If the 1.8 PVP community is to be recaptured, then it's going to have to take more than a good weapon balance. What makes 1.8 so fun for players is the combo mechanic. Perhaps a successfully landed hit while sprinting could allow the player to read-up more quickly or have a slight reach increase. If a player is hit by another player who was sprinting with a fully charged whack would not only take knockback, but have their ready-up time increased or reach decreased.
These changes would put emphasis back onto movement skills and allow for combos while keeping the timing mechanics intact and maintaining fair gameplay across multiple platforms.
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