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Flying Can Take A Hike

by - 5 years ago

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Each time there is an announcement of a new World of Warcraft expansion, a chorus rises how certain enhancements simply turn the experience into “easy mode”, and how hardened gamers like us simply cannot stand to see the game “dumbed down”. Naturally, an equally noisy chorus rises, proclaiming the injustice of having to hold off on flying until level cap yet again.

For every expansion, there has been some artificially imposed way to restrict flying. For Burning Crusade, it was a learned skill (makes sense). In Wrath, all my mounts apparently had the shakes, and couldn’t handle the cold weather until I bribed some guy with a ridiculous amount of gold (um, okay?). In Cataclysm, we had to pay the Department of Flying Creatures and Contraptions a modest fee, because otherwise our battle-hardened mounts would not follow our most basic commands. In Mists of Pandaria, we simply needed to grease the palms of some locals.

Wrath kept me grounded forever at 80, because the trainers in Dalaran were unreasonably greedy.

Wrath kept me grounded forever at 80, because the trainers in Dalaran were unreasonably greedy.

This is a mechanical restriction that makes no sense, and in the most jarring fashion reminds us that this is a game. Here is a mechanic we now simply switch from “0” to “1”, and off we go. Truth be told, if it were up to me, Blizzard would do away with flying completely. There are other –  and arguably better – ways to address this issue of getting around. I will get to those in a moment.

When my shaman was but a young Orcling, exploring the world was a wonderous experience. I wanted to discover Azeroth, really discover it, and I would never have fallen in love with this game as much had I not traveled everywhere on foot. Behind every corner lurked a new secret, a new wonder, or a painful death. Ogres were more imposing, forests and mountains more awe-inspiring when seen from the proper perspective. Flying literally trivializes this content, especially on older systems where distance and altitude turns everything into grey mush.

Yes, ground travel slows the games down, because it puts us players in real danger. The question is, do you want to experience the new areas and its inhabitants, or do you want to reach level cap as quickly as possible so you can complain about the repetitive chores of dailies and dull end game content? Personally, I prefer the journey, not the destination. There are great stories to be told, and Blizzard is one of the best when it comes to storytelling. Power-leveling coupled with flying makes players miss out on so much content.

Is flying actually essential? No, it isn’t. Would it enhance the game if it was taken away? I believe so. If flying really was all about convenience, I’d rather pass, because it’s but a manual task. When I fly longer stretches, it’s fly, click on map, fly, click on map, and so on. Using a flight path is much easier: the game goes on auto-pilot, and I can get a drink. The only downside: some flight paths are downright wonky.

Fix the flight paths, fix the game.

Fix the flight paths, fix the game.

Granted, the above is an exaggerated example, but if flight paths could be more direct and flight speed increased by just a bit, I would gladly give up all my flying mounts. Do you want convenience? Give me three Hearthstones with three separate destinations and no cool-downs, and faster and more direct flight paths. Give me fast travel as implemented in the Elder Scrolls game. That, my friends, is convenience. Flying mounts are fake epic, that do a disservice to the game experience.

Do you want another reason? We all complain at some point that expansions drag on for too long. Take away flying, and new zones would be much easier, much more efficient to built – and that means a faster release schedule. Do I care that I can fly over that forest? No. Do I care that the forest is filled with mobs, treasure and adventure? Yes.

We want faster leveling, easier professions, shorter rep grinds, quicker ways to earn Valor points, simpler ways to get around. In short, when Warcraft is approach that way, it becomes a conversation of how the game can become more convenient – not how it can become more immersive, fun, and engaging. Flying by itself doesn’t make the game more fun, but accommodating flying requires resources that could be deployed otherwise to craft a better story.

Take my flying. Take it for good. Give me a fun game to play.


Marc Huber

Marc is dad to three kids and lives in the Chicago suburbs. He plays Rongar the Orc shaman in World of Warcraft. He blogs about Hearthstone and co-hosts HearthPro Show, the official podcast of BlizzPro for all things Hearthstone.

