|Ashes of Al'ar was 'unavailable for comment.' From MMO Champion.|
The gloves are not simply off with Warlords, there's already a Mickey Finn in many players' Ironforge Ale. Yesterday, whilst some were distracted by Heroes of The Storm Technical Alpha streams, Blizzard announced that all mounts will work in Battlegrounds come the Expansion. I assume the Ashes of Al'ar and all other mounts without legs could still hover above ground and *look* like there's flight going on, but that's where the illusion ends. Those of us who have been paying attention know full well this isn't as a response to player concerns in PvP, this is to enable a possibility that was made in an interview by Alex Afrasiabi that Draenor might be about to become the first version of the game since Vanilla where flying was not an automatic default for players at max level not simply after 6.1, but throughout the entire Expansion. If that were to be the case, a large proportion of mounts (including significantly many paid for with real money from the Blizzard Store) would effectively become redundant. Making this a decision to enable everything in Battlegrounds means, by extension that it won't matter if your mount can walk now or not if everyone gets tethered to the ground in Draenor.
Needless to say, this again changes the complexion of an Expansion that becomes more fascinating the longer we're made to wait for it.
Having lived in a world without flight for some time, it is very easy to see why so many people may be about to get very angry indeed at its loss. However, in terms of redefining gameplay, this is probably as radical as thing could likely get outside the auspices of completely redefining character abilities. That's something players need to grasp, perhaps now more than at any point in the game's evolutionary process. Blizzard can't redefine character abilities once they're at a stage when balance is achieved. That leaves them a limited number of choices as to where conflict and challenge can be injected into gameplay. Boss fights are one option, so is environment, and the amount of control the game can have over a player is severely limited when they can simply hop on a flying mount and stick themselves in an axis where ground rules won't apply. Therefore it should really come as no surprise to anyone that the idea of a No Fly Expansion has come to the table when as designers the Devs have perilously few options remaining to inject deliberate obstacles into a player's path.
|Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz in the eardrum...|
The biggest potential losers in this entire equation, yet again, are the long-term playerbase: gold makers, gatherers, those with multiple alts who need to save time. PvP gets a massive boost on those servers where simply mounting up and flying away in the new zones is no longer an option. Bear in mind it is only Draenor where being unable to fly will be an obstacle: flying doesn't go away anywhere else, so you can still show off your Ashes and clog up the Mailbox by the Stormwind Bank with impunity. It also means having a Druid with Herbalism isn't going to give you an advantage for gathering, and the Sky Golem's simply a fancy Iron Suit. Apart from that, absolutely no difference between here and any other Expansion. NO REALLY THERE ISN'T.
This is pretty crucial in the whole equation: flying is a convenience. It is not essential for gameplay, and when it was the way it changes the landscape of the game world was not always for the better. We got a redesign of Azeroth to accommodate it, but that in itself has probably created more problems than its solved. There are still areas in game where you can't fly, and nobody goes there, which is not how things should be at all. By tethering people in two dimensions no content is trivialised. It allows a measure of control that does not exist as soon as you allow people to move into a third axis. Most importantly of all, it forces players into decisions that they might not even consider if flying is an option, like ACTUALLY FIGHTING AND USING THEIR SKILLS. That's the key to all this: you can't simply skip everything and go right to the end. You are forced to make the journey, and I for one cannot approve enough of that mindset.
Personally, I heartily welcome our no-flying overlords. I embrace the possibility of going back to just being on the ground, and can see an argument for making the entire world no-fly in the future. It won't suit everyone, that much is already obvious. Whether they pack up their mounts and leave... well, we won't know for a while yet. This is a big risk for Blizzard, that much is already apparent. Whether it pays off...
I wonder how long we'll have to wait for a Beta Client?