Executive summary: Crew 2.0 being shelved gives WG the opportunity to incrementally upgrade the crew system without breaking it. The solution is Crew 1.5, whereby the crew conversion to a single commander takes place, and that commander can pilot multiple vehicles. However, the current crew skills and point system remains mostly intact so nearly all players and tanks won’t materially change in performance.
The why: First, a thank you to /u/Overlewd, his feedback on Crew 2.0 provided a lot of the analysis and inspiration here.
The problems with the current Crew 1.0 system:
1) Crew layout – both number of crewman and their responsibilities has an impact on tank performance. Being that a commander has the most numerous and most important skills, having them double as a radio operator or other role is a hindrance
2) Inconsistency in crew layouts among tanks from the same tech tree (e.g., FV4005) or premiums (e.g., the TL-1 LPC has the commander as the radio operator, which is not compatible with the entire Patton line) are problematic
3) Large crews have significant benefits with no downside, while small crews suffer both as far as skills and in battle (i.e., it’s easier to knock out the crew and losing one crew member affects several roles). Because there is not experience penalty for large crews, they get more skills for the same amount of crew experience
4) 50% crews and commanders without Sixth Sense are a horrible gaming experience, especially for newer players
5) There becomes a huge gap of any achievement in crew skills as the requirements ramp (and as perks require 100% training to take effect). In the case of a 5-skill crewmember who wants to train a perk, it takes 6,721,920 experience to get ANY benefit
6) The crew UI is terrible and most players know little about skills or why to choose them so tend to parrot content creators
I would add another trait, I won't call it a downside, is that crews rapidly run out of useful skills so there quickly becomes stagnation and little incentive to improve skills. I am not directly addressing this because many players actually seem to like this — i.e., once a crew gets to about 4 skills, there is little need to continue to improve them except at the highest level of competitive play.
The what: Keep the 2.0 conversion process and UI – although, rather than implementing the Crew 2.0 experience and skill system, keep the experience levels and simply multiply them by 4 (the “average” crew size) to get the total number of skills, which would be the same as Crew 1.0. Sixth Sense would be free.
BIA, Camo, Repairs, and, maybe, Firefighting would have 4 levels with incremental progress (I put a maybe in the case of Firefighting because it's such a weak skill that 1 or 2 levels providing full benefits wouldn't be unreasonable). Other skills could perhaps be given a 2nd level to increase their effectiveness to allow for more focused builds.
Crews could be trained for multiple vehicles per Crew 2.0.
For 4-person crews, the conversion from Crew 1.0 to 2.0 would be exact other than one free skill as Sixth Sense no longer must be bought.
For example: A 4-skill E50 crew with full BIA, Camo, and Repairs – the commander has Sixth Sense, the driver has Off-Road Driving, the Gunner has Deadeye, the Radio Operator has Situational Awareness, and the Loader has Safe Stowage – the conversion to Crew 2.0 would provide the exact same result as the crew had in Crew 1.0.
After conversion, the crew would require the same experience to get the next 4 skills (e.g., a 4-skill crew in Crew 1.0 needs 3,360,960 experience to get a new skill – and, for a crew of 4, that amount would result in 4 new skills. So, under crew 1.5, each chunk of 1,680,480 experience would result in a new skill – it would provide the same curve, but at least there would be incremental progress along the curve).
The Drawbacks: For corner cases, there can be a larger impact on crews: a 6-skill Maus crew, with full BIA, Repairs, and Firefighting, would lose 5 skill points – but the crew would have run out of useful skills to choose long ago. A 6-skill Manticore crew, with full Camo and BIA, would gain a whopping 9 skill points – but this is more an indication of exactly how punitive the 2-person crew is to the Manticore under Crew 1.0 – and, again, most of those skills wouldn’t massively impact the game performance of a Manticore in its role – what it does is hide and spot and a 6-skill crew can do that already.
The conversion process to Crew 2.0 does provide a loophole to exploit: converting a larger crew to a smaller crew to yield multiple experienced crews (e.g., a Tortoise can create 3 Manticore crews). However, this costs gold and the rewards to players are relatively small – because highly experienced crews do not provide a significant performance increase in most vehicles over good, but not great, crews. So, converting crews now under Crew 1.5 rather than possibly converting later under Crew 2.0 will provide less incentive for players exploit the system.
For Wargaming: Wargaming gets to roll out the new UI, get people used to it, and, if they choose, slowly tweak skills. There can be a role for instructors – to provide skins, voices, experience bonuses for the crew and maybe perks (e.g., maybe Santa comes with Sound Detection for free – or even a new skill unique to him). Individual skills could be reworked and tested individually without reworking the entire system (I don’t know anyone who dislikes the change to Intuition). Less useful and popular skills could be improved and evaluated on the test server to build a more complete and rewarding skill system. New skills can be easily added one at a time.
These new or reworked skills can slowly be crafted into Crew 2.0 to ensure it’s balanced and the impact and interaction of skills is understood. Experience requirements for higher skill levels can be lowered, shallowing the skill curve to encourage continued crew improvement.
Conclusion: There is little risk or downside to implementing this – most of the coding and testing have already been done. The game impact would only affect corner cases and the actual impact for those wouldn’t be high. It would make the new player experience better and makes it easier for players to play multiple tanks (which WG seems to encourage given how Battle Pass and bond earning works). The players get a better UI that should be easier to understand and see the impact of individual skills on game performance – this can be done the same way field modifications do. Such a new UI could even allow for more customization, to allow interaction between skills, equipment, and field modifications.