I think it'll be beneficial for the dedicated devs of this game to hear what I and a lot of veteran players of musket games have to say. Since days of the original battlegrounds mod, I've seen this genre change and develop and so here is the most important aspect of the game that needs revision (yes, more than melee combat). I suggest reading the entirety of my post before commenting.
MUSKET INNACURACY AND UNWIELDINESS
The bedrock and bread and butter of a musket game, and a necessary component that needs to be done right and also feel satisfying. Muskets of the napoleonic era are no where near as innaccurate as protrayed in films and videogames of the era.
Trained soldiers could hit a human-sized target at 70-90m and volleys to inflict maximum damage were aimed to be conducted just under this range at 60m. Various soldier accounts of the era point to unwiedly accuracy becoming too big a burden at and beyond 150m.
In the 1814 To All Sportsmen, Colonel George Hanger wrote, “A soldier’s musket, if not exceedingly ill-bored, will strike a figure of a man at 80 yards; it may even at a hundred; but a soldier must be very unfortunate indeed who shall be wounded by a common musket at 150 yards, providing his antagonist aims at him; and as to firing at a man at 200 yards with a common musket, you may as well fire at the moon and have the same hope of hitting him."
The reason for closing the distance was not only to get within the musket's kill distance, but to strike fear through the visual and auditory threat a massed enemy force would present.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO HOLDFAST?
At the moment the preferred engagement distance and the distance you can be confident (key word: confident) in hitting an enemy (half the time) is around 8-10 meters. The bulletdrop mechanic needs to be redone. For every 15 meters you need to adjust upwards about 1 full reticle. Meaning at 20 meters you need to aiming as if you are lobbing a grenade by your enemy's feet. At 50 meters you need to be aiming at distant clouds for your shot to come back to earth and land near your target. I don't seek to offend, but this would not be the case if someone working on the game would have ever fired a musket of the era in question, ever seen someone fire a musket, read specifications and tactics relating to these weapons, or sought out first hand accounts on how these muskets functioned and were utilised. But that's okay, the drop can be easily fixed by straightening the trajectory and implementing slight bulletdrop beyond 60-90 meters.
The bulletspread of the muskets is another aspect of shooting that needs to be corrected. At around 10m distance the spread seems to be 1-2 meters. Double the distance, and this increases to 3-5 meters. Again, painfully unrealistic and unrepresentative of napoleonic era weapons. Muskets had around a 1/3 meter grouping at 50 meters meaning that a shot at an enemy 50 meters away nearly always delivered a hit. Beyond this distance, the grouping increases slightly and at 100m a soldier could still expect his shots to land within 1-3m of one another.
In other words, Holdfast has a real musket's spread at 100m come into effect at around 15 meters. You can thank blind luck beyond 10 meters if you land a shot. Before any claims are made by someone that they can land shots from 25-40m consistently, the answer is no. You cannot consistently shoot at that distance in Holdfast. I've topped the scoreboard various matches by adjusting the reticle for ridiculous bulletdrop, shooting into masses, and firing quickly. However, most of the kills beyond 20 meters have been on a soldier 2-3 meters to the left or right of my target and rarely directly where I was aiming as should it should be due to the inconsequential spread muskets have within 50 meters distance. Realistically, this spread of over 3 meters would happen at around 90-100 meters. This too can be easily fixed by tightening the shooting pattern significantly according to real musket spreads.
HOW DOES THIS CHANGE HOLDFAST'S GAMEPLAY?
There is enough argument from a realism standpoint to warrant a change to the shooting mechanics. At the moment, the game feels like a miniature, arcade FPS/TPS game set in the musket era because of the 10-20 meter engagement distance and the ineffectiveness of the muskets and rifles. The unit portrait and minimap do not help remedy this at all. However, having been an avid lover of community line battle and siege events for a long time, far before the warband NW mod, I must say that the engagement distance portrayed in this game is a real threat to the atmospheric and strategic depth that could and should be present in this game. Even from watching early event gameplay I noticed how the musket's effective range of around 10 meters causes lines to, after frustratingly trying to trade blows at 30 meters and beyond, close the distance to fire a determining volley and end what could've been an incredible back and forth mass volley engagement if only the muskets had realistic drop and spread. After playing the game for a day and a half straight, I can confirm my doubts.
Another point that must be taken into consideration is that cavalry will not be punished for blind charges at enemy infantry. Closing the gap will be incredibly cost-effective for a cavalry force seeing as the musket's spread will not be seen even as a mild deterrent.
I congratulate you for sticking with me, hopefully the developers and community can come together on this issue and see that, for realism and gameplay purposes, this needs to be labeled as high priority on the early access to-do list right with a melee rehaul.
A strong shooting system must come first and foremost in this type of game. Good shooting and melee systems will propel this game forward while badones will hold it back even if new factions, weapons, and cavalry are introduced. Thankfully, it's easy to fix what's in place because of the base game the developers worked hard to create.