It really was about the flying

Now that I have had a week or so with Draenor flying enabled, I have this to say about the experience:

OMG! It is fantastic! I love it!

No one is more surprised about this than I am. Even though I have been one of the vocal proponents of flying, I never really expected it to make such a difference in my game outlook and play experience. Honestly, after all the drama we had to go through to get it reinstated, and after the unexpectedly long wait for it once it was announced, I thought it would be pretty anticlimactic. Boy, was I wrong. I am having a great time.

Contrary to Blizz’s stubborn insistence that staying ground-bound makes players get out and engage with the world more, I find I am now much more energized to go out and do things. Without flying, every activity seemed like work, like drudgery, because first you had to take a commercial flight by circuitous route, then once you landed you had to spend several more minutes finding a non-blocked ground path to your destination, then galloping for what seemed a long time, all the while fighting annoying mobs including those stupid little weeds, and only then could you get on with whatever your original objective had been. And since the activities provided by WoD were pretty boring to begin with, all in all I usually decided it just was not worth the effort.

But now I am out doing things nearly every day on multiple alts. The journeys to my destinations have become fun again. If I am on a gatherer and see something to gather, I just swoop down and get it. I don’t have to make a major effort to structure a tedious and non-productive ground route for mat farming, don’t have to make a mental note to come back to an area I might have glimpsed during a commercial flight, I just dip down and then continue my trip.

If I see something else of interest — a rare, a scenic point, someone who seems to need assistance — I just stop and investigate. It is terrific.

A few nights ago some of our guild decided to group up and do a couple of Timewalking dungeons. As we were all DPS, we had a fair bit of wait time in queue. So we decided to do some rare hunting in Gorgrond. It was fantastic, we had a lot of fun, zipping around the zone trying to keep up with each other, blasting away rares, and playing who’s-got-the-baddest-flying-mount. (Hint: definitely not Yours Truly.) We spent a good 20 minutes at this, then the queue popped and we were into a dungeon. Without flying, we almost certainly would have just killed time individually in garrisons, fishing, whatever, but you can bet we would not have been out running around engaging the world, it would have been too annoying and boring because most of our time would have been spent trying to find each other and our objectives.

Flying has enabled me to bring two more alts to Tanaan, to plan on leveling and bringing my last two, and to run Kazzak on even the squishier ones like my healer and my mage. Before flying, this would probably not have been possible, because I dreaded doing that ridiculous signal setting quest to get the goblin flying transport to The Throne of KJ and I always hate myself if I have to beg for a summons. I know, it’s silly, but truthfully these are the kind of impediments — along with the time factor for travel — that have kept me from getting my alts out more in WoD.

I don’t care that Draenor is small, and honestly I don’t care that flying speed has been throttled back. I don’t notice the difference, the combination of scale plus speed works fine for me. It seems the same experience as flying in contemporary Azeroth.

I am not going to make any sweeping generalizations about the WoW player base, but I will speak for myself. If WoD had implemented flying on the Mists pattern, I would have been much happier with the expansion as a whole. I would have felt like I could escape the cattle chute Blizz was forcing us through and could play the game as I wanted to. Flying would not have covered up all the other major problems with the expansion, but it would certainly have made them more palatable for me.

Blizz’s stated concerns about being able to avoid content or go through it too quickly or miss the holy grail of “immersion” by flying are just wrong for my play style. In fact, flying has the opposite effects for me. The only content I avoid by flying is the annoying content I avoided anyway while on the ground by just not venturing out. Now that I can fly, I spend far more time outside my garrison than I did prior to flying, and I really do feel far more “immersed” than I have felt before in Draenor. Even with all the faults of this expansion, the game has become fun for me again.

Prior to last week if you had asked me to name one thing that might have saved this expansion for me, I would not have even thought to name flying. While I wanted it, I just would not have thought it could make such a huge difference. I considered it more of a nice to have thing. But now that we have it, I can see how powerful a factor it has become for my game enjoyment.

I can only hope that the Legion implementation will be sooner rather than later. However, my fear is that Blizz will set the number of hoops to jump through so high that it is not possible to gain flying before the last patch of the xpac. That is, they will use the WoD flying model rather than the Mists one.

That would be a shame, in my opinion. For me, surprisingly, it really is about flying.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

6 Responses to It really was about the flying

  1. gnomecore says:

    I don’t mind it to be gated – with money, questing or exploration. But it’s a must at high level when you’ve seen everything. You’ve just overgrown the point when annoying small mobs make you dismount, one-shot them and mount again.

    Flying over that Gronn daily area omw to Gorgrond, I suddenly understood that I would have been doing these old Garrison dailies with extreme pleasure. I even wanted to fly down and kick some gronns. Not for quest or achievements, just for fun sake. Now that’s immersement.

    • Fiannor says:

      Completely agree. I have nothing against gating, as long as the gate is reasonably attainable at max level. Unfortunately, I have this uneasy feeling that the flying gate in Legion will be on the pattern of a legendary quest line. You do some things as you level, then wait until the first patch and get another set of things to do, then a final set of things to do in the second patch. By which time the expansion will be pretty much over, and we will get flying as a kind of pacifier until the next xpac.

      Like you, I would have been out doing lots of things much earlier in WoD if I had had flying earlier.

      • Jarnow says:

        Time will tell, but I doubt it. I think their teeth got kicked in with sufficient thoroughness this time that they’ll be a lot quicker about things in Legion. They *might* make it wait for the first content patch (as they said they would do in WoD and later reneged), but I’m pretty sure it won’t wait till most everything is already finished. I just think they got too badly burned to do that.

      • Fiannor says:

        @Jarnow

        I really hope you are right, and I will happily and publicly eat my words if it turns out that way. But I am seeing the same pattern of coyness about Legion flying that we saw prior to WoD. I see very carefully worded Blizz comments on the subject, and I think the only lesson they learned from the WoD debacle is that they can’t waffle on whether or not it will be available — they need to decide up front and then follow through on the decision.

        I also believe there is a group of decision makers among Blizz management — and I think Ion Hazzikostas is one of them — that is firmly against flying, and if they are being forced to include it they will make sure players play the game on the ground for months before they can fly.

        Still, I hope you are right and I am wrong.

  2. Casually Odd says:

    I think part of the reason I have been writing and commenting less is due to flying. Part of it is due to real life suddenly stepping up and demanding time for a bit, but outside of that, I’m just enjoying the game enough that I’m not making time to write. When I’m done playing, by choice or not, I’m more or less satisfied that I could play as I liked.

    Like you, it hasn’t fixed everything and I still would rate this expansion low overall, but flying, especially on alts, has made the game much more palatable and fun right now. Random stops or flights or just being out and about.

    Or if you have a Horde garrison/shipyard – so much better! That shipyard is annoyingly far away for what the shipyard is.

    Anyways, glad you are having fun again and I hope it continues!

    • Fiannor says:

      Yes, that’s it exactly: You can play as you like. Over the last couple of years, Blizz has progressively narrowed play style choices for the end game, and for me the final miserable restriction was removal of flight. I had not realized how much of a feeling of freedom it gave me — and how key it was to my game enjoyment — until it was gone and then returned.

      Cool that you are playing more. And you are 100% right about the shipyard. 👍