Combat highlights from dev posts within this thread! (This is not meant to be comprehensive of every topic covered in the dev replies. READ THEM!)
Player Skill Cultivation & Multiple Combat Styles
What we've aimed to do instead is create a combat system that allows for the cultivation of personal skill, (so that those who are capable of tactical analysis in sub-second timing windows can benefit) supports the cultural and regional diversity of the world we're creating, (so that different parts of the world feel differently, right down to how they fight, and so that martial artists have an incentive to travel the world to learn new styles) and is fun to both play and witness within the game's interface and camera paradigms.
Any Weapon with Unique, Combined Combat Styles
Building a diversity of style is the point, but that takes time. When CoE launches, there will be many different styles of fighting across many "weapon configurations" so that, no matter your weapon of choice, you can pursue and learn the style of combat you prefer. At higher levels of combat mastery, you can take what you've learned from the various styles and combine them to create a combat style that is unique to you, too.
Large-scale Warfare Still In Progress
That doesn't mean you won't see HEMA style fighting, or that you won't see large medieval battles. There will be combat styles for those experiences too. But, and I admit I've said this before, we're not focusing on warfare right now.
Combat Styles - Forms & Techniques
Every martial art in CoE has a series of moves, we call them techniques, that can be thrown and each technique has a different utility. These techniques chain together in branching "attack trees" - and the attack trees sort of create the "form" of the martial art in question.
Localized Damage Mitigation & Damage Effects
But the "hit box" in our case isn't the "collision capsule" of the character the way it is in most games, it's the piece of armor, or the part of the body, that was actually struck by the weapon. If the area hit is covered by armor, then we focus on damage mitigation: How much of the force is absorbed by the armor? what does that do the armor that was hit? That sort of thing. If the part hit is unarmored, or if not enough damage is mitigated, it is passed through to the body part in question and other mechanics like the wound system, or concussive effects, might be triggered.
Real-Time Responsiveness, Situational Awareness, & Positioning
It all combines into a fighting system where you don't just mash a few buttons or press a few numbers on your keyboard to get your rotation going; instead you analyze the fight in real-time and work out which attack chains are going to be most useful, often branching in mid-chain to another attack because circumstances have changed. It's much more a game about positioning and situational awareness than it is a game of patterns or optimized move rotations.
You move through combat by making choices about what to attack, when to attack, and which attacks you throw. The sword style that the attack combo we showed is part of has 30 different techniques in it, accessible through 6 different attack trees, all of which contain branches so you can intelligently choose what attacks to use, even mid-chain.
[Bold emphasis is mine since it addresses questions about animation shown in the original post.]
Not Single Combat Style with Every Weapon
A single set of kinematics like that [Mordhau] just won't work for us; If I throw the same moves no matter what weapon I have in my hand, no matter where I came from, and no matter what I know, the system fails to deliver a spectrum of combat experience that encompasses a whole world. That means such a system is insufficient and won't accomplish our vision.
Combat System Goals
The system we're using is still under development, and it may still change, but several key requirements are met by the framework we're working with: it requires & rewards player skill, it feels good to play, it works against multiple opponents & single opponents both, it looks good to watch, it lets us have a massive variety of styles, and its technological constraints don't limit what weapons we can use with it.