So I made it to plains as a sword & shield main (silver, level 3) and worked out my tactics against Lox and Furlings. I decided to switch it up and play with an atgeir (black metal, level 1) for a bit, and compare them:
- It's easy to get a timed block (is the correct term called "parry"?) with the shield. The stagger allows for 3 sword swings and does tons of damage.
- The atgeir on the other hand can't stagger with either a parry or a spin attack, so I can only dodge an attack and then counterstrike one time for non-critical damage. It takes far, far longer to kill Lox with the atgeir.
- Winner: Sword & Shield (by a lot)
- 0 star Furling:
- With sword & shield it's an easy timed block and then kill with 2 followup strikes while he's staggered.
- With the atgeir, the spin attack staggers him but not as long, so the first followup stab is critical, but 2nd stab is not. Still it appears if I stay aggressive, I can just kill him with the 2nd stab.
- Winner: Draw
- 1 star Furling:
- Even with just a level 3 silver shield, half the time I stagger him on a timed block, the other half I take negligible damage and get pushed back, but it's worth rolling the dice. The stagger is long enough for 2 followup strikes that do critical damage. With a black metal shield, I'm sure the stagger would be more reliable or 100%, especially if upgraded to level 2 or 3. I feel the comparison would only be fair with a black metal shield.
- With the atgeir, the spin attack staggers him long enough for only 1 followup with critical damage, but I can cause the stagger whenever I want.
- Winner: Draw
- Two Furlings vs. one of me:
- The sword & shield doesn't have the best options. I try to get timed blocks on both of them and then counter strike, or I stagger one and just bum rush the other and accept the incoming damage from him. Or I can dodge roll and kite until they're separated enough or out of sync enough to get a quick slice in.
- The atgeir can just spin attack. The stagger isn't long enough for followups without fear of reprisal, so I just spin attack more. The more I do it, the more separated and uncoordinated they get. I feel pretty safe using this method. It scaled up to 3 or 4 furlings at once, with a 1 star mixed in.
- Winner: Ategeir
It seems sword & shield vs. ategeir are balanced or almost balanced, and there are situations in which one is better than the other, just as you'd hope a game developer would balance their weapon options. They also seem to command different playstyles, with the shield requiring attention to the enemy attack animation so you can time your block, and the atgeir favoring either kiting + counter-jab, or spin attack and bum rush.
On the whole, playing solo, I'm a little disappointed in the atgeir only because I would expect a 2H weapon to do more damage, since that's supposed to be the tradeoff for ditching the defensive power of a shield.
Because the shield causes a slightly longer stagger allowing for more followup attacks, the sword & shield ends up having higher DPS in all 1 vs. 1 scenarios. Where I'm outnumbered by enemies by about 3 or more I feel the atgeir kills the group faster and is actually safer.
I wonder if my testing is invalid because my atgeir skill is like 10 now, while my shield blocking skill is in the high 30's.
I welcome tips and opposing opinions!