Gameplay Wishlist: new mount abilities

Akela Talamasca
A. Talamasca|05.15.08

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Gameplay Wishlist: new mount abilities

Mounts in World of Warcraft are essentially organic vehicles that allow the player to traverse the landscape more quickly. Level 60 Epic mounts are faster than level 40 mounts, and of course flying mounts grant vertical movement. Mounts in other games are mostly the same, barring, of course, smaller games of which we might know nothing. It's a big game universe out there; it's possible.

But it seems that there's unaddressed potential with these mounts. Sure, they look menacing, and it's better to ride than to walk, but is that all? Watching the recent Vanguard mounts video made us yearn for more from our noble steeds. Here's what we'd like to see in future games.

Mounted combat should become de rigeur

Does a warrior stop being a warrior while on horseback? Of course not. If anything, she becomes more fearsome, with improved force due to the velocity of her mount. Yet WoW doesn't offer mounted combat of either stripe: neither mounted versus mounted, nor mounted versus pedestrian (Age of Conan does offer this, but we've not heard much about how it plays out so we'll reserve judgment).

This seems like a no-brainer, but in the future, let's please make it possible for your mount to grant you some sort of combat-related buff while you're riding it, maybe speed of attack, or toughness of defense, or similar. It's an idea whose time has come -- and passed!

Mounts should possess species-specific abilities

Let's say your mount is a giant spider, as witnessed in the recent Vanguard video. What can spiders do that no reptile or mammal can? They can spin webs to catch prey! How cool would it be to be able to thwapp an enemy and reel it in to finish it off, or immobilize it with a line, allowing yourself time to escape its aggro radius?

Or what if you had a frog or flea mount (just go with it)? You could access areas of the environment otherwise unreachable by normal means, granting a defensive bonus to combat, or finding hidden loot in secret areas? Or a dolphin mount that could travel extra fast underwater? With a little foresight, the choice of mount could be an important strategic consideration in gameplay.

Mounts should be bred to create stronger strains

Anyone who's played Final Fantasy VII understands the benefits of breeding. Some areas of the game can't be reached without the right kind of hybrid chocobo, and therefore, not every secret can be had. Humans have been breeding animals for centuries to develop critters that are stronger, more disease-resistant, and in some cases, tastier.

But for an MMO, there are particularly good reasons to breed your choice of mounts. Few games make use of generational knowledge -- that is to say, abilities that the parents know recapitulated as abilities that the offspring know. WoW does let pets learn different attacks and attributes, but they can't have progeny that are born already possessing these traits. And if each successive line gets faster and stronger, the business could be lucrative as well, selling custom mounts as a cottage industry.

These are just the immediate thoughts behind improvement of the mounts concept; I'm sure our readers will be able to come up with others. It's time to expect more from the critters we ride, and it's up to us to start thinking about how to implement those changes. Future developers, it's on you!
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