How would you polish it? Not necessarily asking for your own original ideas, just what you think or have seen/read that would polish the system.
-Get rid of the lag. 200ms is acceptable, more is not.
-Unlock the skills (at the very least the basic attacks). Slightly increase the pace at which the slowest animated skills go off.
-Improve the monster pathing algorithms (as in more "realistic" movement and no weird detours due to bad pathing, as well as make it easier to control monster movement and predict it during the battle). This is quite important if they want to make this work.
-Make stamina only apply to skills that have no cooldown of their own. Tweak the speed of regeneration accordingly.
-Create much larger groups of monsters for future content and improve/implement "group AI".
-Make flank and rear attacks matter more than they do now. Much more. For both the players and the enemy. Distance as well.
-In addition to above, implement a visual indicator for the effective range of actions (a circle on the ground for AoE for example).
-Implement group formations which give various bonuses depending on the circumstances. Make it significant part of the gameplay, especially when more than one group of monsters is present.
-Make it so only people who press the BR button participate in the regimen, and that combat is not interrupted during it. If an AoE or conal skill is used during a regimen, every monster it hits is affected by it.
-Improve player mobility in the battlefield, to make moving around easier.
-Later on, make the terrain affect performance. Cast lightning-based spells in water = receive self-damage. Shoot the enemy from a higher ground = receive a damage bonus.
-Make lot of skills more situational and mix and match monsters that are strong and weak to many of them at once. Make knowledge of different strengths and weaknesses of enemies an important part of being 'skilled' at the game. We already have similar system in some ways, and it's not a stretch to think that they could expand on it.
-Make monsters difficult enough for the players in groups to have to specialize in a specific role on an encounter-basis. Tank, off-tank, primary DD, primary CC, off-healer, buffer, and so on.
-Moar flashy combat.
-Change hotbar into a 3x3 grid-like structure for pad users from which it is efficient to choose skills and spells without having to scroll too much (they could use the analog stick for making it easy to choose a skill by just, say, pressing square to open the grid and tilting the stick in a particular direction to choose what skill you want to perform). Make it so the basic attack (which you can set in the skill menu) has a button of it's own and does not take a slot from the grid itself.
-Further enhance the situationality of the different basic attacks.
That would be a good start for more strategy centric gameplay, while making the combat feel more fluid over-all. It ignores some aspects like the "counter" skills and how jumping could be used effectively in a combat setting but I guess those could stay in the game, no reason to remove them. In the end, heavy polishing is needed but the gameplay is, at the core, good enough in concept. None of this should be an impossible feat to accomplish, especially looking at what Yoshida's team is currently doing. From the looks of it he's going for more twitch based gameplay though. I can see how that could work out too. Some aforementioned ideas need to be scrapped for that to happen though.
And lastly, while I agree that the combat system as-is has not enough of either aspect to stand on it's own, I don't think that somehow means the whole feature should be axed for something else. Surely, overhauls are needed, but there is a lot
to improve on the foundation of the system still. The combat system is not even close to what it could be like at it's best right now. Edited, Feb 27th 2011 3:10am by Hyanmen