Sadly, in Dark Souls (Which I played recently) the only way to actually play is with spear and shield if you don't want to be raped repeatedly. Either that, or pick a bow. As long, as you say, Ben, you minimize exposure to enemies you'll do fine.
I tried it with a Pyromancer, the Swamp dood. Came up to the skeleton knight looking dood (in the tutorial), took me down in two hits, despite trying to get some range one them (what kinda jackass thought it was a good idea to give him a two handed axe, anyway???) My friend, who owns the game, boots up a knight, clad in plate, chain and leather, from head to toe. Comes up to the same peon enemy, just before you do the stabby drop, and WHAM, WHAM! Dead.
I saw game play videos of this, I thought it was exaggeration, or some sort of trick.
I sincerely hope that Skyrim does NOT do that sort of brutal combat, where armour is pointless, and the best way to play the game is limited to a single way. there's no fun in Magic: The Gathering style trap 'cards'. Especially in class make up or toys you can pick.