Liore of Herding Cats has a nice post about her impressions of returning to WoW. She also points out how she noticed the small UI details in Rift, or quality of life features as I call them, that are missing from WoW.
She also mentions briefly another point, which really stuck a chord with me:
Also, as someone who hasn’t played in a while I’m not sure I like flying mounts anymore. They just feel.. awkward. Invasive? I’m not sure.
When flying was first introduced to WoW as an end-game goal/convenience in the Burning Crusade expansion it was a thing to aim for. Flying mounts were relatively rare at least at first, so they were objects of wonder and envy. By the end of the Wrath era flying mounts, especially dragons and drakes were commonplace. During busier time on our server most outdoor vendors or questgivers in Stormwind are invisible under a sea of overlapping dragons and other giant winged mounts.
Somewhere during Wrath and/or Cataclysm the world part of the WoW game title lost it’s meaning, it became empty of other players and empty of challenge and danger. Flying is part of this decline, since it became so much quicker and more direct to travel from A to B.
Playing other games without any flying mounts, like LoTRO, Rift and now GW2 I feel more connected to the game world. Choices of fast travel destination have an impact still, since I won’t be able to just fly over all the challenges between the nearest stablemaster, porticulum or waypoint and the place I wish to reach. Yes, even GW2 with its plethora of fast travel waypoints still feels more like a world to me than WoW does because I still have to battle to the vista, heart or point of interest through all the mobs that happen to be in the way. With flying mounts you can literally dive bomb your target location and avoid 99% of everything else in the world.
Given the choice, I’d rather miss out on the convenience of flying because it takes too much out of the gameplay and the game world. That’s one “quality of life” feature I can do without!