Do I see mounted combat in our future?

I'm not usually someone that's hugely interested in speculation as I tend to be more focused on the here and now, even more so in the case of WoW in its current state - there are still way, way too many things to do before I could even think about getting bored with it.

However, there is one Cataclysm dungeon boss that caused my thoughts to go down an unusual path the other day: Earthrager Ptah in Halls of Origination. He's a pretty simple boss, tank and spank with some stuff that you're not supposed to stand in as well as a brief add phase, but the interesting thing about him is something else: on the terrace just below the boss, a couple of camels are lumbering around and waiting for you to mount them. You can then do the entire boss fight on the back of a camel. It's not a vehicle in the usual sense, as you still use your own abilities as normal, but it does give you the benefit of slightly faster run speed, and more importantly for ranged classes, the ability to cast spells on the run (since it's not you that's running, it's the camel). If you can do this on heroic without allowing Ptah to knock you off your camel, you get a little achievement.

Now, there's no real reason to put too much thought into that; you can just look at it as a silly little vehicle gimmick fight, but I thought it was interesting that this was the closest thing to true mounted combat that I can remember ever encountering in WoW. I vaguely recall that certain bombing quests in BC and vehicle fights in WOTLK were advertised as a sort of mounted combat initially, but in the end neither were really about using your character's own abilities while mounted so that felt a bit like false advertising.

Being able to fight while mounted is just one of those things... I've never heard people clamour for it en masse (unlike for player housing for example) but I think most would agree that the idea of being able to fight while mounted in general is pretty cool. Just imagine a paladin actually charging into battle on her charger, or a hunter pelting enemies with arrows while swiftly darting in and out of range on her mount. And that's not even taking into account flying mounts...

From a game balancing point of view it would be a veritable nightmare of course. In PvE, players would get up to all kinds of new kiting hijinks with the ability to fight while running at mount speed. In PvP, casters would suddenly be insane, being able to cast their most powerful spells while on the run on their mount. There would have to be abilities that guarantee to knock you off to counter this and melee would probably need to be buffed in general.

You could also ask: should druids be allowed to fight while mounted? At the moment the camel vehicles can be ridden while shapeshifted (click on the achievement link above to see a silly screenshot of a bear doing so), but while it's balanced and certainly acceptable for that one fight, on the whole the idea of a bear riding a camel is pretty ridiculous. Hell, seeing rockets strapped to bear butts in ICC looked less weird.

Lots and lots of issues to consider... but it would be cool, and since the developers have been emphasising the importance of the coolness factor a lot lately, I can't help but wonder whether they aren't considering mounted combat as new feature for a future expansion too. This little camel fight might just be a test drive, and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a full-fledged raid encounter using similar mechanics before the end of this expansion. And then, who knows?


  1. And in the far future we can maybe stack these vehicles. Then you could ride on a raptor which itself rides on a shark. That would be cool! :-)

  2. I didn't notice these camels, will look better the next time. I think it's a good idea that you can mount and fight at the same time in certain places, like this dungeon boss. Of course I don't think this will extend to the whole world, you already mention would be a nightmare to balance. Casters and ranged in general need to stay in place in order to fight, while some skills (aspect of the fox comes to mind) allow you certain mobility... at a cost. If they implement a cost in trade for mobility that would be ok. You can decide to mount up and only be allowed to use a restricted set of abilities or stay on ground and use your full arsenal. Otherwise everything would have to be redesigned to adapt to the new situation where everybody would be on the run (or worse, flying!).
    A battleground would be a nice place to implement this: heavy and light cavalry charging up a fort where people defending can use pikes or traps to defend the place.

  3. Mounted combat like in argent tournament got me bored pretty quickly. Maybe because there were only a couple of options to do. If we couln't use our standard abilities but each class should have specific mounted combat abilities. And there should be chariot's where you can fight with 2 or 3 people together. Maybe horse and weagon where you can get with 5 other people. Yea let's get the horse tram with the whole guild!

  4. Kurnak, a cost of some sort is what I was thinking of, too: maybe a meaningful hit and haste penalty for casting from horseback?

    Better mounts could offer lesser penalties, too.

  5. I have to admit, I got pretty excited to be healing on a camel. I just feel guilty as hell because when you dismount *the camel dies*. OH NOES!

  6. Hah, Tam, I feel the same way about the poor camels. Did I ride the poor thing to death? Or did it become symbiotically dependent on me during our brief relationship? Awww...

  7. I really love the camels during that encounter. Its really too bad that there isn't a special /spit emote when you're on one.

    I am terrible at moving and casting at the same time. I don't know how pvp players do it, and its the primary reason why I don't pvp. But that's what mounted combat would be. A total nightmare!

  8. Was able to confirm this weekend that, of course, your pet despawns when you use the camel.