A core element that makes many skills more useless is still the armor system, because heavy damage skills are more preferable to low damage CC skills for a huge part of the fight. It's also the reason why water/air is inferior to fire/earth.
I remember the many times I though "shackles of pain would be good here" just to fail on physical armor and do *literally* nothing. Compared to many others that fail on armor still doing tons of damage. I quickly took it out of rotation for being fairly useless overall.
Air/Water has some good stuff, my Lohse has them and they're fairly helpful. But they all have a 3AP cost for some reason while powerful fire and earth is 2AP. Not quite sure why that is, but I feel that's the sole reason why they feel rather lacklustre.
And yes, every time I get talents it's just a big giant list of "nope" to go through for that one that doesn't sound so terrible but isn't very impressive either, and I usually just take for gigles. Even took +skills talent (and +attributes for my wits-lackey), I don't think I've even opted for that one in D:OS1.
As much as any other games, I just want a big big patch to shape a game up to snuff myself.