Queue the collective groan.
Fair enough! With the amount of people who absolutely don’t want mounts in their MMO, this author comes equipped, complete with anti-arrow kneepads. That’s right, anti-arrow, baby. But seriously, read on before you take up arms.
Firstly, let’s take into account the fast-travel mechanics in both the original Guild Wars, and in Guild Wars 2. They’re spot-on, and just about anyone who experiences them says they’d never go back to “traditional” travel.
That being said, there’s still another side of the argument, vying for a more consistent speed option. It actually takes away from some of the enjoyment of exploring an area when you have to constantly find another speed buff to hit. On top of that, gamers are lazy — we want the speed without all the extra work.
“Well if laziness is the issue, why even ask for mounts? Let’s just ask for instant-teleport to wherever we want, and some loot on top of it!”
Patience. All will be revealed after the break…
Mounts add more to the game than just speed. A whole lot more. Firstly, they add aesthetics. Your mount is your car, and when you roll into town in the Tyrian version of a Bentley, everyone is instantly aware of something else you have, and it rhymes with e-bean. How awesome would it look to ride around on a Dolyak (barring the discussion of whether or not that’s actually any faster), or maybe a siege turtle? This is top-notch badassery, people. Also, the Charr and Asura could totally whip up something in lieu of a mount. And that’s not even touching the whole underwater aspect of Guild Wars 2. This author may or may not totally and completely ride a shark (by remembering Quaggans are NOT food)…
Secondly, mounts have long been used as goals, and that’s not a tradition that needs to be broken. If some incredibly difficult thing can offer up a totally awesome mount as the reward, it’s insta-win for gamers.
Now, to address the unspoken fears you all have, the answer is no. Flying types of mounts, or super ultra speed ground mounts do nothing but take away from the social aspect of the game, and cause players to bypass content. Also, Lord of the Rings Online had a fantastic system, where mounts had health. If too much damage was taken while mounted, it would automatically dismiss. That kind of mechanic helps keep speed-players in check, and there’s no reason it couldn’t work in Guild Wars 2 as well.
Now here’s the most epicest idea. Yep, so epic, it needed a new adjective just to describe it. What about mounted combat? It makes complete sense, given that skill bars already change from land to water. Changing them again on mounts adds a completely new dimension to the game; it’s a dimension almost completely untouched previously. The first Guild Wars had a similar idea with the Devourers and the Junundu in Nightfall, and World of Warcraft touched on the idea first with their Argent Tournament, and then with the full-on implementation of the vehicle system later. But these felt clunky, and almost slightly automated — Guild Wars 2 could finally take it to the maximum potential, and ArenaNet is the company with the creative insight to make it work properly. So once your mind stops being blown, let it munch on that.
The point is, overall, most players want an option for consistent speed. It’s a terrible idea to throw something in that makes the world just an obstacle in getting from A to B, but today’s MMO market thinks it’s also a pretty terrible idea to have to spend the first fifteen minutes of your game play doing a 5k marathon to the quest area. At this stage of the game though, nobody should be worried about ArenaNet coming up with a brilliant solution.