I was hesitant to write some of this, because I didn’t want to come off as a petulant child whining because he can’t using his flying dragon pixels. That was very much the attitude towards pro-flight people before the Hazzikostas megaton, but the overall opinion towards flight seems to be shifting.
Before Blizzard came out and said that they are essentially shelving flying after 7+ years, I was in the neutral camp on the whole flying debate. I just assumed it would be enabled in Draenor eventually and I’d live without it until then. The announcement that it’s never, ever going to happen for any future content has put me firmly in the pro-flying camp.
I decided to wait a while before writing this so I could let emotions cool down and gain some perspective. I’m not going to threaten to quit the game over this, but it is another check on the list of the things that are making me slowly lose interest in WoW.
“The world feels larger, feels more dangerous [without flight].”
– Ion Hazzikostas
The world doesn’t feel larger to me. Pandaria felt larger than Draenor, much larger. Now, I haven’t measured which is actually bigger but flying did not seem to detract from Pandaria’s epic scope (nor Outland’s, nor Northrend’s). On the contrary, the world seems enormous when you are high above it. I love gliding over new Nagrand.
As for the “dangerous” bit, I haven’t once felt like I was in danger in Draenor. Maybe part of the reason is because I am a hunter and the combination of a pet, Feign Death, and Camouflage makes all potential danger a non-issue.
Getting dazed off my mount is an annoyance, not a danger.
I can see the value of staying on the ground as I level up (at least for the first time). I wonder if all of the treasures in Draenor are a part of the reason they didn’t want to have flying. As much as I like hunting — I mean using an addon to pinpoint — every treasure, I would rather have no treasures or jumping puzzles at all if it meant I could fly after I reached max level.
Back to the “danger” argument. There are plenty of ways to make flying dangerous. Flying in Burning Crusade was quite dangerous if I remember correctly. I seem to remember being dismounted a great many times, whether it be flying over an enemy town, or getting knocked off by a kaliri.
In addition to flying guards above enemy camps and towns, you could have things like:
- Gale force wind currents that could dismount you if you AFK flew into them
- Let’s say there’s a zone with a volcano in it that’s constantly erupting, spewing chunks of lava in the air that could hit you
- More high-flying enemies. Why not a bird equivalent of a Whale Shark or Fel Reaver? Sky patrols of dwarves on gryphons and orcs on wyverns and gnomes/goblins on gryocopters.
- Certain areas in zones where flying over is risky. Turrets or something on the ground that can shoot at you if you fly over.
Instead of closing the book on flying altogether, wouldn’t it be more interesting if they embraced flight? We had an underwater zone, why not have a zone which requires a flying mount?
- A cloud city like Bioshock Infinite.
- A mountain range where you travel from peak to peak, and the whole zone takes place above the clouds (falling below clouds = death).
- An immense lava field with islands you need to fly between (along with noxious fumes and lava spouts as hazards in between said islands).
- Another zone like Storm Peaks, with a lot of different levels, built around the use of flying mounts.
I’m not saying it all needs to be built around flying mounts, but why not some of it? Why can’t there be some flying zones, and some ground zones? We have hundreds of flying mounts like drakes which just look absolutely stupid on the ground — from a visual and lore perspective it is painful to look at. Oh, your dragons can fly in these areas but these areas are magically bad and your dragon’s wings no longer work — err, except for the flight path mounts and NPCs… they have special magic dust on their wings which makes them work.
I know Blizzard puts gameplay above everything, but stuff like this hurts my immersion. Speaking of immersion…
There’s more room for exploration, for secrets, for discovery and overall immersion in the world.
I used to casually explore on my flying mount all the time. When I was bored, I didn’t AFK in cities, I flew around. That is, until Warlords of Draenor.
Flying enables exploration and discovery for me. Without flying, any travel I do in Draenor has been boiled down to a science. I look at the most efficient way of getting to point A to B, whereas in the past I would simply launch myself into the air and fly there. Sometimes I would run into something along the way.
Now I have flight paths, mage tower portals, and my Aviana’s Feather. I take the portal closest to my destination (99% of the time this is Blackrock Foundry), then use the feather and land on my destination as if I was flying there anyway. The funny thing is, this method can actually be faster than flying would have been in a lot of cases.
I skip over content, making the world feel smaller. If that’s not an option, I AFK on a flight path — again, making the world feel smaller.
This is all because of the tools I have been given to accomplish my traveling. Blizzard is so desperate to get me to enjoy traveling without a flying mount, but it’s not working.
I am not immersed in Draenor because I’m never out there. I’m either raiding, or I’m in my garrison.
Just recently I started working on Sha’tari Defense reputation because I was looking for something to do outside of my garrison or Blackrock Foundry. The Alliance mount looked really cool, so I thought I’d start the grind.
It’s sad that one of my only options (for my interests) was a dull rep grind, but hey, it’s something. So I went riding through Talador and noticed something: the zone was entirely empty. I only saw the odd player here or there (and they were all below level 100). I had the rep farming mobs all to myself, there was no one there to casually group up with. My ride to this rep farming location was done without any danger, though I will admit it was nice to see the world again after months of being cooped up in my garrison.
I thought Mists of Pandaria did it best. The main landmass supported flight, but the various special islands (Isle of Thunder, Isle of Giants, Timeless Isle) did not. In fact, Isle of Thunder may have been my favorite overall zone in all of MoP, and there was no flight. I think no-flying zones can work when appropriate, but I think the main world should be flyable.
Knowing that their current plans are to never have flight in the future is a big turn off for me. The dozens of flying mounts I earned will have to waddle on the ground with their wings tucked in from now on.
I didn’t know I cared this much about flying until they came out and said it’s not going to be a thing anymore.
This has been an incoherent rant, and if you made it this far I applaud and thank you for listening to my ramblings.
It might be time for me to accept that the developers are taking the game in a direction that doesn’t align with what I’m looking for in a MMO. Maybe it’s as simple as that. Here’s hoping 6.2 re-invigorates my love for WoW.
Update: I’m happy to report Blizzard is adding in flying sometime in 6.2 with the new Draenor Pathfinder achievement. I’m glad they listened to everyone’s feedback and came up with a solution that satisfies both the designers and the players.