Players will be able to fly in Legion, as long as they know how to Pet Battle.
"We appreciate the spirited discussion that is still taking place regarding flying in Warlords of Draenor," said Blizzard Senior Designer Jeremy "Muffinus" Feasel in a surprise press conference this morning. "We understand that many players were disappointed not knowing if and when they would be able to fly in Draenor, which is why we've decided to tell you now in advance that flying in Legion will be directly linked to your Pet Battling prowess!"
After pausing to fistbump fellow designer Jonathan "Crafticus" LeCraft, Feasel went on to say that at some point "early in Legion, probably 7.0.1," players will be able to earn the ability to fly by completing a new meta-achievement called Broken Isles Petfinder. This achievement will encompass a variety of pet battling accomplishments, such as catching all 563 new battle pets found in the Broken Isles (including the rare Born Val'kyr, who shares its Unborn cousin's always popular spawn patterns), and collecting 100 of Legion's new Pet Treasures, found by feeding your pets Magical Pet Biscuits and rummaging through the resulting droppings. Players will also need to complete the [An Awfully Big Broken Adventure] and [The Felestial Tournament] achievements, and reach Revered with two new reputations, Ashlei and Lil' Illy.
"We got the idea after seeing a post on the forums that suggested flying speed be gated by Mythic raid progression," explained Feasel. "Now obviously, that idea was just plain stupid, but it did make us realize that gating flying behind pet battles would be a totally awesome idea!"
Feasel added that this new process "took some convincing," but in the end, Legion's development team agreed that this would ensure flying remained a well-deserved reward, and not something to be taken for granted.
"Ultimately, we felt that only players dedicated enough to have a blue-quality level 25 P/S breed Tiny Snowman deserved to be able to fly this expansion," said Feasel, adding that the Snowman was "basically mandatory" to defeat at least five of Legion's elite tamers and Artifact pets.
"We believe this strikes the right balance between ensuring non-Pet Battle-based content lives up to its full potential, while providing players who’ve already fully experienced Legion's Pet Battle world extra freedom to 'break the rules,'" added Feasel. "This also provides a general blueprint going forward for content to come. Players will discover new and undiscovered Pets from the ground, and then once they’ve fully pummeled those pets into submission, they can take to the skies and experience the world from a new vantage point!"
When asked how players would gain reputation with Ashlei and Lil' Illy, Feasel stated that these would be classic reputation grinds, which are always huge hits among the playerbase.
"It's simple, really," said Feasel. "Every pet battle you win with an Elekk Plushie on your team earns you 10 reputation with Ashlei, who as we all recall, is a big fan of her own Plushie friend, Doodle! As for Lil' Illy, players will be able to challenge Maiev Shadowsong to a special pet battle every day, and defeating her will earn you a whopping 100 reputation with him! That's right Maiev fans, we told you she'd be back in a big, important role, and we weren't about to let you down!"
Lead game designer Tom Chilton then appeared onstage and added that to stay consistent with game lore, female Night Elf priests would automatically begin at Honored with Lil' Illy, while male Night Elf druids would start "At War" with him.
Immediately after Feasel's announcement, the WoW community exploded into activity. World-first guild Paragon quickly amended their guild requirements, which now state that potential applicants must speak Finnish, have extensive Mythic raiding experience, and must also own all four Celestial Tournament pets. Meanwhile, a forum thread created this morning titled "NERF EMERALD PROTO-WHELP!!!!!" has already received 1500+ replies, though at least half of these are simply telling the thread author to "just howl bomb it, lol."