Convenience has started to become a major factor in many MMOs, but what are we willing to sacrifice to for these added accommodations? Flying mounts definitely add convenience, however, they also have an extreme impact on every game that implements them. Two of the biggest complaints about flying mounts are that they break immersion and destroy world PvP. When I posed the question to my guild, and the rest of the server, the responses I got varied dramatically, but were essentially split into three different groups. There are those that can’t wait for flying mounts, those that despise them, and a third group that only wants them if they’re balanced correctly. So is the “hardcore” Wildstar environment the right place for aerial vehicles?
While there have been no official announcements regarding flying mounts in Wildstar yet, Jeremy Gaffney, executive producer for Wildstar, said this in a 2012 interview with mmo-game.eu:
“The world is built for flight and Wildstar will provide flying mounts. We have a variety of flying mounts and experiment with different kinds of powers. We are using a lot of effort to make sure that movement is fun. 50% of your time playing an MMO are spent moving around and it has to be fun. This is why we have super-speed, super-jump, double-jump, or Loftite for ground movement.”
This means that the Wildstar universe was created with flying mounts in mind, or at least the ability to produce them. It’s been a long time since that interview and the community is still heated, on many different forums, regarding the use of these mounts and whether or not they would essentially “break” the game. So here are the three main viewpoints, why each one has valid arguments, and how they can possibly be avoided.
I WANT MY OOMPA LOOMPA NOW!
The first group of players want their flying mounts and they want them now. They’re sick of lumbering through low level zones in order to obtain crafting material or do daily quests. These are generally PvE players who are bent on efficiency, rather than immersion and community play. It’s obviously faster to fly at 300%+ speed everywhere in the galaxy, but doing so skips a log of current, and potentially future, content. Another issue that arises is what happens when new zones are built? An easy fix to this would be to limit flying mounts in that area until certain storyline quests are completed, level or reputation caps are hit, or simply have new zones not allow them.
One of the major flaws with this argument, however, is that travel is already incredibly easy in Wildstar. Sure, taking a taxi can be arduous at times, but the only zone I’ve even needed to use one in, after level 50, is Blighthaven; this flight path is fairly long but does allow the chance to make a snack or take a quick bio break. Every other major zone in Wildstar has a direct portal from either faction’s capital city, and requires about 30 seconds of running. You can even bind to the Blighthaven Transmat Terminal and use the free capital city teleport, or return to your house and have a close Biome available, to get back home.
NO FLYING MOUNTS IN MY WILDSTAR
On one hand there are the flying mounts devotees, and so on the other there must be the complete naysayers. According to these players, the world as we know it will cease to exist if flying mounts are put into Wildstar. There will be no more PvP, hundreds of hours of important content will just be skipped over by the masses, the explorer path will never be the same, player interaction will decrease, and the enjoyment factor, for those that love jump puzzles, will be severely diminished. To be fair, these are all valid arguments depending on how mount implementation is handled.
There are, however, ways to prevent every issues that was mentioned. Flying could be limited to only certain area, similar to how wings could only be used in certain locations in Aion. Anti-aircraft devices could also be crafted, which would put a unique twist on architects or the Settler path. Flying mounts also don’t have to be the death of world PvP, such as in World of Warcraft. If mounting/dismounting had long cast times, 3-5 seconds, then it would be impossible to fly around and gank everyone in sight without potentially getting jumped yourself. Another issue is that world PvP is already diminishing because there simply aren’t any rewards for it. If Carbine added world PvP rewards, challenges, or even titles we would probably see an increase, but as of right now there are only a few hardcore groups that consistently do world PvP for the sheer enjoyment of it.
As far as ruining jumping puzzle quests goes, or explorer path events, activating a flying mount could automatically cause the quest to fail. This obviously can’t be carried out for everything, but players that actually enjoy the challenge can still attempt them without using mounts. The counter argument that this will decrease the novelty of getting to hard to reach places is still in effect, but there’s no reason to think that there couldn’t be awesome flying challenges as well.
A LITTLE BIT OF THIS, A LITTLE BIT OF THAT
Then, stuck in the middle, there’s the more moderate group that only wants flying mounts if they’re done correctly and restricted. The spectrum for how this would be completed still varies quite widely, but the general consensus is that they should be allowed in small doses. One idea is to copy Star Wars: The Old Republic and have instanced space fights while traveling to the moons of Nexus. Other players would like to see a Wildstar version of Jump to Lightspeed, from Star Wars Galaxies, where players can customize mounts/spaceships and have access to air combat only zones.
The challenge here is how to gauge what is the right amount of flying/space content and how to please the majority of the player base. Carbine hasn’t exactly had the best history with releasing bug free content, and including massive content changes like these could prove fairly messy at first. Trying to find a way to balance air combat, figuring out what zones flying mounts would be appropriate in, and trying to keep some semblance of world PvP while not hindering the game’s jumping puzzles is a difficult task.
So far we know that flying mounts are possible with Wildstar’s current engine and that it’s not impossible to create new forms of combat, based on historical information from previous games. I personally think that limited use of flying mounts could put a new and interesting twist on Wildstar, but they should stay far away from what was done in World of Warcraft. Even Blizzard has realized the drain flying mounts can have on their environments and aren’t allowing them in Worlds of Draenor until later patches. The important question, however, is what does the rest of the community think. Should Wildstar implement flying mounts, and if so how should they handle it?Related: Carbine Studios, Column, MMORPG, Mount, Sci-Fi, The Nexus Times, Wildstar