incredibly aggravating and it’s even like melee characters are given any real advantages to compensate. Melee characters don’t hit appreciably harder, even though it’s harder to hit and they can’t crit nearly as often (or even able to crit in certain conditions), and, while they’re marginally more durable, that gets more than overcome by the fact that melee characters can’t dodge anything.
It would be nice if something was done or at least the devs admitted that they’re aware that there are a load of mechanics and design choices that make melee characters significantly less fun than they have any reason to be in PvE. Having enemies be out of range or constantly pushing you out of range even though you are, quite literally, incapable of getting any closer is absurd. The sheer amount of crowd control that affects melee while having an absolutely minuscule effect upon ranged characters.
It’s incredibly frustrating, especially when you consider how well balanced melee and ranged are in most other circumstances.