Blizzard is pursuing a new strategy for max level content in Shadowlands. I think it's working quite well, so I'd like to take a look at what I believe the strategy is.
The main strategy consists of:
- Multiple areas of content
- Low, front-loaded weekly caps
- Separate currencies for each area
Let's take Torghast as an example. You get the bulk of the reward by running each of two open wings. The main reward is Soul Ash for legendaries, and Torghast is the major source. The bulk of Soul Ash comes from the lower levels, making it less necessary to run the highest level. Last week, I ran a Layer 8 and a Layer 4 (helping a guildmate who is still climbing). That's good enough.
The same pattern is there with the Maw. It's the only source of Stygia and Venari reputation. But the bulk of the reward is the two or three weekly quests. You can do the dailies and rares if you want, but the reward is much lower. Then there is also a soft/hard cap in the Jailer's Eye.
This even extends to story. Blizzard has been steadily releasing a chapter each week.
I think this is a pretty solid system. You bounce around the various activities trying to do the major items. The caps are very low, which allows you to spend minimal time in the areas you don't like. Having separate currencies for each area means that players can't just spam the most efficient content.
The biggest change is that Blizzard simply had to ignore all the players who complain about "gating", about being unable to spend more time to earn more power. Shadowlands has the strongest gating in WoW's history, and I think the majority of players seem to be happy with that.
We'll have to see if this strategy is good enough for the expansion's lifetime, but so far it seems quite good, and will probably be the model going forward.