Flying in Shadowlands has been one of the most anticipated features since the beginning of the expansion. BlizzConline has ended and we finally have more info on when we can expect flying, how to unlock it, where we can fly, and why this Pathfinder achievement is different than the others before. No worries – we’ll be going over all of that, so if you care about spreading your mount’s wings (or your own if you’re a flat-faced, rideable owl in-game like me), you’re in the right place!
The most important thing is that, yes, flying is definitely coming in Patch 9.1. We don’t quite know yet when that’s going to happen, and do keep in mind that there’s a mini-patch 9.0.5 in which we’ll see some changes like Valor points system, so we may be seeing 9.1 as late as May, or June. Of course, I’m just guessing here, but as there’s that patch-up patch in between and Blizzard actually felt the need to do that instead of waiting for 9.1, I guess it’s still a heavy work in progress. And I’m fine with that, as that means we’ll be getting the game in a much better, cleaner state than it is now, judging by all the announcements about Torghast, loot, and changes due to the community feedback.
Alright, so how do we unlock flying? Do we just log in on the 9.1 release day and take off?
Hmm, no, not really. To earn flying in Shadowlands, you have to complete the full Covenant campaign on one of your characters, which is quite far from being over. Additional 40 Renown levels will be unlocked in the 9.1 Patch, and my guess is that somewhere in the midst of unlocking those, there will be a final campaign quest awarding you with enough Renown to get the achievement. You do not need any of the reputations maxed out in order to do so, not even your covenant’s one, but you may have that one already if you’ve been doing some work around the place, so there’s absolutely nothing to worry about…. Except for your unicorn mounts dragging their feet in the dirt for another half a year or so.
When it comes to where you’ll be able to fly, the answer is a bit trickier. Your flying abilities will be unlocked in all of the four covenant zones regardless of the covenant you belong in, but you’ll still be using the flight master to get to a different zone (or to Oribos, until you earn yourself a teleport from your transport network). According to Ion, there are multiple reasons for that, and the most important one is the distance you’d have to travel.
If we were to hop on our mounts and attempt to fly from one region to another, that could take as long as half an hour, as the regions are actually quite spread apart. This makes absolute lore sense, as the covenants aren’t really supposed to be neighbors or anything, but it makes me wonder why it was more convenient to actually build and code Shadowlands in such a way. I’m not a coder or a game dev or anything of the sort, but I assume that, when we get into the anima swirly thing, our characters flying speed is increased massively, and that’s not something that’s coded into our collection mounts, only the flight master’s mounts can do that. (Of course, I may have a wildly misleading picture about this, so if you know how this works, let me know in the comments.) In essence, it’s faster this way, and it doesn’t break the lore in a way that your mounts suddenly become intergalactic superdragons, magic carpets, or whatever it may be.
The fact that you will only be able to fly in your covenant zones implies that there will be no wing flapping in the Maw or in the other, new regions either. (Unless you’re a Boomie and you actually get to flap your tiny, underwhelming wings without ever getting to fly.) So yeah, no flying, even though your riding mounts will want to join you in the Maw once again, as we’ll be setting up a foothold there and they won’t completely feel like the Maw will eat them alive. Not sure how that really works.
Anyway, I can somewhat understand this from a technical standpoint, as not all the zones are designed to look cool from all the angles, especially if they were done in a rush. You can easily see this for yourself if you go to any of the zones in which flying came later in the expansion – or it wasn’t supposed to happen at all, for example Winterspring, which looks rather strange with the water and tree textures from the bird’s eye.
Maw was one of the zones that got rushed a bit, but I still don’t think its appearance is the main reason why we won’t fly there. It’s still an environment unnatural to us, and we aren’t really supposed to be there at all, so I’m fine with being on the ground, as long as everyone gets to have a riding mount speed, and not just Druids. Trust me, getting invited to a group just so people would try to click on my back is getting annoying.
When it comes to the new zone, the city of Korthia, I can only hope it’s been designed with this in mind, because we probably won’t be able to fly there anytime soon either. If it’s lacking the unreachable cliffs, long distances that you can fit a song in while you’re traveling, and all that “let’s make travel feel fun again” stuff, yeah, let’s not do that. I’m hoping that Korthia will be a pleasant environment to be in, as it looks really promising with all the creatures and rewards we’ve seen so far. I’d hate to see it spoiled by the fact that it takes absolute ages to get to your quests, it brings back too many Argussian Reach memories that beg to be stuffed under the carpet.
That’s pretty much all we know for now when it comes to flying. What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments! If you’re more of a visual type, and you don’t mind getting easy wins in WoW, you can check out all of this in my video – and subscribe for more awesome WoW stuff!