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Flying will return to World of Warcraft's new zones after all

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When we interviewed World of Warcraft lead designer Ion Hazzikostas last month about the upcoming new zone, Tanaan Jungle, one controversial decision stood out: Blizzard had decided not to add flying into the new zones of the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack, and possibly not into future expansions at all.

Now it seems that Blizzard has reversed this decision, though players will have to jump through some hoops in order to unlock the feature.

In a post on the official World of Warcraft blog, Hazzikostas reiterates much of what he told Polygon in our interview. "World of Warcraft is full of memorable moments that are only possible when players explore the world by ground," he writes.

However, Hazzikostas goes on to acknowledge that many players still want flying mounts. He says the development team at Blizzard worked for a long time to come up with a new method of enabling flying without "compromising the excitement of ground-based exploration."

The solution, as it turns out, lies in an achievement. In patch 6.2, along with Tanaan Jungle, Blizzard will be implementing a new meta-achievement called "Draenor Pathfinder." Flying in the Warlords of Draenor zones will not be available until at least one character on your account has earned said achievement. That task is easier said than done — it will require fully exploring every zone in the expansion, collecting 100 treasures, completing several other exploration-based achievements and raising three new reputations being added in Tanaan Jungle to "revered" level.

"We believe this strikes the right balance between ensuring ground-based content lives up to its full potential, while providing players who've already fully explored Draenor's outdoor world extra freedom to 'break the rules,'" Hazzikostas writers.

Hazzikostas says this plan "provides a general blueprint going forward for content to come," suggesting players who want to fly in future expansions will be allowed to ... with a similar grind.

Blizzard's release date for patch 6.2 remains a mysterious "soon," while the ability to fly will be added in a follow-up patch some time after the new content is unlocked. You can check out more of the Warlords of Draenor expansion pack in our overview video below.