Okay, weapon stances and animations...
So, things to note here are that we have 'ready' animations, which are the stance the character adopts when they are preparing a weapon skill or getting read to attack, 'active' animations, which are the execution animations of those attacks, and then recovery animations, which are the poses the characters slip into after executing an attack animation.
The first bit of good news, and what I want to say thanks to Larian for and point out as a point of light, is that I don't need to talk about active animations more or less at all. Every active animation that I checked is functional, fluid and works well, at least as far as weapon skills go. Yay!
Most recovery animations are good too, with only a few exceptions. Unfortunately, the ready animations are the ones with all the problems, and they're the ones we see the most.
Aside from misalignments and bad stretches, we also have places where female halflings are using male poses (in places where human-sized models use different poses for males and female); I don't know if that's intentional or not - it could be, given the size difference being the major factor. It might not be, though, so I'll bring it up. We also have a scattering of cases where the animations are not, in fact, animated - they're static poses that are completely rigid. I want to note on that matter that 'd be fine with static poses for readying things like attacks and spells - they're supposed to be you preparing to do something, the reality of which is a fluid action - however, I'd want them to be consistent throughout the game, either all animated, or all static, and they mostly seem to want the ready poses to be animated.
Ranged weapons first. I don't have hand crossbow yet - I won't be able to pick those up until I get my file to the underdark, sorry, but it'll come when I have a chance to check it. Here are the stances for bows and crossbows:
Comapre to human-sized models, and they look like unique poses:
There are some impractical and unfitting elements, however... In particular, the bow stance sees the foreleg extends uncomfortably forward - it bears similarities to other cases where the feet are attempting to reach a 'mark' or and 'anchor' point that was intended for larger-sized creatures. The pose itself isn't BAD; if the foreleg wasn't quite so hyper-extended, it could still look good. It only needs to pull back just subtly, or else to bring the centre of gravity forward towards it with the rest of the body slightly - just so that it's not an extremely stretched yoga pose, but is still actively dynamic. It is a bit strange that they have an enforced downward angle - that makes far less sense to be the default for smaller race characters.
For the bows, too, there's a clear issue with the stance implying a drawn bowstring, while the bow itself doesn't reflect this. It they were actually hooked up with a 'drawn bow' model, and the string was in their fingers, with an arrow knocked, then that bit would be just fine, but with the static bow, it doesn't work. This is a case where they should add in a better bow model for the pose, rather than changing the pose.
On male halflings, the back food clips into the ground, even on flat terrain - though it doesn't with the female model, even though they're using the same pose data, or seem to be.
For the crossbow stances, again, unique models. The pose itself is good, and looks fine - the issue is again with it not aligning to the weapon model properly, creating very obvious clipping. In this case, the model size can't really change just for halflings, so the poses for the hands would need to be moved to accommodate. I would suggest that the back food for female halflings on the crossbow pose should probably be straightened, firmed up and brought in a touch, to strengthen the appearance of their stance.
Next, recovery poses:
The recovery poses let us see a couple of problems that should be fixed. Most obvious is that male and female halfligns are using the same recovery pose data - and on female hallfings, the male recovery pose data doesn't end up fitting them correctly at all. Male crossbow recovery looks good! Female crossbow recovery clips badly, but at minimum it could be fixed by adjusting the anchoring of the crossbow model.
Human-sized models use independent recovery poses for male and female models:
Once again, you can tell that these were designed for human males first and foremost - they're dynamic, smooth, well balanced and well aligned. Human-sized femlaes have their own adjustments and they look fine, though the hand on the crossbow could be aligned better.
This does leave the recovery pose for the bow on halflings looking... well... like a place holder, almost. It looks bad, and rather like a blank canvas pose waiting to get an *Actual* bow recovery pose put in. I hope that's the case. Either way, what looks bland and out of place on the male halfling just looks kind of bad on the female halfling. If they're going to use the same pose data, then one that looks good on both models is a must.
That's it for bow and crossbow. As I said, I don't have hand crossbow shots yet - I don't have a file up to the underdark to get the pair that are available. If anyone can point me to an earlier pair of hand crossbows, or ones that are fast or easy to acquire, however, I'd be much obliged.