Feedback: Island Expeditions

BFA Dungeons, Island Expeditions, and Raids
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So far I've done 1 expedition (on normal) I and I enjoyed it.

The AI I was put up against (Gunnolf, Raul, and Fenrae) do seem like they could be a handful for casual players.
Oh a few other things... I definitely don't think you should put the enemy team on the map. At least not in the harder difficulties anyways. It's a lot more fun if they can sneak up on you, imo.

The starfish (and items like them) probably shouldn't work on the big bosses.

Still haven't seen any Dubloons
I queued up by myself earlier today for the first time and was placed with two others for whom it was also their first Expedition. After leaving the boat, we killed mobs on the beach and explored around the shore line, while moving counter-clockwise around the island and collecting any Azerite we came across.

Shortly after, we ran into the enemy team of three Blood Elves (I didn't get a chance to read the team name). In the distance, they just appeared to be moving around aimlessly and jumping A LOT, but when we approached they engaged us and destroyed our uncoordinated attacks with ease. Their AI seemed quite dynamic and able to respond to our actions, but I'm not sure whether this was intended or just by chance. For example, when I hamstrung a Mage, she blinked away, but still seemed to spam Ice Lance a lot. Human-like, hey.

After respawning, we continued around the map clockwise this time. We never ran into the enemy team again and did not see any indication of their position again, which I guess means we never came close to them again. We did not revisit the area where we first found them.

The three of us got split up a few times, with myself and a Death Knight staying joined at the hip and a Ret Paladin being a little more adventurous, but still remaining close enough. None of the elite and non-elite mobs we fought were a challenge for even just two of us to kill.

With about 5 seconds left on the Azerite detector timer and us at 3300 or so and the enemy team at 1000, we received notification of an Azerite explosion had been detected. It was visible to us immediately just around a corner on the beach (we could see it ahead of our characters, rather than on the minimap). Again, the mobs spawned with it were not overly challenging, even with our uncoordinated attacks.

The explosion netted us about 2500 Azerite, which I actually found kinda disappointing. While we never actually ran into the enemy team again, I could feel the tension ramping up as the detector timer ran out and the prospect of having to search around the island unaided for Azerite, but this tension died when we collected such a huge amount in one hit. Now very close to winning, so we headed further down the beach, killed a few things and won the match shortly after. The enemy team was only on about 2000 Azerite at this point.

My client then crashed, completely freezing my Mac and somehow resulting in a kernel panic (which I've posted about elsewhere).

Overall, I wasn't overly impressed by what was on offer. It felt way too easy, and the Azerite explosion was too big of a score boost. I think a much shorter timer on the Azerite detector would be great for ramping up the tension, with the Azerite Explosion giving a smaller amount and perhaps reactivating the detector for a short period.
Finally got to try an expedition. It was fun, enjoyable. Only tried it on normal and had a blast.

If you add more maps, and maybe more scenarios or whatever, it could be a valid thing throughout the expansion. But a fair warning - People WILL try to min/max speedrun this.
I agree should not be able to see enemy team on the map
I just did one and it was fun. Can be completed without ever seeing the enemy team (just AI if I'm understanding right?) - we died a few times to them so just stayed inland and collected what we needed and won. Horde side only had about 3000 so I'm not sure what they were doing - we had azerite coming out our ears.
I found this to be pretty well balanced overall. I did the scenario 4 times with different player teams and each time it felt different. Although we did feel very disadvantaged when we ran into the enemy team when our team didn't have a healer.

One enemy team with what appeared to be 3 mages had an ability that allowed them to channel heals into another teammate. Something like that for our non-healing team would have been very handy.

One thing that annoyed me was that the NPC enemy team appeared to be immune to AOE effects and such from the environment such as the fire or meteor strikes, even when I tried pushing them into it. At least I didn't see any debuffs go on them as a result.

A few minor bugs such as accidentally hitting ESC meant I couldn't spirit rez, even after talking to the spirit healer again. I had to run out of the area then hit "Back to Graveyard" to get it back. The motivations of the NPCs seem random. In my last game, they appeared to shift from "let's try to win" to "ok, we're losing too much, so let's try to screw up the players as much as possible." Other times they tried to focus on the objective only and stayed out of my team's way whenever possible. If the AI actually possessed the need for petty revenge like a human would, bravo to the programmers for that one.

