'Melee' classes for the purpose of the discussion/argument means any class that must engage in melee combat, with the sole exception of the Monk class. Monks do not need anymore help. The melee classes I'll be talking about are Fighters, Barbarians, Paladins, Rangers and Bards. Rogues overall are in a good position right now (3 class trees and UMD as a class skill).
Just by looking at the enhancement trees I can tell that they weren't all made by the same person. That gives the enhancements overall a 'homemade' feel. The 'homemade' feel is good for quests, and it's one of the things I like about DDO. However, I think that systems like enhancements have to be consistent, so that all classes are equally fun to play.
Bard Warchanter vs. Wiz/Sorc Eldritch Knight.
Both get an enhancement that lets them equip and use medium armor. However, the EK enhancement is a tier 4 enhancement, while the bard version is tier 5. Mainly, this means that Wizards and Sorcerers do not have to sacrifice access to tier 5 abilities in other trees in order to get access to medium armor, while Bards do. Also, EK gives out ASF reduction from shields, as well. A mitigating factor is that Bards do not suffer ASF in medium armor after purchasing this enhancement, while players not using elves, half-elves or drow have to wait unti level 12 to gain the same -ASF% benefit from EK. Oh, wait, that isn't much of a mitigating factor, is it? After all, Armorer, the fifth-tier bard enhancement I've described, cannot be taken until lvl 12. Huh. So why is the Bard version of this enhancement on tier 5? Then there are the Martial Weapon Proficiency feats in both trees. The Bard version is on Tier 5 (remember how tier 5 enhancements are different from others?) while the Eldritch Knight version is on tier 2.
Ranger Tempest vs. Monk Ninja Spy.
Both have a fifth tier ability which gives the user a large doublestrike boost for a short amount of time. The ranger's "A Thousand Cuts" gives 90% doublestrike chance for six seconds at a cost of 6 AP, and has a cooldown of 2 minutes. The monk's "Shadow Double" gives 100% doublestrike for six seconds, costs 2 AP and 30 Ki to activate, but only has a 30 second cooldown. Wow. Monks get the best toys, don't they?
Ranger Deepwood Stalker vs. every other tree with an SLA in it.
DWS has a second tier ability called "Empathic Healing". This allows the user to use up an Animal Empathy charge in order to use Lesser Vigor as an SLA. The second rank of this enhancement lets the user cast a Mass Lesser Vigor effect. Now Sorcerers, Wizards, Druids, Clerics and Favored Souls get at least one SLA in their enhancement trees, and all of them have offensive options as SLAs. My own current Ranger character (lvl 14) gets 6 uses of Empathic Healing (animal empathy) per rest. My Druid can cast her SLAs, all them, as long as she has spell points. Clearly, "Empathic Healing" is rather weak. Now, one could argue that the mass version of the ability is very powerful. It is, but it has limited uses, and more importantly, no one expects or needs a ranger to use mass heals on the party. I don't mind tosses a heal if another party member needs it, but no one has ever asked me to heal them when I'm playing my ranger. My Druid? My FvS? Of course! But not my ranger. A mass heal is nice, but a ranger would be better served with single-target, higher tier Vigor spells.
Then there are the "Wand Heightening" and "Wand and Scroll Mastery" enhancements. Bards get these as two separate enhancements, while Clerics and Druids get both of them combined into one enhancement, and a few other classes get the WaSM part, but not the WH portion. Very inconsistent.
The main problem with Barbarians, as I see it, are that they haven't gained additional durability to cope with increases in incoming damage from mobs. They only have access to medium armor, and thus less PRR, and they gain DR 7/- at level 20. This really isn't enough at level cap, not for a class that only relies on potions and the kindness of other players to heal them in the middle of combat. Currently, there are lots of Wand and Scroll enhancements that increase the efficacy of scrolls and wands. Why not give Barbarians something similar, except that it applies to healing potions?
