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Is it time to kill flying mounts?

Is it time to kill flying mounts
My first true WoW leveling experience was in Burning Crusade. I remember skulking through the zones on my night elf druid, riding my nightsaber from one quest hub to the next. I remember thanking Cenarius that druids could stealth, an ability that helped me avoid Horde players. Even with this gift, though, I would still get caught up in PvP every once in a while. It didn't help that during those tense moments I froze up and panicked simultaneously, randomly flailing about while the other player steadily ended my life.

Eventually I heard about flying mounts, and that once you hit level 70 and paid 5,000 gold you could grace the skies with your presence. Of course, if you're still leveling and nowhere near the requisite amount of gold, you become less concerned with getting your own mount than defending yourself against enemies that may appear out of thin air.

After a while, I was able to hit 70 and somehow managed to scrounge up the coin for my flight training. I suddenly felt safe; I could quest, I could explore without having to look over my shoulder, and if anyone tried to attack me I could just pop into bird form and put all of my weight onto my space bar. I felt a greater sense of control, one that I actually got so accustomed to having that when the Isle of Quel'Danas opened up, an area that only allowed ground-based travel, I felt refreshed.

With an entire dimension removed, I could focus more on the other two. You would think that this would shrink the world, but I felt that forcing me into a tighter plane made that smallish island feel that much larger. Making areas like Tol Barad, the Molten Front, and the Isle of the Thunder King no-fly-zones, in my opinion, is a very smart move for a number of reasons:
  • It allows the areas to be instanced, which translates into better performance for the end user (fewer objects to load, render, etc.).
  • It affords more development time towards polishing just those areas seen by players, rather than causing a mad dash to finish absolutely everything that players on flying mounts could possibly get to.
  • It forces the player into a certain frame of reference, something that can be easily designed around and is quite helpful when trying to create a certain atmosphere or impression of a zone.
  • It encourages greater player interaction, both PvE and PvP.
But would Blizzard ever take away our wings? I highly doubt it, even though they may regret opening Pandora's box all those years ago. It would certainly make things interesting, but flying mounts are too ubiquitous to be simply removed from the game -- they're a staple of our playing experience that binds everything together.

The best I believe we can hope for is flying itself to be examined under the microscope. If flying mounts make the world feel too safe, why not find a way to allow mounted combat, or increase the radius of interceptors like town guards or Monstrous Plainhawks in Valley of the Four Winds? World of Warcraft is a constantly evolving game; I wouldn't put it past Blizzard to address these concerns in the near future.

How do you feel about flying mounts? Do you think you would feel differently about them if you were on a different type of realm (for example, PvE vs. PvP)?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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