Basically, from what I'd heard about the Timeless Isle, it sounded like WoW's attempt at copying part of Guild Wars 2's fairly successful model to see how well their own playerbase liked it:
Reception seems to have been kind of mixed from what I can tell. Sure, it's popular as the most recent thing "to do", but from what I've read people seem to either love it (for all the easy loot) or hate it (for its lack of direction and feeling pointlessly grindy).
Either way, it seemed like the best way to improve our gear quickly, and as a team of two the fact that mobs were a bit tougher didn't seem to pose a problem. In reality, we still did some dying, especially early on when we didn't know all the various mobs' abilities yet, but it wasn't too bad.
Let me make a list of things I've personally liked about the Timeless Isle so far and a list of things I haven't:
- The loot rush. I'm a bit hesitant to call gearing up via the Timeless Isle the path of least resistance, considering that some of the mobs put up a lot of resistance, but still... there is loot all over; it doesn't just drop from mobs. You might click on a random sparkle on the ground and come away with another purple piece. The first day you spend on the Timeless Isle as a fresh ninety, you'll come away from the experience with your character having vastly increased in power and it's intoxicating.
- It's busy. After how dead the game felt for most of our levelling up, it's refreshing to see an area that's genuinely busy at all times of day.
- Grouping is encouraged. I'm not a fan of the idea of shared tagging applying to everything, because that just encourages people to hit as many things as possible while hoping that someone else will put the actual work into killing them, but for special mobs I've been in favour of the mechanic for quite a while. It helps that most mobs are actually tough enough that receiving any kind of help is generally welcome.
- Since I score pretty high as an explorer, I quite enjoy the way you can just run around and find random things to click on. The achievement panel provides some direction in terms of listing things to do, but without giving too much away. While I'm sure there are very detailed guides out there for every aspect of the island, there's no real pressure to use them to "keep up" or anything like that.
- Chests are shared! I've blasted Blizzard in the past for making everything that requires picking things up from the ground extremely group-unfriendly, but as it turns out they do have the technology to not make your group mates hate you! When you loot a chest near a party member on the Timeless Isle, it instantly respawns for the other person so they can loot it as well. Of course that won't help you if the druid gets a plate piece from it while the warrior gets leather, but it's the thought that counts...
- I like that the wildlife on the island is of the types that you need to kill lots of for cooking ingredients anyway; it gives the whole process additional purpose.
- Coming down from the loot rush: The loot you get is random. On the first day, when pretty much everything is an upgrade, that doesn't matter and everything you find will seem amazing anyway. But once you've looted your seventh pair of leather shoulders while still sporting greens in most slots, the randomness quickly gets annoying, and after the rush of initial upgrades the whole process starts to feel grindy and unrewarding instead.
- It's too busy sometimes. Rare spawns die within seconds of appearing, and even with respawn timers that seem pretty short, it can be hard to get a hit in even with shared tagging. Chat is full of addon spam about how person X just killed Y mob, which most people won't really care about.
- A lot of deadly mob abilities feel annoyingly gimmicky. It's all about dodging out of the circle or cone on the ground because that's all the rage in the newfangled action MMOs now, so WoW's got to have it too, whether that makes sense within the rest of the game or not. Whatever happened to those things called interrupts? Oh, they don't work on ninety percent of mob abilities, for no real reason.
- After a few days I already find myself getting a bit bored of the island. Coming down from the loot rush (see above) has been disappointing, and after that just killing things over and over for rep and coins seems a bit boring, especially since the island isn't actually very large.