Concerning Frenzied Berserker... there is a limit to how many debuffs they can apply to themselves before they become too squishy to participate in melee combat. Someone who uses the Frenzied Berserker tree can theoretically debuff themselves with -58 AC and -20 PRR. Barbarians are supposed to have the ability to significantly reduce the amount of damage they take per hit in return for their lack of AC. I really hope that someone at Turbine will realize that Storm's Eye is an awful capstone and replace it with something that helps or heals the user instead of half-killing them. In order to get +25 damage from the capstone, the user has to take 100 damage, then take 25d20 damage over the course of 150 seconds and stay over 50% HP the entire time, if I'm reading it right. Oh, and don't forget the -25 penalties to to-hit and AC!
Ravager is a nice tree, overall. However, the two enhancements "Demoralizing Success" and "Fear Me!" all have fixed DCs, 20 and 13 respectively. How does anyone expect those abilities to stick at higher levels? With those DCs, they'll only be effecive 5% of the time. Then there is the "Fury" mechanic. Stacks of "Fury" do not stack with items that have the "Deadly" ability on them. Eventually, this mechanic becomes useless since the "Deadly" items let me get the same benefit as "Fury", but I'll have it on *all the time!*
I only have a few problems with Occult Slayer. Firstly, the 4 DR-improving enhancements are spit in the bucket compared to the damage barbarians take at later levels. Secondly, the word "Vampiric" usually implies that someone is gaining actual health, not temporary health. Thirdly, 5% chance to nullify *force* spells is not very useful when fire/acid/cold/electric spells are more common. Finally, "Metalline Bond" could use some improvement. Lacking the proper material DR for an enemy means that I'm less likely to damage an enemy, thus slowing the rate at which I raise the weapon bond. If I already have a weapon that lets me bypass the DR of the enemies I'm fighting, then I don't need this at all.
Fighters have their own problems. They have only two enhancement trees, the fighter feat list hasn't gotten anything new added it ever, and despite the release of the Purple Dragon Knight Iconic, they didn't give out a PDK fighter enhancement tree. Then there is "Shattering Strike" in the Kensai tree, which is modified by the user's *wisdom* modifier. I know that Kensai is supposed to have synergy with the Monk class, but putting an ability that only a Monk could use effectively in a Fighter tree is ridiculous (Unless it's really powerful, like One With the Blade).
The other tree fighters here, Stalwart Defender, has some very odd problems. A player could gain access to all of the enhancements that modify the Stalwart Defense defensive stance. However, you can't activate the stance until fighter level 6. More strange, however, is the number of enhancements that involve attacking with a shield. Equip a shield for the defensive and doublestrike bonuses? Sure! Actually attack with a shield? Not a very useful technique. First off, it is ALOT easier to find a DR-breaking or otherwise useful weapon than it is to find an offensively useful shield. Secondly, the doublestrike bonuses one gets from having the proper feats and using a shield are lost when one attacks with a shield, since that doublestrike bonus specifically applies to the *mainhand* weapon.
Bards. Ah yes, they can be considered a melee class, since they have two enhancement trees, one being Spellsinger (songs and magic), and the other being Warchanter (melee combat). The elves' AA tree makes them a ranged class, as well. They really need a third tree, or at least some new damage-dealing spells, since right now they have Spellcraft as a class skill, but no spells that are affected by Spellcraft. Yet for some reason they have plenty of healing spells but no Heal as a class skill.
I can't help but wonder if the guy who did these enhancements was either an intern or just tired from staring at all the black and purple of the Shadowfell. The main problems of the Warchanter tree come from short-terms buffs, "Boast", and "Gathering Cold". Boast gives for the cost of a song a set amount of temp HP and +1[W] which lasts as long as the temp HP does. Now, since mobs do more damage as one gets into higher level content, how long do you think that +1[W] is going to last? Not very long, I'd say. And then there is "Gathering Cold". Basically, one gains 1 AC and 1 cold resistance whenever one is hit by cold damage. But not always. Spending 3 AP on this enhancement lets one gain a stack of +1 AC and +1 cold res 50% of the time, and only for 12 seconds. Okay, this mechanic is inconsistent, since it depends on what kind of damage the *enemy* is attacking the player with. This mechanic really needs to be replaced with something else. Anything else. Personally, I'm fond of the Freezing Ice ability on the Frozen Tunic.
