The role of mounts in games

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Mounts are vehicles or animals in a game with which you can move faster inside the game. They appear in both single player and online games. Some games choose to not include them for their own various reasons or they replace the traveling by mount by portals. Let’s explore the reasoning and the different type of mounts and their role.

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For me as a roleplayer, a mount is simply part of my story. Together with The Game Mistress I roleplay with much fun a story in a fantasy style where we have our own horses that we travel with through games. We have had some challenges in the past in games where we didn’t get the option to have a mount or where we didn’t have any freedom. We also have played a game such as Star Wars Online where you don’t get a horse at all. It doesn’t quite fit in our storyline but it fits ofcourse in the world of Star Wars (even though they could have added different creatures as mounts besides that).

If we look at PC games or console games such as Elder Scrolls or the Zelda series, then you will find the horses in the game that can help you travel faster. But for me it’s not only about being faster, but also about traveling more naturally.

I prefer to travel at a slow pace feeling the immersion of the nature of the world around me and moving from one area to the other without any loading screen.

A horse, or other creature or vehicle will simply move you at a similar or faster pace to your destination. In Lord of the Rings you could get a horse ride from one city to another as a sort of taxi service. The funny part of this otherwise very automatic taxi, was that you could hop off anytime during that travel. While in World of Warcraft you had to sit on the gryphon all the way to the end before you could move again.

World of Warcraft on the other hand though had next to horses also the option to fly around at their expansion Burning Crusade, which adds an extra dimension to move yourself around in.

Except for changing worlds, there were no loading screens when you moved from one area to another in World of Warcraft.

It is strange that newer games have moved away from that by letting you show a portal you have to hop into, that gives you a loading screen for the next area. The main reason to that is the way they programmed their world maps. Every map gets loaded in as one piece.

Guild Wars 2 has currently no mounts added to the game. A part of the gaming community seems to be rather happy with that. I do not understand that too well. It is a very immersive experience to go around with horses. It’s what is in most fairytales, in most stories. And especially traveling with horses is a natural thing to do. It’s what we did in real life for years before cars came to exist.
Since Guild Wars 2’s latest patch their have been races of Moa. So even the Moa offers an excellent mounting feature to the game. They don’t have to be adding advantages perse, they just have to add immersion to it, instead of you loading from one server to the other, while not feeling the connection with the world around you.

Some games have also featured mounts with new possibilities, such as mounted combat: being able to fight enemies while sitting on your mount, as well as playing games catching rings (LOTRO), or jumping over fences earning points (Link in Zelda).

So think about the immersion, the extra feeling that it adds when you can calmly ride through the amazing mountain ranges or barren desert. Look around, take a deep breath and relax. Also a beautiful way to take fantastic screenshots (if your game has that possibility).

Game on!

Steven

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