Back when I had logged well over 1000+ hours in this game, I tried my best to balance the weapons well for version 1.5 and make them all viable and prevent any from being overpowered. In current stable it's safe to say this is pretty close to the case. In 1.4 we had issues with the flamer secondary and the prevailing shotgun/rifle combo.
I think people like to play shotgun/rifle as these weapons are the closest thing to standard hitscan found in most popular first person shooters. They just perform when you need them to, and perform exponentially better if you can aim very well. But it was important for the other weapons in RE's loadout to have viability as well, as the same old matches on the same old maps with the same old weapons can get tedious even if you love arena shooters.
I dont have any intentions of changing anything up myself now, but ill give some thoughts on how i see the balance and what might be valuable to have moving forward (new content-wise). I've logged ~1200 hours in the hero shooter Overwatch since I became more inactive in RE. I play on a very low mouse sensitivity in shooter games now, and am used to a ping of 15-20 ms. My skills are at least 3x what they were 2 years ago. This has allowed me to see things in some different ways, maybe.
I make these comments here so any who wish to discuss game balance might have a chance before the next major release to share their input. Please be respectful of other's opinions or we'll have to close that discussion.
The sword is just a very unfortunate weapon for RE to have. it is quite fun to use but latency ruins the experience for 2 players to have a proper sword battle (or any 1v1 battle interaction involving 1 player with a sword). With a ping in excess of 250-300 there is just no counter to someone skilled with the sword. Don't think there's much that can be done about that, which is why I say unfortunate.
The zapper is a little overpowered in stable, and a little un-fun to play against. I wouldn't go as to say it's mechanics are not fitting for a game like RE, but the shock residual is a very powerful effect and for a good aimer the zapper can just be devastating. It could use a rework. I'd change it like this:
drastically increase primary fire rays, decrease primary damage, increase primary speed, increase primary spread, drastically decrease primary projectile life time, double primary particle size, decrease primary fire rate, remove primary and secondary explode, remove zapper headshots
/zapperrays1 1 --> /zapperrays1 10
/zapperdamage1 5 --> /zapperdamage1 1
/zapperspeed1 10000 --> /zapperspeed1 25000
/zapperspread1 2.5 --> /zapperspread1 5.0
/zappertime1 100 --> /zappertime1 10
/zapperpartsize1 2.0 --> /zapperpartsize1 4.0
/zapperflakpartsize1 3.0 --> /zapperflakpartsize1 6.0
/zapperdelayattack1 90 --> /zapperdelayattack1 200
/zapperexplode1 3.0 --> /zapperexplode1 0
/zapperexplode2 6.0 --> /zapperexplode2 0
/zapperflakexplode1 3.0 --> /zapperflakexplode1 0
/zapperflakexplode2 6.0 --> /zapperflakexplode2 0
/zapperdamagehead1 1.0 --> /zapperdamagehead1 0.5
/zapperdamagehead2 1.0 --> /zapperdamagehead2 0.5
this effectively makes the zapper a close range weapon and at most an annoyance at longer ranges. the playstyle would be to get in close and hit someone with several primary fires, then land a secondary and finish them off with more primaries. the zapper secondary is still able to stun and inflict shock at it's old range, but without explode it is far less lethal and more an annoyance.
i think the plasma projectile speed up makes it very difficult to land hits on anyone. with this particular weapon, the slower the projectile travels the more effective the weapon will be at medium range as you will land more shots (because of how collision works? i don't know, but i find this to be the case). I would decrease the primary projectile speed from 1250 to 850-900.
the shotgun/rifle nerfs seem to hold very true still in stable. shotgun is far less deadly at range but still a massive damage dealer at close range (and you actually have to aim correctly at the target). it's in a very good place. when i increased the attack delay on rifle secondary, however, should have added a little more ammo. I would make it 8 shots now instead of 6 shots.
the smg is also in a very good place, if you learn how to alternate spamming the secondary and shooting primary it is extremely effective. landing exploding flak onto the actual player model deals more damage as well, but not an overpowered amount. it makes smg the most effective/powerful mid range weapon as i think it should be.
the flamer will always be seen as a little cheesey because of the residual effect it comes with, however, it also seems to be pretty well balanced right now. it is not devastating close range (it takes a good while to kill an enemy) but it is very effective at finishing off low enemies / kill stealing. also for applying a residual and switching to another weapon that deals more damage, or going for the ultimate flamer/zapper cheese loadout. it's secondary was a very good addition to the game and quite innovative, if a little overpowered at first (especially in CTF), but it's at a good level now.
i'll now direct your attention at this old thread:viewtopic.php?f=4&t=681
it would be good to also discuss future weapons or additional items for the game. has claw been well received? do many use it? personally i try to stay away from the sidearms (and explosive items) just to provide more of a challenge for myself. will there be more of these secondary items added to the game, or would a new main loadout weapon be a good idea for the next major release?