The overall balance and difficulty felt appropriate for normal mode. I'm rather excited by the new Island Expeditions and I'm looking forward to how it plays out with higher level difficulties.
03/22/2018 07:23 PMPosted by Nobella
It felt as though they were constantly coming after us. Very aggressive. We beat them every time but we spent most of the match fighting them and not really going around the island. I did one today and I couldn't even tell you the names of the opposing AI. I saw them once out in the open. That was it. The only other time we saw them is when we went to go check out the enemy ship.
I'm 100% fine with this. Hopefully the AI either have different levels of aggression selected at random or adjust based on conditions. Imagine if they behaved the same way every time.
Also, if you are dead when the map ends the spirit res dude stops casting?
So I've done a handful of these now on solo queue normal. I think they are a ton of fun and have some great potential. The AI has been good about a lot of their encounters. I'm a healer so we've been fine but for the most part i think non-healer (not sure about tanks, have only gotten DPS in queues) groups may struggle a bit more. Not sure how much this will scale with gear on live.

That being said, I do think they are a bit confusing. For the most part they drop you off on and island and say "ok go!" Basically i just kill things randomly and seemingly pointlessly. I do like that the map switches up a bit. On one of my attempts, some frost areas came up and there was a bunch of snow / blizzard animations on the screen. And a portal that had a mini-boss in it. I like that for dynamic. But otherwise it really was just aimlessly killing / mining things.

It also is a bit anti-climactic to win a scenario by killing a random non-elite Crab because you happened to need 2 azurite. Perhaps gradually raise the difficulty of the mobs around the zone? No elites for the first 2000, then to rare.. then at 4000 go to elites? Not sure that would really feel any better, just seems a waste to win with no real objective other than just run around randomly.

At least in MoP scenarios there were objectives. If perhaps there were objectives that had to be completed that were random in addition to, or that facilitated the azurite. Maybe have the mobs give 5 azurite, but completing an objective give like 500. This would encourage players to go to a specific area and complete that objective.

We did lose one of my attempts (won all the others pretty easily and by a large margin). But the reason we lost.. i couldn't even tell you. We killed the enemy team, we killed mobs, we mined azurite.. i guess somehow they were just faster at it? or perhaps their side of the map had some lucky spawns for placement? But overall there was no rhyme or reason for what was going on.

I think it's a great start but needs some fleshing out.
Did an island 2 days ago, and it was simple at the start. My group had no problems in the beginning, then it really began to ramp up and confusion (at least on my part) started to take over and we all died a few times. Ultimately we won by over a thousand more than the other team. I never saw them though as I was too busy trying to stay alive. 2 of the 3 in my group were hunters. Trying to find my group members after getting killed the 2nd time became hard as there was so much activity all over the place, it was a bit overwhelming. By the end we were just 3 separate players doing our own thing. We started as a cohesive group, but by the end we weren't.

I think it will be nice when there is more context in the story, and as I become more experienced.
I know the island expedition is supposed to be role agnostic, but I rolled it with two fellow rogues and I have to say that I think the endgame for them will be 1 healer and two dps, or 1 hybrid-ish dps (that can toss heals) and 2 dps.

I'd echo the other sentiments that it feels too much like a race. Even if it's RNG, it's going to essentially get boiled down into a priority of events/items.
Updated update post: heroic and mythic have been activated!

Good luck!
For reference, I'm a raider from top 100 guild and this feedback is targeted at the difficulty of Mythic Island Expedition.

Did few mythic Island Expeditions and frankly I'm a bit disappointed with mythic difficulty (heroic seemed to be similar except mobs hit for less). Expected close call wins but that never happened. We won all scenarioes (random groups) by having on average triple the amount of azerite (we also didn't use any of the available consumables). The only difference seems to be that mobs either one shot you or deal 90% dmg of your hp.

I can see expeditions being very fun in PvP mode and that is most likely going to be my prefered way of doing them (that is if the rewards are on pair with mythic version).

AI NPCs seemed to be dumber and deal less dmg compared to their initial release i.e. Warrior just kept leaping around doing minimal amount of dmg, majority of priest (healer) casts were either slow or smite, mage at some point was just running around spamming arcane explosion. They also gather azerite very slowly, they fall behind after few packs (I could very likely solo Mythic Expedition with current scaling as demo lock since Voidwalker can tank 2-3 elites with no struggle). Additionally, weather effect/portal spawn usually happened at around 5.5k score not providing much decision making since we could just play it safe and instead kill 2-3 more elites to finish the scenario without risking encountering opposite faction there.

It feels like the PVE version of expeditions will not be that relevant after couple to few weeks (think of dungeon relevancy before Mythic Keystone was a thing) and if that is indeed lucrative source of Azerite Power (basing this on BlizzCon panel) then forcing us to do this content (PvE version) won't feel great.

The improved weather effects were nice and I think there could be even more done with them i.e. sometimes during winter weather there is intense Blizzard going on reducing visibility or you get frozen if you don't go near fire every now and then (similar mechanic to one of the Argus Invasion Portal).
I just don't see a point to having multiple difficulties of this. I would heavily recommend removing one of the three (if not two of the three) PVE difficulties. Its only going to confuse people and encourage people to underachieve.
Mythic being tested at 315 is another particularly worrying thing.
What are the rewards going to be from these?

