Like the title says, I'm genuinely impressed at this iteration of gating. BFA's attempt was an absolute mess, and somehow managed to couple gated content with grind-as-fast-as-you-can content, making the gated stuff feel even more frustrating. But this time around, I don't know, there's just a nice 'flow' to it. I won't get into the philosophy of gating vs non-gating, because that's a pretty polarised you-feel-how-you-feel topic. Not trying to change anyone's mind on that, just appreciate the improvements between BFA and SL.
Few examples off the top of my head
– The Jailer's Eye mechanic in the Maw. It's effectively soft-gating. Everything up to the shadow damage d.o.t and healing reduction can be dealt with fairly easily, so you get the choice of how far to push the gate before it turns round and says 'okay you've had enough, go do something else'. And it more of less exists to stop people turbo-grinding Venari rep, meaning that the community reaches new areas at more or less the same point, and group finder is constantly popping for stuff you actually need.
– Covenant questlines. I'm enjoying the weekly flow to be honest. Too many times in BFA I got to a point where the only things I can feasibly do are M+, Raid or PvP. Tl;dr you reach a point where you're dependent on the community to do anything worthwhile. As it stands in SL, we get a nice chunk of solo quest content a week, a solo dungeon that can be co-op'd, and a bunch of Covenant extras before you get to the 'you'll need a group for this' content. Feels a LOT more like you can play at your own pace, since falling behind doesn't technically lock you out of all worthwhile content (because no one wants to take you cause you're behind).
The Vault. Oh my god. Just… yes. Tying back to the point about how 'you reach a point where you can only do x y z, we're at a point now where your progress in any of those three can bump your progress in the others even without kill-drops. You can have a completely dry raid week with no drops, and get a raid weapon at the end of the week. You can push PvP, and even if you don't win you're stacking honour, so there's a conquest piece waiting for you. You can rinse out M+ for the week, and NOT have the chest only drop the one piece you absolutely don't need. Player choice is back in a big way. Not in the 'you choose the story' sense, but rather your progress is tied to what you do, not how lucky you get with rolls (ofc theres exceptions but damn, they're really trying to make it work)
Renown in general. Yeah, I know it's frustrating seeing all those 30+ niceass rewards and knowing you won't get there for weeks, but at the same time there's enough week-on-week to sink your teeth into without feeling like you're just waiting for the next boundary tick. And it effectively means we'll get renown content pretty much every week til 9.1. there's always gonna be something fresh. So personally, I prefer the initial frustration of 'aw i cant get that yet' to 'where's the patch news I WANT SOMETHING TO DO'
Also doesn't reeeeeally encapsulate the gating topic (apart from conquest gain but we'll leave that one there lel) but I gotta give a special mention to the new PvP system because honestly, I've never known so many people engage with PvP. Every time I tried to join an RBG in BFA, there were 4 postings and they were all 2k exp. Basically, you're either seasoned or you're out. Nowdays, there's 2 pages of postings and half of those are 'low cr' and 'chill' groups. RBGs are accessible again and I love it.
So yeah. Not really a massive discussion point here, just wanted to voice my appreciation because for all the discussion points and issues, SL is such a damn sight better than BFA mechanically and feels a lot more like a game I can come to week-on-week rather than feeling like I have to no-life for the first 3 weeks just to stay relevant. Good job Blizz. It ain't perfect. But damn. It ain't BFA.
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