Flying From Cloud Nine


Flying.  The bane of Blizzard and the boon of players.  The game changer, and in some eyes, game wrecker.  Some see it as the best thing ever added to the game, while others think that flying is the death of WoW.  The issue of flying is one of many voices, many opinions, and many arguments.  And the changes in Warlords have done nothing but stir this stew of discontent.

The plan for Warlords of Draenor is to remove flying from the new content.  Not enable it at all.  And this change has made a lot of people angry.

Flying was, and still is a Pandora’s Box.  As many benefits as it offered, it also had many downsides.  And, like the Pandora’s Box, you can’t really get rid of flying without massive complaint.  Many people are attached to their flying mounts, and won’t give them up easily.  But is flying a horrible thing, or a wonderful thing?

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve read dozens of opinions on flying.  Some were well constructed arguments while others were angry rants (by the way, if you passive aggressively argue, I’m probably not going to agree with you, whatever side you are on.  Please say what you mean outright, don’t dance around it and hint at it).  But all voices were passionate.  After reading all that I could on the matter, and doing some in game research, I’ve come to my personal decision.

And it’s not the popular one.

I am of the mindset that no flying in WoD would be a good thing.  What is to follow is an in-depth analysis of why I chose the side I did.  I know a lot of people will disagree with me, and I am not at all trying to tell you your side is wrong.  I will simply attempt to give you another perspective.

I have been mining on my warrior, who was a measly level 46.  This meant that I was running through enemy zones, swimming alongside cliffs, and crossing continents to get where I needed to mine.  And I was doing it all on a ground mount.  Yes, I will definitely admit, it was slow.  It was very slow, and often deadly.  But it was a total adventure.

Have you ever swam up the river leading to the Western Plaguelands?  Or skirted the coast of Dustwallow Marsh to get to Tanaris?  Have you skulked by alliance troops in Loch Modan to get to the Badlands?  There is thrill in exploring, in running through the world to get somewhere.  There is a sense of excitement from discovering buildings or waterways or NPCs that you have never found before.  I learned so much about Azeroth and was able to appreciate all the work that went into it becoming a complete world just by traveling from zone to zone for mining.

And, the world seemed so much larger than it had before.  When you travel by foot, instead of soaring over obstacles, you really realize just how huge Azeroth is.  I felt like a total noob, and it was the most nostalgic I have ever felt for WoW (trust me, I remember BC and it wasn’t as great as people make it out to be).  This is going to sound ridiculous, but I had fun running on foot.

Now, I am absolutely aware that many people won’t feel the same way.  By ground? I’d rather wait till 60 and fly! Sure, it’s faster and far more efficient, but which would you rather be? Efficient or exploring? And that is the crux of the matter.

WoW has become so much of an efficiency test.  How fast can you get from point A to point B? How fast can you level from 1 to 90? How fast can you gear from questing gear to heroic SoO?  I hate to be the old geezer to say this, but slow down and smell the roses!  If you tear through everything so fast, how can you be sure you are experiencing everything? How can you know that you haven’t missed something important or interesting?

Players have become more and more obsessed with efficiency.  To a point, that is a legitimate desire, but only to a point.  At what level do we become too efficient for our own good?  I think that flying makes us too efficient for our own good, and specifically flying in current content.

In explanation, this means that I think it is too efficient to have flying in Draenor come WoD, but not Pandaria come WoD.  I think flying should only be disabled on the continent that is current.  So, Vanilla, BC, Wrath, Cataclysm, and soon to be Pandaria would have flying enabled, but Draenor would not.

Yes, this would make gathering ore and herbs and going from point A to point B slower.  But when it is current content, the ability to fly makes us too dang efficient.  For example, I can mine about two stacks of Ghost Iron Ore in about ten minutes on my flying mount.  Two stacks of Ghost Iron Ore would probably take closer to twenty minutes on my ground mount.  Thus, a character leveling in Pandaria has a large disadvantage to a maxed level character when it comes to mining (on top of not being able to one-shot mobs).

But in Warlords, this may not be the case.  The farming capabilities between a leveling character and maxed level character would be brought much closer.  As an added benefit, zones would look much more alive as max level characters would be on the ground instead of hovering far above.  World PvP would thrive again, and people might actually see more of the details in the world.

This has to change

This has to change

But before flying would be disabled, there is a few things that would need to change.  First of all, flight paths would actually have to take you directly to where you want to go, instead of meandering all around.  Secondly, all flying mounts would have to be able to be used on the ground (many changed by hovering above the ground), so that all of the dragons and whatnot we have collected could still be used.

Lastly, and most importantly, there will need to be more paths connected zones to zones.  More tunnels, bridges, and gates would have to interconnect the zones much better if we are to be forced to go on foot.  The mountains separating zones need to have at least two paths through.  Pandaria was particularly bad about this, so Draenor would have to be better.

Flying has become such an integral part of the game, that removing it now will be a long and arduous road.  Many complaints will be had, and many changes will have to be made, but I truly do believe that an Azeroth without flying would be a better Azeroth.



