I am not sure what I expected to Timeless Isle to be.
When it came into the game with patch 5.0.4 one of my higher level friends who had been playing with us on Garnoa, leveling up a new character, ran off to try it out and was never seen again in the 1-60 area of the game where we were playing. She would occasionally link some purple item that dropped with stats that seemed impossibly high to somebody rolling around doing level 30 content. But I figured it must have been fun since it occupied all of her game time.
Then the instance group made its way back to Azeroth, I actually rolled on into Pandaria and made it to level 90, and suddenly the Timeless Isle was a possibility. I could actually go there… once I figured out how to get there. There is a quest. Chromie sends you there, though she is hiding. Her “?” on the mini-map shows up over an instance entrance, but she is actually behind a parapet above that and not visible unless you are above her.
I found her, eventually, and she sent me off… to die.
Like I said, I hadn’t actually read anything tangible about the Timeless Isle, so I did not know what to expect. A number of people have discussed the rewards. But the content? Not so much.
I guess that I expected it to be something like Ember Isle in Rift, something of an additional area to occupy level cap players that was incrementally more difficult, but still primarily solo in focus.
Instead I wound up on an island consisting of extra tough normal mobs, extra tough elite mobs, and named mobs that a simple group of five would be hard pressed to dent. The first real quest on the island, which just send you on a tour, had me running through groups of hostile elites which killed me repeatedly. And the island is a “no fly” zone, so you cannot avoid all those hostiles wandering the grounds.
I managed to finish that and the next quest before I had died so many times I was getting the paper doll warning that my equipment was in danger of running out of durability.
Timeless Isle may be many things, but it isn’t a solo playground for those with quest drop gear.
Being clearly out of my depth, I sought professional help. More rambling and some silly pictures after the cut.
Well, maybe not professional, but far better at WoW than I am.
Basically, I asked my friend Piacenza, who ran off to the Timeless Isle as soon as it went live, for a tour of the place.
Pia is much more hardcore than I when it comes to online games and has been since I gave her a copy of Diablo with a second hand computer I sold her way back when… well… Diablo was a thing. Since then she went to Diablo II, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft, with stops in various other MMOs. She was one of the raiders in EQ I knew how tried EverQuest II at launch, hated it, and moved on to WoW.
Anyway, she seemed more than qualified to show me around. Only she plays on a different server. So the first thing we had to do was create a cross-realms group, which, to my surprise, actually worked.
I know that RealID and BattleTag friends have been able to do this for a while, but theory is different than practice. This, along with Blizzard’s soft server merges and cross-realm Dungeon Finder, battlegrounds, and LFR is starting to make the whole concept of isolated servers… less solid? I had to report this back to Potshot and the rest of our guild.
Of course, for this to work you need to be RealID (turned off) or Battle Tag (okay) friends with people, something I haven’t bothered to do much. I am linked up with a couple of people because it was a friend’s list requirement with Diablo III, and I have my daughter linked up to keep an eye on her, but other than that I haven’t gone out of my way to do that.
Anyway, once there Pia, who is a collector of all things in the game, had one of the mounts that lets a group member ride along with you, so I got the completely guided tour.
She got me set up with some of the must-haves, like the Crystal of Insanity, which you get as a random drop from the crystals in the cave northeast of the main NPC area.
I understand that there are flasks out there that will boost single stats by up to 1,000 points, but for me a 500 point boost… on every stat… seems insanely huge. A matter of perspective, I know, but my particular perspective is that of a non-raider. She also took me around to some of the likely locations of the bosses that spawn. I was unsure of the etiquette on these during my first visit. I didn’t want to start hacking on somebody’s boss mob as people can get pissy about that sort of thing. But the bosses are open to all and everybody who joins in the fight gets some sort of loot, so joining a pack going after one seems to be encouraged.
And, of course, the drops can be very nice. Our first run at a boss kicked off a series of these sorts of comments from me.
The purple items that drop were all huge upgrades to what I was wearing. And they were not all that uncommon.
That list shows the basic items looted, which are things like “Timeless Plate Chestpiece.” Those are actually account bound items that, when activated, become a wearable item appropriate to your class and spec. So, while it does not show it there, I received several dupes for plate items. I activated the first drop on Vikund, and ended up with purple gear appropriate for a retribution spec’d paladin. I saved the dupes in case I wanted to change specs, say to healing, at which time I could activate them and they would become gear appropriate to that spec.
And, since the those drops were account bound, I was able to mail the leather drops to Alioto, my druid, and the mail drops to Tistann, my hunter, so that when they hit level 90 they will have a few nice pieces of gear waiting for them.
So the Timeless Isle is an account gearing extravaganza.
Of course, you may well wonder what the impact of a lot of high item level gear raining down on the game is going to be. And what will become of it with Warlords of Draenor and the impending gear squish. It doesn’t seem to have killed the auction house completely. I still seem to be able to sell green gear drops there pretty regularly. But I would guess that it has put a damper on the high end trade skilled items. Earl, who got his blacksmith to 600 over the weekend was asking what gear, if any, we might need. But anything he could make wouldn’t compare with a purple Timeless Isle drop.
On the flip side, there did not seem to be as many people on the Timeless Isle as I might have expected, especially during peak hours. I suspect that this has to do with the fact that this is not at all a solo friendly zone. If you want blue gear upgrades, you can do daily quests in Pandaria and earn valor points for those. So maybe TI purples are not as wide-spread as I might think, and the valor gear would likely kill off the the trade skill professions in any case.
There were a couple of amusing moments during the tour of the island. Pia took me to one of the spots where you can summon a special boss event, the Dread Ship Vazuvius.
And as we stood there, somebody ran up and summoned the ship as indicated.
Of course, we got stuck in with the rest of the people who showed up.
That is a lot of hit points.
And, as was ever the case, I died. I did managed to run back in time for the finish… though I died once running back.
Death remained ever present. The isle is a dangerous place.
Even following a guide I died a lot. I even managed to die in new and interesting ways, like getting tagged and blown off a mount when Pia didn’t get a scratch.
But death is like dying in a battleground. You can run back to your corpse if you want, or you can wait for the timer to run down and respawn at the graveyard without and ress sickness. You do, however, take a durability hit. I was glad the guild had made the level that reduced the durability ding by 10%, because I died a lot.
The main difference was that I did manage to get things done between deaths, so overall it was a much more profitable venture, even if I did end up spending over 200 gold in repairs over the course of the run. And I got a lot of upgrades.
I ended up the night with a pile of upgraded equipment, some nice consumables and buffs, and even a few toys. (My inventory problem is now worse than ever.) Recount shows that my DPS went from about 15K sustained up to 25-30K sustained if I could press the right buttons for the ret pally rotation. Doubling your DPS is good most days of the week. But then Pia was doing 65-70K DPS and a guild mate of hers joined us for a while and he was doing even more than that as sustained DPS. Warlocks.
And while my DPS boost was impressive… to me at least… it did not make the Timeless Isle any less dangerous. The next day I wandered back and decided to test out an elite mob. I was not up to that task yet. But I could grind away at the non-elites pretty well. I still got in over my head though, and death was a regular thing.
Timeless Isle is an interesting place. It is open world with all hard mobs, which distinguishes it from the rest of the game. If you want loot rewards to gear up yourself and alts, it seems like the place to be. I am not sure how the drops compare in the grand hierarchy of equipment, but they beat anything from the quest rewards.
If our group was all up at level 90, it would be an option for us on a Saturday night. Maybe it still will be by the time we get there.