I was extremely impressed with the recent revamp of the skills menu and its effects. I felt that, at long last the skills made a difference to the overall gameplay. For example, adding skill points to both the warp core potential and shield emmiter options made noticable differences to the ship performance. For the first time, my escort vessels were actually able to take a beating.
Before the new build, Escort vessels were good on fiepower, lousy on defence, shields would frequently fail after a few disruptor hits. Since the new build, I found that, while the shields were in no way on par with those of a cruiser or science vessel, if you put your skill points into the right skill sets, your escort was finally able to sustain some hits without having to constantly re-power shields.
Some would complain that this made the game perhaps too easy, but I think it levelled the playing field a little.
However, I recall reading that enemy ships have had a recent revamp, now provided with lower HP overall, but with greater weapon damage and once again, my escorts shields are next to useless. I will note, however, that it's not just the escorts. Whilst using my science vessel refit, with shield HP of over 10,000, I had to constantly re-power my shields against Orion Fighters!
Now I'm not asking for the game to be super easy, that would be ultimately pointless, but I think this recent update to NPC ship weapons and HP could do with re-addressing as the balance seems completely off. I was really pleased with the recent skill set re-vamp, but now it seems just as pointless as it did before.
I thought my monitor resolution was quite high but your post and sig completely filled it all by itself
As for your comments regarding the power levels of enemy ships I cannot say I have noticed much. I think the biggest impact has actually been the hit/miss ratio's which seem to make the most difference in damage throughput.
I was on advanced, but after I read what you posted I switched back to normal. The problem remains unfortunately. I don't know whether it's a bug or something and the changes have appeared on all modes. The only other thing I can think of is, having boosted the evasive skills of my captain to maximum, I was simply not being hit as much as before, but got kind of unlucky and took a lot of hits in a short space of time.
Do you run plenty of resists for your shields? If you're in a Defiant R then a good setup would be;
Emergency Power to Shields I
Emergency power to Shields II
Hazard Emitters I
transfer Shield Strength II
The EPtS will give a flat (18 and24%) resistance buff to your shields meaning they'll take less damage, Hazard Emitters is a nice hull HoT (Heal over Time) and resist buff and TSS is a very powerful shield HoT that can be used on your self or any nearby team mates that are struggling.
If you run with weapons at 100 and shields at 50 (or whichever takes you to 125, in my case it's 90 but I'd imagine it's different for you depending on skill point spend etc) that should give you some decent shield resistance and a good offence whilst maintaining enough speed to hit the defence cap.
You could switch the HE and TSS around if you preferred a stronger hull heal but an Aux battery whenever you need a good resist buff would work whichever you preferred to go for.