I don't want to go so far as to say the combat feels totally *good* right now, but it sure as hell feels better, in melee at least.
Archery definitely needed a nerf, in some areas - but we still need to look at it as a whole. Compared to warband you can ready (have to ready, in a way with the nocking of the arrow after firing animation) a shot immediately. This feels good - and did before the changes also - however, it's incredibly different from warband, both in feel and the.... impression it gives you of the weapons place in battle.
In warband the shot is slow-ish to draw, but once you're able to shoot it's *almost* at the best accuracy you'll get (if you're stationary), and then you loose the arrow. If you wait longer, the shot gets less accurate. All feels fine, because the moment you're *able* to shoot, you're encouraged too - but also allows people to time it to dodge - because they KNOW exactly when your arrow will have the highest chance of hitting them - hence the rythm.
However, bannerlord in contrast allows you to ready a shot almost instantly. You can walk around with your right click held to enable to a reaction shot to anything - and that did feel good before - but also allowed archery to stronks. You've got a bunch of people fast on their feet who can ready shots in a blink and let them go at almost peak accuracy.
So in terms of timing in a bubble, compared to warband - the new changes are perfectly fine. But in it's own system, archery now *feels* worse because you're so frustrated at the illogical and unnimersive slowness of your shots starting accuracy. You've already readied the arrow - it's nocked and ready to loose, and you still bring up that bow in a moment, and you can still let that arrow fly as soon as you want - but who knows where it's going?
For balance this isn't a problem - but because the very fundamental design about archery in bannerlord was to make it more snappy, this change stands out so much. In warband it's fine because during the time this accuracy is low, the arrow is literally unfireable, and you can see yourself readying it.
But right now it's ready to go right away if you choose, yet still your guy is spending a couple of seconds trying to figure out how to stop his arthritis shaking the bow.
Anyone get what i'm saying? They've made these fundamental archery changes from warband, but slowing down the start defeats them - so may as well bring back the old version where you nock the arrow from the start.
Now - yes, you still can loose that arrow quickly into someone right in front of you, and that's all well and good - but in terms of feeling, it's better if you don't have to be pissed off at your avatar for something that shouldn't be an issue.
On the irl side i believe (at least i was taught) that with a oldschool bow you draw and loose the arrow but try and spend as little time as possible actually with the bow drawn. You find your shot first, then draw and loose quickly. Which bannerlord has been doing sofar splendidly.
And also let's not forget that one of the biggest benefits of archery in warband was THE STUN. You hit a guy in combat with your friend with your arrow and you can stop his swing. You can save your buddy. Or you can open him up to a hit.
Call me crazy but this doesn't seem to be a thing in bannerlord. If i'm not crazy then archery has a completely different role here. It's a killing machine and not a "support" class - whereas in warband it was. Yes, killing people is better, but the slow steady stun arrows of yesteryear had a role that made sense and an accuracy that didn't make them OP because of it. Whereas now i think archers were OP before because they just became machine gun killing machines - which is not what they should have become. They should have, like warband kept that supporting selective fire role - but with the more responsive "e-sporty" benefit of quick snappy good-feeling run and gun shots.
Also on a more obscure note, PLEASE taleworlds pay attention to first person here. Some of the gauntlets you force us to wear (because we still can't choose gear, yay <.<) and occasionally some thick armour get in the way of aiming the bloody thing in first person. It's not nice trying to see past your own gloves that are blocking the reticle and your target.
People do zip about less now suddenly, which certainly feels better up close and personal - and i'm noticing *less* rubber banding on the swings, though that could just be anecdotal. It's only been a day. Some of the weapons do feel a little slow after you think you've let go your swing - and due to stances or animations or combos or whatever, i haven't a clue, sometimes you just swing... slowly. Out of rythm. This isn't a new issue, but i'm just mentioning stuff that i think is still a problem. It sucks when you're in a fight and you know how fast your attacks are meant to be, but just, sometimes, your moves take longer than they're meant to. Whatever this is, stop it. Either make stances a toggleable controllable thing so you can learn your own body timings at your leisure, or get rid of them (or make them purely cosmetic). No ammount of "but you can step left before you start fighting and then try not to need to block and attack in another direction to keep that stance" is going to trump the importance of actual footwork and not not stepping away from a swing or attacking an opening. If i want to keep my left foot forward i'm perfectly capable of that in real life. Shame the bannerlordians haven't figured that out yet.
There's still a freaky weird meta developing about left-up-left feints - which is worsened by the odd sound queues (and sometimes lack thereof) and inability to chamber reliably. In warband if someone is popping feints without giving a ****e about his defence, you can just hit the boy. Here, not so much. Due to the fact you can't control your body orientation and the inconsistent swing speeds - you can't just know when it's safe to take that punishing hit.
And you can't just "well i'll go to chamber that next feint" then either, because they don't bloody chamber. Not only do they not chamber, but if he sees you going for it and decides to try and match your swing, he's still more likely than not to land that hit first.
And the sound queues - really - what gives? Why are half the feints completely silent? And why when they aren't silent, does the sound effect actually seem to cut itself out? Does anyone else notice this??
The audio feedback of a fight is nearly as important as the visuals.
And yes, because we have this variable stance system - and because we have 4 block directions (where, MOST importantly you CANT move your shield like warband) is much more important in a fundamental way than i think people are talking about. Because your body isn't under your control (when i say this i mean stiff, i suppose) - because your body isn't stiff and readable when doing something, it changes the meta of a fight completely. It changes the readability of the person.
This might be by design - Perhaps TW wanted to get rid of the controllable exploitation of warband (lolfeints, up down greatswords, instant left hits etc) - or maybe they just wanted it to look more organic and cool. But i think this needs more attention.
For example, you can choose your shield direction - but you can't tell if that guy is now looking up or down. In warband you could - and yes this down matter. Reading your opponent matters. Perhaps this is intentional and is made for shields to stop someone being able to read where you're looking in combat - and that's fine. But also due to the lack of stiffness/control of your body with shieldless weapons that readability is lost.
Yes, warband looked kind of jank - and yes, people learned to exploit that over the years. But i think TW are overshooting the mark in the balance scale between stiff jank readability and cinematical fancy animation, and this IS affecting combat.
Also, again - please modify shield play somehow (even if you have to make the back transparent for the player) in first person because most of them are impossible to see behind when using. I'm gonna keep bringing this up whenever i get the chance.
As for the actual moment to moment gameplay - it DOES feel more responsive. Movement is still floaty, however. It's not as bad but it still has that minor feeling of being on rollerskates swinging around dumbells feeling. Thought less extreme, now.
And the game has a real issue with speeds on different props.
Y'all remember how sticky that giant castle keep prop used to be in warband? You'd move really slow on certain surfaces.
Bannerlord is having this issue too. Look into it.
There's much more to say but my fingers are starting to hurt.