The weapons are the only insurmountable hurdle.
The troops are burdensome to get, but I think it’s always been true if you don’t plan on playing GoW for more than 6 months it’s better not to start anyway. That part’s actually kind of good, I feel most F2P games only expect to hold you 2-3 months so I see it as a selling point that GoW tries to entice people to have anniversaries.
But the weapons are practically impossible to get. There is no set rotation. It’s completely random. There are at least half a dozen meta-relevant weapons, but only one per week is available in Soulforge and only one per week is on sale for $4.99. I know enthusiastic newbies that are constantly frustrated because the answer to, “How can I improve my event team?” always involves weapons that there’s no guarantee they’ll ever get.
That makes the game a no-buy in my opinion, I don’t understand why it’s stuck around so long. Divine Protector was the first problem and they used a band-aid to hush the players. Now there are at least five problems. Solving these problems means I believe a new player can be competitive (given enough time). Without it, GoW is a game for veterans only.
(Soulforge and a rotation aren’t the only problems. If events offer “functional reprints” of old weapons that sort of counts. It won’t make current players happy, though. I don’t really care what the solution is so long as I feel like I can tell a new player if they invest a year wisely they can compete.)