Not that impressed with World of Warcraft’s island expeditions

While the World of Warcraft community is all up in arms these days over azerite armor, my outrage is lagging behind and is still stuck at island expeditions. Remember these? Remember how Blizzard announced these last November at BlizzCon as one of the main features of Battle for Azeroth and the collective response was, “Huh. I hope they’re not as dull as they look.”?

If predictable disappointment could be summed up in an activity, it would be island expeditions. For over a week now, I’ve made it part of my routine when I logged in to queue up and run at least one of these, and I can now report with some degree of certainty that they’re just as blah as everyone knew they would be.

Island expeditions are pocket instances for three players of any random class/role mix to go through on a bloodthirsty hunt for AZERITE. I have to put AZERITE in all caps there, because this is another instance of nobody caring except for Blizzard, which has been trying to shove this down our throats for a year (and one gets the distinct impression that not even the developers care that much). So our main objective is getting power-ups for our gear that nobody really likes and everyone knows will be discarded in another year and a half. That’s not powerful motivation.

The main activity, as far as I can tell, is to blitz through an island and try to stay together as a group. There’s a lot of killing and a bit of mining azerite and… well, not much else, really. It’s not very interesting, not very deep, and not very satisfying. Add to that the stress of trying to beat the other side’s meter and it’s a “GO GO GO” experience without the excitement of anticipated rewards.

And there really aren’t any good rewards. Blizzard was crowing about how large the prize pool was for expeditions, with gear and mounts and pets and toys. But I’ve run about 10 of these things and received merely AZERITE each and every time. If the studio was smart, it would give players a guaranteed fun payout their first run to hook them, but nothing doing.

I’m of the mind to outright ditch this activity going forward. It all feels like such a waste of effort and resources to build a system that any focus group should have told Blizzard was not wanted. Can you imagine the excitement if Blizzard had announced, say, real housing instead of this? Island expeditions are the Secret World scenarios of World of Warcraft, and I shall file them away as such.

9 thoughts on “Not that impressed with World of Warcraft’s island expeditions

  1. I’ve done 15? Maybe a few more because my first 2 were on Normal. Apparently you can focus specific goals to get pets. I’ve gotten 1 and don’t have a clue how we did it. I watched the video from the dev team prior to release. Saw the hype. But like you mentioned, it’s rather dull. And if you are unlucky to get killed by the NPCs and they are between you and your group running back? They will camp you. I had a run where they killed me so many times my armor was red. At the very most, I will do 5-6 heroic one evening for the 2,500 AP. That’s about it. Pandaria Scenarios were more enjoyable. Even more so now when you can go back solo and get those odd achievements. I think they are panicking and trying to figure out what they need to do to fix the situation, but scrapping Azerite gear, and the necklace is not an option. In the end we will have to deal with it and enjoy it or not. It is a core system to the entire expansion and they won’t spend the money or time to correct it.

    Thinking on it, I think the whole design problem revolves around trying to keep us logged in to have high MAU numbers and we are rebelling against being made to keep logging in.

  2. “It all feels like such a waste of effort and resources to build a system that any focus group should have told Blizzard was not wanted.”

    In all honesty Syp, that was a consistent level of feedback from the beta. Conceptually, the idea of 3 person content, with randomized items, and a focus on cosmetics could work. That is the exact opposite of what was put in game. Too bad… the potential was really there for something neat.

  3. It feels like just a mad race to kill as much high value stuff as you can to beat the NPC team. There isn’t a strategy. I think what we may be overlooking is that they might be using this as a means to test smart NPC behavior for the future.

  4. I kept running them to unlock the next boat unlock upgrade thingy (don’t even know what they are called) but yeah, haven’t received anything interesting. They should be swimming in toys and pets to make it worth it. Or, better yet, rep or something useful. (It’s still rEDICULOUS that Warfronts don’t give rep. Nothing is more War-y than warfronts.)

  5. 1) I have a half-dozen alts that occasionally try to do one Island a day on since you get about 250K XP with the daily quest.

    2) I find they are far more interesting since, while gear will be irrelevant in a few months, Island Expeditions drop 5 mounts (including Squawks!), 28 Pets and 5 toys. I found “Island Expeditions Rewards” from warcraft-secrets to be a bit clearer than the Wowhead description.

  6. In case you didn’t know, there is a whole secret system behind Island Expedition rewards: killing named mobs of a specific type unlocks possible rewards from said type. If you want the pirate pets/transmogs, for example, you have to kill named Pirates. Same for Vrykul, etc. If all you are doing is killing Crocolisks and Azerite Elementals and looting chests along the way, you’ll basically get nothing.

    It’s an extremely dumb system either way, but just wanted to let you know that it might not just be bad RNG that you haven’t received anything from Island Expeditions.

  7. I remember the idea in its early days was different than what i saw in the game, at least i remember there will be friendly NPCs in the island to help, factions if i’m not mistaken.

    I’ll admit, i liked the Island but i knew i’ll get bored with them and that happened soon, i got 2 pets and one armor piece from them.

  8. Sadly I must concur. I think Island Expeditions are pretty much only for achievement and collection completitionists.

  9. I agree. In fact, most of BFA is not very good. The story and quests are great, but everything else, especially the new stuff, is just not enjoyable. I get more enjoyment from watching the story on YouTube than playing the game.

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