Flying mounts will be added to World of Warcraft's Dreanor region after all, Blizzard has confirmed in a blog post over at the game's official website.
In recent expansions, players have been forced to first reach the new maximum level by exploring the world on foot, before unlocking the far zippier airborne travel option. Blizzard intended to go further with Warlords of Draenor and remove the option entirely - even at the new level cap - but has had a change of heart which will be reflected in the game's next major patch.
There's a catch, however. In order to unlock the ability to take to the skies of Draenor, you'll first of all have to complete a series of goals that will allow you to earn the Draenor Pathfinder meta-achievement. To unlock this mark of your efforts, you'll have to explore every zone thoroughly, collect treasure items, complete the majority of the new quests introduced with the expansion, and raise a number of faction reputations.
Do all of this, and you'll not only be deemed to have consumed enough of the content as it was originally intended to be experienced, but you'll also get a new mount called the Soaring Skyterror for your collection.
The news has not been universally well received by WOW's players, however.
The issue of flying mounts has for years been a divisive one for the WOW community. Residents of player-versus-player realms in particular, where you can be attacked by other players at any given moment, have long argued that the introduction of aerial mounts in The Burning Crusade all but eliminated the opportunities for spontaneous open-world PVP combat.
Others believe that the ability to travel so directly between locations, and so far removed from the action below, took something away from the scale and exploration of the world, reducing much of its grandeur in the process, and simplifying the challenge of the content contained within it.
Regardless, Blizzard feels like this new approach represents a fair compromise between those who would prefer to see all players grounded permanently, and those who crave the convenience of air travel. With this new system, players will first have to experience all of the expansion content as intended, but they won't then be "punished" by having to repeat the effort when it comes to levelling their other characters. It's a model that seems likely to be used for future expansions as well.
"We believe this strikes the right balance between ensuring ground-based content lives up to its full potential, while providing players who've already fully experienced Draenor's outdoor world extra freedom to 'break the rules'," wrote lead designer Ion Hazzikostas.
"This also provides a general blueprint going forward for content to come. Players will explore new and undiscovered lands from the ground, and then once they've fully mastered those environments - a notion that continues to evolve with each new expansion - they can take to the skies and experience the world from a new vantage point."