In Shadowlands, there's a lot more player choice which has to do with power than in the previous couple of expansions. We have:
- The path through the soulbind tree
In contrast, Battle for Azeroth pretty much had:
- Azerite powers
- Corruptions (at the end of the expansion)
- The path through the artifact weapon tree. This was a temporary choice, however, as you could fill in the entire tree.
If you look at what people are complaining about in Shadowlands, the biggest complaint I believe is about these choices, especially covenants. By and large, all the extra choices aren't really doing anything as most people are following the main theorycraft and guides.
I wonder how Shadowlands would have looked if Blizzard had offered less choice. For example, suppose your class dictated your covenant. All paladins and priests get sent to Bastion, all druids and hunters join the Night Fae, etc.
Blizzard would only need to focus on tuning one ability. The soulbinds could have functioned more like Legion artifact weapons, with a temporary tree that could be completely filled in.
I don't think the results would look all that different from what we have now. Most classes have one definitive covenant, and people use alts to see the other covenant stories.
Of course, in that alternate reality, we'd probably be complaining that Blizzard should have allowed us to choose our own Covenant.