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PAX East 2018 - Hands On with Island Expeditions from Battle for Azeroth

World of Warcraft Previews - By Robin Baird on April 10, 2018

PAX East 2018 - Hands On with Island Expeditions from Battle for Azeroth

This year at PAX East Blizzard brought a demo of their newest content from the Battle for Azeroth expansion, Island Expeditions. These are small group content (3v3) and is meant to be playing in 15 – 30 minute bursts.  There will be normal, heroic, mythic, and PvP modes available at launch but the demo was of the normal mode versus AI.

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Since I was alone, and this is a three player experience I was paired up with two other people who were there to try the demo. Our group ended up being a Guardian Druid (me), a Holy Priest, and a Lock. Since we didn’t really know what to expect we figured covering all three roles would be a good idea but similarly to Scenarios having one of each role isn’t required.

The goal of each Island Expedition is to collect more Azerite than the other team. During the demo it seemed like Azerite is collected from doing any thing on the island, aside from just running around. There’s Azerite mines to be collected, all mobs seemed to drop it as well, and there were random chests spread around the island as well. Additionally, there were shrines which could be activated, and they marked the locations of the mines on the map which made it much easier to find everything. How difficult a task was related to how much Azerite would be gathered from it.

Each Island Expedition starts off by arriving on a ship and disembarking to find Azerite. Where each team lands is randomized so even after doing it a few times the initial moments should be about getting your bearings. I’m curious how many landing sites each island has though because if there are only a few it’ll become instantly recognizable, and thus boring, quickly. I’m also curious about if the opposing teams always land opposite from each other. There could be some interesting early game skirmishing if they could land right next to one another.

During the demo my team did not run into the AI team at all which made me a bit sad because I was curious how difficult they would be to kill. One interesting fact about the AI used in the Island Expeditions is it’s a new AI which hasn’t been used in other parts of the game before. Each AI team will have their own sort of personality which will show-up in how they complete the objectives, but they also will change tactics which if something isn’t working. If this works as intended, it should go a long way to prevent Island Expeditions from getting to be boring and mindless. In the demo though the efficiency of the AI was impressive, and my team never really had much of a chance.

I had a lot of fun in the demo and while it’s straightforward in concept there seems to be a lot of variability to how things will play out. Overall Island Expeditions seem to be ideal quick content to do even when you don’t have a lot of time to play.