20 responses to “Flying Can Take A Hike”

  1. darkedone02 says:

    I really don’t think they should do away with flying, as flying in the game again make it very easy for me to 1) gather crafting resources/nodes, 2) get to raids faster, 3) help me find rare mobs to kill 4)help me avoid annoying mobs that will otherwise dismount me upon a strike and have to deal with it and 4)reduce the stress of racing against other players trying to get that resource node.

    • Quincyanna Jones says:

      Obviously, the quality of the content is subjective. I think all of the content, up to and including end-game, is compelling, interesting, and incredible. With all due respect, I feel like you fall into the category of the lazier type. You don’t want to deal with elements of the game in order to play the game. You’d rather just avoid it. For me, avoiding a majority of the elements of a game really defeats the purpose of even playing the game. I like to feel more immersed in the world, to really enjoy the game as a whole, rather than only appreciating bits and pieces of it.

  2. maggibesti says:

    Darkedone92

    You obviously did not play in Classic, as how you describe it, you can’t handle 100% mount. Let me tell you something about Classi WoW.

    When you were leveling your first or first few char you would run on foot, yes foot for the first 40-50 levels. Wanna know how long those 40-50 levels took? ALOT more then 85-90, you could level a few 85-90 for the same time 40-50 took for an average player. Then when you could finally buy your first mount which was alot expensive and since you had to spend majority of your gold on repairs and ALOT of food and drinks. You killed 2 mobs, you had to eat cause you were low hp, there was no easy way to level fast like now, get a friend to boost you fast through dungeons or xp gear/RaF. So on your first char you finally reach 52 and you finally saved enough money to buy your first mount, yay now you have a 60% mount. Azeroth is pretty big right? So even at 60% running from Orgimmar/SW to un’goro to continue your leveling took some time, well you didn’t wanna spend rest of your gold on flight paths, it’s a waste of money.

    Alright, now you can start saving some gold for your class training you missed cause you were saving for a mount, and also the rest of the skills from 52-60. Your last training was probably 42 or 44, depending on how lucky you were on saving gold. Then finally a week later you reach 60 and manage to get the rest of your training done.

    At this point you don´t even think off saving for a 100% mount, cause they costed you over 1000g, 1000g is like well, 50k today? Perhaps more because well lets be honest, how are you gonna even start farming with crappy gear? You’re atleast gonna need some decent items, so you start looking for groups, you spend 1 hour searching for 9 people for your grp to go do one of those 10man dungeons, after 3-4 hours total you finally finish it and you got your 1-3 item upgrades, no not epic, just blues, unless you were more lucky then Nicolas Cage getting to act in a decent movie. You might’ve found an alright epic item slightly better then a blue, well of course it wasn’t level 60 epic, just 50 something, but better then that blue for sure!

    Then you needed to start searching for a guild, hmm you might find a decent guild going 10man dungeons and perhaps raiding Z’G, omg Z’G drops good blue items and sometimes an epic!

    After a month or few, you’re decently geared enough to start farming those real mobs! Even you could solo 1 elite mob at a time at tyr’s hand in EPL, those really dropped some nice loot, more frequent runecloths and green items! AWESOME.

    Now spend a month or few farming for your 1000g, you wanna spend some of your gold on repairs of course, and some other needed things.

    Then finally you got 1000g, you go buy a 100% mount! Omg you can run so fast, now it takes you like 10 minutes to get to Silithus! What a great life!

    This is how Classic was, and now people are crying cause they can’t fly on their 310% across the zones in 1 minute, or less. They preferably want the gold given to them cause its sooo hard farming now with 310% flying!

    If you really think you can’t live without 310% flying, do think about those who managed to play without 100% mount and some not even getting 60% until late level 50s, close to level 60.

    Sure you might be quite reasonably slower gathering your resources, or get to your location slower, but is that really an issue? People managed just fine back in classic, never saw anyone crying cause it took them too long to get to BWL to summon the whole raid, or wasting 30-60 minutes searching for players/pugs for dungeons then having to go there to summon. Thats excluding all the other things, time wasted for people to go repair etc. No there were no repair bots or mounts in classic. Find the closest repair to you or hearthstone out, beware that HS had 1 hour cooldown, maybe it was already on cooldown when you needed to repair!

