Naithan had me thinking with a recent post about flying in BfA. A long time ago I had completed Part 1, which was mostly a rep grind at the start. At the time, the rep grind had some significant tangible benefits related to gearing and vertical progress. Really doesn’t mean much today though.
Part 2 is another rep grind, specifically with the 8.2 factions (Nazjatar and Mechagon), and given the large rep boost it turned out to be about 3 days of effort with the reputation boost active. A Mechagon contract plus all the quests and dailies for each zone gave me the boost. So maybe a week now that the rep boost isn’t active.
Now we get to cover the actual benefits of flying. I decided to level my rogue to test it out. I did a few levels on the ground, a few in the air. Air was faster, but only when put against negative zone flow design. Blizz world design has 2 modes – open exploration, and then funnelled experience. The funnelled experience doesn’t benefit from flying. You go from A to B, and the path is part of the experience. The open world design has spread out targets, and then “trash” blocking the ground path. The western part of Stormsong (Naga area) is a super good example. Flying allows you to pick your targets, and since the majority of EXP is from quests, this is a major speed boost. The difference in BfA is large, but not as large as it was in Legion.
World quests also benefit, since they are spread out and the drop in/out aspect is a HUGE timesaver. Fairly useless for people who have access to flying since they’ve likely got all they need from WQ already (except alts). Material farming also isn’t that great. Both 8.2 zones have plenty of trash drops that are worth 100g, which blows any farming route out of the water. I made 5,000g running those 2 zones in 30 minutes and vendoring everything I found.
In 7.3 (Argus) you couldn’t fly. Daily quest hub, plenty of ways to die, lots of interesting bits. It was relatively good design but felt punishing since you had just unlocked flying.
8.3 is re-makes of existing zones with N’zoth invasions, and they require flying (Uldum in particular). The zone design itself is limited by Cataclysm/Pandaria structure, where you have pockets of activity and large spaces with nothing. It’s a heck of a throw back when you look at from afar. Flying is not punished, only floating and going AFK. It makes the dailies go by extremely fast, 15 minutes or so per zone. This is really odd design choice considering the deliberate efforts in the past years to slow down the pace of content consumption.
Flying has a larger benefit to alts in terms of catch-up options. Whether there’s a value there or not depends on what you’re trying to achieve. There are quite a few time gates in terms of vertical progression (WQ/Dailies), but you could try your hand at dungeons I guess to reach max level pretty quick. I don’t see why that would matter today. You’re pretty much just setting up alts for the next expansion, right?