That is a very important part of this conversation and we don't have that answer yet, but even at 315 (which is the ilvl M0s drop currently on the Alpha) we are absolutely obliterating the enemy team and they pose no real threat to me as a tank.

I feel like I am missing something about this feature and would need to hear directly what the purpose of having multiple difficulties would be, because as of now I see no discernible difference between normal, heroic, or mythic other than the gear that might be required to do it.

Either way, I want to make it very clear that I actually LOVE this idea and love the AI's place within it, but just am really turned around by how pointless these multiple difficulties seem, especially when we will outgear the highest one within the first month of the expansion.

What is the purpose of having normal in say 6 months from launch?
Its going to go the same way I see it go in Dungeons in Legion where people stick to the easiest difficulties because they have some type of lack of confidence that seems irrational to me.

Funnel people into one difficulty, make the rewards commensurate, and scale them up appropriately as is needed through out the expansion.
What happened to the AI? The initial testing teams were way harder than they are now, and games were actually close. Heroic and Mythic seem like cake walks. Aside from taking more damage from the random mobs, it doesn't feel harder.
Did two normal invasions today. Both felt pretty good; obviously this might come with new UI, but it would be nice to see what the rewards (azerite, gold, etc) are for completing an expedition. Also one thing I really loved was the snow weather effect that occurred when water elemental showed up during one of the expeditions. If that weather effect was present in Storm Peaks/Dun Morogh/Frostfire Ridge it would be incredible. I hope this is indication of more new weather effects throughout the game.
To preface this, I did the Island expedition before Heroic and above were released so if anything has changed since then I don't know about it. To summarize my post ahead of time though, Island Expeditions have a severe lack of direction.

So, doing the normal island expedition at 102 I have to say the biggest issue is a lack of direction. We all kinda just wandered around the island unsure of what to do and it just felt like random, mindless, killing.

I feel like in general they just need a bit more of direction instead of feeling like a slog of just killing everything that moves indiscriminately. If there were objectives that had more value than others, we sure as heck didn't see them. The logic my group used was "Oh, that guy is bigger! Kill it, its probably more valuable!"

Lots of utilities are scattered across the island that are apparently used in specific situations, but again because there is no direction we just kinda went around grabbing stuff at random and then not knowing what to do with it or where it was to be used. I know the Blizzcon panel explain a couple situations where said pickup items could be used but in its current state there is a very real lack of direction on what to do.

Even then, going after the biggest guys as we wandered about it felt like our actions had little difference in impact. Killing a group of small guys vs killing a huge guy didn't feel any more or less impactful. The entire time it just felt like we were running around going "A... Are we doing good? We have a higher score, so we must be right? The other team is pretty close to us though..." Nothing was really visually impactful in a way that sent a clear message of "What you just did was rewarding, you are on the right track!"

It also felt like everything was being thrown at us at all times, there was literally no rest as we could clear out a group of enemies, move on to the next group, then suddenly there is a new even/group where we killed the last set. Everything is thrown at you just so quickly and in so many different ways that its overwhelming and you question "Do we keep pushing forward? Do we turn back?" there is no clear "optimal" course that leads it to feel like a dps/slaughter fest over anything else.

The one thing that these Island Expeditions do well is the enemy team! Holy cow Blizzard, that enemy team tech is AMAZING even on normal! I seriously look forward to seeing how that advanced AI is used moving forward! Great job on that! Though, killing the opposing team didn't feel like it had much of any impact either. It didn't feel rewarding, it was fun against that new advanced AI but not really rewarding when the deed was done. It has that same lack of impact and direction

I know I have said Impact and Direction quite a lot in each paragraph but those are the big issues in my personal opinion.
I did a couple where the AI was really impressive. Then later I did two more where the AI had no I - they virtually played dead. Once we killed them once they gave up. On one of the first matches they came back for revenge and messed us up totally.

I do find them quite enjoyable though - but they are much more engaging when the NPCs are tough.
I did my first solo queue today. Got put in with a healing priest (disc I think) and an unholy dk. I really enjoyed it but at one point, we fought the Alliance team close to the graveyard because we spent over half the game just having them zerg us when they respawned. It was really easy but it was non-stop one guy running at us, we getting him down to about 15%-20% when another member of theirs spawned. What was strange, is not one of our people ever died and we won by like 1000 azerite. Seemed strange because we were farming the other team for a long time but barely won. Not sure how they got so much.

The portal to fight the genie was really neat. I could barely see his attacks. The light smoke on the ground combined with the really bright white ground made it hard.

In the end, very fun stuff. I could see a group of friends doing these alot. I hope the rewards are worth doing them alot, but not crazy good were you feel like you have to just farm these all day like Maw of Souls was for ap.

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