Tesh got me thinking. The post is about World of Warcraft’s apparent cut to flying in the latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Tesh isn’t too happy, which echoes much World of Warcraft community sentiment. There is almost a literal gross of flying mounts in World of Warcraft. Some mounts require incredible effort and play time to get. There is a whole culture of flying mount gameplay in World of Warcraft. They still won’t be seeing any Draenor skies.
I’ve already praised the compartmentalization for the upcoming Guild Wars 2 expansion, Heart of Thorns. The elite specializations, for instance, I feel are fantastic ways to advance professions, and they stay compartmentalized so each elite specialization doesn’t compound on each other. Yet, Tesh truly gave me pause with regard to gliding.
Gliding, from what we know, will be compartmentalized to the Heart of Thorns maps. That means no gliding in Orr or any curent jumping puzzle you are having trouble with. That is reasonable enough that gliding isn’t retroactive, but that’s not really the issue here.
Heart of Thorns is likely going to be full of gliding fun. Already in the Verdant Brink map from the last beta run there were shiny baubles that were just out of reach of anybody not having advanced gliding masteries. The wyvern fight (“demo”?) was filled with gliding fun. Hopefully we see more of that today during all the two-hour closed beta sessions.
It is not hard to foresee, like World of Warcraft’s expansive mount options, many gem store and game reward shinies that can be applied to gliding. There could be different glider skins aplenty. Glider effects, such as leaving a rainbow trail or raining kudzu on the battlefield, could be possible. Could there even be a legendary glider that requires questing across the land and collecting rare items? I don’t think it’s unreasonable.
Then, Tesh made me think, what about the future? All these fun, glider-y things could be for naught. What if the second Guild Wars 2 expansion has us going to the Dominion of Winds, where it is too windy to use gliders? Unlike World of Wacraft, compartmentalizing gliding to a single expansion (or discontiguous ones) would not be as bad as removing gliding four expansions deep.
Then I thought about underwater content in Guild Wars 2. If I were betting, I would say that if there is any underwater content in Heart of Thorns it will be the slightest of nods. I hope that someday underwater gets a full polish because I love it, but I do recognize all the problems it has. Frostgorge Sound is one of my favorite zones because of the expansive depths. However, I kind of feel that gliding is going to edge out any dev time that could’ve added underwater content. (See also all the recent Black Lion skin sets lacking any underwater skins.)
A lot of people have worked hard on gearing up for underwater content. There are 3 legendary weapons, which are as difficult to obtain as any other legendary apart from the cheap precursor. There was the Rime-Rimmed Rebreather, the only exotic underwater mask I know of, which was the item to get last Wintersday. Players in Heart of Thorns may never be able to pull out their Kamohoali’i Kotaki.
Would that be so bad if gliding was put by the wayside later on? I honestly don’t know. On one hand “gliding” is a Heart of Thorns mastery. If they have it in another expansion it will either require Heart of Thorns or require another mastery track, both of which have their issues. On the other hand, if gliding is such a core feature to Heart of Thorns, how easy will it be to head for other movement mechanics? If players get used to plummeting down cliff faces to be saved by the spread of their glider, would it be fun to regress the mechanic back to beware of fall damage?
I feel, given Blizzard’s current situation, that making gliding a Heart of Thorns compartmentalized feature is the best bet. Let the community know that gliding is going to be, at this point in time, kept to the Heart of Maguuma maps, but then table the idea of returning to gliding at a later time. Perhaps in expansion four, the Rise of the Zephryites, they create a new gliding mastery track, part of which lets you use Heart of Thorns gliding masteries in the Zephryish maps (a fleet of airships perhaps).
I feel the biggest thing is to provide an alternative, which is Blizzard’s failing at the moment. In Heart of Thorns there might be no underwater content, but there will be gliding content. Lose one form of “unlimited” movement to gain another form of movement. In the next expansion there might be no gliding, but, if Arenanet is smart about it, there will be a fun replacement. Don’t just do a hatchet job.