• August 10, 2022

Dragon islands, dragon people, dragon class, dragon riding! The new expansion WoW: Dragonflight definitely relies on a popular theme, which you can quickly see. But as cool as the scaly beasts are, the announcement of the new big adventure has also caused questioning looks, sometimes even outrage, and moments of "Okay, sounds cool, but what is it?" .

The latter is especially the case with dragon riding . Namely, this is described by the developers at Blizzard as a special activity that sounds like "flying mounts" but is supposed to be quite different. How it differs is a mystery to many a WoW fan, but has long been clear to Guild Wars 2 players - because dragon riding seems to simply be a copy of the mount system from GW2. But let me elaborate a bit first.

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This column is mainly about conjecture as a basis, based on the first gameplay glimpses of Dragonflight and experiences from GW2 - so of course the title is a bit provocative.


GW2: When mounts are more than a speed boost

Since 2017's Path of Fire expansion, Guild Wars 2 has allowed you to get around with a menagerie of trusty mounts that is massively different from other MMORPGs. The mounts all fulfill special roles, have their own "character". In this respect, it is wrong to say that Guild Wars 2 only offers nine mounts. For example, the jumper can easily hop on particularly high obstacles, deep ravines are easy to overcome for nimble raptors, and roller beetles are blazingly fast but difficult to control.

Griffin and Sky Scale are two mounts that even allow exploring the sky above our heads. However, the developers have cleverly made sure that mounts don't degenerate into a kind of cheat. After all, they all need stamina for their activities. The boost of the beetle, the forward jumps of the raptor and the fight against gravity as a griffin - all of that drains stamina. And if it's at zero, we have to wait for it to regenerate first.

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Guild Wars 2 has mounts with personality

Thus, the mounts feel really alive, which they already do through very authentic physics when running, jumping and flying. They are tangible creatures that can't go full throttle forever. And thus we arrive at the dragon riding from WoW: Dragonflight. Because the developers have shown in small gameplay clips how our dragon companions whiz through the air. Like the Sky Scales from GW2, they can rise upwards from a standing position, but they have to fight against gravity instead of being able to simply float straight upwards like previous WoW mounts. And like the Sky Scale, the scaly companion can perform a barrel roll to dash nimbly forward.

In this video, the similar capabilities of the two games are contrasted:

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Animals resemble the griffin once they pick up speed. That's because we can build up breakneck speed as the dragon tightens its wings and hurtles toward the earth like a bomb. This speed can be taken over - as can be seen in the first gameplay glimpses - to then simply return to horizontal just before impact and then fly over the zones of the dragon islands at breakneck speed.

I wonder if we'll be as nimble as we are with a gryphon in this video?

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Stamina for mounts: a horror for many WoW fans

However, if we keep in mind that the developers have obviously taken a lot of inspiration from Guild Wars 2, some form of perseverance always plays a role in these actions in the background. Finally, the Blizzards have explained that you will not only be able to customize the dragon companions visually, giving them different colors, tail shapes, armor or physique. You'll be able to "train" them, which will then give them the ability to fly faster and, most importantly, farther. The latter strongly hints at this endurance system known from GW2. When every wing beat costs power: If we use Guild Wars 2 Gryphon and Sky Scale to move forward, they constantly lose altitude - like a goblin ladder, but with much more mobility and control. Source: buffed

Restriction ensures organic flying

Accordingly, Dragon Riding should make for a terrific new flying experience in WoW (buy now )

. Because for the first time, mounts will have a sense of weight, speed and physical reference. The fact that a dragon becomes significantly faster when it simply rushes towards the ground and slows down when it has to carry itself and its rider upwards - it sounds logical, but has been an ignored factor in WoW until now. Also read these interesting stories 6

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But also one that probably some people don't want to have at all. Because this "realistic" flying also ensures that we can not simply graze the X, Y and Z axes of the game world as with a flight cheat. We will always have to decide when the ride on the dragon is necessary and otherwise travel with normal mounts on the ground - at least at the beginning of the expansion. Then normal flying will surely be enabled over time as well. Until then, however, there's the dragons!

Get involved with this "restriction"!

Again, for curmudgeons this is something that delays free flying, but for me it's a perfect compromise to not completely ban flying at the start of an expansion. Every trip through the clouds will then be special and allow a strong bond with the corresponding kite mount. Even if at first it seems as if our sports car suddenly needs fuel, after it could drive before as if by magic ... I am very optimistic that this restriction will make flying something special again, and not by a simple ban.

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