Dragonriding is the only way to fly in Dragonflight: here’s how it differs from standard flying
A lot of things work differently in World of Warcraft Dragonflight: there’s no borrowed power, no mission table, and no flying… or at least not in the way we’re used to it. While WoW expansions typically don’t offer flying in new zones at launch, we’ll be able to fly in Dragonflight pretty quickly with the new Dragonriding feature. But using our flying mounts is something else entirely — and as it stands, our fancy flying mount collection won’t be taking to the skies in the Dragon Isles. Dragonflight will let us fly faster than ever, just not with our existing mounts.
WoW’s flying system has been basically unchanged since it launched in The Burning Crusade in 2007. Dragonriding breaks the mold for how we think about flying in WoW. Dragonriding adds a new dynamic way to fly, where you can flap your wings to soar into the air, and then pick up speed as you descend, with the feeling that you are rushing across the land at breakneck speed. It’s a lot of fun, and it essentially replaces the traditional flying system within the Dragon Isles. Normal flying will exist in all zones where it has previously been available, but the only way to fly in the Dragon Isles is with Dragonriding.
Unlike other expansions, where you’ve had to pay a mountain of gold or complete a complex meta-achievement at max level, in Dragonflight you’ll get Dragonriding very early on as part of the leveling experience. There’s no arduous quest to track down, no achievements to chase: you’ll learn it soon after you arrive on the Dragon Isles. But if you were hoping to hop on a flying mount and clicking the outrun button to soar through the skies, you’re out of luck. Let’s talk about just what Dragonriding can do and how it’s different than traditional WoW flying.
How Dragonriding is different from standard WoW flying
For starters, you can’t use Dragonriding with any of your usual flying mounts — no, not even the dragons and drakes we’ve been collecting over the years. Instead, as you level through the Dragon Isles, you’ll unlock Dragonriding-specific mounts. There are lots of looks and customizations to unlock for these mounts — like armor, horns and so on — but they’re the only way you’ll take to the skies in the Dragon Isles.
Unlike your standard mounts, Dragonriding isn’t a fire and forget system: you don’t just summ0n your mount and swoop off into the wild fill-in-a-skybox-color-here yonder. You actually have to manage your mount’s momentum and take advantage of leaping off of high places in order to gain speed that you can use to keep your mount in the air longer. There’s a talent system just for Dragonriding, which includes unlocking glyphs out in the open world — and according to this interview with Associate Game Director Jeremy Feasel and Lead Software Engineer May Flores Garcia there isn’t anything preventing you from going around the Dragon Isles unlocking all the glyphs as soon as you unlock the system… meaning they’ll also be unlocked for your alts.
Dragonriding makes use system called Vigor, which powers all of your flight abilities. You only have three Vigor to start, and gaining altitude or speed costs you Vigor. That will limit your time in the air (particularly while you’re still learning the system, but your Vigor will refill while you’re on the ground or when you make a powerful dive in the air. As you progress through the Dragonriding talent system, you’ll gain abilities that upgrade your starting three Vigor points, increase your Vigor regeneration, and otherwise make it easier to keep your Dragonriding mounts up in the air for longer.
Dragonriding has lots of customization to unlock
How do you progress in the Dragonriding talent system? You explore the Dragon Isles for the Dragon Glyphs that unlock each special ability. These glyphs are account wide, so once you’ve unlocked them on your main, you won’t need to do it again on subsequent playthroughs. Once you’ve found a Dragon Glyph out in the world, you’ll gain a currency called Dragon Glyph Embers which you spend at the Dragonriding Trainer to unlock progressive Dragonriding Talents, with Tier 1 Talents costing one Dragon Glyph Ember and the most expensive Tier 9 talents costing up to five embers.
Remember, if you want to, you can just start traveling around the Dragon Isles as soon as you unlock Dragonriding to get all of the Glyphs and progress your character through the talent tree.
But that will likely mean getting killed a lot if you’re too low level for a specific zone, so it may be best to simply take your time and boost your Dragonriding with talents as you level. You can see from these maps that you’ll get a fair shake at boosting your Dragonriding in the Waking Shores, the starting zone for Dragonflight, so by the time you move on you should have a few more options than when you first gain the ability.
So that’s how Dragonflight shakes up flying — instead of a passive ability unlocked via an achievement, it’s an active and dynamic system that you can customize depending on what you want to pursue the most and it doesn’t require you to do a big set of achievements to unlock it — instead, after you unlock it, you then pursue the means to improve the system and make it more flexible and easier for you to use for long distance travel.
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