Now that the beta’s underway, we’ve started to see some real information about the expansion – talent trees, new abilities and so forth. What I started thinking about is what if the developers asked me “what else do you want to see in Cataclysm?” My first thought was please please please don’t ruin Hunters for me, but from what I’ve seen the ‘new’ hunter class might actually work. I kind of trust them not to break everything, anyway. I think also I’m pretty satisfied with what they’re doing mechanically – all the things I’ve thought of recently and said “I wish this was like that” have been look and feel related.
Certainly new features and mechanics and the way things work are important to the game, but I can’t help but feel that they have little to do with why I play. When I first got into WoW, I wasn’t thinking wow, I like the way they’ve balanced these classes or this system is really well programmed! It was all things like you can ride gryphons around rather than fast travel simply pinging you from place to place?! Awesome! or perhaps I love my pet’s prowling animation.
For a long time I wanted a proto-drake for the glide animation. Actually, I preferred the way my netherwing drake looked, but he had just the one flight animation. I missed gliding from when I used to fly around on taxi-gryphons. One of my favourite (undocumented) patch features was – I think it was the ToC patch – when they updated and standardised all the (non-proto) drake animations. I was flying around the new Argent Colosseum when to my surprise my drake stopped flapping, stretched out his magnificent translucent wings and glided. There isn’t a mount in the game today that would replace Jorus, my cobalt netherwing drake. Also, did you know that drakes now roar when you enter /mountspecial when landed? Netherdrakes have a unique roar / yawn.
So Blizzard are not averse to adding something which serves no practical purpose except to change the feel of the game, drag you into its fantasy world a little more. Here’s what I would like to see in Cataclysm (or whenever), my immersiveness wish list. In some kind of order:
1. Hunter pet personality: Minipets often have quite a bit of ‘personality’, sometimes changing their behaviour based on what the player’s doing, sometimes reacting to the external world. I’d like to see a little more personality injected into hunter-pets too. They are our constant companions, sharing the danger and adventure everywhere we go. They are present for our greatest victories and they cover our backs when we screw up. For roleplayers, I’d like to see a proper /pet emote channel. The main thing I’d love to see though is state-based animations. Standing around for more then 30 seconds? Pet sits down. AFK flag’s gone up? Pet lays down. Certainly cats, wolves and bears already have these animations – possibly other creatures too. Birds could flutter down to the ground in the same way as a druid in flight form emoting /sit. I wouldn’t object to more idle animations either! Currently my spirit beast is either ‘in generic cat ready stance’ or ‘looking left and right’ – he doesn’t have much personality compared to one of my minipets. This is unfortunate since a lot more people see my hunter pets and I have a much stronger ‘bond’ with them too.
2. Dive, dive! In the same spirit as the drake glide change, it would be really damned cool if my drake folded his wings back and dived if I push him into more than about a 45 degree declination. When I level out, he’d flare his wings out and then return to normal flight animations. I don’t think any actual increase in speed when diving would be necessary, although it does seem a little silly that dismounting and falling is faster than a full speed vertical dive. Regardless, adding a little bit of wind noise and subtle pulling-out of the FOV in conjunction with the dive animation would give the impression of a high speed dive without the actual extra speed.
3. Flight in cities: I understand the problem with flying mounts, and why they were disallowed in Dalaran. They are big, and get in the way of everything. It’s bad enough after Wintergrasp when everyone hops on their drakes and proceeds to stand RIGHT ON TOP OF all the questgivers and merchants. Nevertheless, I still want to be able to fly around in cities. Oh, certainly, if I land at ground level or hover too close to the street, I expect to be dismounted. There’s a lot of space above street level in Ironforge, and I’d really love to be able to fly about in it. Ideally there would be a platform up above the gryphon master where players would be able to mount up and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be allowed to fly about at high level. Same with Stormwind, just allow players to mount up at the gryphon station and let them stay aloft so long as they don’t go down to street level. Let us explore the beautiful new remodelled cities!
What? I like flying mounts…