I’d like to see melee be more random and quirky. I’d also like to see a LOT more of it, too, though.
(I mean, bullets are supposedly getting rare, right? We’ve seen stories, where bullets, collected for YEARS, simply ran out. Ammunition should be a coveted resource, and where ammo is low, melee can and should step in, to get the job done. We have thousands of years of human ingenuity to draw from, after all, and melee should, in my opinion, be a very CORE part of the game.)
Ok, so, my ideal for the stun rod would be if it could paralyze a portion of the enemy’s body–like, automatically paralyze whatever part of the body was struck, for between 1-3 rounds, with a high percentage (like 70% chance) towards at least 2 rounds.
With maybe a further chance to stun additional body-parts, for a single round, and with a Crit chance, to stun the enemy, completely, for between 1-3 rounds.
This could then be upgrade-able, with heavier (spiked mace/flail/morningstar-like) stun rods, and also Tazer-weapons, which may have some limited range to them, or just be built to deliver a more massive shock, without the melee-weapon component.
These could even be solar-powered, to save batteries.
The hit itself should also do some real damage, and 1 hit 1 kill strikes should be possible, but they should require training to do consistently—with a hefty bonus to the damage, and the chance for a Crit, if you’ve gained anatomical knowledge of that enemy variety.
You’d need upgrades, though (weight and spikes/heavy blades, and flail-components, and maybe even exploding “holy-water-sprinkler” type weapons), to get through the enemy’s progressively-heavier bio-armour.
Aside from stun-rods, piercing and slashing weapons would also be very welcome. These weapons have worked very well, for thousands of years, and they still have a place in close-quarters combat. Combat-knives are the most obvious—and they should be ubiquitous!—but other melee weapons should also be around, at least in high-tech form.
Maybe a big, heavy sledge-hammer, that fires shotgun-shells at whatever it hits, point-blank. Then, upgrade that to one that fires a re-useable, electrically-driven spring-loaded spike, when it hits, so that it operates like a giant, rapid-fire sewing-machine.
A weapon that both stabs and shocks the enemy, at the same time that you’re beating on it–and entirely possible to make, with today’s technology.
That could then be solar-powered, and it would also be an easy and very effective weapon to add poison to. Or, you could just make the spike out of tungsten (which would be ideal for cracking shells), and then use the electricity to heat that spike up to a several hundred degrees.
Lots of options for making a weapon that would be very hard for the enemy to ever fully adapt itself to, as long as you can get close enough, and have enough upper-body strength to use it, effectively.
For that matter: how about some powered armour, that can go toe-to-toe with the heavy melee crabmen?
That would get rid of the need for the huge muscles, while also letting you use things that need extra structural support, like a massive, electrified claw, for grabbing, holding, zapping, and cracking shells open.
Enemies should also change, and adapt, to melee strikes. Stronger armour is obvious, of course—but, not just heavier armour, on heavier units. The enemy should have the ability to start developing lighter, tougher, better armour, from the beginning of the game, on, for ALL of their units.
If you’re regularly destroying crab-men with strikes to their heads (or just sniper shots), then why shouldn’t they re-locate their brains to their heavily-armoured abdomens, if the mist-monster-collective have the ability to do that?
If you’re causing lots of BLEED damage, then the enemy may respond, by evolving self-cauterizing wounds, rapidly-coagulating blood, that kind of thing.
Maybe if you use a stun-rod a lot, then the enemy will develop a way to resist that power—and even store it up, and release it back, to stun your soldiers with your own electricity. Or, they start making their own bio-electricity, and shocking you first.
How about producing intense biological light, that blinds your soldiers? Coupled with chamelion-camoflage. If you can’t see them, you can’t hit them.
Ablative armour, that when hit, acts like an exploding mini-grenade, is another good melee-deterrant. Keep beating on crab-men with your power-hammer, or whatever, and eventually, their chitin will explode in your face! Or, hit your partner. And, that shrapnel should then quickly develop to become toxic! (IF they haven’t developed poisonous or acidic blood, already). And, the next step along the line, is to make it fracture like glass, into hundreds of tiny, razor-sharp edges.
And, why not have enemies just explode upon death? Or, upon death, turn into Mist-factories? Or, start hatching those nasty Queen-beetles from enemy corpses?
Or, turn into pools of extremely sticky acid, that clings to your soldiers’ feet, and destroys their boots? Seriously! Boots are important! There are probably a lot more people left in the world, than their are good boots. And those boots protect your soldiers’ very vulnerable feet. Anything that the Enemy can do, to force you to stretch your very limited resources, even further, is a WIN.
This enemy can adapt and evolve itself EXTREMELY quickly, and that should be telling, where melee is involved, as well as for any other factor.
Do enough punishment to the enemy, by ANY means, and maybe they’ll just start regenerating, healing and also re-growing limbs, and other organs, right in front of your eyes. Maybe by consuming the corpses of their—and your—dead.
And/or, maybe the Mist just gains the power to heal the enemy? Or even, bring the enemy dead back to life? I mean, why not?
Who knows what the ultimate limits of the enemy might or might not be?
I think, exploring that would be really very very interesting, from a tactical, strategic, and campaign perspective.
Rather than being just more of a back-ground nuisance, ultimately, finding means of quickly and effectively destroying the Mist, just might become your highest prerogative.