I think people are seeing unfinished parts of the game because of the current design flaws that are currently exposed that you list. I’d also believe that all of these tactics will to be addressed before full launch. It’s simply too damaging to the game IMO otherwise.
Stunlock spam can be easily addressed IMO by giving enemies a 1 turn stun immunity when stun lands. If a player can’t loop stun because of the 1 turn immunity, that strategy is useless.
Barrier… sigh, agreed that is is silly OP in the context of the game world and likely intended combat design. Doubly so when it can be activated on demand by the player by strategically storing away shield gems until needed.
Burst spam into chip… I think this is intended design. Under the likely intended combat design, everything is a damage race (even trash encounters). Being able to chip those last few health points of an opponents with gem matches and saving your active abilities for the next encounter in the chain is crucial for beating the next encounter’s damage race.
Honestly, after two weeks of trying to play the game “right” (as best I can perceive how the likely designed intent on how to play the game correctly), the best analogy I can come up with regarding combat is that the game is currently tuned to be an old-school arcade cabinet with the difficulty turned up to max to be a quarter/credit muncher. Almost every encounter is designed to either one-shot the player or set them up to be one-shotted by another encounter later in the chain. The player, unless playing as the Paladin, is almost always constantly debuffed and usually in a way that results in extra damage being applied to the already weak player. Another huge advantage to playing as the Paladin.
Off the top of my head, enemies that appear in the early game (pre-level 20 encounters) with massive debuffs:
Spiders: Poison (+25% damage taken)
Scorpions: Poison (+25% damage taken) + Blind (-50% offense)
Wasps: Poison (+25% damage taken) + Burn (3% true damage suffered per turn)
If a player has level-appropriate gear (an epic challenge currently), then maybe they can take a single large hit from a single encounter in the chain and survive if they aren’t poisoned and the game’s very generous enemy crit rate does not trigger. That makes every encounter currently both a gear check and a damage race. If your numbers cannot match those of the enemy, then you are going nowhere fast.
Yes, yes it is. There’s volumes that could be written about that.
Most of it is being F2P oriented, with all the trimmings (far more so than GoW). The tuning is so harsh that the pain of the situation is potentally overwhelming. The natural gear upgrade shard drop rate is so abysmally low from chests, coupled with the fact that any equipment that drops disenchants into only level 1 upgrade shards currently (which makes Toragon near pointless as a follower as there is no point in wasting ore in having him create green armor that cannot be disenchanted into lesser shards), makes the gear upgrade grind nearly impossible currently.
Global is full of frustrated players regarding being able to reach, let alone clear Chapter 5 to obtain Auri as a follower (where the player is extremely limited in their upgrade options before then). Grind in a F2P is important, but the early game is way, way, way too harsh currently IMO.