Not much to say about Spellsinger, except that Bards currently have no use for Spellcraft bonuses, and "Reviving Verse" would be alot more useful if there were Energy Drain effects that actually had DCs. Oh, and I'm not sure why Wail of the Banshee is part of the Spellsinger capstone. Bards would get alot more milage from Implosion or Wierd (although Wierd doesn't exist in DDO, like most illusion spells). Lastly, if I take the "Haunted" enhancement, then do I really need "Enthrallment"?
Edit: Oh f***, I forgot to mention "Flicker". Taking this enhancement gives you a 5% chance of turning invisible for up to 6 seconds. when damaged. But guess what? If you are in melee and taking aggro, then turning invisible has no effect! If you're right in front of a mob, it can see you whether you are under stealth or invisible, if I'm reading the notes correctly. This ability would actually have an effect if the 'invisibility' portion of this enhancement was changed to '20% incorporeal miss chance', then it would be worth taking.
One of the wierd things I've noticed is how opportunities to gain spellpower are arranged. For Rangers, they can only get spellpower by taking specific enhancements in the Deepwood Stalker tree. Both Wizards and Sorcerers can get some amount of universal spellpower in any of their trees, although the amount varies. Very, very odd. All a Ranger has is buffs and healing spells, and all Rangers need positive energy spellpower equally. Very unfair that we *have* to take points in a certain tree to get something very important to our survival.
Arcane Archer is okay. Lots of versatility, as befits a tree that is also a racial tree, but there is no earth-shattering kaboom in this tree. "Inferno Shot", despite it's cool name, is rather boring. "Terror Arrows" and "Paralyzing Arrows" have fixed DCs. "Soul Magic" and "Moonbow" are interesting, since they give you small amounts of reliable temp sp procs.
Deepwood Stalker is useful, whether you go ranged or melee as a Ranger. Not much to say about this one, since I've already made my feelings about the availability of positive energy spellpower for rangers, and the godawful "Empathic Healing", abundantly clear.
Tempest has a few small problems. First, "Critical Accuracy" and "Critical Damage" really should be combined into one enhancement. They aren't very useful by themselves. Secondly, I'm not fond of any effect that has a shorter duration than an action boost but has a longer cooldown. I'm looking at you, tier 4 and 5 enhancements.
Paladins suffer from the same spellpower problem that Rangers do. It looks like the dev in charge of the pallie trees tried to put all of the defensive and support functions into Sacred Defender (why not call if Defender of Siberys?), and the offensive ones in KotC. Problem being, pallies of any stripe need positive energy spellpower. And with two trees, the only choices I make when choosing paladin enhancements is how much offense/defense to I want. It's kind of boring.
Sacred Defender (was someone trying to be PC? lol) is a bit better than Stalwart Defender. For one thing, there aren't any silly shield bash proc enhancements. For another, "Swift Defense" negates the movement penalty at tier 4. "Harbored By Light" at tier 5 makes shield-blocking an offensive attack. It still suffers from the 'no-access-to-the-defensive-stance-itis' problem that SD does.
Knight of the Chalice suffers from being a bit too focused. The core abilities force one to choose between bonuses to damage and saves vs. undead or evil outsiders. Does anyone know how many evil undead outsiders there are in this game? None that I know of. No reason to make players choose between the two. "Divine Light" is nice, but it does a set amount of damage, which makes it less useful as one levels up. Then there is "Passion", in which one *only* gains temp HP when using "Divine Sacrifice". Meh. The worst offender is "Divine Retribution", which uses up a smite, but only has a % chance to activate the DC-based insta-kill effect until you put 3 AP into it.