This is going to be a wall of text so I apologize ahead of time and thank you for those who choose to read it
There have been a lot of thoughts, both pro and con, posted about the new ranked system post 2.0, many of which deal with the new defense mechanic and the penalties associated with it. Many of these focus on why it is or is not good that players are now being penalized in a real way for defensive losses. Regardless on where you stand on the issue, I believe the defense dynamic is broken in GoW regardless of if the player is or is not penalized for automated defense losses.
Good question and the answer is that there is currently no good or effective way for players to learn from their defensive losses (or wins). Other than going into your guild and battling yourself, there is no way to review how the AI is controlling your defensive team and, while being able to spar against yourself is an improvement, this obvious can’t act as a one-to-one comparison for the defensive battles you win or lose against actual opponents. There are just too many variables.
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
Ultimately that is up to you (obviously) and some of you won’t (you know who you are lol) but the reason I think you should is pretty simple:
By making the defensive play both obtuse AND essential, the devs have created a toxic combination that forces players to get very meta in order to learn how to field an effective defensive team (and even then, “effective” is probably overstating things since all teams are beatable if the attacker fields an effective team against the defense).
While many players love digging deep into game theory and enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to manipulate the game to their advantage (which is perfectly valid), many players do not; especially not in a game that is (or at least was at one point) geared towards the casual crowd. Even if the developers are trying to shift the game away from casual play towards more strategic/hardcore players, the game (like all games) requires a certain, constant influx of casual players to support its growth and longevity. Something all players, especially hardcore players should care about. By antagonizing new players with penalized play they can’t learn from, the devs have create a gameplay mechanic that serves to simply frustrate players. This hurts everyone long term.
HOW DO WE FIX IT?
Undoubtedly there are many paths we (or at least the devs) could take and I don’t profess to knowing them all, still what immediately comes to mind is battle archive and review.
If the devs gave us the ability to review our defensive battles (wins & losses), we could learn from them and adapt our defensive team accordingly. I’m still not convinced players should ever be penalized for actions they cannot directly control but regardless, being able to participate and learn from these automated battles would go a long way to engaging players and encouraging them to delve deeper into the game. As it stands now, the devs are using the stick but seem to have forgotten the carrot.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether you agree or not; perhaps I missed something obvious?