This past week I left the Dragon Isles for the first time since the launch of Dragonflight to visit this season’s Mythic dungeons and found myself surprisingly distraught at the lack of dragonriding in old Azeroth. The moment I passed through the portal to Pandaria’s Jade Forest I double tapped the jump button expecting my mount to launch into the air and start soaring across the sky, but instead it hovered a few feet off of the ground. As I begrudgingly flew to the Temple of the Jade Serpent the old fashioned way, it occurred to me that Blizzard has backed itself into a bit of a corner, design-wise. Dragonriding is so damn good, I don’t know where it can go from here.
The obvious solution is to bring Dragonriding outside of the Dragon Isles so that you can use the new way of flying no matter where you are, but it isn’t quite that simple. For one thing, there’s a progression to dragonriding that’s tied to the Dragonflight campaign and exploring the Dragon Isles, so players who jump into the game at the next expansion would be at a serious disadvantage. The Dragon Isles are also intentionally designed for dragonriding, meaning future expansions will need to fit into a very specific mold created for Dragonflight. I’m not sure how well dragonriding will work in older expansions either, especially in places without much topographical variety. Dragonriding is specifically a Dragonflight feature, but now that we have it, there’s no going back.
Then there are all the other mounts to consider. Now that we can dragonride, all the flying mounts that came before feel useless. People have spent nearly two decades collecting (and buying) exotic mounts, but there’s no longer a reason to ride them. It even feels weird to collect the new mounts that were introduced in Dragonflight because they feel like relics of an older version of the game.
I don’t think there’s any way that non-dragonriding mounts get converted to the dragonriding system. Each dragonriding mount has an entire suite of animations and mechanics, and I don’t see how Blizzard could possibly invest the time to convert thousands of older mounts to work – especially when it's still introducing new flying mounts that can’t dragonride. The only option is to keep introducing new dragonriding mounts in the future, but considering there are only four total (albeit with plenty of customization options) it seems like that’s no simple task either. Depending on what the future holds for WoW, it might not even make sense to introduce more dragonriding mounts.
The worst-case scenario is that we just go back to the old style of flying after Dragonflight – but that also seems like the most plausible outcome. It’s suspicious that Blizzard isn’t even selling additional dragonriding mounts in the real money shop – a practice the company hasn’t gotten extraordinarily comfortable with this year – and I suspect that indicates they aren’t going to be pumping out new dragonriding mounts the way they do other mounts. This is a Pandora’s Box situation, and while I don’t know what the solution is, I just know I’m never going to be happy with traditional flying ever again.
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