I have always been fascinated with flying in video games. Whether it’s playing as Superman saving the city or using jetpack in San Andreas, the ability to use the Z-axis effectively in a 3D game is excellent, especially for action games since they allow more versatility in combat and grants players more venues for an attack.
It wouldn’t be a surprise then for most players that flying MMORPGs (MMORPGs with flight) restrict the ability, especially in combat. But, think about it the ability to fly on a battlefield would surely result in easy victory as nothing is left to surprise for the player as they have scanned the entire field.
Furthermore, players would be able to jump in and out of battle with ease, dealing significant damage and retreating for heals.
The recently released Flight Simulator did it best, in my opinion. It’s a virtual tour of the world, complete with all landmarks and monuments for players to discover or explore from a bird’s eye.
But, of course, since we’re talking about video games, planes are not the only way to fly. The Dragonborn DLC from Skyrim allowed players to tame a dragon enabling them to ride it and make a spectacular entry wherever they go, sending townsfolk screaming for help till they realize it’s a friendly dragon (as friendly as one can be).
If you’re looking for a game with decent flight mechanics, fair warning as MMORPGs are not the way to go given their grindy nature, the ability to fly is not something freely available to all players at all times.
Regardless, here’s a list of flying MMORPGs or MMORPGs with flight mechanics.
1. Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is a third-person MMORPG developed by ArenaNet and released in 2012.
The game plays like a mix of MMORPG/ARPG, allowing players to select skills to use in battle according to their profession and race, bringing about a strategic element. The game is well-balanced mainly due to the developers heeding the criticism of the first title.
As such, players enjoy a pleasant experience as far as grinding is concerned. In PvP mode, all players are locked to level 80 with access to all abilities, making it an even ground.
To fly in Guild Wars, players need access to mounts that can fly. Currently, players have two options -Griffon or Skyscale. Disclaimer, these mounts don’t technically fly, but players can ensure that their mounts stay in the air indefinitely with enough understanding of the mechanics.
I’d recommend using Skyscale. He’s unlocked by completing the War Eternal episode and receiving the invitation back to Dragonfall.
Skyscales are essentially lesser forms of dragons, and though they don’t feature the same size or strength, they more than make up for it in agility. Virtually they ride like a helicopter, with players controlling the mount’s altitude; however, Skyscale doesn’t have infinite stamina and cannot stay in the air indefinitely; this is where wall-clinging mechanics come into play.
Thus, the players wish to fly infinitely; the critical part is managing the Skyscale’s stamina and getting him to launch off walls as often as required; this will give the Skyscale time to breathe and launch him further upwards.
2. DC Universe Online
DC Universe Online is a superhero MMORPG developed by Dimensional Ink Games and released in 2011.
I remember this game from my early days. Watching the trailer got me all excited since the game takes place in an alternate timeline where all superhero battles have come to a head, and Lex Luthor is the victor. But, the victory is short-lived as Brainiac approaches the Earth, and there are no superheroes left to save them.
DCUO is a superhero fantasy where players are allowed to create their own fictional character and decide their faction (hero or villain) among other standard character customizations, including personality (severe or comical) and movement ability, which allows players the ability to fly, super speed or Batman’s grapple gun.
I have a feeling what you’re going to choose, and flight works more or less as expected. Players can press a designated flight key to enter the flight mode, and players are free to explore the city from a bird’s eye, except, of course, there’s a limit to the altitude (which is greater than the tallest skyscrapers in the building, so that’s always a good sign).
Players can use this ability to scope out the battlefield before swooping into combat quickly, allowing them to knock out enemies in quick succession. The flight also unlocks attack animations exclusive to characters that can fly and deflect oncoming enemy aerial projectiles.
As players progress further, they can access the “Super Sonic” ability, which allows them to fly at much greater speeds but not attack during this phase. Additionally, players can be knocked off their speed by enemy projectiles.
Mabinogi is a Korean MMORPG developed by devCAT and released in 2004.
The game plays more like a life-sim; it allows players to choose any skill regardless of their class or race; instead, their proficiency in any one skill is determined by the player’s choices coupled with the character’s age, available items, physical constitutions etc.