    Also nodes spawn a lot more frequently now, it was quite alot harder back in classic to mine, or herb. Skinning? You had to waste majority of the time killing the mobs then skinning, now you spend majority of the time looking for the mobs, even though they’re almost everywhere. You just pull a few, aoe them in a few seconds then quickly skin them.

    I think we’re actually having it quite nice now even though we’d be restricted to ground mounts only. Also you’re just losing your flying mount for 1 patch, not forever… I want you think think hard about what I said. 🙂

    • darkedone02 says:

      I actually did played WoW during Vanilla but I didn’t really got very far, I tend to level a character at 10-20 and go play another character, nevered did I feel motivated to keep leveling a character all the way up until Cataclysm came out and I decided to max out my character.

      I can tell that the game was pretty hard, at first playing on my first major mmo where I play as various classes but don’t know which stat is important to them, and I was very little kid and don’t know much about mmo terminology and I tend to stick to single-player rpg games (mostly jrpg) then mmo games, till later.

      I know that mounts are expansive during the first playthough, my father who plays world of warcraft from the beginning and stopped at MoP due to medical problems, told me alot about the past in WoW, how Scholomance used to be a raid then a dungeon, Scarlet Monastery used to be a raid and not a dungeon, there was a few dungeons out there that used to be raids, until during Wrath of the Lich King and the introduction of the dungeon finder turns most of those old raiding dungeons into regular 5 man dungeons.

      I used to remember the huge talent tree we used to get, that exist all the way till MoP, where I have to choose carefully on my talent tree, and there was hardly much of a guide to follow. I used to remember talking to my trainer to upgrade EXISTING skills to UP their rank of damage, which was expansive, and crafting I really didn’t care much as well.

      Now Flying Mounts I kinda like better just cause like I said, I can avoid mobs that I touched that can dismount me and I have to deal with that particular mob that I pulled, which is annoying when I’m busy trying to get a resource before someone else get’s it, I’m surprised that blizzard not learned to make resource nodes visible to me and everyone else see’s it differently like what Guild Wars 2 did, it help reduce the need of people racing and stealing one’s another resources, which is a pet peeve for me. I can currently withstand having to deal with ground mounts for a small while till the first patch comes out, no problem… it’s just that if I ever do some resource gathering, it’s going to be a major problem with fighting the crowd, gathering mates for my jewelcrafting, and all shorts of stuff.

    • David Curran says:

      Classic wow is and was great, people still populate the classic wow private servers, Pussies that complain about “how bad it was” ^

      the game was great. and has been dulled down to help increase the subscription base by catering to the people that want to have everything everyone else has in a video game with little to no effort

  3. Jay Ward says:

    I have to agree, taking away flying will definitely slow the game down. Which would help the game alot I think, at the moment its about who can get to max level the fastest, gear up the fastest and clear content the fastest, the they sit and cry because “oh there is no more content, oh I have to do the same content over and over”. And using flying mounts to get to raids is a joke, when last did you use a warlock portal? I haven’t used one since freaking Cata, they might aswell remove that spell, mage portals? Only being used to get chars to main cities so they can learn the flying skill?

    It did take ALOT longer to level pre flying, but you obviously dont remember what it felt like to level, each level was an achievement. I remember sitting in BRD dinging my orc shammy to 60, 4am in the morning, mid dungeon, with all my friends still half asleep. It felt great, you level now and its like.. wow.. next level.. why is it taking so long. Meanwhile you spend like 2 days getting from 85-90, skipping 90% of the content.

    With regards to resource nodes, flying isn’t an excuse to have it. It helps yes, but you dont NEED it to gather. Plus, it will increase prices for those who do spend time collecting them, IE: harder to collect, not as many on AH, price increases for all items due to it.

    I wouldn’t mind flying being removed, but make traveling more accessable, better flight paths, I mean, sometimes you spend like an extra 5minutes flying AROUND the point and to other points to get somewhere.

    • Quincyanna Jones says:

      You make some great points, Jay! I hate how flying has made things like Mage portals and Warlock summoning rituals almost irrelevant. We still use Warlock summoning stones to switch people in and out of our raids quickly, but they’re almost useless otherwise. As a Mage, I remember people standing in town asking for portals all the time(especially throughout Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms). Now, it’s virtually unheard of, unless they need to go to purchase flying.

