Flapgate, as I'm calling it, was as depressingly stupid as it was predictable. Once again, Blizzard completely misjudges the community's wishes and shits the bed with poor communication and asshattery. It all started with this excerpt from Polygon:
"Having looked at how flying has played out in the old world in the last couple of expansions, we realized that while we were doing it out of this ingrained habit after we introduced flying in The Burning Crusade, it actually detracted from gameplay in a whole lot of ways," Hazzikostas explains. "While there was certainly convenience in being able to completely explore the world in three dimensions, that also came at the expense of gameplay like targeted exploration, like trying to figure out what's in that cave on top of a hill and how do I get up there."Ion continues:
"The world feels larger, feels more dangerous," he says. "There's more room for exploration, for secrets, for discovery and overall immersion in the world. At this point, we feel that outdoor gameplay in World of Warcraft is ultimately better without flying. We're not going to be reintroducing the ability to fly in Draenor, and that's kind of where we're at going forward."And the award for tone-deaf, bed-shitting, hysteria-inducing blunder of the year goes to Ion Hazzikostas!
In all seriousness, I sort of agreed with him on a few points; not being able to fly in WoD did make the game world feel more dangerous. It felt alive and brutal (and annoying) to traverse all over Blizzard's new world to find some stupid shiny thing. And for level 90-100, that's totally fine. Acceptable. Fun, even!
But once your level 100 with an ilvl in the 670s or 680s and you're clicking garrison missions like a drone, the dream of flight seems like a welcome reprieve from the daily wizard chores of being a 'Commander.' Being able to take wing and more fully explore the game world woulda been sorta nice, hey? But nah. Bed. Shit. Hysteria. Pitchforks.
Flapgate only intensified once the forums got a hold of this information. Multiple threads capped out (I lost count at 6), creating over a thousand pages of frothing nerd rage, soaked in the bitter tears of betrayals and face slaps and poorly articulated rage. So many players threatened to quit (or did quit, who can tell really) over Flapgate that Blizzard was compelled to hold a Q&A to ostensibly talk about Patch 6.2: The Hellfire Citadel But Totally Not That Other Hellfire Place That Was In The Previous Expansion That We're Constantly Hearkening Back To In Order To Activate Your Nostalgia So You Give Us More Money Totally We Promise For Realsies You Can Trust Us Guys.
This Q&A would have been a bloodbath of epic proportions. But it was rescheduled for another day because LOL Heroes of the Storm had a livecast at the Youtube offices on the same day. Whoopsies!
Commence forum meltdown.
Blizzard let this froth over for a few days. It was an exciting time to read the forums. Not since Real ID (which I wasn't a fan of) had there been this much vitriol and hatred displayed by the WoW fanbase. Players were going at each other with reckless abandon; friendships were formed and sundered, names were called, kudos were earned, strawmen were built and ripped apart by forum-going, argyle-wearing, fedora-adorned hipsters! Oh, what a happy time!
The good folks in Irvine finally decided to call a halt to the proceedings by dropping this bombshell:
We appreciate the spirited discussion on the topic of flying. The subject has brought out passionate viewpoints and sparked insightful conversations on our official forums and blogs, on community sites, and in chat channels. Your feedback has been a valuable part of the ongoing conversations within Blizzard as well, and today, we’d like to share some updated plans for how we’ll handle flight going forward.
Mic drop. Exit stage left.
So flying is coming to Draenor after all. And not in the way that's good. Instead of doing a special quest or whatnot, you have to go achievement hunting. Then you need to collect some treasures. And then all your characters 90+ have flight unlocked.
The pendulum swung too far once again. Just like raid difficulty, accessibility, class changes, class homogenization ... once again, they go too far. It's either go big or go home. I don't know if I like unlocking flight for all characters over 90 through one account-bound achievement hunt. I'd prefer a 100+ only quest chain that becomes unlockable once you get to level max.
But at least we can fly. And I don't know how fair it is for me to expect them to fully write, test, and implement an entire quest chain on such short notice. That's probably not terribly feasible. Still, it is mildly annoying that they didn't have an answer for this when they blurted out to Polygon that "LOL NO FLIGHT IN WOD."
Flapgate was entirely avoidable by just being prepared. Don't sell flying mounts during WoD if we can't actually fly them in WoD. Don't remove a massive game feature and think the playerbase won't notice it. Don't sacrifice flying mounts on the altar of 'proper game design.' Just my two cents really.
Damn was it fun though!