Monday, September 17, 2018

More thoughts on Island Expeditions

Since my last post on Island Expeditions, I've done a bunch more. I do them on Heroic difficult now. Most of the time we win, but I have had a couple of losses. Here are a few more thoughts on Island Expeditions:

  • Island Expeditions are a lot more tractable when you start with a clear plan. I usually play with random groups, so it's very hit and miss. Generally, you follow the one person who's most willing to charge ahead. But I did a couple of expeditions with guild members, and we started with a very simple "Go for the X to the east, hitting diamonds, skulls, and quests along the way". Somehow just having that plan at the beginning made the expedition much easier to handle. It was a lot easier to predict where the team would stop and in which direction they would go.
  • Island Expeditions need more varied palettes in flora and fauna. Really, you should be able to identify the island just by the view from the ship at the start. Instead, your first sight is always a tropical beach with some crocodiles. This adds to a feeling of sameness with expeditions. Blizzard should have started with fewer, more distinctive islands.
  • Having Azerite elementals is a mistake. Right now, you run from a beach with crocodiles and end up in an area with Aerite elementals. This adds to feeling of sameness. Both the beginning and end of your charge are the same in every island. Start on a beach with crocodiles, run to the Azerite elementals. As well, you have to fight the Azerite elementals in world quests as well, and they're relatively uninteresting mechanically.
  • Island Expeditions should focus on skulls. In contrast to the elementals, hunting skulls is fun. They're always different creatures, with different abilities and minions. Remove the red X deposits, or have them spawn with a random skull and greatly empower the skull enemy.
  • Encountering the enemy Horde is odd. Maybe this is just coincidence, but in both of my losses, we never encountered the Horde. It feels like, in an average pickup Heroic group, the Horde's ability to collect Azerite outstrips ours. But we can kill them, and set them back enough to pretty much guarantee victory. It's always a close game until the Horde is encountered. It's slightly annoying too, because after you kill them once, they keep coming back and making things take longer. So it feels like you want to see the Horde, because it guarantees a victory, but it also guarantees that the rest of match will take longer and be more annoying ("Sneaky Pete!"). I don't really know how to fix this, or even if it is something that should be fixed.
  • I would like to see a variant that wasn't a race. Perhaps something where all the enemies are tougher and deal more damage, but a single death is automatically a loss. Though that might make tanks and healers mandatory. Perhaps disallow tank and healer specialisations, since every class has a damage specialisation.
Those are some more thoughts on Island Expeditions. After playing several, they're reasonably fun. I do enough to get the weekly quest, and I like doing that. However, I think a few tweaks here and there, especially a greater focus on the skull enemies, could make Island Expeditions better.


  1. There's an art concept called negative space. You need it to allow focus on the important parts of a piece. I find that Islands lack negative space and it feels like one giant chain pull.

    Reducing the number of enemies, and focusing on smaller set-pieces (highly randomized) would do wonders for replayability. It would also allow for more interaction with the opposing forces as you'd be fighting over more important bits.

    Would be nice to see how the opposing faction actually gained their azerite. It feels more like Mario Kart's cheating NPCs who suddenly go on turbo mode. Maybe something more like "enemy forces gain X/AP per minute on Heroic", and that they can take out various high value targets on their own.

    1. Good points about negative space. Or even if the majority of enemies, like the crocodiles, were neutral, rather than hostile. Then you could move from set-piece to set-piece rather dragging along a giant train.

  2. If expeditions were single-player scenarios, they could be made in many different modes. Exploration (find target number of azerite in non-obvious locations), puzzle (find clues and figure out the big deposit location), withered-army-training-like (see how much azerite you can gather before you or your NPC team die), Chromie-like (talent up your Fairwind companion and see how much azerite you can gather before time runs out), and many others.

    1. That's true, but in some ways, making an activity single-player is a cop-out. I think we expect an MMO to produce group content, as that is their "killer feature".