WoW's new "Time-Sink Isle" may be the best solo content Blizzard's ever made, but that doesn't mean it's without its fair share of flaws.
Last week World of Warcraft Patch 5.4 went live with a huge list of changes, including the Siege of Orgrimmar, Flex Raiding, and even some major changes to the WoW faction leadership. In preparation for the concluding release of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, I got to work leveling up my warrior to take part in the feature that I was most excited in taking part in: The Timeless Isle. Though the Timeless Isle delivers great content and opportunities for player-generated entertainment, a few painful drawbacks keep it from being all that it could be.
The Timeless Isle is the latest addition to World of Warcraft's solo content, featuring a small new zone with hidden chests, rare spawns, world bosses, and a number of potent rewards, including ilevel 497 Bind on Account (BoA) epics.
The island is the most sandbox-style addition to World of Warcraft to date. Rather than giving the player quests with objectives, players are instead encouraged to go out and make their own adventure with quests like "Kill 20 Elite Creatures", or "Explore Every Region on the Map." This gives players control over the direction of their adventure, and is especially exciting when things such as tempting treasure chests or loot-piņata rare spawns could be lurking in any region.
Though the Isle turns out to be a pretty small place after intense investigation, I think the Isle will be the perfect size for players looking to do what I think is the most fun part of the sandbox: treasure hunting. The Timeless Isle is a place for players to explore and look for treasure. With rare mini-pets, vanity items, mounts, and the all-hailed BoA epic items, there's no shortage of incentives for every type of player. During my weekend on the Isle, I saw players farming rep, hunting down rare spawns, tracking down treasure chests, killing world bosses, and taking part in the PvA (Player vs. All) battles.
The purpose of the Timeless Isle fits perfectly into the greater World of Warcraft game as well. As a brand new level 90 character, I spent the majority of my time this weekend on the Isle, and was able to get myself up to ilevel 498, high enough to enter the brand new raid in 5.4, The Siege of Orgrimmar. The Timeless Isle is a feeder into the new content for World of Warcraft, and allows players to quickly get caught up to the end game so that they can play with their friends, rather than grinding through tiers of older content.
The Isle has also succeeded at creating a huge community of players looking to work together. General chat was constantly filled with players looking to share their knowledge of the Isle or post locations of chests or rares. Even more impressive, there was well over 100 players from both factions waiting for the opportunity to tag Huoron (a rare spawn who has a chance to drop a mount) this past Sunday night. I can honestly say I hadn't seen that many players in one place since The Isle of Quel'Danis back during The Burning Crusade. It was nice to see such a show of community. Granted, most of them were simply there to get the tag, and a few of them did try to kill me, but the fact of the matter is that Blizzard has created a system that successfully encourages people to work together. The organic and fixed rare spawns and events create a superb free-flow experience that transforms static farming into an organic and player-driven experience.