The Timeless Isle Experience

One of the interesting things about returning to WoW after having missed a whole expansion's worth of patches is that once you hit max level, the amount of things to do seems almost overwhelming. We started dabbling in various dailies right away, but the thing that interested me the most was the Timeless Isle, so that's where we've been spending most of our time at ninety so far.

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: No Very few quests to give direction, and hidden treasure chests and strong mobs with shared tagging mechanics everywhere. (Disclaimer: I've never played Guild Wars 2, so this assessment is just based on things I read about the game.)

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.

- As far as grouping goes, there is working together and "working together". The zergs that form against the stronger rares are more of the latter. Sure, you all share the goal of wanting to kill the mob, but other than that it's every man and woman for themselves, meaning that people will make the mobs jump and twitch carelessly, which leads to whole groups of other players getting one-shot by things like conal abilities. In small doses it's kind of funny, but mostly it just makes me long for being part of a proper co-ordinated group where I don't have to worry about other people being more of a danger than a help.

- 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.


  1. Having played a little bit of GW2, Timeless Isle isn't really like GW2 at all. GW2 is more like old Vanilla WoW in terms of quests being around, and go have fun and find them. Timeless Isle is, to me, anyway, the place to go level up so you can do LFR for Siege of Orgrimmar. You get to skip heroic 5-mans entirely, no scenarios, and no LFR for previous raids.

    In the future, I can see someone buying a copy of WoW + expacs + WoD, leveling to L90, going to the Proving Grounds to learn to play their class, going to Timeless Isle to get some level appropriate loot, and heading off straight to Draenor. Levels 1-90 simply won't exist.

    1. People will already get level appropriate loot with the instant 90 so I don't see people going to Timeless Isle for that reason at all. I'd like Proving Grounds to be kept in game in one form or another, though.

    2. The "level appropriate loot" line that Blizz uses covers a lot of ground. It could mean the gear you get out of the Dread Wastes all the way up to "Timeless Isle Siege of Orgrimmar Raid Ready" gear.

      The Proving Grounds will be kept in game, because it allows Blizz to not worry about the old zones. Blizz has had problems getting classes and abilities to scale properly over the leveling game, and this issue has only gotten more glaring with each expac. The simple solution is to tell people to avoid the leveling problem entirely using the Proving Grounds.

      Of course, WoW's big advantage over other MMOs is the 90 levels of prior content, and encouraging people to ignore the old content eliminates that advantage.

  2. Your experience is about right I think. It is exactly 2 days worth of content, and then never go back, unless:
    (1) you like the Celestial Tournament, which you have to win 10x for all 4 pets
    (2) you have a desire to collect lots of boring achievements for completionist sake
    (3) you want to do a hideous rep grind
    (4) you want to do the world bosses on reset day

    When I did Timeless Isle I was higher iLvl than the loot dropping, so that part of it was a bit wasted on me. I can see why it would feel like fun though as a fresh 90, and it's a decent "catch-up mechanic", but once caught up, that's it.

    I tend to agree that TI is not much like GW2, except the odd event (like alebrew elementals) that people will group up for. But the WoW quest engine just isn't built for the kind of dynamic events that GW2 has. I also agree that MoP has been the expac of the frontal cone and the red circle to dance out of, as slight variations on void zones. Garrosh interval phases are especially egregious.... about 45 seconds of moving out of random conal attacks that he chain spams. Like Conal the Barbarian or something....


  3. If that was their try to copy the good things of GW2 they failed miserable.

    Mob tags might be shared but... who cares? Most rares can and will be killed within seconds by a single player. They just have way to few health. Hualon and the beer event is about the only thing on the island they got right in that regard.

    And Hualon didn't really need the instant death breath. It's silly to have a rare that's either a smooth kill (if a voidwalker tanks it) or a mass slaughter (if no warlock is around). :-)

    Here's what they should do:
    1) All rares on the island should require an event before they spawn, like beer. These events should be designed to take a bit longer then beer to finish to give people time to arrive in time.
    2) All rares should have much more health, depending on the amount of people around. Ideally it would take a few minutes to kill them and be a fun little fight.
    3) Events should be visible on the map from everywhere on the island, not just when you stand nearby.
    4) A server message should show on the screen whenever an event on the map starts.

    That would make the player show up whenever an event starts. That's the "magic" behind GW2. It's just amazing if you're somewhere on a map and an event starts and you see people pouring in from all directions.

  4. Can't disagree with any of your comments, you've hit most of the main points. The main appeal of the island as I see it is a way for players who don't like dailies to collect lesser tokens / gear tokens / VPs. Unfortunately, for that purpose (particularly VPs) it works best when treated as a free-for-all daily... kill the 20 elite mobs every day and get 550VP for the week (including the 200VP weekly quest, you'll likely get that as well at the same time). Still, free-form play where you don't have to kill specific mobs in a specific area, just whatever elite mob you want at the difficulty level of your choice, is appealing to some of us sometimes and a few of us always.

    I'm sure a lot of folks do the island for a few days and rarely go back but I see and know a lot who are there every day. For them, it's working out nicely.

    As for interrupts, they don't generally (but do sometimes) work, no, but stuns tend to... keep that in mind. I really don't know why they've excluded interrupts, though, just for gameplay training purposes alone they should be interruptable.

    @Kring - I'd be happy enough if the rare mob mechanics were fair to all classes. I'm still not convinced that it's even possible to survive Cinder as a melee. As for Huo, it depends on the server, on one of my servers he's ignored, on another he lives for about 3 seconds. :)

    1. I do think it's nice as something different and to give people options. As long as they don't completely abandon the old quest model... :)

      And yeah, we've been practising chaining our stuns. I just find it weird that interrupts only work so rarely, considering that Blizzard probably wants players to know how to use them...

  5. The rep grind is boring, and potentially frustrating. Still, I'm glad to have something like that, given that it's entirely optional (to the extent that we classify non-gear rewards as optional).

    "Most rares can and will be killed within seconds by a single player."
    That's a million DPS, a little high.

    But I agree wholeheartedly with your first point.