So hear me out here; the 4 stage SR format could be turned into something interesting.
Personally I like it for the simple change of pace. SR has been the same for so long even such a relatively small change like that was great. So it got me thinking, what if it came back?
I present to you my pitch for; Nightmare Survival Road! It keeps the 5 stage format but changes the individual stage design themselves. Difficulty is ramped up to an insane degree (remember that roadmap with 60K stats Violet that almost no one beat at first? Think that for the final stages). No drug kits, no salvage tokens. Once a character is dead, they’re dead. Stage requirements for trait and persona get obscure and force you to use your roster creatively. Enemy abilities do the same by changing from stage to stage. One may be decap heavy so revives are useless. The next might carry maim damage making revive chains useful but only for so long. Then maybe a walker to human stage so hiding behind Larger World’s Michonne’s camo can work… until she gets squashed on the final wave due to her weaker stats and cannnot be used anymore.
Make it an exercise in team building and strategy. For way too long SR has been “Pop on every 2 hours, autofill, fast forward x8, repeat”. Time to put some strategy back in it!
My only large concern is that newer players will be alienated, so maybe adjust the difficulty to region age? Also shut out are the people that depoted everything that isn’t a meta-breaking top tier premier six star because “They’re useless in the current meta.” To those people I say to hell with them. Useless in the current PVP meta maybe, but this ain’t PVP. You got 200 roster slots. What’s the harm in using them?