Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Flying Scapegoat

The flying restriction in Draenor is one of the biggest controversial topics in the game to date. From the moment it was announced until now and guaranteed into the future, there has been heated discussion on the topic.

this thread was started in March of 2014 and was only just recently locked at 2241 pages

One of the opinions I see that a lot of pro-flyers share is that not being able to fly keeps them cooped up inside of their garrison. They feel that without the freedom to soar over inconsequential enemies and mountains to head to their exploration or farming destinations, they have no desire to leave their garrison at all.

It's my amateur opinion that being flying restricted isn't actually the cause of this garrison-hermitism, and I'm going to tell you why.

But first, a story.

a magical story of adventure

When I was still playing regularly, after I hit 100, finished all the dungeons I needed, and was basically existing between raid nights, I went out and explored pretty often. I liked to find new followers, complete quests I had skipped on my aggressive march to 100, farm or pet battle, gather up some garrison resources back when I wasn't constantly capped, and more than anything, I liked to explore Nagrand. I liked going around looking for Preservation Society rares, looking for treasures, and farming regular mobs. The reason that Nagrand was such a fun place for me was the [Frostwolf War Wolf] from the garrison ability in the zone. I loved more than anything to be able to cast while moving, let alone while moving at mounted speed.

you'll never catch me you pathetic talbuks

Once I stopped playing every day, I would still head to Nagrand after I had finished my garrison chores, since I was bored and couldn't really think of anything else to do. Despite not having a lot of interest in the game, I would still spend a good two or more hours in Nagrand, finding stuff to kite or mass murder with my unstoppable War Wolf Starfall combo, exploring any remaining nooks and crannies, or killing rares. I periodically went to other zones, but I found that there was nothing to do in them.

I went to Nagrand awhile ago and found that I could no longer cast while moving on the War Wolf. After attempting to find some joy in the activities that I used to do on my casting wolf, I gave up. I don't think I've ever been back to Nagrand since.

well except to take these screenshots for my post

Would it be accurate for me to say that being restricted from casting while moving is keeping me cooped up in the garrison?

No, of course not. Just as being flying restricted isn't keeping anyone in their garrison. The real problem is that there actually isn't anything to do out in the world.

Being able to cast while moving was just a fun thing that enhanced my lackluster experience just enough to keep me occupied. Once it was removed, I went from having one reason to mindlessly tromp around in Nagrand to zero reasons.

You're not trapped in your garrison because you can't fly, you're trapped in your garrison because why would you leave? There is no content out there, it's a barren wasteland.

all of Draenor is basically Desolace

This problem is exacerbated by the garrison being not only the single place where all of your daily chores are, but it's also the place you hearth to and where you log out! In fact, I think it would be fair to say that garrisons are a bigger cause of this particular problem than being flying restricted. If you had to leave the main city to go to a different place to do your dailies, I very much doubt you wouldn't. Conveniently, you are already in the spot where all of the content is.

Heck, this would make not having daily quest hubs a bigger problem than not being able to fly.

Think back to Mists for a second. There were a ton of reasons to leave the main city, but exploring and having fun adventures in hodunk random parts of the zones that came out at the release of the expansion were usually not one of them. There were particular destinations you had in mind when you left the Shrine. Before they added the various Content Islands, the main destination you had was usually a daily quest hub. There was some kind of goal you had, and there was an area out in the world where you went to achieve that goal.

Once they started adding places like the Isle of Thunder, Isle of Giants, and - the grand mother of them all, probably one of the best ideas Blizzard had in years - Timeless Isle, you left the main city to go there. Where you couldn't fly, by the way.

it's called the timeless isle cuz you waste all your time rare camping harhar

The precursor to the garrison, our Halfhill Farms, were not the same place as the main city. We flew out to the Valley of the Four Winds to do our farming chores, then we head off in some other direction to a destination.

There are no destinations right now.

One of Blizzard's defenses for continuing to restrict flying is that being able to trivialize the terrain and environmental hazards of the open world make the experience less engaging and less interesting.

The problem with the argument is that it insists they somehow managed to create enough engaging and exciting experiences in the first place.

engaging and exciting

When the expansion first came out, there were enough rares, treasures, and dailies to keep me occupied for awhile. After so many months, of course, I've already done those things. I don't need apexis crystals. I don't feel like farming mobs at 5 reputation a pop. Even Draenor's world bosses are entirely inconsequential. World bosses were a big part of Mists; I did them several times per week on my various alts. You'd think with the new in-game premade group finder, people would be all over those world bosses.

this is prime time on a tuesday

If flying were reinstated tomorrow, would I drop what I was doing to log in and enjoy the adventures of Draenor? Probably not.

Not being able to fly isn't making me more interested in experiencing the "content" of the open world of Draenor, but it's also not the reason I'm not actively playing. It's one separate issue in a sea of issues, and it's being used as a scapegoat to overlook the fact that, after you finish what was genuinely an amazing leveling experience, Warlords just isn't very good.

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