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Mount Up (Still)

Almost four years ago, I said that mounts in Guild Wars 2 are a lot of fun. I’m here to say… they still are.

Indeed, this comes a few weeks after having unlocked the Griffon mount. And it is amazing. There is always a fear in making active mounts (e.g. needing to press buttons to move) into too much of a gimmick, especially flying ones. “Ugh, I have to flap its wings every time?” But I would say GW2 devs have threaded that needle with the Griffon.

For one thing, it’s less a flying mount and more of a gliding one. Pressing Spacebar will cause it to do a leap into the air, with further Spacebars causing it to beat its wings once while consuming the entire Endurance bar. If you do nothing else, it will glide down to wherever you are pointing it. Press Spacebar when you have the Endurance to do so, and it will gain a little altitude for a moment and continue gliding down. Hold Spacebar and it will automatically beat its wings when the Endurance bar fills up, but you’re still losing altitude overall. Time the Spacebars at 75% of an Endurance bar and you can technically maintain roughly the same altitude as when you started, but that of course requires some concentration on your part.

Here’s the key though: it’s fun and engaging.

I find myself often using the Griffon as my primary mount, even though it will lose to other land mounts in a horizontal race between two points. I just like looking for those opportunities to bound up a small hill and gain some airtime. Once you unlock its Masteries, your Griffon can go into steep dives to gain some forward momentum which will beat out land mounts, at least while you are in the sky. And those times are the best.

This sort of thing would not work in every game. For example, I don’t think WoW could pull this off. That said, a lot of the developer pushback during WoW’s Flightgate was how flying trivialized questing content. GW2 does not have this problem. Even in the scenarios in which a Griffon can get you somewhere that lets you skip portions of a jumping puzzle – and there are plenty of enforced no-fly zones around jumping puzzles – you are still engaging in the terrain in other ways. Getting on your Springer mount and climbing up mountains. Using Jackal portals. And so on. Flying over the gates and landing directly on the objective feels more earned, from both a player and developer standpoint.

Supposedly, the Skyscale is a more traditional “helicopter” mount that lets you stay flying indefinitely. I have not unlocked that one though, and possibly never will. Then again, I never thought I would be playing GW2 every night for the last month and a half, but here we are.

Specifically, climbing hills and flying off them.