“YOU” The raid leader cried
“ARE you NOT geared?
Have you no enchants?
YOUR hit is above 20
And your crit below 2
You’ve gotta be the suckiest DPS
I ever knew”

9 thoughts on “Flying From Cloud Nine

  1. Pingback: The End of the Contest | Growing up in Azeroth

  2. I kind of miss the days when all the flight paths became automatically available…it’d be nice to have that and just take flying out of the equation. (Except that I worked SO LONG to get my A’lar mount, damn it!) And this isn’t because I don’t like exploring, or I don’t like efficiency – that’s why I think it’d be a nice compromise – but there are some days where yes – it’s a quick and dirty loop to grab some ore for the AH. And there are some days where you just want to explore.

    Getting dazed or stunned by a mob can be just so infuriating, though, so I can see that perspective as well from the “pro-flying” side of things. I do think it’s a bit sad that everything passes by so quickly now. But I’m part of that side of things too, when I’m just doing mining/herbing loops for gold.

    I think Blizz set up a very tricky situation for themselves by allowing flying in the first place – and I wonder what would happen should they remove it entirely at this point.

    • That sounds like a decent trade off; lose flying but gain the automatically learned flight paths. That way you can get around quickly, but will still be in the zones after leveling (not above).
      I totally agree, flying was a Pandora’s box down a slippery slope. Now that it has been implemented, Blizzard can’t exactly pull it out over night. But at the same time, flying can make it hard to design content around, and all new max level content shouldn’t be ‘magical no-flying islands’.
      I am often that person who does the quick mining loops around The Jade Forest, and I totally agree that doing it on foot would make it almost impossible. That part of me definitely does NOT want to see flying go. On the other hand, I barely know what The Jade Forest looks like because I’m always flying over it. I know I am missing out on a bunch of little quirks and stories hidden in the scenery below.

      Whatever decision is made about flying will require a lot of thought on Blizzard’s part and patience on the players part. Compromises will definitely have to be made, and I have a feeling that not everyone is going to be 100% happy with the end results. However, whichever decision is made, I hope that it will solve the issue once and for all.

  3. I like the ability of flying and having a “choice” of whether I want to fly or not. I spend a lot of time on the ground with many characters leveling and exploring as it is. I will have to say that I do hope that there will be flying eventually in WoD for the simple reason that after five or six trips through the areas on the ground, it would become just another one of those time consuming things to do.

    I have purchased the expansion for all of my accounts and I fully intend on making my way through WoD on as many characters as I feel the need to do. I may not max out every single 90 that I have to cap at 100 very quickly since that isn’t how I level.

    If I am not happy without flying in WoD, chances are that I will lag back and stay in the older content until I run out of things to do before I move upward and onward through the content.

    • You bring up a good point; running through the same area five or six times would make it boring and repetitive. But, is that really different from flying over an area five or six times? I guess with flying you know that you are being efficient as opposed to running where you know it is taking longer. But my thought is, is that if its a long stretch, instead of running it you could take a (much more direct than currently in-game) flight path, and if it’s a short distance then the run won’t be as long, and won’t matter if it’s boring.
      I would hope that flying is enabled in WoD once the expansion after it comes out. That way players wouldn’t be penalized for doing older content; they could just fly through to get to current content faster.

      As an aside, you strike me as the type of player more enjoying the journey than the destination. You seem to notice the smaller things that others miss when they rush through. You speak of flying as a choice(which is the absolute right way to think about it, might I add), while many others assume it to be the only option . I think you’d adapt better to disabled flying than many others. 🙂

      • You did hit it spot on with my enjoyment of making the journey and enjoying it. I do have “currently” 20 capped characters and I will admit that I have more in the wings making the same trip, different races, different factions – I enjoy leveling, exploring and questing because I get fully immersed in the game, which is another reason why I do spend a great deal of time soloing. I’m definitely not one that enjoys running dungeons, however, I will do it and I gave up raiding on a regular basis quite some time ago.

        I don’t think that I will have any trouble adapting to whatever Blizzard decides to do with WoD, however, I am in hopes that it will be as enjoyable as the game has been for the last almost ten years of playing.

  4. To be honest I’m in two minds about flying or lack of in warlords. I agree fully that ndot having it will make us explore and notice the details more but I see the downsides- extra time required simply to get from a to b for example.

    Some of the changes you suggested will definitely help such as direct flight paths. The meandering route the current flight paths take is ridiculous and I’d thats our only flight options that really should be addressed. And more paths through to different zones.
    I’d go a step further and suggest an addition like being unable to be knocked off your mount by npc mobs. There is nothing more annoying than trying to ride somewhere in a hurry and pulling an angry tail and being knocked off and now your journey is delayed. Perhaps a mounted buff when you’re on a path? Though that idea is a complete rip off from wildstar (possibly elsewhere too) so it might not be possible to implement.
    Anyway I think my only complaint woyld be if they remove flying but leave the transport system as it is now. Hopefully more reasonable suggestions like yours will make it through the right ears in time.

    • That is a really good idea! I’ve always loved playing on my tank specced characters because then the mobs can’t dismount me, but to have that available to all characters would be a great addition! Maybe, instead of buying flying at max, you would buy a (less expensive) boost to mount speed (only while on the continent, but not in instanced PvP). Said boost would also make it impossible for mobs to dismount you like you mentioned. Yeah, I’m really digging this concept!

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