      And leveling pre-flying was fun, even if it seemingly took AGES to walk across the Barrens. With my concerns regarding leveling, I was disappointed to see that they removed the relevancy of the class quests. I thought they were an interesting part of each individual class’s story. The Warlock quests for minions and a mount. The Paladin quests for the Blood Knights. The Shaman quests for totems.. I could keep going. They were part of what really rounded out the leveling experience for each class.

      Professional resources: I agree. Flying isn’t necessary. As a matter of fact, flying largely contributes to the cheapening of these resources. When they’re so easily accessible by everyone in the game, the prices are driven down. If people had to rely on their ground mounts, the number of people farming would drop and the prices would go up. That sounds like a bad thing, if you’re just too lazy to farm. But, it’s a good thing if you have the willingness to AT LEAST farm the materials you need.

      • Jay Ward says:

        Agreed on the class quests, I saw the warrior quest gives some cool looking weapons, but other then that. I saw this at like lvl 70+!

        I think removing flying could be good.

  4. Quincyanna Jones says:

    I agree. I honestly think the game would have been fine had they never implemented flying. For me, exploring every nook and cranny of the world, seeing what dark secret lay shrouded at the far reaches of the map, finding those treasures that the depths of the forest concealed, or even running up on a member of the opposing faction(and promptly dying) made the experience that much more epic. I remember running(and taking a boat or two) from the secluded forests of Teldrassil to the vast marshes of Wetlands. I remember walking up on a higher level troll, looking at it in wonderment for a moment, and then being obliterated by it in a matter of seconds. Even when I died a horrible death because I dared venture into areas much too advanced for my level 16 Night Elf, it was still so much fun. I could spend hours, literally hours, just exploring the map.. Flying added convenience, but at the cost of immersion and a more rich experience. If they did away with it, I’d be just fine. However, as mentioned in the wonderful article, some of the flight paths need to be fixed. They’re a bit jacked.

    You know, I didn’t think about it until you mentioned it.. Paying for one flying skill after another really makes no sense. When Medihv taught Khadgar to fly by touching his hand to Khadgar’s forehead, that was simply enough. He was automatically able to slow down when needed, fly faster when it was called for. He wasn’t required to pay Medihv an obscene amount of gold to be able to go a little faster. It’s absurd that we have to pay these greedy characters just to go faster, to fly in cold weather because our mounts would refuse to do anything in such glacial temperatures, or to fly over areas that Deathwing had destroyed because they, our flying mounts who have witnessed every bloody battle, were suddenly too afraid to do so.

    Great article, Rongar.

    • Rongar says:

      Thank you! I realize of course now that the cat is out of the bag, flying will never be removed. As Blizzard is clamping down on rolling out flying at max. level again, it is worth looking at how the alternatives could be improved. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Eldorian says:

    In our recent interview we had with the WoW team we talked about dailies and they said there would be no dailies at all in Warlords. Instead they are going to do questing much like the Timeless Isle. For that to work, I would think they would have to take flying away because one thing flying does is negate the need to explore the world at a more intimate level and their new system for question wouldn’t work.

    I think it’s a necessity and I don’t mind it at all. I think it will make the game more fun.

  6. J Seebs says:

    ” Give me three Hearthstones with three separate destinations and no cool-downs, and faster and more direct flight paths.” Sorry, no. Ruins the immersion from the game. Flight Paths should be removed. It allows you to afk/alt-tab while you are flown to your destination. Hearthstones? Should be a long cooldown (1 Hour+). Shouldn’t be allowed to instantly teleported home. Take out mounts. How dare you just mount past mobs and pray you don’t get dazed off. /s

    People who scream about flying ruining the immersion (“immersion”) of the game seem to forget that we aren’t flying right away. We still have to foot/ground mount it to max level. We aren’t skipping anything. When you are max level, you have already seen the zones, the quests, the mobs. By then, it doesn’t matter (at least for me. If it does for you, that’s great, guess what, you can still take part of it how you want, and if that is by not flying, you have that choice). You also forget that it is all subjective. Just because ruins it for , that doesn’t mean it is the same for . The difference here, is that, if you feel that it ruins the “immersion” experience for you, you have a choice: Don’t fly. TADA. But with taking out flying, we are forced into it. We have no choice. I understood decision to not have it while initially leveling up. But after that, is too much.

