I'm gonna go ahead and throw out a probably-controversial, certainly-game-reversing idea: What if shields couldn't be broken? Some Major Problems Recently I've been spending more time thinking about the kinds of things the game rewards and the kinds of things it doesn't reward, as well as how players appear to be encouraged to play the game. Looking at things so far, although melee/Close-Combat have gotten some buffs compared to the past (thanks Teddy), the game still seems to reward easier, distanced gameplay over riskier, more aggressive gameplay. I'm not going to dive into melee theory, as I've done that in a different post. But I do think the issue that I've pointed out here affects shields significantly. Although you're taught to shield, the game does not put significant effort into encouraging the player to shield. And while it doesn't teach the player how to use their shield effectively, it does show the player that their shield can be broken after they very likely get their first shield broken by Mrs. Bee or Giga Slime. What does this teach people? It's safer to run around and deal damage from afar than to do anything risky with a shield. Even for more aggressive players, they learn to blink away and back off once shield HP is low. And easy run-and-gun maging (and frosty) happens to be just what the game encourages, especially in Arcade mode. Late game, there are no significant rewards for using the shield (without pguards). You block damage that you simply could've avoided altogether by maging cleverly...all at the risk of taking more damage, getting stunlocked, or losing your shield. Enemies like Mrs. Bee are almost entirely out of the picture. Instead, less enemies get stunned by shield, and more enemies have an easier time hammering through your shield. Less stunned enemies would be fine...if shielding were better. As for pguards, they have their uses...but their uses are few. And even then, the game only mentioned it once in story mode...now twice with the onset of Startlington. Talking to some people recently, there are some familiars with the game who played through all of story and didn't even know pguarding was a practical thing outside of flying fortress. Arcade taught them pguarding. The Ideal Solutions [Updated 1/7/2020] So... There are a few solutions to the issue. One is to increase the rewards on pguards...but that still leaves you with a ton of people who will rarely pguard. Another option is to talk about shielding more...but that still leaves the fact that shielding is not significantly encouraged in the game. I honestly think it's worth considering making shields unbreakable at this point. So here's what I'm thinking: 1) The Shield Is Unbreakable by Default This means that players can shield as much as they need to in order to stay safe. They'll still have all the vulnerability that comes with holding up shield, as well as shielding certain attacks. The only difference is that there won't be "a certain number of hits" until the shield breaks. The shield will remain durable. 2) For Auto-Breaking Attacks, Guard Is Broken Rather Than Shield L4ur helped me come up with this idea. The basic premise is that there are attacks clearly intended to be "perfected-guarded only". For these attacks, the player's guard can be broken and they can still experience the fallback animation. However, their shield will be immediately accessible afterwards because their guard was broken, not their shield. I know there are other balanced games that take on a similar idea. It helps keep the game active with uptime, it removes some jankness, and it also really helps the player see which attacks are meant to be pguarded (since there'll be a clear distinction between a "strong guard" and a "weak guard"). 3) Knockback Could Be More Thoroughly Reconsidered Tiz created this idea. Basically, the idea is that pguards should never have knockback -- not even now in the present game. But if the unbreakable shield idea gets implemented, it would be more worthwhile to consider how knockback should affect players who fail to perfect guard. (How far different enemies move a player who had a "strong guard" up.) I think this idea brings up several balance questions, but I think it's a great counterbalance idea to avoid careless shielding. If this idea gets implemented, I think it should start out first simply by taking the first 2 ideas (which should be easier to implement quickly). Then, at a later point where addressing overall balance is easier, thoughts of player knockback could also be looked at. Along the same line, this could address issues regarding "How would shields be different?" Shields that appear later in the game can simply have higher knockback resistance, with pguards always negativing all knockback resistance. This also has some balance considerations that can be consider much much later. Some Arguments for the Idea I put this last so that you didn't have to read it if you weren't interested. This is just justification. This idea would remove a lot of jank situations, even in multiplayer hardmodes in Arcade. And if you think about it, having an unbreakable shield does not make the player that much stronger. While your shield is up, you're still vulnerable from behind. And when you're blocking an attack, you still get noticeable shield stun. You can't really do anything while shielding except backoff and prepare for a safer attack, which is already what the game requires. With this change, melee would have a much easier time because they wouldn't have to worry about their shield breaking to crabs ( <_< ). Tips and NPC's could encourage people to use shield more because it would be a legitimate viable option for defense. And it would create interesting shenanigans with things like plants. Finally, this change would address an issue Own mentioned long ago for shields and that I think a lot of people shared similar sentiments for...it would allow shields with cool abilities to remain reusable. Really? Implementing This Idea Now, Though? I understand that at this point we're already super deep into the game, but I think this idea would have a significantly positive impact on the overall balance of the game and the overall player experience without significant risk to make anything OP. It would also make it easier to balance some of these late game enemies, who really create a lot of frustration when they break shields so easily. Also, having jumbled around with some of the code, my presumption (though I could be wrong), is that it would be very easy to test this idea on a super-surface level. In simplest form, all shields could get a super huge hp boost in the meantime. And any shield breaks could followup with an immediate shield regen. (I know there's a method to regen shield. That's how the iron shield doesn't show regen at the start of Arcade Mode.) This would be just for testing purposes -- say, in meatshield. Or, if the idea is good enough to use now, from what I recall it shouldn't be too difficult to implement the idea. Shield hp goes away. On hit of shield, no damage numbers need calculation (unless you just want to display how much damage was blocked). On "shield break" (guard break), the shield is still usable. Naturally, all of this would still take some effort. It's not a totally seamless change. But compared to my other 2 game-changing ideas, I think this is easiest. Shielding can be well-balanced even when it isn't breakable. In fact, unbreakable shields arguably add more balance into the mix. Perhaps there's some way they could find a place or half-place in SoG.