Access to Flight in FF14 + WoW

There’s a lot of stuff I need to unlock in FF14… months of stuff that has nothing to do with Endwalker (Nov 23). So that means I’m working through a list of sorts, with the odd distraction along the way. Unlocking flight per expansion is one of them. I already had it for Heavensward (which retroactively applied to ARR), so it was more about Stormblood and Shadowbringers.

The neat part here is that the process is zone specific, rather than expansion wide. Boon and bane because each zone requires:

  • Finding all the nodes on the map (8 or so) that attune you to the wind. Some of these are really simple, but there’s always one that’s a milk run to find.
  • Completing 5 quests. One of them is on the MSQ chain. The other 4 are (with only 1 exception) simple quests.

The end result is a somewhat tedious process of unlocking it, with what effectively is an achievement system. I can take tedious.

Because the alternative is to not have any flying, like WoW insists upon every expansion. Or when they do, to put so much time gating that it takes weeks to get it done. They are either very complex faction quests that only open over days of effort, or are reputation grinds that take weeks to sort out.

But why does this even matter, what benefit does flight actually give?

Faster Access to Places

There are 2-3 places you can instantly teleport within FF14. I’m in the starting (level 1) city, I can easily reach the level 80 town with 2 clicks. Getting to anywhere is already pretty smooth. Moving around in the local map is certainly faster, and a huge benefit to gathering classes or FATE hunting. Since gathering is a sort of minigame, it’s not something that is easy to automate.

WoW has flight paths, boats, and portals. Getting to Shattrah is a crazy complex exercise. Northrend? Let’s say you want to do Bastion of Twilight, you’re looking at 15 minutes of travel. It takes forever to get anywhere, and flight gives you the ability to set your compass and just do something else. It also helps gathering bots, as the act of harvesting is only 1 click.

Access to Unreachable Places

There really aren’t any of these in FF14, at least that I can see. There are however places where it is difficult to reach, or time consuming. Stormblood has quite a few locations that are a vertical challenge to reach – and the final zone in Shadowbringers is really weird in that regard.

WoW had this at the start – TBC really went all in with this idea. Since then, it has instead relied on teleporters / flight paths to get people around. Navigation is relatively easy now, at least in terms of landscapes.

A Safe Place to Rest

There are only a few spots in any given map that are dangerous for players to AFK in FF14. Maybe you really luck out and a FATE spawns on you. Otherwise, you’re pretty much always in a safe space.

In WoW, almost any area is a death trap full of stuns and knockdowns. BfA was really bad for this – good golly was this bad. It makes the world feel more threatening and meaningful. For a couple weeks at least, then it’s just more hurdles to get where you want to go. The weekly raid bosses are a good example of this, when the game is fresh it’s actually hard to get to them. Once you have a few ilvls, then it’s just mosquitoes. Flying bypasses that annoyance.

A Sense of Pride and Accomplishment

Hah! No it doesn’t. You had it before the expansion launched, lost it because you are “discovering” a new world. The definition of explored is the debateable one.

FF14 doesn’t put a ton of focus on world exploration, at least in the context of the maps, outside the MSQ. So by the time you’ve completed the entire MSQ, there really aren’t many corners left to see.

WoW on the other hand has a LOT of exploration and optional content. I do buy the argument that if you bypassed it all, then there is still a lot of content left to do without flying. I can almost see why factions are a gate, since they are the prime mechanic to explore the map outside of the main quest. Now… does doing the same quest every day for 6 months a valid measure of explored? Ehh.

Forward

I think the fundamental bit where time management feels like it’s more respected in one game vs the other is they key differentiator. As much as this has been about flying, the real thing is how the developers view the players and what they are trying to do with their time. It’s an interesting design paradigm that applies to so much more than this singular issue – but is most certainly highlighted.

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