With the slow times waiting for beta to get started, one of the hot topics that keeps popping back up is about the convenience of travel with flying mounts. The forum community for WOW seems to be relatively split between people who think it would be a good idea to not let people fly at the level 100 cap in Draenor, and people who think that we absolutely need flying mounts at level 100.
I’m personally in the camp where I think we need flying mounts at level-cap because taking twice as long to get anywhere we need to go is unacceptable to me. To prove the point about why we really need to be able to fly at max level in Draenor, I’m now going to present two scenarios in Outlands with and without flying mounts.
First, here is the size and scope of Draenor compared to Outlands. If anything, the full size of Draenor is slightly larger than that of Outlands. The layout and size overall, however, is quite similar.
So, how long does it take to travel in Outlands with and without a flying mount? For the first test, I went from the summoning stone by the Black Temple and attempted to travel to the summoning stone for the instances in Netherstorm. Due to how flight paths are laid out, these are close to the longest distances you can travel. This is made even more difficult by the fact my mage didn’t have high enough reputation to get the closest flight path to Black Temple (since those require either Aldor or Skryers reputation grinds).
Running on the ground & use of flight paths: Thus, from the summoning stone by Black Temple to my closest unlocked flight path takes a 2 minute walk via ground mount (it would have been a 1 minute run to the closer flight path that I didn’t have access to). The flight from Shadowmoon Valley to Netherstorm takes between 6 and 7 minutes, depending on which flight paths you take. My current route took 6 min & 23 sec to fly. This is partly due to the fact that it doesn’t take a direct flight path between the two points, but instead takes a circular path around the longest way possible. These gryphons appear to be afraid of the open spaces between the zones:
The complete journey took 8 minutes and 46 seconds to get from Black Temple’s summoning stone to the summoning stone in the Vortex Fields of Netherstorm, using only a ground mount and flight paths.
Direct flight with a flying mount: Flying back from this summoning stone in Netherstorm to the Black Temple summoning Stone using a direct path on my flying mount, however, was much quicker. By the 2 minute mark, I’d made it from Netherstorm to almost the other side of Hellfire Peninsula.
By flying directly on my flying mount, I cut a 9 minute trip into a 4 minute trip:
Another example without flying mounts (Shatt -> Coilfang Reservoir in the neighboring zone):
Using a shorter bechmark of travel in Pandaria, I went from A’Dal in the middle of Shatt to the entrance to the Coilfang Reservoir pipe. Using flight paths and ground mounts to travel took just over 4 minutes (including landing in Teldrador and having to take the elevator, and swimming in the lake).
When using my flying mount directly between the same two landmarks, the return trip instead took 1 min and 44 sec. So, in general, travel in Outlands without a flying mount takes twice as long as flying somewhere directly yourself.
Same problems in Pandaria: If you think that this problem is unique to Outlands, I’d like to point out that the flight paths in Mists of Pandaria often have the same problems of taking long and indirect paths across the world. For example, it can be really awkward to use flight paths to get to the timeless isle. From the Shrine to the timeless isle takes about 3:40 seconds (so the path below is slightly longer than that). I haven’t had time to finish my bench marking, but direct flight should be about a minute faster for this path in Pandaria, though getting dismounted over the water on your flying mount is a little bit annoying:
In conclusion, unless somehow this flight system that Blizzard uses is significantly upgraded, including more direct paths from place to place, we’re going to run the risk of doubling our travel times at level 100 trying to get around the world to different zones. We’ll spend less time playing with our friends, less time actually paying attention while traveling, and instead spending more time going afk on long flights. Unless the flight path system is actually fixed, we are really going to need the ability to fly places directly ourselves with our flying mounts at max level so we can spend more time playing with our friends.
There are other problems with not having flying mounts available to us. Those other problems include the travel time in terms of resource farming (e.g., herbs, ore) out in the open world vs from the comfort of our own garrisons (that would discourage us from stepping out our front door).
While people call longer travel time “immersive”, I really don’t see how immersed in a game you are when you are spending 3 to 10 minutes on twitter/forums/facebook or otherwise AFK while the flight path takes you between two points. If they want us to actually spend time immersed in the game, flight paths need to get us where we need to go quickly so we can deal with not having access to flying mounts in Draenor. If they really want us immersed in the game, they can fix flight path technology to allow us to spend more time playing and less time “/afk flight path”. If we had to do combat in the air while taking the flight path, that might be more immersive. Until then, though, slow flight paths aren’t going to increase the enjoyment of the game.
This old flight path technology is really a long-standing problem for Blizzard. Even with the faster flight paths now than when Vanilla WOW launched (with a 20 minute trip from Darkshore/Moonglade to anything on the south size of Kalmdor in Vanilla) it still takes 10 to 13 minutes to fly on the flight paths to fly from Darnassus to the southern tip of Kalimdor. I just don’t have that much time in my 1 to 3 hours of play time every day just for getting to where I want to go now that I’m almost 10 years older than I was in Vanilla WOW and have more life responsibilities. Some days, I just want to be able to get where I need to go.