    “Immersion” is just an excuse. Flying ruins immersion, but afk/alt-tab on a flight path doesn’t ruin the immersion? Taking a port/summon doesn’t? Heartstone every 15 minutes? Skyrim fast travel? Yeah, ok.

    • Quincyanna Jones says:

      Actually, atl-tabbing during a flight path causes you to disconnect. Walking away for a moment to grab a drink or use the bathroom. Flying does ruin the immersion of the game and generally negates any time spent on making that content look at good as it does. Players will really see it for 10 levels, get the ability to fly over it, and they never really notice it again. Sure, they fly through it or over it, but they don’t actually notice it. Further more, they don’t care to notice it.

      • J Seebs says:

        Alt+Tabbing causes disconnect? wow, I must be hacking for the past 9 years because I do that everyday during my playtime. /s But no, it doesn’t make you disconnect.

        And if they didn’t care to notice it for the past 9 years, what makes you think they are going to all of a sudden notice it now? Nothing you said changes by moving it from max level to 6.1.

        • Quincyanna Jones says:

          Oh wow. Then I must just be imagining things, because I get disconnected every time I tab out for the duration of a flight path or loading screen.

          If you don’t like the decision to disallow flying until 6.1, do yourself a favor and don’t play until 6.1. There are a good many of us who greatly appreciate Blizzard’s good thinking on the part of flying. It isn’t a necessity and, in my opinion, it will make the game a bit more fun.

          If you don’t play the game for the purpose of actually SEEING the game(all of it), that’s on you. Some of us who play the game, however, are actually interested in seeing and appreciating the amazing talent and effort that goes into creating this virtual world for us.

          • J Seebs says:

            Yup, people who disagree with you, they shouldn’t play the game. Because there is only one way to play the game, obviously, and everyone’s definition of fun and purpose in the game should be the same as yours.

            You still haven’t given any good reason for this change that can’t already be done in the current state of the game. For each one of you who “appreciate Blizz’s thinking on the part of flying” there are just as many who are against it. Resorting to “Don’t play the game” ? lol

            You should check your computer. WoW doesn’t specifically force a disconnect if you alt-tab. Players do it all the time with no problem. You must be having computer issues. 😉

          • Quincyanna Jones says:

            Right. I’m sure it’s just an issue with me, even though I’m not the only one affected by it.

            I’ve given a couple of good reasons for my perspective on this change. And I’ve been respectful about it. I suggested not playing until 6.1 because you disapprove of the lack of flying until then. That’s literally the only reason for my suggestion. You’re just going out of your way to be rude and being rude doesn’t help get your point across.

          • J Seebs says:

            Man, some people just don’t take sarcasm very well.

            You say it ruins the immersion. I say the flying change is just a knee-jerk overreaction. It is no different than people who afk-Alt-Tab as they fly through the game’s inefficient flight paths. It is no different than the author’s suggestion of Fast Travel. No different than a player just mounting up, and running through the zone and just keep going until the mobs deaggro. If it’s world pvp that people are worried about, yeah, I can see their point more than I see people’s “immersion” argument. But that was starting to be a problem before flying (Instanced PvP).

            We will see it for 10 levels? How is that any different to the current experience? We currently cannot fly till max level. So how is 6.1 going to make us “really see it for 10 levels” as you said? We will have been max level before then.

            As I have said before, there is nothing stopping you from playing the game, how you say you want it, in the current game, without any flying restriction whatsoever. Nothing. Not that I would say we should get flying right away. But nothing you said brings anything new to the game.

            As far as your computer, maybe try running it in window mode.

          • Quincyanna Jones says:

            If you were being sarcastic, then my apologies for misunderstanding. There isn’t a special sarcasm font for that.

      • Eldorian says:

        It’s definitely a computer issue (or maybe a weird character issue) if you’re getting disconnected when you alt-tab during flight. I’ve done it for years now and have never once experienced this.