A lonely impulse of delight: On Flight in Draenor

They say honesty is the best policy so before I start, I thought I’d nail my colours to the mast. As a girl flight fascinated me. The Wright Brothers were heroes of mine and the first Latin I learnt was the motto embroidered on my Father’s uniform so that it lay across his heart, Per Ardua ad Astra or Through Adversity (or Hardship) to the Stars. I loved the angry roar of his squadron’s fighter planes as they powered down the runaway and shot upwards into the sky. Like Icarus I wanted to soar amongst the clouds on wings of my own, seeing the world below as if it were nothing more than a patchwork quilt spread on a old bed. Even now, I get a physical kick from flying, the harder the take-off the more that jolt of burning flame hits my stomach so when Flying was first introduced into WoW whilst I had major misgivings for World PvP over all, I was secretly excited. After all the world looks so different from up there, you’d get a whole new perspective and so many more screenshot opportunities and I couldn’t quite shake my feelings for the Irish Airman who W.B Yeats had utter these words:

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

calgaryflight 033

Somewhere over Canada

As it turned out, Flying did kill off World PvP but that tide was turning anyway, so many battlegrounds and arenas meant that fighting over tiny strips of non instanced land didn’t interest the majority anymore and like many things it became a convenient habit especially with mounts like the Headless Horseman’s available.

Fast forward to Draenor and when I first read about the lack of flight, my gut reaction was one of a backwards step. Blizzard had given us something and now they were taking it away which whilst always within their rights to do so was frustrating. I thought about the various Flying Mounts other’s had purchased from the Blizzard store for cold hard cash and that only added to my annoyance. Surely selling things and effectively making them obsolete in the current version of the game was a tad unscrupulous. I went on a tour of all the little secret hidden places I love so much, the borderlands, the gap between the hedgerows where anything and everything seems possible and thought how much I’d miss finding places like this in Draenor. The thought of no flying built itself up and up becoming almost a deal breaker for me.

Then with drums and crashing servers, the expansion arrived and somehow my opinion suffered a sea change. I found myself tightrope walking in the Spires of Arak desperately seeking archaeology fragments because no bit of purple rope was going to get the better of me. I spent time figuring out how to scale giant mushrooms to win myself battle pets in the shape of pretty spores and I fell both up and down cliffs in pursuit of trifles wrapped in sparkly boxes. For the first time in a long time, I had to engage my brain and think about the best path to places, levitate and goblin gliders have both been invaluable I admit but more than that, it’s been fun. I haven’t been knocked off my mount and forced to fight to the death against a horde of pesky mobs as I feared which given that I’m a Holy Priest who hits like a wet noodle is a very good thing but more than that I feel engaged in the world around me. The sight of something glittering amongst the trees, well that’s the beginning of a puzzle. Yes some are way harder than others and at times Mr Harpy has a distinct advantage as a cheating, leaping warrior but the sense of satisfaction seems so much greater than just swooping down out of the sky would do.

At no point so far have I felt let down by being grounded. Most cliffs are climbable somehow, the trick is figuring out where. I don’t feel particularly slowed down by having to ride across country either and having a level 3 Stables takes some of the potential bite out of that anyway. We no longer need to physically get to raids so that’s another potential issue removed entirely. I don’t even miss the convenience of being to go straight from A to Z without having to stop off along the way. Of course, when I return to the old world, I still fly but we accept that there are different ways of doing things in the real world so why not in Azeroth. Perhaps when the last patch brings the shadow of Draenor’s final curtain then flying would be appropriate but in the meantime, I think we’ll survive.

9 Responses

  1. I feel exactly the same way, but at some point I will want to fly.

    • At the moment I’m questioning whether my alts will want it more. Am I currently in the honeymoon period and will riding everywhere on the ground get boring soon?

  2. I really thought this would bother me but I’ve noticed unless someone mentions it I’ve pretty much forgotten I can’t fly.

    • I’ve deliberately left leveling my Druid until last because I think that will be make or break for me but on every other character, it’s not an issue. However I’m pretty sure if I’d paid cash for every mount in the Blizzard store I’d be rather mad at this point.

  3. I miss flying, I’ve missed flying for weeks now. I miss being able to soar through the air on my azure drake and not being able to ever fly again in current content is extremely disheartening. Knowing that the mount I worked so damned hard for is never going to be there in current content destroyed my enthusiasm for the expansion before launch and nothing has changed my mind.

    Having to have specific garrison buildings to mitigate the issue of no flight is poor game design in my very biased opinion.

    My daughter doesn’t want to play in a world with no flight, so I haven’t upgraded the account her druid is on. I can see myself not playing in 12 months due to my play time with my daughter being focused elsewhere and the ongoing wish to be able to really see the world. Seeing everything from ground level makes me feel trapped int he world. I like to be high up and see the expanse of a zone. Being up high on the cliffs gives me that to some extent, but it just isn’t the same.

    I never flew for convenience, I flew because I loved it. I miss it, I feel it vastly improves the game and they could design zones like Storm Peaks that had an epic scale and questing developed around flying.

    /shrug WoW will no longer be the game for me if flying doesn’t return. Not a bad thing or a good thing, just a thing.

    • Oh I forgot to say, if the treasure needs a glider to get to then they designed it for flight. I think if you have to be airbourne it doesn’t fit in with the stated design premise of ‘flight is bad, it lets you take shortcuts’.

      • Your post ultimately captures why I think giving something, letting people enjoy it, get used to it and then removing it is a bad business move. I must admit my favourite flying mount is Spike the Ironbound Protodrake, hard won in Ulduar when it was current content and he hasn’t seen the light of day since the expansion rolled out because giant drakes look stupid stomping along the ground in my eyes.

        I can’t be 100 percent sure if you need a glider to get to some of the treasures, it’s just that along with levitate I happen to rather like using them.

      • I have wanted the azure drake since it was datamined during the Wrath beta. I bought it on the BMAH during MoP. It had only dropped a few times in Maly and I never won the roll, so I bought it on the BMAH for 110k gold. I’d have paid double, triple for it. I’m like that when I want something 🙂

        And now I never use it, because drakes look so silly as ground mounts. That mount I have wanted for so long and finally got to enjoy for just over a year, gone forever now in current content.

        If we never had flying, that’s one thing. I’ve also spent actual money on store flying mounts, again to never be able to use that in current content. It’s an emotional response for sure, and I’m not going to claim to be reasonable about it. I love my fliers, and I miss them. That’s enough to taint the game for me. I’m not against other people enjoying a no flight WoW, it’s just disheartening that a game I’ve loved for 10 years now is drifting into a place where I know I wont’ play it any more because my kind of fun isn’t what the devs want from the game.

        The business decision grates on me because I paid money in their shop and now they’ve taken that use away from me intentionally.

        I still think places like Storm Peaks can be done again if there was the will. But mostly I just want to fly on my drake and enjoy the world.

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