Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads

Doc Brown
Great Scott! Blizzard
Blizzard vs. the playerbase and the great “no flying” controversy continues. The debate has only intensified after a recent Polygon interview with lead designer Ion Hazzikostas in which he stated that there won’t be future flying in Draenor or in possible future expansions either. The article itself sparking an over 100 page debate on MMO Champion with the vast majority (65%) disagreeing with said plans. I myself have two very simple opinions on the matter and they go as follows.
Flying Should Have Never Been Implemented
Now before everyone hunts me down for a beating, let me explain. I love my flying mounts. They’re honestly the best looking mounts in the game by a large margin. I’ve spent a significant percentage of my game time farming them as i’m sure i will in the future as well. That being said, i also understand the negative’s associated with them that Ion Hazzikostas himself brings up in his interview.

“While there was certainly convenience in being able to completely explore the world in three dimensions, that also came at the expense of gameplay like targeted exploration, like trying to figure out what’s in that cave on top of a hill and how do I get up there.”

“Before flying was introduced to World of Warcraft, if you got a quest to rescue a prisoner from an enemy encampment, it would play out a certain way. Players would need to fight their way through the camp. After flying, players could just fly into the center of camp, land on top of the hut where the prisoner is, free him and fly out.”
“It made the world feel in many ways much smaller.”

This is 100% absolutely true! As someone who loves exploration and trying to find my way into places i probably shouldn’t, having flying removes this entire aspect for me. Detractors will say that this is still possible by simply not using flying mounts, but i argue the design of the exploration becomes tied to flying which typically makes ground options nonexistent. Is it possible to have both? I don’t think it is as long as the easier option is to bypass content. This again defeats the purpose of exploration and encourages laziness and content skipping.

From a PVP standpoint, there cannot even be an argument for flying mounts. They completely destroy any semblance of world PVP. I equate having flying to essentially giving every class stealth. We all know how utterly broken that ability can be in the open world. The ability to swoop down and pick off anyone at any time without them seeing you coming is terrible. It’s obviously not fun for the victim but i’d also argue that it’s not very much fun as the victor either. All in all this makes for a very sub-par experience.

From a player interaction and community standpoint, having flying is like having Garrisons to a degree. Everyone goes about their day and their adventures while completely avoiding the rest of the players in their game world. This is just terrible in my opinion. Social interaction is removed in favor of convenience. Now whether or not the current playerbase care about that is another debate for another time, but i’d argue they should. Server communities as well as identities are made this way and it’s an aspect WoW severely lacks.

Flying Should Have Never Been Taken Away

I know this seems to contradict my previous point so again let me explain. While i’m all for flying never being implemented in the first place, we’re at a place where it was and we’ve had it for a long time. Taking such a game changing aspect away is doomed to fail. I personally may not be attached to flying simply because I’ve only experienced it for a year and a half, many players have been used to this system for over eight years. It’s no wonder they’ve become so attached, as anyone would be after so many years. Once the genie is out of the bottle, as they say.

I feel the simple fix would have been to just continue on with what they’ve been doing for some time now. Disallow flying while the leveling process is current and then enable it once the level cap or a certain mission objective is met. I mean, how much exploration does one do after they’re done leveling anyway? Perhaps that’s part of the problem as well and perhaps they’ve finally realized that. If this leads to more content and more exploration in the game world moving forward, then i’m all for it. For now i feel the content doesn’t support the lack of flying.

Some great posts from my favorite bloggers on this topic:

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