A couple quick disclaimers. I know there's a weekly suggestions thread, but I'm worried this post will get a little too long to make a comment effective. Secondly, I've been awake for a little while now, nearing 24 hours, so forgive any strange sentences I might have. Finally, while up-voting the post if you agree would be well appreciated, I'm much more interested in hearing the opinions of those who disagree with whatever they might read here. It's my belief that learning what a community doesn't like is much more effective at developing a game successfully than learning what they do like, as disagreements usually highlight a more favorable mechanic that the idea would clash with.
TL;DR: A few ideas I had that better solidifies the strengths and weaknesses of the various weapons compared to each other, and how to make some weapons more useful.
Jumping into it, the Parry mechanic needs to be refined just a touch. For starters, successfully parrying an enemy (blocking full damage) should reward you with a little bit of stamina, rather than consuming a bit. Nothing hurts my heart more to parry the last enemy in a group, but not being able to finish him off because my stamina is too low. Gaining a little stamina on parry allows you to properly punish the enemy, as well as allows for longer and more intense fights. Fighting a group of enemies solo would be much more rewarding if being patient allowed you to keep your stamina high until a moment of opportunity comes, and better allows you to play the "tank" role when playing with friends.
Additionally, what the parry does should be changed a bit too. Right now, parrying an enemy does two things: It increases your Block Power, and Staggers the enemy. These two effects should be split, with parrying only giving one or the other, depending on the weapon or shield you used to parry with (in addition to new effects mentioned later).
With that said, I'll bring up a common complaint, Buckler vs Tower Shield. Buckler has less block, but it can parry. Tower shield has a higher block, but cannot parry. The problem is, because parrying gives the buckler a 1.5x modifier to its blocking ability, the buckler actually ends up having a higher block as well as staggering the opponent. The only legitimate situation that I can see the tower shield coming on top is when defending against a group of enemies, when parrying would be too risky. But even in this situation, it's better to dodge out of attacks to try and reposition yourself, as eating a multitude of attacks with your block eats up way too much stamina. My suggestion is to allow the tower shield to parry, like you can with the buckler, but remove the parry bonus to block from the buckler and give it to the tower shield. Likewise, the buckler reserves the ability to stagger the enemy on block, but the buckler does not. What this accomplishes is the roles of the two shields are now split. The buckler would excel at a more offensive playstyle, being able to make quick work of smaller opponents, while the tower shield is to be used when squaring up against giants (like the troll or berserker) and bosses. The tower shield can keep both the higher base block as well as the movement speed penalty to further solidify the different roles these two shields are suited for. A quick, skirmishing buckler, vs heel-in-dirt, stand your ground tower shield.
Third, the two handed weapons could use a little love. I haven't played around with the Battleaxe yet, but using the Atgeir is rough. It suffers the same problem all weapons do, in that the block power is too weak to parry opponents. Combine this with how much stamina it uses to attack, only having the option to dodge out of attacks means you spend much more time waiting for stamina to come back than you do fighting. Add onto this that, because you're unable to stagger enemies with a parry, you end up doing less damage that you would have with a shield and one-handed weapon anyways. I suggest adding a new parry mechanic entirely: Berserker Rage. Essentially, parrying an enemy correctly will allow the parry to succeed regardless of if you block the full damage from the attack or not. However, instead of staggering the enemy or gaining additional block power, your next attack will do additional damage based on the amount of damage you received during the parry. This allows you to use your own health pool as a resource, taking a more high risk/high reward approach to combat. Ultimately it'll either need to cause more damage than you would against a staggered opponent, or simply have the capability of dealing this additional damage to multiple opponents with a single swing. One last tidbit, killing someone with a Berserking attack would restore a small bit of health. Only 15 or 20 hp (or maybe 15%?), not enough to make you an unkillable god, but just enough to allow you to parry more attacks in the same fight without stopping to recover hp traditionally. What this accomplishes is, it gives the 2-handed weapons a much, much more aggressive playstyle, allowing you to play a sort of risk vs reward, glass cannon playstyle.
*To note, it would also give a reason to prioritize HP over stamina when choosing food. Since parrying or dodging is so easy right now, I can't ever think of a reason to choose to get more HP at the cost of stamina.
Fourth, onto Spears and Axes. The spear is unique in that it's special attack, the throw, allows for an alternative to the bow and arrow. Unfortunately, it's really lackluster right now. The only real benefit is that you can have a shield out while you throw it. The only other thing the spear offers is quicker attacks of the piercing type over the bow and arrow, but that's also just… meh. The bow and arrow is an incredibly strong weapon that doesn't require you to risk melee combat.
So to make the spear a more viable alternative, I think you should better solidify different play styles or roles between the spear and the bow, similar to what we've done with the buckler and tower shield. While the bow is a reliable and consistent form of ranged damage, the spear throw should be a more burst damage type of weapon. We can accomplish this in a couple different ways. One idea is that, if the spear hits an enemy beyond a certain range (say, 5-8 meters long), the spear does backstab damage (3x damage) regardless of if the enemy is aware of you or not. An alternative to this is that landing a spear through beyond the required range would stagger the opponent, allowing you enough time to sprint towards the enemy and land a quick attack. This would suit the psuedo-range/melee mix the spear has to offer, while not being too much powerful over the bow, considering the bow has a more reliable arc, better range, and a faster rate of fire than throwing the spear would be. This would also be a suitable alternative to the bow, allowing for more versatility in how you approach combat in the game. As far as axes go, simply give the axes a tomahawk throw as a special attack that acts in the same way.
*Also please for the love of Odin make thrown spears on the ground GLOW with the holy fire of the heavens! Mark the spot it landed on the map or something. It hurts the heart to miss a fully upgraded spear throw down the side of a mountain. I know, I know, human stupidity plays a large role in this, but if we're going to make the spear a semi-viable ranged weapon, we need to be able to recover it more reliably.
Finally, the knife. This is the weapon I've spent the least amount of time thinking about, and one that I haven't used at all, so I could be way out of left field here. Reading a lot of comments about how the black metal knife is useless (if I did the math right, even with the 4x parry damage bonus, it still does less damage than the sword does, right?), I decided to think of a quick suggestion. You should gain either the stagger bonus or even the backstab damage bonus (4x or 10x respectively) if you attack the enemy from behind WHILE the enemy is in an attack animation. The idea is that if you manage to dodge roll behind the enemy while he attacks, or if you attack and enemy who's being distracted by a friend, you should be able to large amounts of damage, albeit less reliable damage than the other weapons. What this accomplishes is, it keeps the rogueish, high burst damage, high mobility playstyle of the knife in tact while keeping it competitive with the other weapons. You could even adjust the bonus damage of doing this with the player's sneak skill. A higher sneak = higher damage in this situation.
Like I said before, please tell me what you disagree with and what you think is a horrible idea, and why. I'd love to hear how the community views the various weapons, and what uses or roles they fulfill in both solo and team play. Thanks for reading!