It’s no surprise that the skills are essentially gameplay dependant. To get good at the game, you have to have the experience and the understanding of the mechanics; real-life money can get you far, but not that far.
Combat requires players to pay full attention as it’s more strategic than most MMOs, requiring players to decide what skills they want to use in battle and in what order while dodging incoming attacks and maintaining the AP bar.
Flying is a somewhat restrictive ability in this sandbox title, but players can obtain it in many ways. The best way is to get a flying mount like Guild Wars 2; these are essentially pets that can be ridden and have the ability to fly.
Another way might be to obtain a flying broom and go around the world like Harry Potter. Finally, some events unlock flying for the player, but players might not be able to fly outside of the event for balancing reasons.
As open-form/sandbox the game appears, all MMORPGs have to be restrictive to ensure balanced/non-exploitative gameplay. As such, Mabinogi offers players designated flight zones.
These are areas where the player is free to fly and explore the world; of course, other places don’t allow players to fly, probably so players can’t skip large chunks of the game by just flying over it.
4. Blade & Soul
Blade & Soul is another Korean MMORPG developed by NCsoft and released in 2012.
The game features perhaps the most robust combat mechanics of any MMORPG, infusing the combat styles of martial arts and Qingon for some of the most bombastic action experiences in video games, worthy of comparison with titles such as Devil May Cry.
The game’s visuals are also a notch above its contemporaries, with the character creation being so in-depth that developers created even the NPCs of the world using the same mechanic.
While the game doesn’t exactly allow players to fly, but for the article and my resolve to only list high-quality titles, let’s at least consider the mechanics.
Early in the game, players can access an ability-“Windwalking”, which grants them great speed and agility and great acrobatic prowess. As the game progresses, players can further upgrade this ability till they learn to glide.
Once the glide is unlocked, players can use “Air dash” by holding the sprint button while gliding in the air and activating wind walking; this will allow players to soar in the sky while maintaining altitude but at the cost of stamina.
Players can alternate between the various forms of wind walking to traverse the world as fast as possible, it’s not always viable to fly, but players can mix and match their abilities to get the most efficient way possible.
Though, as I said, MMORPGs generally refrain from giving players free rein as they might be able to skip some of the skill checks or outright break the game, Blade and Soul doesn’t allow players to fly indefinitely, but it sure does make them look cool while they do.
5. AGE OF WUSHU
Age of Wushu is a 3D MMORPG developed by Snail and released in 2012. The game takes heavy inspiration from ancient Chinese myths and the martial arts fight form. The combat mechanics are well-explained and fall into the easy grasp hard to master category.
The abilities and upgrade path offered by the game is not limited to any class and race. As such, all players can unlock the ability to fly through the usual grind.
Flying is one of the more essential abilities as it makes traversal and hidden treasures trivial. It’s learnt through the study of unique skill books that players can find by exploring the world.
The ability looks pretty cool and can be used for showboating purposes as it does require some handling and finesse to operate correctly. Nevertheless, it’s a fun experience.
Elyon is a re-release of Ascent: Infinite Realm, the same team is handling the development, and the release date is October 2021. The previous version of the game featured tons of ariel mobility with flying mounts and combat.
However, unfortunately, the trailers for the new game indicate that Krafton might cut down some of that content.
It’s all speculation at this point, and the best we can do is wait and see what Elyon has to offer us.
Throughout history, it’s common for us to believe flight to be a power of the Gods or something equally supernatural. For years, we’ve considered that most of the mythic beings that once ruled over our lands could fly, not only that but in fiction as well.
In the past, people used to believe in flying chariots, chariots being the most common mode of transportation, and in today’s fiction, we picture flying cars in the future.
While MMORPGs are not the best example of flight in video games, they are so few and far between that I couldn’t help sorting out which of them did it best.
Though without a doubt, I enjoy Guild Wars 2’s the most as it strikes the perfect balance between a great ability and the players’ prowess to use it. Mabinogi is the ultimate powertrip unless you make your way to a no-fly zone.